Dogbane’s album “Residual Alcatrazz” goes back and forth between traditional heavy metal and doom metal. In any case, it is “big riff” metal, so that the guitar work sounds it like comes from a secret riff vault that Tony Iommi put away in a hidden corner of North Carolina, where Dogbane found it, opened it and hit the jackpot!
Dogbane basically has a bit of everything for people who like different moods in their heavy metal. However, this is key: variety within the field of straight traditional heavy metal. For Dogbane, the metal trends/genres/styles that came after 1982 are essentially of no interest to them. Thus, no thrash/ death/black/grind, no emo/core/screamo/breakdowns, no poppy melodies and no funny-looking haircuts, no rapping, no synchronized jumping and things like that, basically.
Dogbane= heavy metal of doom. The band’s guitarist Mitchell Allred elucidates their take on metal.
To start off, please clarify something on Metal Archives. Your other guitarist David Ellenburg died this year 2012, but he did play on your album “Residual Alcatraz”? Did David play and hear the album completed before he died?
MA: Yes, David did play on the album. In addition David was a major contributor to our song writing process, as well as a founding member of the band. We both split the solo duties on the recording and worked together in laying down all the harmonies. The man was a friend and a pleasure to work with. Dogbane meant the world to him. David did see the release of “Residual Alcatraz” and we played several dates in support of the album before he passed. He was very proud of the album and excited about our future. We all miss him terribly, but carry on in his memory.
Are you looking for a second guitar player?
We are currently working with Warren Deatherage from the band “Steelwolf” who is a former band mate of our vocalist Jeff Neal. Warren has also contributed to our cover of the Kiss song “Charisma” which will appear on Rock and Roll All Nite: A Milleniun Tribute to Kiss; due out on Versailles Records shortly after the first of the year.
Tell us about the North Carolina world of metal that you guys come from. Does it have a bunch of dudes into heavy and doom stuff? Metal Archives says that your vocalist Jeff Neal is in Steelwolf, a band active since 1984(!)? So, Dogbane is a bunch of total classic doomheads? I suppose you were into Trouble and Candlemass back in the day?
Here in North Carolina at least in our particular area Dogbane stick out like a sore thumb. I think that is a good thing though. Most bands here seem to have a hardcore slant to them and vocalists that you can’t understand. We are certainly coming from a more traditional standpoint. Call us “old school” if you will, but a band needs melody, good song writing, and a vocalist that makes some kind of sense. There are some better-known doom oriented/slanted bands in the state, but they are certainly less traditional than Dogbane.
In regards to Jeff and “Steelwolf,” he did provide vocals in an early demo of theirs and was a member, but he is no longer in the band. All members of Dogbane have been involved in the scene for many years with various other bands. Speaking strictly for myself, “classic doom head” describes me perfectly. I’m still into Trouble and Candlemass. I think “Psalms of the Dead” was one of the best releases of 2012.
“Residual Alcatraz” begins with two up tempo, rocking, big-riff songs, “Ride the Serpent” and “Born to Die.” So, how are you getting that classic guitar sound, the bigness of it, of the Iommi School and fountain of inspiration, to sound so good and organic? Are your recording techniques different? Is it the methods?
There is no doubt that the “Iommi” influence is present. If one plays heavy metal guitar, how could it not be? Dogbane gets the classic guitar sound the very same way other bands have gotten it before us; Gibsons and Marshalls. As a band we do feel most new recordings sound too mechanical and sterile, and we have made a conscious decision to seek a more organic sound.
One will never discover pro-tooling, triggers etc. on a Dogbane album… that just isn’t us. A big portion of the credit must go to our engineer Kevin Davis, who just so happens to be our bass player. He makes sure we keep that big warm sound we all want. I’m not sure if our recording techniques/methods are any different from anyone else’s, perhaps it is the recording equipment: it’s all vintage.
I notice that you seem to care very little about image, gimmicks and other such marketing clichés. Does this come from having been around the block and observing the folly of aspiring musicians selling their souls to the devil just to “make it”? Do you figure, whatever happens, that you are ok having day jobs and playing music for fun, to be a cult band?
I think it just comes from being real. Dogbane is made up of a group of guys who are in their early to mid-forties. If we show up in skinny jeans and dyed hair the jig is up. We are not into being something we are not. We play the type of music we grew up listening to, the type of music we love. I think it is very obvious that we are not hipsters jumping on the retro metal bandwagon. We come from an honest place and I think it shows. I also feel this honesty resonates with people.
We are too old to care about trends or what is hot at the moment. We feel like we don’t have anything to prove to anyone and even if no one was listening to us we would still be rehearsing on Sunday afternoons because music is what we do. Honestly, every musician wants their band to do well, and in that sense we are no different from anyone else. What separates Dogbane from other bands is that we see things for what they are and we have no illusions of grandeur. We travelled those paths a long time ago.
What is the importance of age and wisdom in the world of the music business? Do you think that it is not a coincidence that it is young people, with their hopes and illusions of “making it” that get victimized by the veterans/sharks in the business, and their promises of “you can go far if you stick with me, kid”? Have you gone through some of these experiences?
One of the few things that get better with age is one’s bullshit detector. It will be in your band’s best interest to hone and use this tool. The fact of the matter is that there will always be those out there who want to take advantage of you if they feel there is a dollar to be made and you’re dumb enough to let them. If what you are being told sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. The best way to combat this problem is to be involved with as much of your product as possible. Dogbane produces almost everything in-house, our recordings, merchandise, along with our product design and layout. You will have to step outside in terms of distribution, public relations, mastering, and some advertising, but the more you can handle yourself, the better off you will be. The good news is that through new technology you can control a lot more than in years past. We have tried to avoid those bad kinds of experiences at all possible cost.
“Burning in the Light” melted the earwax in my ears! That heavy guitar sounds really good at the slow pace and Jeff singing like an evil monk channeling the spirit of Ozzy and Messiah Marcolin! You decided to include only one really long song on this album, and this one is it. Who is the person growling in the background?
I’m pleased you like the track. It was a conscious effort to include an extremely long doomed out song on the album. Some have criticized “Burning in the Light” for being too long and monotonous. I personally thought it hit the mark, but there is no doubt it tests the listener’s endurance. David and I did the background vocals.
“Fire and Brimstone” has some cowbell? No? Is it a tambourine? Am I hearing things that aren’t there? Maybe! “I have a disease and the only cure is more cowbell”!! The song “How the Mighty Have Fallen” does have cowbell, right? You decided to bust out with it at the very end of the album!!
What you are hearing on “Fire and Brimstone” is our drummer Jerry playing a Puerto Rican instrument called a guiro. It is a scrubbing instrument that sounds a little similar to a washboard. The tambourine sound is Jerry tapping on a one gallon glass carboy that I make homemade wine in. There is indeed some cowbell on “How The Mighty Have Fallen.” You can’t make a real album without a little cowbell, right?
Tell us how the heavy metal and doom metal heads can get in touch with you and get a copy of the album.
For more information, go to www.dogbaneband.com. We have a complete line of merchandise for those interested, and you can listen to several tracks off of the album. While you are there, follow the links to our Facebook, MySpace, and ReverbNation pages along with our label’s website Heaven and Hell Records. You can also follow us on Twitter. There are no plans for touring at present. THE END.