English Dogs Interview by Joel Grind
The Metal Punk legends are back!
There has been a bit of controversy over the fact that there are two lineups of the English Dogs active right now, the Punk lineup that plays the early songs and the Metal lineup that plays To the Ends of the Earth and beyond material. This interview is with the Metal version of the band.
This interview with Gizz and Pinch took place in Cleveland, Ohio during a successful run across the U.S.A. with Havok, my band Toxic Holocaust and the Casualties supporting them. It started out as a normal interview and then kind of morphed into a conversation.
I wanted to start the interview off by saying that this tour has been a dream come true for me, never thinking I’d get the chance to see the English Dogs live, let alone play with you. How are you enjoying the tour so far?
Gizz: Well, Joel it’s a real pleasure to be on this tour with some really like minded people. The enthusiasm of each band member of every band has been really inspirational. It’s wonderful to be playing with these very talented guys from different genres.
That’s kind of what I like about this tour, it combines a lot of different influences together but it all seems to work. The fans coming to the shows seem to be digging all of the bands, even if they came for just one particular band they end up staying for the whole show.
Gizz: This whole tour is kind of like a circle. Havok is the most straight up Metal band of the whole tour, then you’re (Toxic Holocaust) kind of coming a bit from that angle of…um…you remind of Hellhammer a bit and Celtic Frost a bit, plus Venom and Motorhead. That’s kind of where the English Dogs come in because we kind of have that Motorhead / Metallica / GBH thing and at the end the Casualties get the GBH bit.
This is the Punk Metal tour! I can’t even remember if there ever was a true Punk Metal tour back in the day, we kind of weren’t even aware that it was happening, we were just doing it.
The scene you guys kind of helped create in the UK has been hugely influential to me with bands like Onslaught, Sacrilege etc doing the whole Metal Punk thing.
Gizz: I really enjoyed Sacrilege, the first 12”. I used to listen that a lot. There was a band from the states called Excel that I used to like a lot too. That’s how this whole scene kind of started, just through underground tape trading. But I think in the case of Sacrilege, as you probably know they went step too far with the Metal thing. That’s kinda when they seemed to have disappeared.
Yeah that’s funny you say that, we did a tour with Napalm Death and I asked those guys if they know what happened to Sacrilege’s singer Tam and they had no info about her. It’s weird in this day and age to not be able to find any info on someone.
Gizz: Yeah it’s like she just fell off the face of the Earth.
Since this tour is going well, do you have any plans to do more touring or doing a new record?
Gizz: We are talking about all of those things. When the tour was first talked about it was gonna be just this one thing, but then we realized how much we liked it. So now we are talking about doing some fresh writing. I’ve been working on some riffs, I’ve been pulling out some old tapes and we’ve been talking about how we want the style of the writing to be. We definitely want to tour the states again.
There has been a lot of bands that I’ve seen that have reformed and its been pretty lackluster for the most part. But this is kinda what I imagined seeing you guys in the 80′s would have been like.
Gizz: It helps because of things like Youtube, I saw some old footage of us like the one with us at the Olympic Auditorium and I was throwing myself all around with this big blonde mop and I thought “fucking hell…this is what I’ve got to do again”. My initial thoughts were that this might be my one only time to get this lucky break, this tour is a gift to me.
When the thought of reforming came up were you already in contact with Adie and Pinch or did you have to search them out?
Gizz: It was thanks to Facebook really. Facebook has brought everything together. Because Pinch is in the Damned it was kinda hard getting a hold of him because he’s been busy. I had to wait till the Damned toured England and I saw him at the gig and we made a date to meet up. Then Facebook came along and I found Adie. We all talked about the logistics of doing it and then we decided to go for it.
(Pinch walks in “What Kind of shit is this guy giving you?!)
Ok, You guys knew I was going to ask, Is there any bad blood between the two different versions of the English Dogs?
Pinch: There’s bad blood that has been created by their side. Its really unfortunate. I was never aksed to do the lineup that Wakey is doing. It was just presumed that I was too busy because I was with the Damned. Wakey did it with pretty much the original lineup but because Wakey is Wakey, he’s one of the worlds great eccentrics in good and bad ways. His bad ways are really horrible and he can be a nasty person. At heart he is a hilarious fucking genius natural lunatic. He was my best man at my wedding. He’s a really great guy, but when he gets a bee in his bonnet about something he’s a really nasty bastard. It’s just unfortunate because it’s like they feel that we are stepping on their toes of something they’ve created when the reality of it is they play ten shows a year and I don’t feel that quality of the band that he’s got now is worthy of the English Dogs name whereas I know that quality of this line up is fucking worthy of the name.
Gizz: Pinch started the fucking band.
Pinch: Yeah, I asked Wakey to join. It was my fucking thing. And if you look at the discography we always were kind of two bands. There was the Wakey era then when we recruited Gizz and Adie we became something else but because we still had John Murray it still was the English Dogs. I think to the Ends of the Earth really captured what we were after with out it going to far in one direction or another. I think if we do stuff in the future I think that’s the direction that we are going to be aiming in. Keep it available to both Punks and Metal fans.
Yeah, I know when we do tours with Toxic we get a pretty even amount of Punks and Metal heads at the shows even though most people just consider us a Thrash Metal band.
Pinch: See I don’t see it that way, I see a lot of Discharge influence with you guys and a lot of hardcore punk, I don’t really see a huge amount of the Metal in your stuff.
What were some bands or records that you guys first got into that made you want to start a band?
Pinch: Well it was kind of the opposite effect for me. There was this initial blast of punk in 1977 and the by 1979 and 1980 it seemed like it had already run it’s course. We were doing these bus trips packing like 50 punks in and going to see bands like Stiff Little Fingers and the Stranglers and I felt like it needs to be more than this. It seemed like it had already turned into a cabaret side show where the pioneers had laid the path and no one had really followed the path. Everyone started wanting to be faster, louder and dirtier and you weren’t getting it. You were getting like finely crafted pop songs with a punk tinge and the music was just so bad so that’s what inspired me to do something. Then of course bands like Discharge and GBH came along. That was my first ever gig, seeing those two bands together. It changed my life.
Gizz: I really like Bad Brains “Green Tape”. Like Pinch was saying, a lot of the Punk stuff was very controlled but when that came along that was like letting go. It was like there was no barriers.
Pinch: I mean GBH is basically like a stripped down Motorhead. They took Motorhead’s no frills approach and stripped it down even further.
Why are there so many different versions of the cover artwork for Forward into Battle? I have a German one, and Italian one and the U.S. one and they all have different artwork.
Pinch: The original cover art came about kinda like our songs came about. I was doing tons of acid, we were all doing loads of drugs all the time. I was into fantasy art and shit like that. I was reading this book from the library of fantasy artist and there was this Boris Vallejo picture in the that just really stood out to me. “That would make a great record cover”, so I just sliced the pages out. It was a two page piece, sliced it out and stuck em together with tape and sent it to the record company. On the album you can actually see the join in the middle of the two pieces. I think all the different versions are because of the slimy bastard who put that record out licensed it around the world with out letting us know, without giving us any money for it, just did it and I think they felt they had to do a different cover design either because its a Boris Vallejo design and they thought they would get sued or they though they could get out of paying us like its a different album. No, its our fucking album! It might be a different cover but that’s still our songs on that record.
Well, that’s pretty much all I have, is there anything you’d like to add or like to plug?
Gizz: Go to our Facebook page and stay in touch. It’s easy nowadays.
Pinch: If you are a fan of us and have one of our records tell people about us and play it for them or rip em a CD. I’m all about giving the music away. I’m pretty sure if we do a new record we will just give it away for free as a download.
Gizz: Cheers Joel!