Interview: Dog Eat Dog

February 28, 2011

Soody Sisco, Martha Fiskin and Linda Pitt made up the core of Dog Eat Dog, an early 80s punk funk band out of NYC who were sassy, smart and fun. Think along the lines of Liquid Liquid or ESG and you are on the right lines. Claremont 56 have been lucky enough to get their hands on unreleased recordings from the band consisting of live tracks and studio sessions which will be released mid-March in a lovely Keith Haring sleeve. As massive fans of that era in New York we asked the band if we could interview them and talk about those times and they kindly said yes…

Photography: Paula Court

So who met who first? Where were you living? Were you at college when you met? What were you studying?

Soody: Linda and I went to High School together in Piscataway, New Jersey. We met working on a school publication. I went to college with Martha. A friend introduced me to David Wald and then David brought in Kevin.

Linda: Soody and I met up during High School. We met up again in our last year of college, there we met Martha. I studied art.

Martha: I met Soody and Linda at college in New Jersey. I studied art: studio and history.

What initially made you think ‘ok. lets form a band?’ Were you inspired by other people out there. Who was that?

Soody: We lived in the East Village, NYC in 1980. All of our friends were in bands.

Linda: After college Soody and I were briefly roommates in Brooklyn. I remember watching the Miss America pageant on TV. There was a sax in the apartment, I picked it up, I made sound… If Talking Heads (art students), The Ramones and our friends Liquid Idiot could all form bands, so could we.

Martha: It was an exciting time. You could pick up an instrument and start a band.

What clubs were you initially going into?

Soody: Tier 3, Max’s Kansas City (where Linda worked), Mudd Club and CBGB.

Linda: I worked at Max’s Kansas City pre-band. CBGB’s was around the corner from home.

Martha: Club 57, CBGB, Tier 3, Max’s, Mudd Club, Hurrah’s and The Roxy. We walked to all these places. New York did seem smaller in those days.

Were you part of that whole Mudd Club scene, hanging out there or just playing gigs?

Soody: A bit of both.

Linda: We went to the Mudd Club a lot but never felt part of the scene.

Martha: I was in a group art show there.

I guess you were quite involved in that art scene that ran alongside the music scene at that time? If so how? Did you see those two scenes as linked?

Soody: Yes, Linda and I were hanging posters that we collaborated on.

Linda: Definitely linked. Take Club 57, a small venue on St Marks Place in the EV, art, performance, music, movies, a showcase for everyone. Al Diaz our percussionist did the SAMO graffiti with Basquiat. Soody and I made art flyers that we wheat pasted around the neighborhood (see above). By chance the guy with the guitar is Richard Hell. We all did our own personnel art as well.

Martha: We all made stuff; various media.

Seems a lot of people involved in the music scene came from an art background and then did the music thing as an outlet for their creative sides. Was this the way it was for you?

Soody: Yes.

Linda: Yessssss.

Martha: Absolutely.

What were your favourite places to play at that time?

Linda: CB’s had the best sound and the infamous dressing room. We once played at 4am in a basement on Chrystie Street that turned out to be a Chinese gambling parlor.

So you played at CBGB’s. Was that another hang out? 

Soody: Yes, it was in our neighborhood.

Linda: Went there a lot. I loved the matinees.

Martha: Sure. What a sound system!

So the music – it seems to have a very funky edge. The congas and the percussion have that Latin thing going on. What were you influenced by? Or was it just a New York thing to have that Latin sound as you grew up surrounded by it?

Soody: It was a popular sound at the time and our early percussionist, Al Diaz, is Hispanic.

Linda: Don’t be fooled by the cow bell.

Martha: Love love love drums. Latin, African, dub…

How do you fit in with the other No Wave bands? Were you having out with ESG, Liquid Liquid etc or did you feel aside from them?

Soody: We were friends with Liquid Liquid.

Linda: Liquid Liquid are our friends. I only met ESG once but they seem incredibly nice. We were part of the noise NY and Naive Rhythm scene so I always felt we were all in the same boat.

Martha: Totally in with Liquid Liquid and Konk.

Who were you favourite bands to go and see back then and why?

Soody: Hmmm, there were a lot. Of the local bands we would go see our friends a lot. I loved DNA.

Linda: The Ramones were always fun, and any band that was recommended that I knew nothing about. There were a lot of new bands and most music at the time was fun.

Martha: Fela, DNA, some big soul shows, all our friends.

I like the review I saw from the Soho News that says ‘the melodies are carried by a very amateurish saxophone player’. Surely that was the whole point – to play like you couldn’t? You know deconstructing your abilities and almost looking at it in a different way… Was that something you were about?

Soody: We couldn’t play!

Linda: I believe the words are self taught. We played out shortly after we started playing our instruments.

Martha: We were inspired neophytes.

The music really benefits from having that raw, captured live thing. Well some of it was obviously recorded live, but when in the studio was it a live run through or did you try and record separately.

Soody: Everything is recorded live, either in studio or performance.

Linda: I remember late nights hardly able to stay awake.

Martha: Down and dirty, low-budget and raw. In a good way.

How come you never got signed to Sire, Ze or one of the other labels picking up bands at that time? I presume that scene was picked over pretty heavily…

Soody: We just didn’t get an offer in the short period we were around.

Linda: We almost got signed to 99 records.

Martha: It would have been 99 if anyone signed us. Maybe Rough Trade or ROIR.

Boring question but how did you hook up with Keith Haring for the Dog Eat Dog piece he did. Were you mates with him?

Soody: Keith Haring was a downtown artist and easy enough to run into. We just asked him if he would do a poster because the dog was one of his favorite motifs. He was very sweet and said he would do it and made an extra for us to add future dates to.

Linda: He was part of the Club 57 scene. I think he went to school with Julie who was working with Martha at the time.

Martha: Keith was a friend from the neighborhood. His work was everywhere.

Going back to the clubs – where else were you hanging out? Were DJs important to you as people or did you more enjoy the art/punk/live scene. What about Paradise Garage, Funhouse etc…

Soody: I don’t think DJs were the entity they are today back then.

Linda: I like music live and went to places we could get in for free which was most. Peppermint Lounge, Danceteria (where I caught Madonna’s first show), loved the dancing boys, Irving Plaza, Tramps, jazz clubs names long forgotten. There was The Empire of Soul Club, Warren and the Empress spun B sides of soul 45’s at various venues.

Martha: The Empire State Soul Club was great!

Were you into hip-hop? Before it went head long down that drum machine beat route it seems the scene you were in (Fab 5 Freddy, Futura etc) was very hip-hop. I think your music is pretty B-boy…

Soody: We loved the rap scene and frequented the Roxy Roller Rink in Chelsea for rap/breakdance shows.

Linda: B-boy, I like it. Loved the early scene. Roxy was our place to go.

Martha: Checking out rap and hip hop at Roxy. Thanks for the comparison.

At the time did you look at the success of some bands around you and think about making your music slightly more commercial or were you not interested in that?

Soody: We would have loved some success.

Linda: Commercial, never wanted that as an option.

Martha: We enjoyed our artistic freedom then, but a wider audience is always great.

What happened with the band in the end? Do you still play together? Is it more of a historical thing or do you have plans to go play in the studio again?

Soody: Oy Vey, play again? We discussed the possibility, but would need to REALLY dust ourselves off!

Linda: Historical, well you never know…

Martha: No plans, but you never know…

What do you all do now?

Soody: I am a museum curator and textile designer.

Linda: Photo retoucher to the stars! That means publishing.

Martha: I work in the film business.

What music do you listen to these days?

Soody: A lot of 70s glitter and 80s punk, always The Ramones, actually too much to list!

Linda: Lots of radio, WFMU and WWOZ, still can’t get enough of Neil Young.

Martha: The Clash, LCD Soundsystem, Spiritualized, Greg Dulli’s various bands and more.

Cheers guys.

Thanks for the interview!

Dog Eat Dog is out mid-March on Claremont 56. You can order it here.

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We just got sent the new Running Back and thought it best to contact head honcho Gerd Janson for the lowdown. Here’s what he said…

“Hello Paul,

Out now!

BASSarani in your face – again! Here’s part two of the ongoing Roma meets Running Back saga. Conveniently appearing in a white inner sleeve (slip it into the retro-futuristic telescopic picture sleeve that you hopefully already have), the Final Frontier/Pigna/Nature captain steers his ship into a safe harbour. Three tracks of hardcore space music and magic carpet melodies: “White Dwarf” appears as the final link between Frankfurt Trance and Tribal House, “Black Dwarf” is its beat-heavy brother (For DJ Use Only!) and finally we come full circle with “Colliding Stars Pt. 2”. Science ain’t no fiction.”

It’s a good one. Nice artwork again Running Back people.

Marco Passarani: White Dwarf (Excerpt)

Marco Passarani: Black Dwarf (Excerpt)

Marco Passarani: Colliding Stars (Excerpt)

[Apiento]

Party: World Unknown

February 28, 2011

Quick post to say that World Unknown is happening this Friday in Brixton with Joe Hart and Mr Andy Blake. If you are interested head over to their website and if you fancy the party email them here and they’ll sort you with the location. It’s always fun in a ‘lets get heads down and have some fun and do what you like along the way’ kind of fashion and they’ve gone even more hippy on the lights (think a Pink Floyd light show from the 60s crossed with some nu-beat strobe business).

[Apiento]

We like an exhibition and this one is by recent Test Pressing interviewee Trevor Jackson so all the more relevant. Here’s the press release…

“NOWHERE features highly personal photographic and video studies that explore related themes of honesty, simplicity, manipulation and ego.

KK Outlet presents the first solo show of renowned image and music maker Trevor Jackson. NOWHERE features highly personal photographic and video studies that explore related themes of honesty, simplicity, manipulation and ego.

NOWHERE reflects a subtle side of Jackson’s visual personality, the works are a move away from his recognisable bold commercial graphic style. This stylistic divide is something that Jackson explains as the difference between how he views graphic design and art, “Graphic Design is essentially problem solving, you’re responding to a brief and reflecting the clients personality and opinions, as much as I still enjoy that process, this new work is expressive and at times cathartic, something that has little place in much of my commercial work.”

All works featured in NOWHERE are limited editions and will be on sale throughout March at KK Outlet.”

The exhibition runs from 4 – 26 March.
www.kkoutlet.com

[Apiento]

I have had this one for a few weeks now so apologies to the chaps at Wonderful Sound (the label) for not getting round to posting this until now. I am really really fond of this album. It has been a hectic few weeks (moving job etc) so when I finally got round to putting it on, well, it hasn’t been off. Stammers reminds me of a northern Nick Drake in style. A gentle voice and lovely acoustic guitars only added to with other instrumentation where need be. One of my favourite moments in the album comes late on with ‘Baby Dea’ as soft brushed drums push the track along. It sort of feels like some of Michael Head’s work with The Strands. It’s a lovely album for mellow Sundays and evenings with friends and fine wine. You can find out more and buy it here. It’s out now.

(Note: The original idea of the scale below was to give you a very quick idea of how the album sounds so please don’t read it as being scales or scores of 0 – 10 it’s just there to show you that there are no glitchy AFX noises etc. Word.)

[Apiento]

We decided (well Dr Rob did) that Adrian Sherwood has too much good music to only do one compilation dedicated to him so here we go again. Round 2 and with a special funk reprise to boot. He really is flipping amazing on that desk. Hope to get up the road and interview him at some point. Next up if our mate Pete gets round to it is Lee Perry.

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Thanks to the good Doctor Rob for taking the time to compile.

[Apiento]

Saint Etienne seem to be one of those bands that has its heart in the right place. From the off with ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ they paved the way for melodic, club influenced music all wrapped around a classic pop sound. I get the feeling they still believe in pop. They still run a fan club. Not sure how many bands do that these days. Aside from that they have always gone forwards (while going backwards) and this mix from Pete Wiggs of the band sort of shows that perfectly with a mix of pyschedelic soul and classic pop noises taking in Dorothy Ashby, The Supremes, Ike and Tina and Sam Dees along the way.

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[Apiento]

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