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Dog Fashion Disco: A Different Kind of Metal

By Keith McDonald, Contributor
Thursday, April 25, 2002 @ 6:58 PM

An Interview With Dog Fashion

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Dog fashion Disco won’t be found on MTV or your local major radio station, but they have been making some headway with the release of their debut album, Anarchists of Good Taste. The band, singer Todd Smith, bassist Greg Combs, drummer John Ensminger and keyboardists Steve Mears and Jeff Seigel, combine unique sound and qualities to their material, which right now isn’t what people are currently listening to, but it does give them a way to separate themselves from the herd out there. They have been currently road-testing some new material with the band Mushroomhead, readying for their new studio album via Spitfire Records. I had the opportunity to speak with singer Todd Smith who filled me in on what’s been going on.

KNAC.COM: How did the band start?
TODD: Basically most of us met in high school about nine years ago. We had a different name and in ’95 changed it to Dog Fashion Disco and started doing the style we’re doing now.

KNAC.COM: How did you land at Spitfire?
TODD: One of our old CDs, Embryos & Bloom, got passed to Steve who used to do A&R for them. Then the President gave us a deal and the rest is history.

KNAC.COM: How has their support been?
TODD: Been great. We’re optimistic about the future and putting out another record, probably in October. We got about ten or twelve new tunes written and we’re excited about [it].

KNAC.COM: How is the new material sounding?
TODD: I can describe it as: still sounds like us but not as far out there. We wrote from a standpoint as to how these songs would translate live. The new tunes are more driving and straightforward but still has those advantaged Mr. Bungle flavor.

KNAC.COM: I see you’re road-testing the new material with Mushroomhead.
TODD: We’re basically going into hibernation in the next couple months to record the new album. So we wanted to at least get out for a couple weeks and play the new material, test the waters and see how the crowd reacts.

KNAC.COM: How will the recording process go about?
TODD: Same as the last time. [Drew Mazarek], he’s done Nothingface and Gwar and stuff like that. We’re going to his studio and knock it out in a month to two months. We worked really well with Drew and he’s really easy to work with. We’ll keep that chemistry going.

”[Our music] has aggressive points but we like to change it up and surprise people. It sounds like a horror movie mixed in with a circus conducted by Frank Zappa.”
KNAC.COM: Is it hard for a band like DFD to tour?
TODD: It depends on the way you do it. We do it simplistically. We don’t have a tour bus or stay in nice hotels. We do what we have to do at an affordable price. That’s the only way we could possibly do it. We do get some tour support from the label, which helps. We have our own van and trailer and stay at fleabag motels.

KNAC.COM: How was your first tour?
TODD: We were with a booking agent that couldn’t get us the tours we were looking for. We did a lot of shows around the States. We started seeing the same faces and got an underground following which was great. Then we went out with bigger bands and the people came out and it started building and building. We’re at the point where progress is there. We just need the right promotion on the next album to get it out to the masses.

KNAC.COM: How important is it to tour for you?
TODD: It’s extremely important. Touring has basically been our bread and butter. We do most of our record sales through touring and word of mouth on the Internet. If we weren’t on the road then record sales would be sluggish. We are working with a certain amount of promotion, which will hopefully be more on the next record.

KNAC.COM: How has the distribution been? Any problems getting the record into stores?
TODD: They have [great] distribution. Distribution is important and [Spitfire] has the resources. College radio really embraced the album that helped get the album in stores.

KNAC.COM: How well did the first album sell?
TODD: We’re at about 35,000 units worldwide. Spitfire has done a lot of good stuff for us but they have admitted that they could have done a little more as far as promotion goes. We’re just optimistic about the new album and have a game plan. I would hope it would double the sales and put some momentum behind [it].

KNAC.COM: Did you tour Europe?
TODD: We didn’t go far into Europe -- we did some touring throughout the U.K. and Scotland. It was great, shows were packed, they’re really embraced the band over there. I think fans over there are hungry for US bands.

KNAC.COM: I see the band got great reviews, how much did that help?
TODD: We’ve been really fortunate with so many good reviews. It not only helps our overall goal of selling records; it gets more people into the band.

KNAC.COM: Would you ever consider going over to a major label?
TODD: I honestly would like to be on the same page for our career. We’re very happy with Spitfire. There are a lot of people over there who believe in us and work hard for us to make this a success. As for going to a major label, to be honest, I’m scared to death. They take a lot of bands, who with a little nurturing, [can] make the band big. But they throw them against the wall and see what sticks. The only bands that succeed these days are the bands that sound like everybody else. There’s nobody taking a chance. I don’t see us as a band that’s going to be on MTV or a major radio station. If it happens, great. We’re not dying to get to a major label. That’s an option down the line, but we’re happy with Spitfire.

KNAC.COM: How would you describe your music?
TODD: Definitely heavy, but we don’t have a mindset of constantly putting out extremely heavy [music]. It has aggressive points but we like to change it up and surprise people. It sounds like a horror movie mixed in with a circus conducted by Frank Zappa. Heavy carnival music.

KNAC.COM: What lies ahead for DFD?
TODD: Hopefully more momentum, new album in October. Bigger tour throughout the summer, increasing record sales and hopefully we’ll just keep making the step up.

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