Lansing has long been a breeding ground for brilliant, yet underappreciated rock ‘n’ roll underdogs. One of the prime examples is the Dogs, a raucous proto-punk band born out of the early ‘70s Lansing music scene. In an era of spacey-progressive rock, the Dogs played fast and loud. They were on the fringes. Think Iggy and the Stooges or the MC5.
Perhaps that’s why the band left the Capital City for the Motor City in 1972 then soon after relocated to Los Angeles. While the Dogs could never quite find a permanent home for their sound or land a legit record deal, the band did manage to record some stone-cold punk classics. The single “Slash Your Face” was included on the iconic “Killed By Death” punk compilation. Decades later, they’re still playing loud and fast.
For the first time since 2009, The Dogs — guitarist/vocalist Loren Molinare, bassist Mary Kay and drummer Tony Matteucci — are headed back to Lansing for a homecoming show. The gig is a part of the Capital City Film Festival. City Pulse talked to Molinare about the group’s history and what the band’s been up to lately.
How did the Dogs get pulled into the late ‘60s/early ‘70s Detroit sound?
We really connected with that hard-edged attitude of the MC5, the Stooges, the Frost and early Amboy Dukes. There was that edge and aggression. That kind of stuck with us. Seeing the MC5 when I was 15 or 16 was a powerful experience. From a political stance, the MC5 really was inspiring. I belonged to SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in my high school days. I was always into trying to change the world with rock ‘n’ roll. It’s what we built the band on.
Did you ever open a show for the MC5?
We got to open for the MC5 at the Crystal Lake Palladium, along with another Lansing band called Magic. It was right when MC5’s second album, “Back in the USA,” came out. That was the first time. The second time, in 1972, we played the new Grande Ballroom. The only way we got the gig was that we had to loan the MC5 our gear. They came back from England with no gear. That was kind of the end before they broke up.
I heard back in 1971 you played a disastrous show at the Lansing Mall. Is that true?
Yeah, we did. There was somebody running for Lansing City Council that asked us to play in the middle of the Lansing Mall by the fountain to raise awareness for their campaign. We brought out our Marshall stacks. It only lasted one song. We got kicked out because everyone was running out of the stores going, “What the hell is this?” Later that same day we ended up getting arrested on Baker Street. A friend of ours said, “You can play in our front yard.” So we set up on Baker Street. The cops stopped us before we even started. They said, “We’ve had a complaint on the noise level.” We said, “We haven’t even played yet,” and they said, “If you play, you’re going to jail.” So you know what we did? We played “John Rock ‘n’ Roll Sinclair” and got arrested.
The Dogs are often associated with both Michigan and Los Angeles, but didn’t you move overseas for a bit, too?
We had moved to England in ’78 from Los Angeles. We sold everything and moved over there. It ended up being like “Spinal Tap” and management pulled out. We ended up squatting in London in the middle of January. That’s when we moved back to Lansing and eventually L.A.
What has the band been up to these days?
In January, we released a brand new foursong 7-inch EP, “Ain’t Going Nowhere,” on white vinyl. It’s on Smelvis Records. We shot a video for that. We’ve been doing a slew of shows in the San Diego and L.A. area. We’re coming back to Lansing and letting everyone know we’re still kicking ass.
With Glitter Trash, Grey Matter and Luke Warm and the Not So Hots 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9, $15/$12 adv. All ages Mac’s Bar 2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing (517) 484-6795, macsbar.com