Andrew Bennett 21/12/2010
The Dogbones are the new band of one the most distinctive UK guitar sounds in modern music. Jon O' Brion or Crispin Gray as you might well know him rose to infamy with Katie Jane Garside in Daisy Chainsaw in the early 90's whose uncompromising art punk and internally violent stage performances achieved critical and commercial success particularly when the single 'Love Your Money' shot into the top 40. Of course like all the best stories this success was to be short lived as the young and volatile Garside had a breakdown of sorts; shaved her head and disappeared to the isolation of the Lake District for near enough 10 years…
Until a chance meeting of Crispin and Katie at a party led to the formation of the wonderful Queenadreena whose line-up included Pete Howard of The Clash and a revolving door of bassists lastly and notably being Crispin's girlfriend Nomi who now fronts Dogbones. Queenadreena quickly gained a reputation as one of the UK's best loved underground bands as a great live act and over the course of 4 studio albums, 'Taxidermy', 'Drink Me', 'The Butcher and The Butterfly' (not to mention self released rarities nugget 'Ride A Cock Horse') and the most recent, 'Dijin' which could well be their swansong if this interview is anything to go by.
Thankfully Dogbones debut album released on Buzzsaw records is made of the same dirty guitar garage sleaze pop that made Crispin famous. He's certainly aided and abetted by a stellar line-up which includes a double drummer line-up of old Daisy Chainsaw co-hort Vince Johnson and Bambi from the notorious Selfish Cunt and the aforementioned Nomi on vocals, who also happens to be Crispin's partner. Bass duties are handled by the fantastically named Mikalis Vakalis.
Tell me why Dogbones started?
“I needed to work more than the previous band I was in was working, the previous band who shall remain nameless, haha… um… Queenadreena. I wanted to work more than the singer of Queenadreena wanted to work… so that's why it started. Fine by me… but I really like to be in a band, I'm not a solo project kind of guy.”
What happened with the last Queenadreena record 'Dijin'? It's a great record but seemed to just kind of slip out with very little fanfare in the UK.
“The last album (Dijin) did come out in the UK, but it was so low key because Katie kind of disappeared so there was little point in promoting it. Personally it's my favourite (Queenadreena) by far so it was a shame but there you go… So here are Dogbones, it's not been an easy ride but we are trying very hard. So far the reviews have all been really good, I'm sure we'll get some bad ones, but we are just waiting for that, haha!”
In the press release Crispin is credited as Jon Orion… Was this some kind of attempt for the band to be accepted on its own merits and not to be judged on what has gone before?
“Kind of but it's not actually that secret as Jon Orion are my middle names. I guess I did want to make a split from the old thing. I'm not really trying to kid people as to who I am.”
Your guitar sound is so distinctive…
“Haha, yeah, I've not gone to any great lengths to hide that! Fair enough Katie wanted to do her own thing and I wanted to do my own thing as well but I wanted to do something as a team. A lot of this record is down to Nomi as well. If we do record another album (which I hope we do!) it will have more dimensions to it, but this one is certainly very direct and doesn't have the same ethereal element that Queenadreena did, I wanted this band to be different”.
Was it hard to get Vince in the band?
“I've never really lost touch with anyone in Daisy Chainsaw, I've always been aware of where he is so it wasn't hard to ask him to be in the band. I even see Rich (Adams, Daisy Chainsaw bassist) occasionally.
Why have two drummers in the band?
“The reason I wanted to have two drummers is I thought there would an instant identity in that department and I wouldn't have to be too worried about what the hell they were playing; if there were two of them I could just let them loose without too much description. In the past I've always been quite concerned about what the drummer is doing as for me rock and roll has always been about the guitar and drums and how they lock together, with these two guys and in Bambi from Selfish Cunt, it kind of sounds like a mess, but a good mess!”
Is this really the end for Queenadreena (I ask with some sadness!)?
“(some hesitation) I wouldn't rule out some kind of reunion gigs in the future. I don't think there will be another record from Queenadreena though, I would be very surprised myself. I haven't heard from Katie in well over a year and I don't know where she is. Like George Harrison said after The Beatles, all things must pass. We've got quite a long way to go with The Dogbones though, I feel that very strongly.”
I'm dishing the dirt a little, mainly out of my own curiosity, but why did Pete Howard leave Queenadreena?
“Um, yeah I wish you didn't ask that, myself and Nomi miss Pete terribly, I'd rather you asked Katie”…
Did you find those onstage scuffles with Katie painful?
“No, not at all, not once, not ever. I always thought it was quite fun. She may have meant it to be painful but I never found it that way. When you are on stage and the adrenaline is flowing someone could punch you in the face and you wouldn't feel it. If you feel ill go onstage in front of a few hundred people and you won't feel ill anymore. There is no bad blood between myself and Katie, we are still friends even though we don't speak at the moment, I'm not surprised, she's done it (Queenadreena) for quite a few years. Disappearing is just the type of person she is, I've always known her to disappear for a few years and then she pops up again. There is no bad feeling from me or Katie. ”
Teo Miller produced the record and you have a long history, going back to Daisy Chainsaw, Dizzy Q Viper and of course the most recent Queenadreena record, what is it about this relationship that has managed to consistently produce such good results?
“I'd worked with Teo before and he said he wanted to do it and had a studio that wouldn't cost 8 million pounds to do it and we could record all set up live.”
How has the changing landscape of the music industry affected you?
“Oh yeah, definitely, in the obvious ways, illegal downloading has changed it massively and CD sales are down. There are good things and bad things about that. Some of the good things are that being an artist if you can develop your own audience you can do a lot better rather than having to recoup a big advance, with our current label we signed a licensing deal which means that we came to them with a fully recorded album so we don't have to recoup the recording costs; but we had to do it fairly cheaply as there wasn't some big record company with a big cheque... Ideally bands would not sign to a record company, but at the moment the trick is to try and market yourself without that and a lot of bands don't know how to do that yet. Good packaging does encourage people to buy the damn thing.”
What next for The Dogbones?
“In the immediate future, touring extensively is something that The Dogbones want to do. For the last few years Queenadreena were kind of absent from the UK and we really want to get out there and of course overseas and particularly France. The whole wanting to tour more thing goes back to the original question. “
If you had to pick 5 songs of your career that you are most proud of what would they be?
Love Your Money - Daisy Chainsaw
Never Gonna Get Us - The Dogbones
Pretty Like Drugs - Queenadreena
You Be My Friend - Daisy Chainsaw
The Whole World Is Weird - The Dogbones
The Dogbones www.myspace.com/thedogbonesuk
Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dogbones/17627469013