A BRIEF HISTORY OF DOG MEAT BBQ
Dog Meat BBQ was formed in St. John's, Newfoundland, in the early summer of 1986. The main instigators were vocalist Mike O'Brien and guitarist Wallace Hammond, formerly of The Bubonic Plague, a punk band formed in St. John's in 1982, which had disbanded in Toronto in 1985. They were soon joined by bassist Duncan Snowden of The Riot, another St. John's punk band. Filling out the initial line-up was drummer Justin Hall, who had earlier played with Wallace in the legendary punk group Da Slyme.
Dog Meat BBQ made their first public appearance in June 1986 at the Peace-a-Chord, an annual alternative music festival held in Bannerman Park, St. John's. As Justin was unavailable for this gig, drumming duties were performed by Danny Thomas, who would later go on to play in The Thomas Trio and the Red Albino.
Justin returned later in the summer, at which time the band were joined by Tony Richards, another ex-member of Da Slyme, on harmonica and vocals. The resulting five-piece band then began making the rounds of the St. John's club scene. The group's repertoire included songs which had been done by The Bubonic Plague and Da Slyme, plus a growing number of new original tunes. The band also played covers of the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys, as well as punked-up versions of songs by Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and the Rolling Stones. (Read a list of cover versions done by Dog Meat BBQ over the years).
In December 1986, Dog Meat BBQ began recording its first album, a cassette-only release entitled Dead Dogs of the Summer of Love, which came out on the Vikki-Beat label in March of the following year. This tape, which included such soon- to-be-classics as "Kiss Me Godzilla", "Johnny was a Hero", "Barbie & Ken" and "Cruisin'", sold about 200 copies in the St. John's area. The tape also featured versions of songs which had ealier been performed by Da Slyme and The Bubonic Plague.
To celebrate the March 1987 release of Dead Dogs, Dog Meat BBQ played a special show at the Cornerstone, a "video disco" on George Street in St. John's. To spice up this show, the band decided to put the club's giant video screen to use. Wallace and Mike put together a video collage presentation which ran on the screen behind the band throughout their two sets. It included footage from war movies, cartoons, the news, soap operas and whatever else they could come up with. Pictures and a review of this show can be found elsewhere on this website.
In the fall of 1987, Duncan left town for a few months, and new bassist Doug Ivey was brought in as his replacement. Doug's initiation into Dog Meat BBQ came with the recording of music and a DIY video for "Santa's Last Ride", a holiday tune formerly done by The Bubonic Plague. Doug, who dressed as a christmas tree for the video, remained with the band after Duncan's return in early 1988. At this time, Duncan switched from bass to guitar.
Shortly after this, in the spring of 1988, the party came to an end when Wallace decided to leave the band. After an abortive attempt to keep the band going, the remaining members decided to retire the Dog Meat BBQ name. While the group had planned to record and release a second album for posterity's sake, only one song, "A Nice Big Shit," was completed before the project was abandoned.
After the demise of Dog Meat BBQ, Mike, Tony, Duncan and Justin continued to play together in a succession of bands, including The Groovy Shitheads, Kow Kudd Kasserole, The Last Gang in Town, Dr. Cod's Psychedelic Stew, and probably a few other groups whose names nobody can remember. Mike and Tony also played in local clubs as a duo called 2000 Perforations, and occasionally with Duncan as The Hangin' Tree-O. This all came to an end in 1992, when both Tony and Mike left St. John's, Tony to become resident nurse in the small fishing community of Change Islands and Mike to attend grad school in Kingston, Ontario. Wallace and Doug, meanwhile, continued to work together in the experimental group Wet Cheese Delerium.
By 1995, the various ex-members of Dog Meat BBQ thought of their old band as ancient history, something remembered only by stalwarts of the St. John's punk/alternative scene.
But a major change came in the summer of 1995, when Mike and Tony both happened to be in St. John's on holidays at the same time. Just for old times' sake, they got together with Duncan, and three members of the death metal band Necropolis, to play a gig at the LSPU Hall under the name Garden of Heathens. During their second set, Wallace, who was doing sound that night, joined them on stage for a few songs. Thus old sparks were rekindled.
The following December, at Duncan's instigation, Dog Meat BBQ got together for a "Nine-and-a-halfth Year Anniversary" reunion show at Vinyl's in St, John's. The reunion show, which also featured performances by Wet Cheese Delerium and Ditch, drew a surprisingly large crowd. The band enjoyed this gig so much that they performed again at the Ship Inn in August 1996 and yet again in December of that year. It seemed that the band was gradually coming together again as a going concern, as evidenced by the fact that they had begun writing new songs.
A few days after the December show, Dog Meat BBQ went into the studio with producer Don Ellis to record Hang Up Yer Raw Hides, another cassette-only release on the Vikki-Beat label. The tape featured some newly-written songs, along with some material written in 1988 and originally intended for the never-completed second Dog Meat BBQ album, as well as a few songs originally performed by Mike, Tony and Duncan in Kow Kudd Kasserole.
Mike moved back to St. John's in late 1997, and Tony returned the following summer. In the meantime, however, Duncan had departed for the land Down Under, so the band continued as a five-piece.
In August 1998, Dog Meat BBQ recorded a cover version of "Freedom to
Freak Out" by Peter
Narváez for the compilation CD
Cover Story: 15 Newfoundland Bands cover 15 Newfoundland
Classics, released by Alice Productions in December
of that year. The CD also included a cover version of the BBQ's
"Dance of the Flaming Assholes" performed by Fur-Packed Action.
By this time, Dog Meat BBQ were beginning to perform more frequently, sharing bills with local groups like Bucket Truck, Sunday Noise and Hardliner. In August 1999, the band performed at the Pyrate Festival at the Ship Inn, hosted by Suzy Pyrate & the Bog Pixie Warriors.
In November 1999, Dog Meat BBQ again took to the studio to record their first CD, Close Enough for Rock & Roll. The CD was recorded "live off the floor," directly to DAT, with no over-dubs or remixing, in order to give the songs a rough-edged "warts 'n' all" feel. The CD, with front cover art by Wallace Ryan, was released in late December of 1999. It has so far met with a favourable response, receiving a very positive review from Mark Vaughan-Jackson of The Telegram.
At the present time, Dog Meat BBQ are performing to odd gig around St. John's, and beginning preparations to record their next CD. They are also slated to play at the International Sound Symposium in St. John's in July 2000.
To be continued...