Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

22Dec/0818

Scattered Musical Thoughts: GNR, Supermint and Dog Society

I couldn't exactly think of a subject line that was completely appropriate, and the above seemed to at least cover it, although there are probably some that would argue (myself included!) that this blog is ALL about "scattered musical thoughts!"

Anyway.

Friday night, I got together with my buddy Corey for a long overdue hangout (two years in the making at least) that didn't involve a concert, or running into each other in public. Corey and I actually MADE PLANS to hang out at his house in his rock and roll man cave, where I could check out his pristine Guns 'n Roses pinball machine that he picked up about a year ago.

Too awesome

Another view of the 'cave

There's a ton of individual details about the machine here. Corey's machine is unique because it is an early prototype that never saw the inside of a bar/club/etc - condition is PERFECT. What I liked about it is that while it has the more modern look and feel of today's pinball machines, it retains the classic feel and action of the older pinball machines. By the 90s, the newer pinball machines had become so modernized that they lost (in my opinion) the actual plot of what a pinball machine should be about. Very similar to music - all of 'em became digitally based, when all I really wanted was the "analog" feel of the classic older machines.

I had a lot of fun playing with it, and could have easily gotten sucked in for the entire evening, but I was consciously aware that the real reason I was there was to hang out, converse, catch up.....and that's just what we did.

We of course talked a lot of music, and one of my first topics was something that had just occurred to me in the car ride over. I had to know if Corey had/heard/was aware of one of my favorite nobody-else-knows-this-band-but-me bands, a Chicago band named Supermint. We could probably spend an entire blog talking about Supermint, but here it is in a nutshell. During the late 90s I was co-hosting heavy metal karaoke with Cleveland guitar wizard Billy Morris, at his Parma club The Revolution on Monday nights. For a string of Mondays, I kept hearing this BAND on the club sound system, and finally had to ask who the band was.

I found out from Billy that the band was called Supermint, and acquired their 1999 self-titled CD a short time later from one of the local record stores. It's been one of my favorite CDs for nearly 10 years now. I never got a chance to see the band live, but recently found out that they do play the occasional reunion show in Chicago, so I am hoping to catch them live someday. They put out a second CD called Off To Stupidville in 2004 that didn't quite measure up to the debut for me, and called it quits at some point after that.

Most days my favorite tune from the disc is "Shouldn't It Feel Good." Recently, it's been the album opener "What's Going On," but really I love the entire disc.

Their Myspace page compares them to Oasis, Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, Semisonic, and Crowded House. Definitely hear the Crowded House and Cheap Trick comparisons.

Supermint - What's Going On

As it happens, you can grab the debut as an MP3 download for $5.99 from Amazon, and you should!

Corey had of course, heard of Supermint. Apparently they played a ton of Cleveland shows with Enuff Z'nuff, who practically lived at Billy's various clubs in the 90s, so I'm not quite sure how I missed seeing them.

As I looked through his CD collection, I came across a bunch of titles that surprised me. Titles that turned out to belong to his wife Lisa. I finally determined that I'm better friends musically with Lisa. The one CD of Lisa's that floored me when I saw it, was Test Your Own Eyes by Dog Society.

Now that I'm older, I hate everything...

"Love Is All Gone" by Dog Society from Test Your Own Eyes (1993)

The Dog Society album came out in 1993, and the band had a sound that was very similar to other bands of the time like Dig, Dada, and I'm sure if I keep thinking, I could think of other bands that start with "D" as well! I'm guessing that if you know any Dog Society, "Love Is All Gone" is probably the one you know. In my little high school rock band, we covered the album opening "When Your Dead."

Our cover song criteria was pretty simple - We liked cover songs that sounded cool and were fun to play, yet were uncomplicated enough that we could cover them. Stuff like "Found Out About You" by the Gin Blossoms, "Dream All Day" by The Posies, and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" by the Spin Doctors all sounded cool. Sometimes we'd cover a tune that might get blank stares from everyone, but we liked it - "A Girl Like You" by The Smithereens, was one. And "When You're Dead" by Dog Society was another example.

We had heard "Love Is All Gone" on local radio and liked it enough that my friend Jim acquired the disc. When we heard "When You're Dead," we knew that we had to work up a cover version. We always had a lot of fun playing that one.

"When You're Dead" and "Love Is All Gone" are back to back on Test Your Own Eyes, and after that, the rest of the album really didn't click with me, but those two songs are great.

After I got home from Corey's, I was curious to look up Dog Society, and see where their story ended. As you can imagine, their band name doesn't really lend itself to Google. Test Your Own Eyes was produced by Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf for Bongload Productions. The pair had just produced Beck's Mellow Gold album which um, did pretty well! While searching for Dog Society info, some of the Bongload info led me to this really cool documentary on Mellow Gold that you will enjoy.

After working with Dog Society, Rob and Tom produced several albums for Elliott Smith - Either/Or, XO, and Figure 8. Schnapf was recruited by Smith's family to complete From a Basement on a Hill after the unfortunate passing of Smith. Recently, Schnapf has been involved with The Vines and Saves The Day. Rothrock has been involved in soundtrack work and also produced James Blunt's Back to Bedlam.

I guess they're doing okay - but what about those Dog Society guys? According to their Myspace page, they called it quits about a year after the release of Test Your Own Eyes:

Dog Society was formed in the late 1991 in the New York City area. After making a demo tape and passing it along to various companies, They were signed to East West Records/Atlantic Records, and recorded one album titled Test Your Own Eyes. The album was produced by Rob Schnapf and Tom Rothrock, who went on to produce a number of albums for big names such as Elliott Smith, Beck and The Vines. They toured and played at a number of venues throughout the United States and They eventually broke up in 1994. Dog Society is Richie Guerzon, Bruce Erik Brauer, Ryan Bay, + Joey Rains. The cover was a life size sculpture created by Hans Nelman. Bruce Erik Brauer designed the logo and imprinted the CD with it. Larry Freemantle was the Art Director.

That's an interesting story about the album artwork!

I wouldn't go overboard and call the album a "lost classic" or anything crazy like that, but "When You're Dead" and "Love Is All Gone" are still two of my favorite songs from the 90s.

Dog Society - Love Is All Gone

Dog Society - When You're Dead

Relevant Links:

Supermint on Myspace

Purchase Supermint's music on Amazon - here and here

Purchase Dog Society's Test Your Own Eyes from Amazon - CD

Dog Society on Myspace

  • http://www.brokenheadphones.com Brian

    That is the best looking man cave ever. I am jealous.

  • http://www.dogalien.blogspot.com José

    i agree with brian, it is very impressive

  • http://www.worleygig.com Gail

    I just like that your friend has a room in his house called a “Rock & Roll Man Cave” or whatever the hell you said it was. Love it.

  • Matt Wardlaw

    Gail – a few of my friends have these “man cave” thingys. As did I, when I lived briefly with the girl I was with at the time a couple of years back.

    I think it’s a necessary separation of church and state that keeps the two sexes from killing each other!

  • http://www.myspace.com/spitforathena Levi Bailey

    Just wanted to let you know that I imported my Dog Society CD tonight, and I was looking for cover art (and not having much luck), and came across your blog. It’s always neat to find someone else who has actually heard of Dog Society, let alone enjoyed a couple of their songs. My uncle got me into them when I was fourteen or something. I think I found the CD at a Borders Outlet for $1.00. I enjoyed reading your story. Thanks.

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    Loved Dog Society, just found the CD in my collection after years of being in storage.

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  • Anonymous

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  • Just right

    They have a new album out today… Emerge – http://dogsociety.bandcamp.com/album/emerge :)

  • Just Right

    They have a new album out today… Emerge – http://dogsociety.bandcamp.com/album/emerge

  • DH

    Randomly came across this article while searching for information on
    Supermint. I never saw them live, but my dad knew a guy in the band and
    he gave me the CD….the one with the blue cover. Absolutely fantastic!
    I’d love to see them play one day here in the Chicago area.You can actually find it on Spotify amazingly enough.

  • Matt

    I don’t think they’re still together at all in any form, but I agree. I just picked up their second CD off Amazon, which I didn’t think was as good, but it was cool to get my hands on it all of these years later. Thanks for stopping by!

    https://www.amazon.com/Off-Stupidville-Supermint/dp/B00008A8JZ/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499974866&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=supermint+off+to+stupid