A few years back , Springfield, Illinois rockers, The Dogs Devine made a bit of a yelp with their debut album Way Of Life, but line-up changes and industry b.s. kept the band from moving forward as quickly as they might have hoped.
Leap forward to 2011, and the beast is back, fangs bared, and the attitude has doubled. The Dogs Devine have just released Size of the Fight through Mortal Music. This time around the guys are prepared to make their bark as fearsome as their bite.
Size of the Fight shows the band taking their hard rock roots to a more aggressive metal edge, and it feels right on this band. It’s not forced, and it gives the album more balls than its predecessor.
The line-up of vocalist Tom Hart, bassist Jim Hart, guitarist Karl Von Heilman, and drummer Jeremiah Ross have created what they call “a hybrid mix of Motorhead, Pantera, Brand New Sin, and Revoker.” The guys are not trying re-invent the rock and roll wheel with Size of the Fight, but rather to simply create a damn good record you’ll want to listen to more than once. And at that, they have succeeded.
The album is infused with plenty of anthemic rockers, bluesy Southern flavors, and a shit ton of ferocity and attitude. Fans of 70’s and 80’s rock and metal will be pleased, but there is enough modern twist to keep it fresh. This week bassist Jim Hart took the time to jot down his commentary on the new album, track by track.
1. Dogs – Since Karl lives in New York and Tom and me are here in central Illinois, there was a lot of emailing song ideas back and forth and Skype calls. I remember first hearing this, after Karl sent it to me, and thinking this has got to be on the album. Its riff rock and I love that stuff. Tom sat down with it and with some minor changes he completed the lyrics to it. It’s our anthem – It totally encompasses what this band is about.
2. Overnight Sensation – This was a lyrical idea Tom had from way back. The main riff is actually a riff I used in a bridge part to another song I had written. It is basically about just being in a band and the music business in general. We wanted it to sound mean, kind of a pissed off type of thing.
3. FDLF – This is a song I wrote the music for shortly after the band first got together back in 2007. The chorus idea came from a shirt I saw Tommy Lee wear – “Fuck dancing lets fuck”. Tom and I were sitting around my kitchen table after quite a few drinks and I started playing it. He put the lyrics together in no time. It really shows our influence from the Sunset Strip bands we grew up listening to.
4. Gypsy King – I wrote the music to this way before the band was together. I had moved way out into the country and had a house right on the South Fork of the Sangamon River. I got inspired by my environment and came up with this weird tuning to play slide guitar. Several years later, Tom and I – again after downing quite a few drinks – while sitting at my table started to put this one together. Originally it was just going to be guitar and vocals with a “We Will Rock You” feel drum line behind it. Once we got in the studio though it kind of took a different turn. We decided we wanted to put more time into it. I brought in my old Kay M1 standup bass and played a root, 5th type of bluegrass thing on some of the verses. Karl then wrote a bunch of lead slide type parts to it. We decided to kick it with the whole band at the end. Tom’s vocals are really about himself and how we grew up way out in the country in a farming family but have always travelled around and experienced quite a bit. When we got older we both moved into the city and started playing shows.
5. Hell Wouldn’t Have Me – This is one of the first song s we wrote that would be one of our heavier rock tunes. This was another whiskey fueled song that was put together at my house. Tom makes references quite a bit to characters from the movie “Crossroads”. Jack Butler was portrayed by Steve Vai in that movie. The only thing we changed once we got into the studio was the solo section, which Karl wrote a new part and it turned out to be much better than what we were originally doing.
6. Brand New Addiction – Tom and I originally wrote this in 2008 sitting in a parking lot in Myrtle Beach while we were out on tour. It is basically about the band, once you hear us, we will be your “Brand New Addiction”.
7. One And Only – Tom wrote this and came up with the musical ideas to it. This is one of the songs that Paul Crosby (Saliva) played drums on. The song is completely about Tom growing up in the country, being a type of outsider, because we went to a school full of kids who were from town and their families had more money than us. But when he grew up he ended up doing what he loved and what was his escape when he was a younger. He got to meet and play shows with a lot of his idols. He gained something that money could never buy him.
8. I’m In Love With My Car – This is classic Queen. A cousin of ours left his record collection with us when we were little kids and Night At The Opera was one of them. I had one of those record players that was a little blue suitcase, and you opened it up and there was a turntable inside. I wore this album out. We wanted to do a remake and of course Queen was a huge influence on us. We didn’t want to do one that would be predictable and Tom didn’t want to do a song that Freddie sang on, for obvious reasons.
9. Join The Crowd – This song is basically about how we all go through hard times. Sooner or later most of us do. I like how Tom used or kind of paraphrased the Benjamin Franklin quote about Death and Taxes, mostly because I am a history nut. I think this song shows a different depth to our playability as well, with the breakdown part in the bridge and then the solo with the walking bass lines behind it. I wanted to do a Rex Brown or Michael Anthony inspired bass part there.
10. Gussie – This is a song I wrote at about three in the morning suffering from a bout of insomnia. I just popped up out of bed grabbed an acoustic and just started playing it. It was originally going to be an intro to a whole different song but we decided to make it an instrumental all on its own. I wrote the main guitar part and then wrote a harmony lead part to it. We decide to bring in a violinist named Anna Acosta to do the other part. She took my basic idea and added a lot of her own flare to it. I dedicated it to me and Tom’s Grandpa, Gussie Cary, who had passed away a couple of years ago. He was such a strong force in our lives and always supported us in our music. We did this our last day in the studio and Karl had a flight home so he wasn’t there, so I ended up playing it. We just did one take of it. Now when I listen to it I can hear a little buzz on a few notes. I am proud of those though. I had the guitar set up for some acoustic shows Tom and I were doing to help pay for the recording costs of this album and I had forgotten to change the strings to a heavier gauge for the lower tuning . I was just too busy trying to keep everything going to even think about it. So, when I hear those I know they are honest, they represent the hard work we put into staying together as a band and more importantly, Tom and I always being there for each other as brothers. Something our grandpa taught us.
11. One For The Ages – This song is about losing someone close to you before their time. In the first verse the lyrics mention Shawn. Shawn was a friend of Tom’s who took his own life back in 2007. We all experience loss, but this is the type that we question why for the rest of our lives.