Free And Wild: An Interview with Jo Capitalicide of Iron Dogs
Interview by Rich Leggatt
Much to my delight there is currently a resurgence of interest in classic Heavy Metal and NWOBHM that's happening around the world. The music that I grew up listening to, the music that I once played in my band at the tail end of the 80's and into the early 90's, is finding a place in 2014. It's a revival that has brought several metal acts out of retirement and back onto the scene in hopes that this new generation of metalheads will find their music relevant once again.
But what's even more fascinating is the fact that young musicians are picking up where we dinosaurs left off. They're carrying the torch into the 21st century, for a genre of music that had its heyday more than 30 years ago! But it's more than just a simple reboot. It's a redefining of the style. A reinvention if you will, not unlike the grunge movement of the 90's, of this vintage art form. I for one am happy to say that one of the innovators of this unintentional reincarnation is a Canadian act called Iron Dogs.
Iron Dogs hail from Ottawa, Ontario and they have recently released their second LP, Free And Wild through Iron Bonehead Productions. Iron Dogs are Dan Lee on drums and Jo Capitalicide on everything else (guitar, bass, synth and vocals). I was fortunate enough to be able to ask Jo a few questions about Iron Dogs. Admittedly I didn't really know anything about Iron Dogs until HMS editor-in-chief, Ken Gallant, brought them to my attention. However, it took only one song from Free And Wild to get me hooked, and I've been listening to them ever since.
Iron Dogs are simply reinterpreting Heavy Metal as they hear it. In doing so they've created an entirely new style with many specific influences. They've replaced the seriousness of vintage metal with humor, satire and irony. Watch their video for Firebird and you'll understand what I mean. Here is what Jo had to say to us about Iron Dogs:
HMS: My first exposure to Iron Dogs was the video for Firebird. I think my reaction could be broken down into three stages: Surprise. Laughter. Addiction. Now I can't get enough of your LP, Free And Wild. How has the response been to the album here in Canada?
Jo: That's mighty kind of you to say my friend! While we don't aim to please, that's what we were going for. Here in cold, icy, shitty Canada the response has been great. Lots of gig offers and people mail-ordering records from us.
HMS: So how is it that two young Canadian dudes from Ottawa came to form a successful NWOBHM band in 2011? Would you say that your music is indicative of your hometown's metal scene?
Jo: There's not much bands playing stuff like this in town. Exciter and Ivory Knight, who where doing it in the 80's, still play occasionally. Contemporary bands playing something like this aren't around. We always joke about tracking down the guys from Witchkiller or Tzar.
"In all honesty, we're not trying to sound like any band or genre."
HMS: Has Iron Dogs always been just yourself and Dan? Is it just the two of you on stage at a live show?
Jo: On our first LP "cold Bitch" we had a third member, Aidan Donovan, who played second guitar. We don't play live gigs. That solves that problem doesn't it now?
HMS: I noticed on your Facebook page that Iron Dogs' music has gotten some positive exposure outside of North America.
Jo: The most positive feedback is mostly coming from Scandinavia and Europe.
HMS: I know that Iron Dogs have listed a paragraph of bands (amongst other things) as influences, but could you narrow it down to maybe a top 5 of major influential acts, metal or otherwise, that have inspired your music?
Jo: In all honesty, we're not trying to sound like any band or genre. It's just how our interpretation of heavy metal comes out sounding. Sure when you write a riff here and a melody here a band might come to mind. Sure we make funny descriptions like "Ok, so do the Gotham City beat for the whole song then?" for example.
HMS: Is the Fender Stratocaster your sole choice of guitar when Iron Dogs are and recording?
Jo: Yeah they're the only guitars we've ever used. Mine's an Eric Johnson '57 custom reissue with single coil pick ups. Not the typical heavy metal sound. A lot of reviewers have been shitting on the guitar sound. We like it. We think it sounds ancient. We're doing divebombs on a regular Fender tremolo. We don't even use a Floyd Rose. I think maybe for one practice I might have used a Gibson flying V.
HMS: I love the, how can I describe it, Valhalla-esque theme to your lyrics as well as your album and promo art.
Jo: In reality my ancestors slowed down European Colonialism by about 500 years when they killed the Vikings at L'anse-Aux-Meadows. Hats off to them and to those who resist to this day!
HMS: Thanks so much Jo for taking the time to answer our questions and talk about Iron Dogs.
Jo: Thanks a lot. It's thanks to people like you that there is an underground network in heavy metal!
Rich Leggatt, HMS