The Dogs Divine's Tom Hart Comments on Heavy Rocking Album "The Size of the Fight"
The Dogs Divine will tell you rock-n-roll is not dead. Even though the mainstream music industry rarely shines the spotlight beyond front persons, The Dogs Divine know the guitar still rules. “The Size of the Fight,” the second album under the group’s collar, will get the ladies swaying their hips while their musician boyfriends lock in on the band’s face-melting guitar solos. The Dogs Divine flavor their music with the whiskey breathed sounds and attitude of Motley Crue, Guns-N-Roses and AC/DC with callus knuckled, Pantera-type abrasiveness not seen in their classic rock heroes. They pay homage to one of these heroes, Queen, on their rendition of “In Love With My Car,” taken from “Night At The Opera,” one of vocalist Jim Hart’s favorite albums. However, the group isn’t afraid of stepping outside the confines of rock, as seen on “Gypsy King” and “Gussie.” Both tracks contain non-traditional rock instruments such as acoustic slide guitar, upright bass and violin. Every dog has its day and the Dogs Divine’s day is here. Look out baby, here come the Dogs!
Darren Cowan (Rex_84): How long did you take to record “Size of the Fight?” Did you take a different approach than you did with your first album?
Jim Hart: We financed it all ourselves so it took around fourteen months from start to finish…The main difference between the two, I guess, is that all the songs on the first were written before we hit the studio. We were constantly in the writing process on the second—we would go to the studio, lay down tracks, come back home and write a few more songs, then go back in.
Cowan: Did you notice anything after releasing your first album that you wanted to change when you recorded “Size of the Fight?”
Hart: I think the main thing we wanted to change was to kind of get a bit more diverse with what we could do. For myself I wanted to play some more intricate or more challenging bass lines than the first album.
Cowan: Your bio mentions how much heavier this album is compared to the first one. What brought about this change? Did you start listening to heavier bands?
Hart: No, we have always been into heavy bands, so there wasn’t a new influence there. I think it had a bit to do with me being way more involved in the writing process—I tend to gravitate towards a heavier sound.
Cowan: What things, not just bands, influenced you to start The Dogs Divine?
Hart: Well, I think just our love of rock’n’roll...the whole scene and attitude of it. Tom and I, being brothers, wanted to do something like this as well. We hadn’t really been in a band together for a very long time before this, so we thought what a great way to kind of ride off into the sunset type of thing.
Cowan: “The Size of the Fight” is very much a heavy rock album, but the track “Gypsy King” contains an upright bass and acoustic slide guitar. How did you conceive the idea for this song and its instruments?
Hart: I wrote the music to this years before the band ever came together. I had moved to some property on the south fork of the Sangamon River and I got inspired by it all. I just thought I should learn some slide techniques and this is what I came up with. I played it constantly for Tom to try to get him to write some lyrics to it and finally one night he did.
Cowan: Were your players familiar with the upright bass and slide guitar? Did your mates play these instruments but have no place to record them until now?
Hart: I did the acoustic guitar parts and the bass. I have had an upright for years. My mom and dad bought me one when I was in high school. I used it primarily for bluegrass music. When we started laying down the tracks for the song in the studio, I just felt that an upright would fit really well into the song. This is definitely the first time that I have ever had a need to record with those instruments.
Cowan:” One For the Ages” is a power ballad. What is the subject of this song?
Hart: It is about losing someone you are close to before it should be their time to go. Shawn, who was a very close friend of Tom’s, committed suicide. The first verse is about him.
Cowan: Some bands prefer to stay heavy all the time. Do you think these artists are being honest with their emotions? Do you feel an album should have this type of emotional honesty?
Hart: If that’s what they want to do, more power to them. I, however, love the different things a band can do and show. Black Sabbath did “Changes,” C.O.C. did “Without Wings,” Pantera did “Hollow,” and so on. I prefer to be taken on a type of ride when I listen to a band and that’s what we tried to do.
Cowan: The band found a home for that music when Tim King (Soil) heard a demo of "Hell Wouldn't Have Me" and signed you to Mortal Music Inc. Did you send out a lot of promotional packages? How did you feel when you received word of being signed?
Hart: No, we met Tim and just gave him a demo CD. I never get too excited about that type of stuff; we had been signed before. If I get a tour opening for Motorhead, then I will get excited.
Cowan: “Size of the Fight” has a southern rock, whiskey-drinking type of vibe. Is The Dogs Divine a party hardy rock-n-roll kind of band?
Hart: Yes, we definitely like our drink. We have left a few clubs when the sun was coming up the next day.
Cowan: The Dogs Divine has shared the stage with legendary artists such as Drowning Pool, Five Finger Death Punch, Jackyl, Skid Row, L.A.Guns, Ratt and many others. What have you learned about being a performer by watching these acts? Can you recall a certain performance that changed you?
Hart: To try to be a pro no matter what. If there is a ton of money, little or no money or whatever the situation is, just try to be pro and deliver a solid performance. I saw Joe Leste go out and do a killer show one night when we were on tour with them. As soon as he was done, he came off stage and just basically collapsed to the ground. Turns out, he was having some serious medical issue that was life threatening, but he showed up to perform and that’s what he did.
Cowan: Speaking of live gigs, what does the band have planned? Will we see you on a national tour soon?
Hart: Lord I hope, it has been tough. We have been offered a few tours, but something seems to always happen to screw it up for us. We are trying and hopefully we will be able to hit quite a few markets in the next few months.
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