Of Doggy Style
By: De Fen
So...This is a kind of off kilt interview for the likes of me. I'm fairly certain that I've broken form and am actually behaving like a journalist which is rather cringe-worthy in it's way. If I had it my way I'd never behave in this manner. I suppose I'd prefer to carry on per usual which is actually more like a publicist I suppose. That is, I generally find people whose work communicates something that I can understand enough to appreciate and then ask them a bunch of questions and write a favorable opening paragraph. I know, I know, I must come across as remarkably schmoozy. Want to know what is even worse? My "schmoozing" is actually genuine. Cringe. Did I mention that a key factor in whether I can understand a creative work enough to appreciate it involves the world views expressed there in? I like to think of myself as a fairly good listener and when I sense that an artist has a completely fucked world view I have serious problems understanding them or their work. It was for this reason that when I listened to the review copy of Doggy Style's Punkers Anthem that I genuinely didn't know what to make of it.

It was a combo of the lyrics getting in the way of the music and perhaps a collision of identity politics that lead me to write this review: http://www.punkglobe.com/doggystylereview0911.html , which I thought was a sort of funny way of expressing that I was queer or "three thumbed" and likewise not impressed with with what I took to be sloppy use of language in the context that it was used. Of course when one writes a less than favorable review, one will hear about it as well I should have. This, in part is what I heard from Eric Vedder, bass player of Doggy Style:

"You came off as a lazy, self indulgent snot with little knowledge of our band or scene. Labroring through your retarded antics about your childhood and thumbs to get to the blip about our record made me want to poop on your porch."

Lazy, I take issue with. Self indulgent snot? Possibly. In any case, it did make me laugh and kind of re-inspired my initial curiosity as to what these dudes were on about. So we set up a day and time to do an interview. I thought it might be an interesting discussion. I knew the whole "word police" thing was going to come up and for the record I have no interest in suggesting what words people are to use and what words people are to omit. I do have an interest in meaning and can be almost tiresomely literal. That's the way I happen to be hardwired and also think that if people are using language as something other than a communication tool then I am likely to disregard it and them. I am fairly certain that there have always been bands like Bad Brains and Screwdriver for example who don't seem to care for queers or people who aren't pale skinned. I think it rather narrow minded but am fairly certain that people are entitled to be just as narrow minded as they'd like and I suppose I'd rather hear all about it before I ended up buying one of their albums or going to one of their shows or otherwise supporting what I consider to be a fat load of nonsense. So in an odd kind of way I have no real problem with words like "faggot" and "dyke" and would actually prefer people who don't care for the gay community to use whatever language they see fit to express that. Again, I don't want to end up hearing about it after I've supported you. And yes, I am perfectly aware that there is a sort of grey area in all this where people use this language in ways that I would consider flip. That is, devoid of meaning.

Returning to the "politically correct": There's a few interesting discussions to be had about this concept of "political correctness." People seem to get confused as to whether the "politically correct" involves the use of euphemism to refer to a so called "protected class" of people -as in referring to a person who is under 4 foot tall as "vertically challenged"- or if the "politically correct" is actually a measure of self censorship for those who are careless with language. My definition leans towards the latter description, which by definition is just the extension of mutual respect, right? A glaring problem I see w/ this notion of "political correctness" is that the phrase "politically correct" is a euphemism in itself, a particularly tricky one because we haven't an agreed upon a meaning for it.

All that said, here's the interview I did with Eric Vedder of Doggy Style. Despite myself, I actually found him to be a rather sympathetic character and think that at the very least this might be a spring board for some sort of discourse. Of course, I always think that. Here you go:
Punk Globe- This is a bit of a strange interview. Could you tell the Punk Globe readers how we came in contact with each other?
Eric Vedder- You wrote a review of our record that stunk so I contacted you to see where you were coming from. Then you gave me a bit of feedback so I saw where you were coming from. My initial reason for contacting you was that I thought the review was a little disrespectful and you explained why.
Punk Globe- Did you think it was kind of funny what I did with the thumbs at least?
Eric Vedder- No.
Punk Globe- You didn't?
Eric Vedder- Well, I honestly had no idea why you wrote that. After I contacted you, you made it very clear. So, I guess if I was bagging on something that I didn't like that would have been funny.
Punk Globe- Ok, let's talk about that. Pardon me if I get too literal on you, but the actual lyric was something like "I'm a punker not a goofy pop faggot." What does that mean?
Eric Vedder- Well, we're all older guys and a lot of our girlfriends, spouses, and even acquaintances are into pop. That song is basically about one of our band members girlfriends who asked us why we don't write songs like Good Charlotte or whatever is on the radio. His response was "Fuck no, we're punk." That's where that came from. When we got back together and we were writing our songs we had a band member's wife at the time really not like the stuff we were writing. She was trying to get him to do some poppy stuff, that's where that lyric came from. It was originally called "Accept it" and he changed it to "Faggot". Me and one of the other guitar players saw it on a set list and we were like "Aw, don't call it that." So he changed it back to Accept It and then when the records came out he switched it back. When we asked him why he said that it was ridiculous to worry about being politically correct. The fact remains that I was against the song title being faggot because I would not want any of our gay friends or fans to take it the wrong way. But I do believe that you should not have to worry about offending people if you are playing punk. I wouldn't personally have chosen that title but I agree in theory with his reasons for not changing it back to Accept it. There have been a lot of bands before us, like The Descendents who have said, "Your pants are too tight you fucking homo" I don't know that they're bashing on the gay community, but I do think that that lyric is clever.
Punk Globe- Aw, I thought my thumbs were much more clever than the pants thing. Oh well. You know, it's not so much about the "politically correct" or word policing as it is about making meaning. Don't you think that when people are using language -which is a communication tool- that many of us will take that language literally?
Eric Vedder- I don't necessarily think that's right. I mean, we grew up in California, right? Everyone is a "fag" and everyone is a "dick" and none of it is literal but we grew up with that in our vocabulary. Maybe it's sloppy slang and a bit ridiculous at our age to use but at the same time this record is a throwback to those days. Most of those songs were written when we were 15 years old. There's only about 5 or 6 new ones. That's what it was, an ode to the punk we grew up listening to and there wasn't a lot of thought. I mean, he didn't change it to "faggot" to provoke thought.
Punk Globe- That's interesting. I didn't really know what to make of it. Now it seems as though the album was supposed to fun and not too concerned with meaning or language. Like a lot of the songs are about jacking off in one's tube socks and do-nuts. Can you talk about the subject matter of new album?
Eric Vedder- Well, we're all over the place. We've all contributed lyrics to songs, but the music comes first. We'll write a riff and then we'll write lyrics around it. We like to talk about immature kinda guy stuff. Maybe we come off as a little frat-ish in our lyrics, but we're about just fun punk stuff. It cracks me up when we get the skinheads out on the floor cause there's nothing scary about us at all. Donut Shop Rock was written when we were about 15 years old so that song is probably 27 years old. Then Ladies From Neptune was a song our guitar player wrote. It's really funny because there's been college papers in psychology classes written about it, but it was really just Eddie poking fun at the guys in the band. The short guy on bass, an Asian guy on guitar who was the fish eating pelican, and Eddie was the cool shark. It was a parody of the band. Beat Your Meat was the first of the new songs when we got back together. Eddie, who was one of the original members is really open about masturbating. It's probably one of his favorite pastimes. It's one of those songs that, regrettably get the crowd the happiest.
Punk Globe- So the letter you sent me. One of the things that you mentioned was that I might not be very familiar or knowledgeable about your scene. Could you discuss your scene a bit?
Eric Vedder- Well, I said quite a few things. You had mentioned not being interested in poking your head behind the Orange Curtain. That really cracked me up because we're an Orange County band and there's a big OC punk scene that is really, really clique-ish. When Doggy Style was big back in the 1980s we were kinda shunned by Orange County. The same sort of thing happens right now. We'll play L.A., San Diego and people go off, but in Orange County it's just so clique-ish. I was sort of offended by that.
Punk Globe- It didn't occur to me that you might be on the outs of an out.
Eric Vedder- I like Orange County. I like living here, but I think the scene sucks. All my friends who have been in bands over the years like the guys from Disguster and Heavy Dirt have all made records that have been like, "Fuck the scene" because it's kind of lame. We really don't want to be the big Orange County band.
Punk Globe- Gotcha. I haven't gone to any shows in Orange County since I was a teenager. That was just a place to either get beaten up by skinheads or have to deal with snotty people in the cafes.
Eric Vedder- Well that's how it is. We just played a show with Guttermouth which was kind of a bummer. Guttermouth was a huge draw and it was cool to support them. We must have been playing in front of 500 people and our guitar player's girlfriend got beat up by skinheads. It was horrible. Like prison style. They pulled her in a back room and had guys blocking the door while they sat on her and beat her. I don't even know if our guitar player is coming back. We're not playing any Orange County shows because of that. We've played one show since we finished the record and that was that.
Punk Globe- So there's a chance that you had to create your own community.
Eric Vedder- Yeah. In the 1980s we had Fender's Ballroom and that was kind of like our community. Billy Caldwell of Flipside Fanzine was always a do-it-yourself-er and he's out of L.A. and we were part of his scene out there. Those shows always go well. We hooked up with some guys in San Diego. We get requests to play all over the place and we'll do some of that to support the record. Our intention is to play Punk Rock Picnic cause the venue will be fun and there's going to be thousands of punks there. That's one of the only Orange County shows we want to play. We just turned down a show with T.S.O.L. who I love and The Dickies because we really don't want to be playing Orange County with what happened.
Punk Globe- So Punkers Anthem is your first release in almost 20 years. How did that come about?
Eric Vedder- We played a show with The Vibrators over in Long Beach a little over a year ago. It was funny because the show was at The Blue Cafe where you go downstairs and it's really super hot and there's no ventilation or anything. I thought we played a shitty show and when we got done this guy comes up and introduced himself as a record company person. I couldn't wait to get out of there, cool off, and go have a cigarette. I went upstairs and there was salsa music so we were salsa dancing and I bumped into our guitar player. So I let him know that there was a guy downstairs from a record company that wanted to talk but I was too hot and wanted to get out of there. So he followed me downstairs to get our amps and I pointed the record company guy out. A few weeks later Mark called and said we had a record deal with Cleopatra Records. What they did was they bought our back catalog and then released the new record for us. That was the deal. We were excited about that because otherwise we probably would have had to put the record out ourselves. There aren't a lot of 40 year old guys getting record deals anymore, especially for a major independent record company like that with such good distribution. We're promoting the album right now and we haven't received any bad reviews except for the one you wrote (laughs). So that's what's going on. They put the record out on green vinyl, which I'm excited about. I'm a big vinyl buff.
Punk Globe- Do you have any parting words for the Punk Globe readers?
Eric Vedder- Yeah. Listen to our record and don't let the song title fool you. I hope you have a good time with it. http://www.cduniverse.com/sresult.asp?said=17708957