Dog Daisies. A back and Forth Interview.

Life in the fast lane

Hi Stephen, thanks for taking the time for Clunk.

Who does what in Dog Daisies?

It’s usually just me plus whoever is free and up for playing some songs.

On the Eagletism tour this October I’m doing 2 shows down South with my Bristol buddies Robin Williams and Paul Morris from the psych-pop band Vinegar and also Elsie Plimmer will be playing some guitar and singing. She usually performs under Watch Paint Dry and she’s amazing. Then the rest of the tour is with two lovely fellas from Lancaster: Joel Maudsley on drums and Niall Ingham on bass.

On the album itself, Paul Dobson and Joe Kondras play bass and drums respectively and Jo Gillot contributes vocal gold-dust to four of the tracks.

Lancaster is such a small place that everyone is already pre-occupied with about 6 other musical projects, so being a “proper” band is just a fast-track way to loneliness and disappointment.

Why the name Dog daisies? Have any of you lot got green fingers?

My friends Charlie and Ben set up an art shop in Lancaster which was open for a year or so. It was this lovely place filled with ceramics, shirts and prints that they made.  Charlie did a print called “Dog Daises”; I’m not sure if the misspelling was deliberate but it is charming and I loved the name and the print.

I have read somewhere that you guys have been inspired by 80s movies… any films in particular?

Well basically films set in small towns on the periphery of beautiful natural environments or coming-of-age films I think. And definitely Terrence Mallick. He has a way of pouring emotion and connection into the simplest scenes; he can shoot a rain dropping onto a leaf and it takes you back to being in the womb.

On the coming-of-age front; Stand by Me, E.T., Breaking Away, Mean Creek. Anything with a quarry, camping and cycling in it. A lot of my childhood was spent crawling through tunnels, riding along abandoned railway lines and climbing up trees so I feel a silly kinship for the characters in those types of films. (Although I’m a grown-up and don’t do that now).

The debut album, Eagletism, is available on October 18th. Why this title? Tell us a bit about the songs.

I made a collage of an eagle flying over a motorway and it became like a portal into a magic world full of fields, ditches, crags, underpasses.

The motorway seemed to be cutting through all these beautiful landscapes. It’s a form of time travel or teleportation I think, to be in one place then a couple of hours later be a hundred miles away and not able to recollect the places you’ve zoomed through. The eagle was the opposite of that. It sees and experiences all the beauty that gets missed, so that’s ‘eagletism’. I think we could all try to be a bit more ‘eagle’ and a bit less ‘motorway.’

Individually, a lot of the songs have come from staring out the window of something fast-moving and I would imagine things like a mattress being dragged down a valley or grass being blown over in a strong gale but hear how those things sounded played on guitars and keyboards and other instruments. Very image-based. So songs like Valley Mattress Valley or Wind Tunnel are just me trying to re-create those images with music.

During the writing process, I was very wary of trying to intellectualise or sum up where it was going in words or concious thought; trying to describe music using words is like trying to put a snorkle on a fish. It doesn’t need it and in the end it dies. I didn’t want my portal to slam shut on me, so I just didn’t question it too much. Just kept “rIding for the feeling” as Bill Callahan says / sing-says.

Looking back now it’s all done and dusted, I’d say the songs are lots of little adventures, there’s some tragedy in it, The Moon Departs is a camping song, lots of the songs are like aural paintings cos I can’t paint for toffee. Dog Bed and Philip’s Hat are flash-backs to formative childhood formative experiences.

Hennigan’s Stead was written when I was ill for 2 weeks with flu and was playing a lot of Red Dead Redemption. Riding my horse through the plains. 

A River Runs Through It is about not being able to make yourself understood and having an immense knot of emotion, love and empathy that you don’t know where to put.  I love playing that live. It’s like a catharsis every time we play it.

You guys are touring Eagletism soon, the details can be found on clunkonline. It’s great to see you returning to The Vinyl Café in Carlisle. You are performing at the Lancaster Music Festival too. Where, when?

We can’t wait to come back and play Vinyl Café. Carlisle is such a friendly fun place, every time we’ve played there it’s been mega. People are so friendly and up for a good time.

For Lancaster Music Festival, there’s a Dog Daisies band show with Joel and Niall at the Storey Institute on Friday Oct 11th. We’re on at 11pm so that’s our night owl set, but Lancaster doesn’t sleep all weekend anyway. Our pal Sun Drift is opening the show. Then I’ll be doing a solo set at The Hall at 1pm on Sunday Oct 13th. That’s the early-bird set.

I’ll be playing the piano and doing lots of other songs that don’t find their way into a band show. It’ll also be the first time my son Daniel will get to see me play so I’m really excited about that. I’ll probably play a lot from my Inland Voyage EPs. A friend Rob is currently helping me get those recorded onto unwanted cassette tapes.

This week at Clunk HQ we have been listening to Girl Band, Iggy Pop, Warmduscher, PINS and Squid amongst others. What’s been floating your boat recently?

I’ve been steadily succumbing to the charms of Big Thief. ‘Paul’ is such a beautiful song. I also spent most of the summer listening to Vashti Bunyan’s Diamond Day. I’ve had it a while but never connected with it. I think camping in Kirkoswald was the switch.

Thanks again for the time with Clunk. See you at LMF and The Vinyl Café in Carlisle.

You’re welcome! See you there!

Want to listen/purchase the debut album from Dog Daisies go here

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