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In Full . . .

Old Dogs of Rock

Posted on March 18 2009 at 12:55:00

Rock Dog Project

The Blackwell band making up for lost time and attracting plenty of attention . . .

Those who harboured youthful aspirations of being a rock star but found that life got in the way, take heart: it’s not too late! Proof of this comes in the shape of Blackwell-based punk-rock band Rock Dog Project, who are poised to hit the big time despite approaching (or looking back on) the big 4-0, bringing up families and holding full-time jobs.

OK, so they’re hardly ancient, but they’ve certainly left it later than most to aim for musical stardom. Founded in 2005, with the current line-up coming together in 2007, Rock Dog Project quickly made a name for themselves on the local scene and attracted the attention of local promoters and industry insiders – and success in the prestigious Live and Unsigned competition could win them a lucrative recording and management contract.

The group’s live audition saw them through to the regional finals, which take place on April 4 at The Assembly in Leamington Spa. A winning performance here would take them to the national finals in London, to fight it out against bands from across the UK for the title of Best Live and Unsigned Act 2009 – not bad for a group who only played their first official gig last spring.

Rock Dog Project are also involved in Surface Unsigned 2009,  a similar competition with the prospect of getting through to a National Showcase at the O2 Arena and winning a cash prize plus recording time, musical equipment, digital distribution and TV coverage. 

Although they weren’t expecting anything to come of their first-round heat on March 21, the audience had other ideas and text-voted Rock Dog Project into the next stage – a gig at The Rainbow in Digbeth on June 7. The band want to encourage as many people as possible to attend, as results are based on support on the night.

Rock Dog Project began when singer “Johnny Chigaco” , bassist “Crazy Dave” Nielsen and guitarist Stu “Stuie Day Care” Crebbin realised that between them they had the basis of a successful band. 

They initially played a few gigs with the aid of an electronic drum machine before discovering that Mark “Markie J” Newton, who happened to live in the same Blackwell street as Stu and John, was a drummer… and the rest is history!

“It’s quite weird how three of the band live on the same road,” remarks Stu, who is a firefighter when he’s not playing guitar and assisting John – a psychiatric nurse – on vocals. 

“I met John about seven years ago, and we sort of knew Mark because our kids went to school together and we’d seen him at Blackwell Club. When we heard he played drums we invited him to join us, and since then things have really taken off.”

Along with computer programmer Dave, who hails from New Zealand and now lives in Halesowen, the band members came up with their collective name during a drinking session at the aforementioned social club, as Stu explains:

“Well, we’ve all got dogs, and it’s a bit of a standing joke that our wives or partners refer to us guys as ‘the dogs’. However, the name The Rock Dogs was already taken by a Bromsgrove band, so we settled on Rock Dog Project because it was all a bit of an experiment really.”

No one realised that the “experiment” would be such a success – the group have even been offered the opportunity to tour in Italy, although this is currently on hold due to home commitments.

Stu reckons part of the appeal is the band’s maturity, which marks them out from many others on the circuit:  “We know what we’re doing, for one thing, and we haven’t got the arrogance of the younger bands.”

Rock Dog Project certainly don’t take themselves too seriously, but it looks as if the music industry is starting to… so if you want to claim to have been “into” them before the rest of the world catches on, make sure you see one of their upcoming gigs – see http://www.rockdogproject.com for the latest news and listings. SO

April 4: Live and Unsigned Regional Final, The Assembly, Leamington Spa. Tickets £6, available NOW direct from the band. Doors open 8.15pm

April 18:  Rock Dog Project will be supporting the UK’s top Motley Crue cover band at The Bigge Venue (The Tardebigge pub, Tardebigge).  Doors 7pm, tickets on the door.

June 7: Surface Unsigned Round 2, The Rainbow, Digbeth. See website for ticket details.

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