East Coast Rocker -- May 21, 1997
and Buzz Monger (Vol. 4, Issue 5) -- July 1997
Interview with Phil Allocco of Dogma
Phil Allocco is more than just the singer for a band called Dogma. He is a thinking man. A man with alot to say. Just one listen to the lyrics on the band's debut album, Feeding the future, makes that obvious. Phil's been around the block a few times in his 29 years, and while he's not trying to save anyone the trip, it seems he just wants to open people's eyes and let them know they may be in for a bumpy ride.
Formed by Allocco and bassist Sean Carmody, former partners in crime from Law & Order, Dogma has come together to become the ultimate vehicle for Phil's passion - communication. Their raw, noisy, dissonant sound is reminiscent of Soundgarden meets Kings X. Too rough to be listened to with passivity or complacency, Feeding the Future shouldn't be taken lightly. There's a lot to be said for a little introspection.
In a recent interview, Allocco talked extensively about his experiences and how Dogma became his means for sharing them.
When did you get started with music?
When I was about ten
When did you realize it was going to be your career?
When I was about 10 (laughs). I've been in bands since I was about 14 or 15. I had a lot of tenacity. I was very stubborn and convinced that this is what I wanted to do. It just seemed to embody everything. Number one, you can express yourself through an art. You can communicate with other people. you are able to create, and you have control of the music. So rather than like with acting or politics, I've always had the impression that you're not in control. You have so many strings attached. (Music) seemed like the most honest format that was around to communicate ideas and feelings. Music is such an amazing, intangible kind of art. It transcends ordinary words and you can convey a lot more through the whole impact.
What type of music first got you into it?
The Beetles, Kiss, the Stones. My older brother had a massive record collection so I was always getting turned on to stuff he was listening to and that's what got me into it. I played guitar up until Dogma began, but singing was something I always wanted to do. But when your 15, it's easier to just pick up a guitar and sound right on a guitar than it is vocally. Your voice is changing when young, and when you're 15 it's hard to sing and not sound like Mickey Mouse. And I was also pretty young when Law and Order got signed, but I think through Law and Order, I started realizing that I was much more interested in the words and melodies. Most people who are guitarists love the instrument and I'm into that, but to me, it was more of a tool to get to the songwriting. It wasn't a means in itself and I kind of realized that, and I realized I wanted to sing. I just felt like if I was writing lyrics that were important to me and I could convey them honestly, I had a chance of it working out, since alot of my favorite singers aren't technically great.
When did you get into 'viable' bands?
well, to me , in my mind I always thought I was in viable band. Whether they were or not is another question, but when you're doing it, you think that's it. From the first band I was in, I was convinced, this is gonna be it.' As I got older I started to wonder, what is it?' What am I really looking for? In this culture where success is so much defined money and fame and things like that, it really starts to taint your view. Everything is politics -- every relationship you have is politics and there's a way where it could be very negative or a way where it could be positive -- I just want to see the humor in it and see it for what it is and not let it [get to] where people start having egos or when people really believe their own hype, because that's when it gets pretty insane.
All my expectations this time were very different. All I cared about was making music that we were really into, not modeling it after any other band, just stuff that turns us on. The music itself is the satisfaction. That's the foundation where everything else comes from.
What was it like when you got signed for the first time?
I was pretty young. I think I was like 21 or 22. To me, it was like the fulfillment of what I was waiting for. It felt like destiny. And then when things didn't happen, it really taught me lot about the illusion of security. Most people feel security with their normal jobs that they work every day and they believe it's going to be there forever, even though they really know it may not. One day something could happen where somebody dies in your family or you get fired. With music, the way that business is, it's easier to see where there is no security at all.
What are your tour plans?
We're just starting to tour the East Coast. We'll just keep going all summer. We just did a video for Cancer.'
How is the scene in New York these days?
The New York scene, from my perception, is pretty dead. There's always bands, but you know, where there's a scene it's like all of a sudden there's something set apart from other states. It becomes a focal point where the industry is focusing more. Right now in New York, there's not really any place where people will go to see every new band, but there are a lot of good, cool bands there that draw well.
What do you think about the music scene today?
It's hard to say. It's all about the bands and their songs, whether they hit a nerve and if people are relating. It's kind of weird and that a whole other thing altogether when something comes out and hit a nerve, just the timing, but then everyone gets so sick of it they never want to hear it again. A lot of it has to do with people. I was always under the impression that people decide what they want to hear, but unfortunately, it's not like that at all.
Do you think that the constant repetition and inundation of radio and MTV has anything to do with coercing people into what they think they like?
Oh, hell yeah. It even happens to me sometimes. If I hear a band enough times, and it's shoved down my throat enough times, eventually even if it is something I couldn't stomach at first, I may start to like it. It gets more familiar. But then, you can hear your favorite song on many different occasions and sometimes it touches you and sometime it doesn't. It's a really unique thing and it has to play out in time. The way you respond to it may change.
How does Dogma fit into the current scene? How Do you expect to affect people and how do you want them to perceive what your doing?
In the simplest terms, just like when one person meets another person and there is communication. In each person there is the entire universe so anything is possible in the communication between one person and another. Like, you and I are talking. We've never met before, but here we are having this conversation, I'm not here to entertain you, and your not here to entertain me. We're communicating. That's how I see Dogma. We're trying to relate, we're trying to communicate with people we've never met before.
That's what I'm looking to do. I'm not looking to say something that more important than someone else, or do something that is better than someone else. Those kind of things don't really apply. I'm not trying to outdo somebody else. I'm just trying to be myself and trying to communicate the things that I've experienced and trying to express them.
With my music, I'm just trying to kind of put together all my ideas like a diary of the things I'm going through. If there's one thread through the stuff, at least at this point in my life, I'm much more into relying on experience and wisdom out of experience rather than blind faith. And more about the individual's experience and how important and unique everyone's experience and everyone's trip and everyone's path is. Nobody's an island. Everything you do touches someone else so I'm not going to manipulate anyone else by trying to say what is right or wrong. I'm just trying to tell what my experience is and what I think and open the lines of communication.
By Kelly Rush
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