Scene -- June 12 - 18, 1997

Mind, Body And Soul

Dogma Speak From THe Heart With Debut

If the New York quartet Dogma has a certain doctrine that it lives and breathes by, it's probably simpy that honesty is the best policy. The diverse assortment of 12 songs that comprise the hard rocking band's debut release, FEEDING THE FUTURE, are srtrung together by a simple, straightforward and honest approach that in turn affords the band a very real and believable image. In a day and age when every band and artist is striving to fit in with a predetermined hip style or sound, Dogma's fresh out look and dogged determination make for a refreshing change of pace.

" We sing about things that feel honest to us," says singer/guitarist Phil Allocco.

"There's no pretentious political or social theme to what we do," adds Sean Carmody. "It's about playing and having our own perspective."

Currently pounding their way through the trenches on a headlining club tour in support of FEEDING THE FUTURE, Dogma will return to Cleveland this Wednsday, June 18, at the Euclid Tavern.

"The tour is going good," Allocco enthuses. "We're just slugging it away, playing everywhere. It's a little hard when it's your first time comming through, but that's where we are right now. We're payin' our dues."

With a glut of post-alternative bands clogging the marketplace at the present, Dogma know they've got their work cut out for them if they're going to standout. Allocco, who's joined in the band by Carmody, drummer Dave Femia and guitarist Randy Dzielak, knows that in order to make anyone happy with there music, they've got to make themselves happy first.

"When we started, our whole thing was that we just wanted to make stuff that we would be into," he says. We really didn't try to model it after any one thing and have this preconceived vision of what we're trying to be. We wanted the music to be just more like an individual -- Just be who you are and that's it. You don't try to be someone else, you don't make excuses for it, you just do it and see what happens.

"We're just trying to make stuff that turns us on," he adds. "Because if we're not loving it, why should anyone else? We didn't really think about how anyone would respond or where we'd fit in. We really didn't care about any of that stuff."

. Instead, the band took a song by song This being the fledgling band's debut release, it would've been easy for the group to carve out a certain niche by establishing a Dogma sound. Easy but not necessarily interesting. Instead the band took a song-by-song approach to the songwriting, which contributes to the albums varied sound

"We weren't going for any specific sound," Allocco says. "We're just trying to write songs that we liked. We had like 30 songs for this record. We didn't try to limit it and say that we could only do this. We try to leave everything open and see what we come up with."

. The The band holed up at Bearsville in Woodstock, New York, with producer Steve Thompson (Metallica, Guns N' Roses and Blues Travelers) at the helm. The confined quarters of the snowed-in facility ultimatly brought out the best in the band's performance, even if it kind of freaked out the members while they were doing it.

"We were there in the winter, so it was weird -- it was like THE SHINING," Allocco says with an uneasy laugh, "We had this house next to the studio, and it was snowing all the time. It was just the four of us -- there was nobody around. It got a little eerie."

Working with Thompson was 'cool,' Allocco says, "defanetly a unique experience."

The finished product distributed by Mercury As a joint venture with Def Jam's new rock imprint, King Recordings, FEEDING THE FUTURE accomlishes the nearly impossible in that the band offers a heavy (yet melodically edgy) presentation a la Tool or perhaps Rage Against The Machine, but minus the preachy, heavy-handed lyrical approach that the majority of heavy rock bands tend to take.

"I look at lyrics more as a diary of what you're going through," Allocco says of his style. "It kind of captures the moment of how your mind and soul and heart are working at that time.

"I'm not trying to be better than someone else, or push my opinions down someone else's throat," he adds. "I'm just communicating. That's what music, to me, is all about. It's more interesting. You're just being a person, struggling with the same things eveybody struggles with. Why are we here, what are we doing, where are we going, what are the things we're going through? What do these mean to me, you know?"

On stage, Allocco says the band pretty much takes the same aproach as the record -- which is basically an aggresive live approach to begin with.

"The record was done predominantly live," he notes. "A song like 'Cancer,' we wrote that in the studio, The take you're hearing is the second take we did.

"On one hand we're not trying to do anything different than on the record," he relates. "But on the other hane, when you're doing it every night, it takes on a new life and you don't even realize it."

As lead single "Cancer" spreads across rock radio, the band is also visible via a new video clip for the song, lensed with acclaimed director Matt Mahurin (Metallica, Bush, Alice in Chains) in the tunnels of New Yorks famous 79th St. Basin.

"It was a lot more peasant than I thought it would be," Allocco says of the video-making process. "With videos, it's hard. When it comes o the music, you're so involved in every aspect. With video, no matter how much imput you have in it or try to have in it, ultimatly you're in the hands of somebody else's art. You're going to br combining your vision with the director's.

"And," he stresses, "there's just so much more at stake with a video. You've got three minutes, somebody's going to judge what you're all about. It's kind of scary going into it."

For their part, though, the members of Dogma are pretty pleased with the results.

"We're happy with the experience, because we like Matt Mahurin's work. He's done a lot of really cool stuff. We wanted to capture the mood of the song, rather than going for some narrative or overambitious concept. Especially since it was our first video. If we would've failed at that, it would've been obvious. We talked about the moview JACOBS LADDER, because we felt the vibe of that movie really fit the song. We loosely talked about some themes. We did it all in one day, and we're really happy with the way it came out."

For now, it's back to the trenches for Dogma The band will be on tour through July on it's own, after which a tour with another act is in the works. In any case, Dogma will be cranking the tunes live all summer long, which is exactly where they want to be.

By Steven Batten

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