Any doubts Cadaver Dogs would soldier onward after bassist Cole Walsh-Davis amicably departed the band late in 2013 get blown away in the opening moments of the now-duo’s blistering new album Too Much.
“No surprise, I cannot quit/I wouldn’t even if I could,” growls singer/guitarist Mat Franklin atop a snarling, fuzzed-out riff as drummer Lex Vegas lays waste to his kit. “There’s not much I know how to do/One thing I got/That I just won’t stop/Is the power to make you move.”
The two do just that throughout Too Much, blasting through an assortment of dirty, glammed-up blooze-rock cuts that play like the soundtrack to a drunken, borderline-dangerous night on the town.
“Well, you’re supposed to write what you know, and that’s what we know,” said Vegas, seated in a North Campus bar in mid-June. “That’s how it is when we’re out on the road. We don’t say no to very much ever, and we’ve gotten into some dangerous situations, but we’ve always survived.
“We’ve all been roofied. I got roofied before we even played once. They were like, ‘You were back there and you were trying to do it,’ but I don’t remember a thing. I was talking to someone before we went on, and then 10 seconds later: blank.”
While the lineup shuffle hasn’t dampened the Dog’s reckless, live-in-the-now attitude — “If anything it’s made us tighter in our mutual goal of fucking shit up,” Vegas said — it has forced the band to make small adjustments. Vegas now stations his kit directly beside Franklin rather than in the background, and the lack of a third musician has forced the drummer to adopt a slightly more professional pose onstage.
“I used to — especially live — kind of go nuts, and I wasn’t exactly always on time or where I needed to be. Sometimes I’d be out in the crowd when I was supposed to be playing drums,” said Vegas, who received his first kit from his drummer father before he was even old enough to hold the sticks. “Now that it’s only the two of us I have to be a little more responsible with my drumming because there’s not that third person to hide behind.”
Musically, however, it’s been a much easier adjustment. Longtime pals Vegas and Franklin have a history performing as a two-piece, including a stint as the house band on a Marion cable access show, and a bulk of Too Much was written as the two positioned themselves face-to-face in the basement of their Italian Village home.
“When we look at each other now it’s like, ‘It’s just you and me, man,’” Vegas said. “There’s nobody else moving this along if we don’t do it.”
Jesse Fox photos