Keanu Reeves' Excellent Adventure
by Nisid Hajari, with reporting by Cindy Pearlman and Lesley O'Toole
Of course, what he really wants to do is rock. But laconic stud-muffin Keanu Reeves, whose part-time punk-pop quartet, Dogstar, just embarked on its 25-city Dog Days of Summer tour, is no monster, as evidenced by one of his self-penned tunes. "Isabelle is a girl, Isabelle loves her world. You can tell by the way she smiles. Cutest girl by a country mile."
Then again, seeing as how eloquence has never been highly valued in rock, Reeves' musical career sports a promising start. Spawned by Reeves' chance meeting with drummer Robert Mailhouse in 1991, Dogstar cut its teeth at LA's Troubadour. In the past six months, a series of California gigs have brought out - sellout crowds of hyperventilating damsels (plus Cameron Diaz. Reeves' costar in the upcoming Feeling Minnesota), and a six-date Japanese tour has confirmed that bassist Reeves speaks the universal language. "In Japan, if Keanu scratched his head, they screamed," says Mailhouse. "If he went to tie a shoelace, people fainted."
Observers place Dogstar's sound somewhere between alterna-stalwarts Green Day and Dinosaur Jr, with gold stars awarded more for the band's enthusiasm than proficiency. But Reeves knows most fans give more attention to his pecs than his chops - "that's basically our whole audience," he admits. "We're trying to change that and make it about the band, not me."
Unlike fellow thespian Johnny Depp (whose group P is signed to Capitol Records), Dogstar, which includes singer-guitarists Gregg Miller and Bret Domrose, has yet to accept a major-label deal despite several offers. But that doesn't mean they're subsisting on Pabst and pizza. Mailhouse, a former star of Days of Our Lives, nearly derailed the band's U.S. tour when his Road Warriors TV pilot was almost picked up, and the group is touring not in a van but in a 40-foot bus once leased by Pearl Jam. Reeves, for one, seems to have mastered his new role: Although Dogstar formed around the time Nirvana's Nevermind was sending thousands of wannabes back to the garage, "we didn't sound like them," he claims in true rock-star style. "We had our own unique sound."