Dogstar is in a unique, if not undeserved situation. Their first full-length album, "Our Little Visionary," has been under extreme scrutiny for being only a debut album. The music has been critiqued and critiqued, critics more than willing to pass judgment on the band. Perhaps the main catalyst of this is the fact that Dogstar's bassist is none other than "Speed" man himself, actor Keanu Reeves. Critics love to see "actor bands" fail, the thought of a Deion Sanders of the music world being totally preposterous. Dogstar just might change this. With their powerful yet soulful tracks on their album, the band shows a maturity and presence that is far more developed than most new bands. The band consists of Reeves, Bret Domrose on guitars/vocals, and fellow actor Rob Mailhouse on drums. We recently spoke to Bret about Dogstar, their fight for legitimacy, and working with Reeves.
Dogstar was formed about five years ago, Robert and Keanu met up in a supermarket and noticed they had a common interest in hockey. They started playing hockey together, then started jamming. They played with all sorts of people to have a good time and ended up starting a three piece that toured for about a year. They had a different guitarist at the time when Domrose met up with them. "I met up with the other guitar player and we started playing out as a four piece. We did a tour last year as a four piece, and after it was over, no one was really happy with the way things were going. I told the guys I was thinking about doing something else," said Domrose. "Once things started getting serious, we noticed we had some pretty big musical differences going on, so we once again became a three piece."
On the band's second gig as a trio, the band got offered a slot to open for Bon Jovi at the Los Angeles Great Western Forum, a decision that was a no brainer to Domrose. "We got offered the gig at the Forum and were like, 'How do you say no to this?' We luckily had a friendly audience that didn't throw beer cans at us." So friendly that Bon Jovi had Dogstar open a leg of their overseas tour. The entire experience was a bit surreal to Domrose. "When we were on tour with Bon Jovi, I kept thinking back to a few years ago when I was so into them! Sitting with them on a plane and hanging out with Jon was just beyond overwhelming, " he laughed, adding "He was like, 'Do you want some Dom Perignon?' and I was just left there sitting with my jaw wide open."
Critics could say that Domrose, a singer who had played in quite a few different bands all around California, might have latched onto Dogstar for their bassist, but Domrose downplayed Keanu's role. "When I first met up with them, I was just doing it for the fun of things. Now we've evolved to where we are now and I have no clue how we got here." One thing that he does know is that it annoys the band when labeled an "actor band." "There's gonna be a lot of people who want to dog us with the 'actor band' label, and to this I say that these people have no concept of a person being able to be good at two different things," asserted Domrose, "I hope that people recognize the music and can see through the Keanu factor. No matter how they feel about him as a person or an actor, I hope they'll be able to look at the music on it's own merit."
With Keanu beginning shooting on his newest film next month, the band will try not to curl up and hibernate. "A lot of time we'll go out to Keanu's location and hang out for a few weeks. He'll act all day and jam at night. We make it work somehow." So how does Domrose see Dogstar working out in the future? "I guess I'm kind of the Obi-Wan of this band. They leave a lot up to me because I have the most musical background. I think they count on me for a lot of things to get done that they probably wouldn't do. I think you'll see this band last quite some time."