DOGSTAR ON THE RISE
Okay, so Dogstar's bass player happens to be a major movie star, but this power trio would like you to get over it and just listen to their music.
by J. E. Cummings
If the members of Dogstar didn't include actor Keanu Reeves, their debut album Our Little Visionary probably wouldn't be out right now. But while the hoopla surrounding Keanu's venture into music may have caused the public and record labels to take notice, Dogstar isn't about to trade off their bass player's celebrity. The band, which also includes vocalist/guitarist Bret Domrose and Rob Mailhouse on drums, is firmly the unity of three guys. And they all would rather let the music do the talking for them.
"We've had a lot of opportunities," explains Keanu about the excitement surrounding Dogstar. "For a band that didn't have an album out, we did really well. So that has certainly been a positive side to it."
"I admit that my acting career has given us some opportunities to be heard. . . but in the end it comes down to the music and I feel good about that."
Dogstar was formed about three and a half years ago with Keanu on bass, Rob, an actor/musician who also had a small part in Speed, on drums, chief songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Bret and a second guitarist Gregg Miller. The first gigs they played in Los Angeles and New York certainly stirred up a lot of excitement. After some Keanu fans' initial disappointment at finding out that he didn't sing lead in the group, Dogstar managed to win over many skeptics with their rough-edged rock.
Last year, Gregg left the band and Dogstar became a trio. The group changed direction toward more accessible pop-driven songs. "I write some of the music," says Keanu. "But Bret writes all the lyrics and most of the music."
After a successful sold-out national club tour, Zoo Entertainment released Quattro Formaggi, an enhanced EP with music and clips of the band playing at different sites as well as peeks into their lives on tour. This fall saw the release of Our Little Visionary, Dogstar's first full-length CD filled with fun and romantic guitar-oriented pop songs. In between his public relations duties for his latest movies Chain Reaction and Feeling Minnesota, Keanu joined Bret and Rob on the road for a world wide tour beginning in Europe and concluding in the summer with stops in Japan and Taiwan.
"We were received pretty well," says Keanu. "In Paris we played to 300 people sitting and eating dinner, which was really depressing. You could hear clank, clank, clank. But then we played an outdoor festival in Berlin, which was great. We went to Ireland, which was again everyone sitting down, but somehow it was great. They were screaming and standing on their chairs. It was good fun."
Keanu, an actor best know for blockbusters like Speed, has always tried to be diverse in his career choices. For every monster hit, he's chosen to do a few smaller, quirkier films like this fall's Feeling Minnesota. He's also taken projects, like the role of 'Hamlet' on the Canadian stage two summers ago, purely to hone his craft. Clearly, he's an artist who doesn't always do the expected--like his industry-shocking decision earlier this year to turn down the lead in Speed 2 and its $11 million paycheck.
Obviously, Keanu is interested in more than just money and fame. While he admits that acting is his biggest priority, he's committed to Dogstar. After Keanu finishes filming a new thriller with veteran actor Al Pacino, there are plans for Dogstar videos and rumors of a possible tour of the U.S. after the first of the year. There's no telling how high Dogstar will rise!