Q&A with Dogstar
by Aidin Vaziri
The hardest part about interviewing Dogstar is trying to pretend that the bass player is just an ordinary guy. None of the band members will try to tell you that Keanu Reeves, 35, does not lead an alternate life in which he is the star of multimillion-dollar Hollywood blockbusters such as "The Matrix" and "Speed." And it's no secret the band wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for Reeves' involvement in the project. What the other members of Dogstar -- singer-guitarist Bret Domrose, 32, and drummer Rob Mailhouse, 38 -- will do, however, is talk incessantly about their long-awaited U.S. debut, "Happy Ending," an album that did huge business in Japan.
Q: So you make an album four years ago, but no one in America will touch it. You make "The Matrix," and then you get a domestic record deal. Is that why you called this "Happy Ending'`?
Keanu Reeves: We didn't name the album for one reason. That's part of it, but, uh, there are other things as well. It's kind of evocative. We thought it was an interesting sentiment or collection of words, happy ending.
Q: Did you mean for it to be ironic?
Reeves: That's part of it. Somehow when you see "happy ending," there's melancholy to it. But it's also supposed to be a happy ending, which is supposed to be, you know, a good thing. And somehow there's melancholy to it. It's one of the ambitions of the music, as well. You know, a kind of bright melody and Bret's lyrics, which are quite emotional.
Q: You would think that your marriage to David Geffen would have helped you land a record deal sooner.
Reeves: Oh, funny.
Q: But seriously, do you think people have a hard time taking the band at face value because you're an actor?
Bret Domrose: The band just wants the music to get on the radio and have us just be judged by the music, so we're pushing really hard to get people to hear it. Gosh, what can you say?
Reeves: Not much. We can just play.
Q: Can you spot the people in the audience who are there just because they want to see the movie star?
Domrose: Yeah, the ones with the cameras and big signs.
Reeves: I can definitely spot them, especially after all these years.
Rob Mailhouse: We have them removed and beaten in the back. We have them caned.
Reeves: No, no. We appreciate anybody who wants to come out. But hopefully they'll get into the music. A lot of people tell me, "I only came out originally because I like your films and wanted to see what this was about."
Mailhouse: Then they realize they don't like Keanu's films at all and they only like Dogstar.
Q: Why aren't you a boy band?
Domrose: We're working on the boy-band thing, but we only have three members. We need, like, nine more.
Q: On this album, you cover the Carpenters' 1971 hit "Superstar." Can you relate to the lyrics?
Reeves: We just enjoy playing it. I guess. Why did we do it, guys?
Mailhouse: The Carpenters' version of it is so eerie. It's like you're in someone's room. It's so personal.
Domrose: Yeah, it is. So we took that and maybe lightened it up a bit. We put the Dogstar twist on it.
Q: Keanu, do the lyrics mean anything to you?
Reeves: We just enjoy the vibe when we play it. Lyrically, I guess there's a kind of plaintiveness to it. I don't know. It's got a lot of blue in it. To sum it up, I would just say the vibe of the song.
Domrose: The band tends to do wacky covers.
Q: Do you get different groupies through being in a band than you do as an actor?
Reeves: I don't have any acting groupies.
Domrose: I'm his acting groupie.
Q: How do you guys get along on the road?
Reeves: We use a bus.
Q: Oh, really?
Domrose: You don't realize, that's the first joke Keanu has ever made to the press. It's beautiful.
Q: Let's hope it is also his last.
Reeves: Oh, thanks.
Domrose: We get along great, that's why it's such a great experience being in this band.
Q: Do you feel bad about making Keanu eat at greasy diners when he would much rather be eating at some fancy Beverly Hills restaurant like Spago?
Reeves: There's a beauty to greasy diners, man, let me tell you. It's America and the world. We were just in Japan and we decided to treat ourselves this one night, so we got a really expensive dinner. The next day we all wanted $6 noodles.
Q: What is it about Japan and Dogstar?
Reeves: The $6 noodles.
Domrose: There's nothing to it. They love having us over there and we love playing there. The sound systems are great. We get treated so well. It's just so much fun to play on their stages. They're out-of-control enthusiastic.
Mailhouse: It's not like you're spending the whole night trying to get the sound guy's attention while he's smoking pot with his girlfriend.
Reeves: That happens to us a lot.