Dogged by fame
by Manond Apanich
Keanu Reeves can act. But can he rock? We'll find out tonight as the movie star and his band, Dogstar, head into BKK.
Another hard hitting import show hits the stage at the Indoor Stadium tonight, but this time, the band that's coming is not your average washed up Western rock'n'roller or a pretty boy band. It's more than that, it's a Keanu band.
Keanu Reeves had a rock n'roll dream and in 1991 he met up with Robert Mailhouse, a fellow actor and a drummer. Together they talked about music and hockey until they finally decided to get together and jam. Robert and Keanu had a hard time with their instruments and were getting nowhere fast with the band until they met Bret Domrose who later became the "real" musician of the band.
With Bret at the band's forefront, songs were being written and they were a true three-piece rock band – all they needed now was a name. Dogstar was chosen by Robert because as Dogstar legend has it, it's supposedly the brightest star in the sky in Henry Miller's novel, Sexus, which Robert was filling his brain with at the time.
In 1995, Dogstar's pivotal cornerstone was opening up for the New Jersey rocker, Jon Bon Jovi during his Australia and New Zealand tour. Dogstar's popularity skyrocketed after this tour; after all, ten thousand Bon Jovi fans can't be wrong. This was also the year Dogstar signed onto Zoo Entertainment/BMG, their major label debut. By 1996, Dogstar had already recorded a four song EP entitled Quattro Formaggi and finished recording their first full length album called Our Little Visionary.
But the question is, can Keanu really rock? The songs are basic pop/rock tunes that aren't too fast and aren't too slow, with a touch of distortion and some melodies. But still, Dogstar managed to get an Asian tour consisting of three dates in Japan and tonight's Bangkok show.
"We've already sold more than half the tickets so I don't think the Indoor Stadium will be too big of a venue," a spokesperson for the organisers, Matching Entertainment, says.
They forked out a total of Bt10 million to bring Dogstar over and think there are enough Keanu fans to make the concert a success because "it's a targetable market."
Not many people know about Keanu's musical side and the people who do are usually fans of his movies which makes a concert easy to advertise.
"We didn't just want to bring big name famous bands, we also want to give people variety," Matching's spokesperson says, "we wanted people to have the chance to see Keanu play in a rock band."
Dogstar's latest album, Happy Ending was released in 2000, but because of Keanu's and Robert's hectic acting careers, touring doesn't happen as much as they would all like it to. Even though the music is not up to par with guitar heroes, life as a rock star-actor can't be all bad – it's probably what every rock'n'roll dreamer dreams of anyway.
Keanu decided to pack his bags and leave home for Hollywood in 1985 in order to seek out his acting career. He loaded up his life into a 1969 British racing green 122 Volvo and gunned it all the way out to California.
He arrived in Los Angeles looking for work and came across some ridicule and obstacles. His manager forced Keanu to change his name, because "no-one would know what a 'Keanu' is."
They came up with some comical names like Chuck Spidina, Page Tempelton III and KC Reeves (C for his middle name Charles). But it didn't last long, because with Keanu's rebellious rock attitude, he went to auditions and told everyone his name was Keanu anyway.
Not long after his arrival in Los Angeles, he was cast in River's Edge in 1986. His role was acclaimed by critics and gave him the right exposure which led to bigger and better roles.
That was the start of his movie career, which would later branch out into music and take him halfway around the world to Bangkok 16 years later.