Lost Dogs know tragedy, humor

By:MATT WEITZ / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

September 14, 2002
Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX

Rock group still dealing with death of member two years ago

The description "supergroup" is overused. But the term couldn't be avoided in early 1990s when Terry Taylor (DA, the Swirling Eddies), Gene Eugene (Adam Again), Mike Roe (the 77s), and Derri Daugherty (The Choir) formed the Lost Dogs.

Four frontmen might seem a volatile mix, but with the release of their 1992 debut Scenic Routes, the Lost Dogs quickly established themselves one of the sharpest, smartest bands around.

With a sound that mixed elements of rock and country, they were perfect for the music known as Americana. Their tunes' direct - almost bald - professions of faith fit well with the popular genre's roots.

"That approach is very traditional, like Hank Williams," Mr. Roe said in a recent phone interview. He was commenting on the song "Wall of Heaven," in which a drunkard is visited nightly by the wife whom he killed. "It's almost cornball, but sincere, and it can have a strong emotional effect."

The Dogs released four inspired albums before tragedy struck: In March 2000, Mr. Eugene died in his sleep. The Dogs' next album - released in 2001 - was titled Real Men Cry.

"It was such a shock when Gene died," Mr. Roe recalled. "He was such a great guy - such a huge guy - that it'll take a lifetime of processing for us to figure it out."

Some might think that the fact that the band's upcoming album is titled Nazarene Crying Towel indicates that the Lost Dogs are still reeling from Mr. Eugene's death.

"You know, I never thought about that," Mr. Roe said with a laugh, "but that title comes from a song that's actually quite funny. Terry's grandmother was a Nazarene, and whenever she got upset about something, she'd have this towel she'd carry with her and she'd be running around wringing it and saying, 'Oh, Jesus, oh, God,' and Terry used to spy on her, because it was pretty funny. Well, one day she looks up and catches him giggling at her, and instead of getting mad, she bursts out laughing, too.

"The point is, life is tragic and hard, but it's still full of humor. It's got to be. For a long time we weren't able to enjoy ourselves and have fun; things were tinged with sadness. But now we're getting back into the spirit of the band. We miss Gene a lot, but we still feel like he's with us, and that we still have joy to share with our audience."

The tour will showcase each artist as a solo artist - with various members playing along - before all three Dogs take the stage for what Mr. Roe calls a "living-room style" presentation of Lost Dogs material.

"I really like playing with the electric band," he admits, "but this time we wanted something that recaptured that feeling of kids, listening to music."

Members have said that after Mr. Eugene's death they regard themselves as a "three legged dog," and that's the title of one of the songs off of Real Men. But the tune isn't a lament. It's a bouncy country rave-up about a man who loves his tripodal hound despite his shortcomings: "He's a three-legged dog, but he's still pretty good."

"That song," Mr. Roe said, "captures perfectly how we feel about the band."