Tails of Lost Dogs
(and Little Red Riding Hood)
by Steven L. Roth
NoteBored May/June 1993
What a concept. It's a brilliant idea: Take four of
the most creative people within "Christian" music, give them acoustic guitars, lock 'em up in a studio together on weekends, and then sell the results. They'll be calling it the second coming of the Highwaymen, the Traveling Wilburys relived, Little Red Riding Hood!
It's true. The Lost Dogs, the unlikely cow-poke quartet of 1992, was no mere freak of nature. Funkster Gene Eugene of Adam Again, experimental guy Terry Taylor of Daniel Amos, surrealist Derri Daugherty of the Choir and one-time new wave rocker Mike Roe of the 77's have
assembled once again because:
a. They really enjoy each other's company.
b. They're gluttons for punishment.
c. both a & b.
Catching up with these four ever-in-
motion individuals would be a stalker's
nightmare. Taylor and Eugene are sequestered
somewhere in Studio "B," Roe is somewhere
between Studio "B" and his home in
Sacramento, and Daugherty might be in
the Glasshouse Records offices, Neverland
Studios, or visiting Vegas with Dan
Michaels. Meanwhile, Billy Ray Cyrus'
heart is getting crushed at the Grammys,
Eric Clapton has a few more knick-knacks
for the guest room, and lost dogs continue
to "bark the Nicene Creed and dream of
bones to eat."
We've all heard about the blind man's
zoo, where everyone touches a different
part of an elephant and then proceeds to
describe it in his own terms. The four Lost
Dogs are a good example of this. The
questions posed to each of them were relatively
similar. However, their responses
ranged from long, drawn-out answers to
uncomfortably short yes or no replies. In-
terestingly enough, everyone had some sort
of comment about Mike Roe. The following
are excerpts from the conversations as
they were interrupted during the finishing
touches of their newest album, Little Red
(By the way, the correct answer is "c.")
According to Taylor, "Mike's the surly guy
of the band, the one who's always complaining."
A musician's musician, everything
about Roe screams "Rock Star." He's
got the look, he's got the sound, he's got the
attitude, and right now he's got the vacuum
cleaner, tidying up a bit before heading
south to put his vocals on the album.
Is this another roots/ rock oriented album?
Not really. We didn't even think of
it like that. It's very similar to the last
album ------ some country, some
blues, an old hillbilly bluegrass thing.
There's a lot of Terry Taylor-type
folk rock things on it this time.
How many of the songs did you write?
I wrote a blues one, a sort-of period piece, a
thing called "Jesus Loves You, Brian Wilson."
What's that one about?
It's just a little letter to Brian, basically. I
wrote it 10 years ago but never really had
any place for it until this record. We also do
"I'm a Loser" by the Beatles, and I think
there's a secret version of "On the Good
Ship Lollipop" somewhere on there. It's
kind of a wacky record, actually.
How does the whole process work between
the four of you? Is it all planned ahead of
time as far as who does what?
It's very disorganized; sort of a spur of the
moment type of thing. The first weekend
we got together, I think everyone had skel-
etons of a few songs and we started laying
them down. We did that for two days, just
kept tracking these songs that we didn't
really know. Someone would sit and say,
"Here's how it goes," then we'd all learn it
on the spot and record it. Maybe the lyrics
were done, maybe not.
Did you bring any of the 77's material?
Well, that Brian Wilson thing, yeah. But I
had never seriously pursued or actually
finished the song. For these projects I tend
to bring in a lot of half-written things that
I've always liked but have never finished or
felt appropriate for the 77's. I had one other
one that I was going to do that everybody
liked but it was so complicated, we couldn't
learn it- it had too many chord changes.
What's the atmosphere like when the four of you
are together ?
A lot of goofing off. A lot of insults, loud
laughing, bad jokes, burps, farts...
Do you have any good stories that stand out in
your mind from the sessions?
Well, yeah. Gene was quoting the lyrics of
some rap group he had had in his studio
recently. He kept quoting these lines and I
didn't know what he was doing, but
he just got more and more belligerent,
doing it louder and louder. I thought it
was stupid. Finally, I said,"Shut up!
Please be quiet; it's annoying!"
Were you serious?
Yeah. I said, "A lot of people don't like
you because of this."
The room got real quiet. We then found out that Dave
Hackbarth, the engineer, had recorded this
whole argument on a deck.
Will any of it be on the record?
I think we' re going to try and find a way to
get part of it on. I was then able to prove to
Gene how obnoxious he was. (Laughter.)
So there was a lot of that kind of stuff.
Do you know how well Scenic Routes sold?
Okay. Not up to what I thought it would
do. I thought it would be a big hit. I was
disappointed in the sales. I think some
people were put offby the county aspect of
That may have thrown people for a loop.
The thing is, it never should have. If people
really knew about us and our bands, it
would make total sense. I mean, Terry
started with country ---- that's all the way
back to the beginning of Daniel Amos. Both
Derri and I were raised on country. I don't
know where Gene was at with it, but he's
just so talented ---- a natural musician ----
that no matter what the style, he's right
Musician, producer, songwriter par excellence,
it is Taylor who shares credit with
Eugene for dreaming up this whole thing.
A pioneer of the Christian music scene who
at times has been seen as a renegade, Taylor
comes across as the fatherly figure of the
Is this Dogs project pretty different than the other
stuff you're working on?
Real different. I'm producing Saviour Ma-
chine right now, so it's extremely different.
How does Little Red Riding Hood compare
with Scenic Routes?
We' re trying basically to keep it in the same
vein. We were tempted at one point to go
another direction. But because of the reac-
tion we got to the first record we felt that
instead of tampering with what we did,
we'd go t he same way. It was so enjoyable
the first time, especially the recording process
o f coming in sitting down with our guitars,
microphones on and learning songs.
Part of what makes a record successful is
when the participants are having a good
time, and it's been a real good time record-
ing this one. I think our fans, overall, appre-
ciated the direction. And then I think there
are also those people who wouldn't ordinarily
listen to our individual..bands but
reacted positively to Scenic Routes. That
made us feel good, because we didn't know
if we could pull it off. We just knew the kind
of music on the first record was music that
was close to all of us but something that
wouldn't fit into our individual bands.
What can we expect on Little Red Riding Hood ?
I have a song called "Eleanor, It's Raining
Now," which is basically about a relationship
that has its roots in the Genesis story ----
sort of a modem day Adam and Eve. An-
other one, called "Rocky Mountain Mines,"
is a story about a young man whose father
has died from black lung disease and he
knows his fate is to work in the mines and
die the same way. "Together" talks about
relationships; staying together through thick
and thin. We cover "I'm a Loser" by the
Beatles, which we felt was appropriate.
How about "Achy Breaky Heart"?
No, no. We passed on that one.
Who takes the lead for this band?
We all sort of bounce it off each other. There's
a great deal of respect for one another's
opinion. One of the things I try to do as a
producer is to take the attitude that it doesn't
hurt to try something. All of us have been in
this business long enough to know never to
cut down an idea simply because we think it
might not work.
What stands out in your mind from the recording
of this album?
Hmm, nothing off the top of my head.
Can you make something up?
Just make something up?
Yeah, because then I won't have to.
(Laughter.) Well, the first thing Mike does
When he sees me in the morning is says,
"Hey, you gotta take me to get donuts."
He'll go in and actually have me go into the
donut shop with him to witness the process
by which he chooses certain donuts. It's
always a lot of fun, because he's always
asking, "Is that custard or is it, um, lemon?"
A lot of that kind of stuff. I guess that's what
keeps him going -- a lot of donuts.
Insisting that he had the idea long before
MTV Unplugged got going, Eugene is perhaps
the motivating force behind Lost Dogs.
Picking up the nuts and bolts of the opera-
tion, it is he whom everyone comes to with
questions and problems. This can be proven
by the long, silent pauses during our phone
interview as everyone keeps interrupting
our conversation to get a piece of the guy.
Are you ready to talk?
Yeah, yeah. I got my coffee and we're taking
a little break anyway.
Did you manage to get all of Derri's vocals done ?
No. Heck no. We're still a couple weeks
away from finishing. The project is due on
the 22nd. We'll probably turn it in on the,
What other musicians are on the album?
Burleigh Drummond is on drums again, and
Greg Kellogg, who also played with us on
the last album. He does all the extra instru-
ments like steel guitar, dobro, banjo, that
kind of stuff. Other than that, we pretty
much cover everything.
Why is Lost Dogs the four people that it is?
We were just trying to find people that sung
and played acoustic guitar at first. There
were a lot of people we talked to, but they
were either not the singers 'in their band, or
weren't able to hang with the acoustic thing.
Steven Curtis Chapman plays acoustic.
Yeah, but obviously these were guys that
were front men in alternative bands, which
was kind of the slant ----
Uh, I was, uh, kind of kidding when I mentioned
So, anyway, who else would there be?
Has anybody ever brought in a song where everybody
else says, "No, we don't want to play that"?
No, that's never happened. I've never
really worried about it, because these
guys are all good songwriters.
Will there be a followup to "Bush League" ?
Well, there's a little slight political slant
stuff on this album, but nothing that
would directly be a follow-up to that.
I'm interested in knowing what kind of feed-
back you got from that song.
Some people were irritated. There's a lot of
Christians that are pretty much only inter-
ested in one issue, the abortion issue, which
I am, of course, interested in also. I just feel
that Bush's pro-life stance was not enough to
counter all his many pro-death stances.
Clinton is certainly not for abortion, but
rather choice, and as Christians, we have
more of a responsibility to start educating
people as to what the choice should be,
rather than try to legislate it, in my opinion.
(Pause.) For the record, I wouldn't make a
big deal about the political part of me per-
sonally. I'm just a stupid guy in a band.
Who's in charge of this band?
Everybody pretty much sticks in their two
cents worth. Maybe if it's your song, you
have a little more say about it. I guess Terry
and I would be the ones who sit on top of it
the most, because we're here the most. But
really, everybody has been totally involved.
Derri, the beautiful one. Coming up a little
short on the last album, he assures us that
this time, it'll be different. Having just completed
a demo of new Choir songs and get-
ting ready to start At the Foot of the Cross,
Volume 2, the red head with the long, flowing
locks tells what it's like being a Lost Dog.
So what can you tell me about this Dogs project ?
I think it's going pretty well, I hope. It's
slower than the last one, that's for sure.
You were kind of sparse vocally on Scenic Routes.
Yeah, last time I was kind of in and out, as far
as spending time there. This time, it's a lot
more evenly dispersed.
When did everyone notice that you weren't on as much?
I think it was toward the end. Originally, the in-
people take turns in singing verses and not
necessarily whole songs. It that we just didn't have the
time for people to be available to do that. So it ended
up more like everyone sang their own songs. On this
one Gene and I wrote a song together which we both sing
lead on, I'm singing lead on mine as well as two of Terry's.
This one should be a lot different, I think.
In what other ways will it be different ?
It's a little more electric. The last one was
more of an attempt to steer away from all of
our bands ---- to be something completely
different. I think this one is not trying as
hard to hide our own band's influences, but
rather incorporates that into it, and still do
some of the country stuff, though not as
much this time. It's not really Neil Young,
but kind of like his record ---- a lot of electric
and acoustic interspersed. There's no fiddle
Was it a stretch for you to sing country?
No, not at all. I was raised on that; it's like a
huge part of my musical upbringing. My
mom and dad were both into it. I still listen
to a lot of country music. Old Hank Williams,
No, no, no. Nothing like Dolly Parton.
Does the creative process always gel between the
four of you?
Everybody has pretty strong opinions, but
everyone pretty much likes the same kind of music.
That makes it a lot easier. We have a lot of the same references.
When Mike Roe says, "I want this to sound
like a Bill Monroe thing", all of us know--
what he's referring to. Or if Terry says,
"Let's do some harmonies on this like the
Beatles on such-and-such song," then we all
say, "Yeah, I know that." There's a real good
point of reference for all of us.
So there it is, straight from the puppies
mouths. What started out as an experiment
in cultural Americana is gradually becoming
a legend. And all the people said,