Thursday, 26 May 2011


The Wolves of Winter Hill
Dogman tells the story behind the song that gets the audiences ‘howling’
This song was ‘born’ of a comment I posted on MySpace. I wrote on my music page that: ‘Dogman was a feral child, raised by the Wolves of Winter Hill’. This sentence has an element of truth in it because, alongside my brother and four sisters, I was raised in a home after the disappearance of our mother and father before her. We initially lived together in a 'Family Group Children’s Home'. From here we could view what seemed to be me to be vast moorlands, including Winter Hill, Bronze Age sites and a Napoleonic Beacon used to warn of the invasion. We often picnicked there because it was a local tradition for thousands to go up the hills. This was especially undertaken on 'Good Friday' and on every Easter Monday when an exciting fair was held there.

I wanted to write a ‘rock song’ that would contrast against my own gentle folk melodies and that I could hear every other person with a guitar singing at open mic events. So, I had the opening line to the song and used major chords to blast out a strident melody, ‘I was raised by the Wolves of Winter Hill and shared their kill and learned to use my wits and use my skill’. I don’t know where I first used the howling but when playing a cover of ‘All along the watchtower’ [Bob Dylan] and I often howled to emphasise the line – ‘ A wild cat did howl’ . My sudden ‘howling’ at the beginning of 'Wolves' at gigs and in the album recording may have subconsciously come from that. Comments have suggested that my 'howl' is 'Bono-like' and that the song is a stadium rocker! 

My epic chorus, ‘I came to sing for you and sing my songs’ , is a truism in that I have always enjoyed singing, an experience that came from being chosen for the school and church choir as a boy. The second verse, ‘I never understood, your dog-eat-dog eyes, when you’re supposed to be so civilised’, is my stab at how some wealthy (and greedy) members of society can stand by and watch other people suffering. 
My original lyrics were extended and more complex than the recorded song is now. This came from ‘fine tuning’ the lyrics by playing the song for more than a year at my gigs. I currently play small venues, pubs and bars and enjoy the kind of intimacy it is possible to get with people who are live-music orientated. Some members of the audiences are even howling when I start playing the opening chords to the ‘Wolves of Winter Hill’.

Finally, Mr Smith, my studio producer, suggested Dogman should ‘twin’ with a ‘Winter Hill’ in the United States from a fun media publicity stand point. When I ‘Googled’ the place name and was first amused and then aghast to discover that the area was infamous for being associated with an Irish-American gang who, it would appear, have broken every law from First Degree Murder to kidnapping, money laundering extortion and rape. At that point it was an easy decision not to request to twin.
One of my dreams is to play live on the Later, Jools Holland Show, like so many emerging artists. However, there is so, so much music out there that I do worry how my songs will survive. However, I know that one Dogman song played on BBC Radio 2 in the UK or on a leading American radio station – maybe playing ‘Wolves’ and you never know.....

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Dogman tells the story behind his popular song
Caitlin and Dogman @ York Air Museum
When my 14 year old son Max began building model airplanes, seeing the boxes, kits and glue reminded me so much of when I was his age when I used to enjoy ‘Airfix modelling’. I would make the planes, Spitfire, Hurricane , Mosquito, ME 109, Fokker Wulf, Stukker and then re-ennact ‘Battle of Britain games on and above our garden lawn and really enjoyed setting up a column of Dinky Army Trucks.

I had bought Max a 1960’s booklet about the Spitfire and on day when tidying his bedroom I came across it and began avidly reading the facts and figures about the plane that helped to win the famous WW2 battle for air supremacy over England. The booklet detailed information about the famous Rolls Royce ‘Merlin’ engine that, together with the unique aerodynamic shape of the plane, gave it a slight advantage over the ME 109. Thinking about the fact that I was born in a RAF hospital in Germany and that my wife was born here in England added together that one of my close musician friends, Teaspoon, works for Rolls Royce and the idea suddenly came to me for a song.

I began to think allegorically about how my wife, a classic English rose with a wonderful brain and a real beauty,  and me, the obsessive neurotic, and how we enjoyed challenging each other. Lyrics like ‘all guns blazing, she’s amazing’ and  ‘in a dog fight - she’s always right’ and ‘no such thing as friendly fire’ all came to mind very quickly. Our personalities being so different, Yin and Yang, I am creatively analytical and dogged and she, being a leading forensic scientist, is all calm and  logical. So we became the two protagonists of the Battle of Britain. I ‘take my time’ and think about everything, she  is ‘fiery and quick to react and defend’.
We even visited York Air Museum to see a Spitfire close up and filmed us both as the picture above illustrates.  

When I first began playing ‘Spitfire’ live at gigs the audience seemed to like the song immediately. I even heard someone repeatedly singing ‘Spitfire’ at a party I was playing at.  Some said it reminded them of Neil Young in the way I sing and the story. I would often take the two planes, a Spitfire and a ME109, to gigs with me and tell a story to explain my ideas behind the song. Another strange coincidence was that suddenly it was the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain but my song was written months before the event.
I then watched Ray Lamontagne saying that lyrics should not be explained and that all songs should retain their mystery to allow the listener to interpret as they see fit.

We had great fun filming the video Spitfire video. I storyboarded the idea that we could be children in an old home movie swapping toys and that we could recreate how we both set up a painted play-board with planes and toy trucks as I had for still photography to be used when the demo song was first put up on the net. With a live night scene we had a great video story thought out. Our village postman, Terry Seed, agreed to act the part in the video and deliver the real models I had ordered. Once I had located talented and creative media students, Tom and Matthew, to film the video the finished film was eventually 'in the can' after some intensive sessions including me failing to lip sync my own song after 20 takes::

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


18 May 2011

Dogman - on howling at gigs and hunting for success

Dogman talks frankly about his musical journey to Andi from Muso magazine.

Since signing to USA label Expat Records late last year Dogman, aka David Sands and his feral band, have been working towards a new album, ‘The cat that solved The String Theory’ released for download and UK only limited-edition CD May 2011. The band is Matt Pawson, classically-educated jazz guitarist, Mr Smith, ace-percussionist and Audiofile Studio producer and Andy Penney, a confirmed Dogman fan from ‘The Whisperer’ days playing bass with a mission to add feeling to his new songs.

“There seemed to be an age between the contract-signing and this new album release with everyone wondering how it was all going to play out,” David began. “We were aware that Expat Records have set themselves up very much an Internet-orientated label and that they are signing lots of artists in the time we were approached. This is the way the music business is going; unless you are a Radiohead-type band and are downloading your music directly to a large, paying, fan-base or you are an established recording artist and the only way forward is the Internet.”

Since the new album release David has found himself listed top in Google as ‘The English Neil Young’ something that Expat’s system of stimulating search engines has already achieved.

“The label chief told me their work starts now and that soon every USA and European radio station and downloading website will know about Dogman. I could have been a small fish in the stable of a major record label or, as it is now, a bigger fish in a new label. The Expat Records A&R man, Paul Shulver, actually loves my music and it probably helps that he is a big Neil Young fan.  While I do not want to be known as a NY tribute act, people are comparing me to an artist with whom I have had a long time musical affinity with.  I have received wonderful comments on Soundcloud for some of my tunes and songs like ‘It’s a love thing’ and ‘Home Fire’ have had a 1000 plays, he adds.  

Dogman openly acknowledges that few of these ‘fans’ will actually download the album from I-Tunes ( when they can listen to it for free. Expat Records use an American CD production that can make and deliver a single CD to a fan and this means no stock for an artist to carry. OK for the USA but postage to Europe would not make this service viable. They said it was fine for me to produce a UK-only CD for gigs, family and friends and this edition has a booklet with some handwritten lyrics.     
David currently has over 3000 ‘followers’ on Soundcloud and this number is leaping up on a daily basis with listeners from all over the world. This activity was undoubtedly helped by being made Soundcloud ‘artist of the day’ in March. Some comments argue he is better vocally than Neil Young and suggesting that as Dogman he should follow his own musical path.

“The trouble is the ‘media’ (and here David notes that Muso is part of the machine) want a ‘handle’ for a new artist. They want them to be the ‘next’ Karen Carpenter, Dusty Springfield, Elvis or whatever. In some ways these new singers can find themselves simply a living karioke of musical icons.“

I asked David what comes next

“ I am currently working new songs and on a major soundtrack project about Hale-Bopp and Stonehenge with a superb Florida-based musician, Peter Brown (Bravenote) I am also very excited about collaborating with two brilliantly talented pianists, Russell Chevalier (Expat Records artist), and London-based, Sophie Kazandjian and have been writing lyrics and preparing to record vocals on their compositions.”

.. and where the album title came from and Dogman gave a wry smile.

“My day job as an animal behaviour specialist means that I associate with pets (his previous album was The Whisperer). I was thinking ‘Jazz’ (cool cat) thinking about the ambiguity of feline-play and deeper universal questions.”

… and how the gigs were going?

I am enjoying playing small venues, pubs and bars loving the intimacy with people who are live-music orientated. Some of the audiences are even howling when I start singing the ‘Wolves of Winterhill’ and my opening album track, ‘Spitfire’ is already a favourite with those that are beginning to know my music. Mr Smith suggested we twin with a Winter Hill in the States and when I looked them up - the area was renown for an Irish-American gang who had broken every law you can care to remember from kidnapping, extortion and rape.. Not the best media to be associated with. The dream is to get on Jools Holland like so many emerging artists. However, there is so, so much music out there that I do worry how my songs will survive.”
Just one Dogman song played on Radio 2 or an American radio station playing ‘Wolves’ and you never know.....”

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


This is the video for SPITFIRE, the opening track on the new album 
'The cat that solved The String Theory'

Released on i-tunes 13th May 2011. A limited edition digipak CD with booklet out for UK fans.