Smoking Unlit Cigarettes: A Parking Lot Hang with Cadaver Dogs

By Nathan Ryall and Mel Says

It was apparent early in Cadaver Dogs’ set that drummer Lex Vegas did not conform to the typical 3-piece outfit where the drummer sits in the back and simply keeps time. Even with frontman Mat Franklin’s overwhelmingly prominent sexual stage presence, Vegas made damn sure that not a single person in the crowd forgot that he was the backbone. From all angles of the stage, Vegas attacked his sparkly green kit adorned with the Cadaver Dogs’ logo, complete with mounted antlers, and rarely used his stool for sitting. He wouldn’t allude to the exact words that he mouthed relentlessly throughout the entire set as if possessed by a Lovecraftian Daemon, but admitted that “they definitely weren’t all lyrics.”

We’re guessing that a combination of all aforementioned behaviors may have something to do with the fact that a Women’s Studies class at Ohio University features “The Beast,” a single from Cadaver Dogs’ Thrill Ride EP, as a cautionary tale.

When we asked Vegas where he pulls his energy from and basically why he looks so terrifying while beating the hell out of his drums, he replied without missing a beat, “You ever heard of Bat Boy? [pause] I grew up.”

We chuckled nervously because after the performance that was just witnessed, we were not entirely certain that he was joking. Vegas was, of course, referring to the deranged half-human, half-bat fictional creature of supermarket tabloid fame from the early Eighties.

Cadaver Dogs had quite a unique way of connecting with the crowd that night at Small’s Bar in Hamtramck. Being the first band to play, they were charged with summoning the growing horde of partiers from the front of the bar that were sipping on their PBR tall boys and mingling with friends. Mission accomplished. The dimly lit back room was quickly filled with curious attendees trying to catch a glimpse of who was supplying such a full, yet dirty sound. I’m sure many were surprised to discover that the raspy snarls, deafening rim shots and chugging baseline was coming from just a trio of dudes, spilling their guts all over the stage. Franklin often entered the crowd as if to give us a better look at his “Pornstar Elvis” style and to invite everyone to share the energy and passion for what he lives and breathes.

Bassist/vocalist Cole Walsh-Davis flaunted his theatrics by beginning to play with his back to the crowd and slowly arching backwards, resembling punk rock powerhouse Iggy Pop, while flashing his giant grin to those in the front row. The individual charisma and utter trust in each other’s faculties made watching the dynamic of these three musicians share the stage something to appreciate in the ever-growing instances of over-rehearsed live shows.

Walsh-Davis commented on the feel and sound of the Dogs’ live show in comparison to the recording process of their new album by stating, “We tried to capture the way we sound live by recording in a room with all of us as opposed to individual tracking.”

Cadaver Dogs funded their new full length album Superloose entirely by employing the help of their fans via Kickstarter; a website designed to fund creative projects from beginning to end by nothing more than people who want to participate in the journey to the final product. It’s evident that the Dogs have a deep connection with their growing mass of fans and are driven by this support system made up of people, most of them strangers, who blindly gave up their hard-earned cash just to hear what these three roommates from Columbus, Ohio were capable of.

As self-proclaimed party rock ambassadors, Backroads with Phyllis likes to drag friends along on our adventures to introduce them to some of the best bands the Midwest has to offer. This night was no different as not one of our hostages walked out of the venue without a souvenir from the Cadaver Dogs merch table or a slightly damaged liver. But we wouldn’t dare take all of the credit. We merely brought the passengers to the launch pad and Cadaver Dogs shot them into space with their huge stage presence and no-fucks-given music.

Happy 13th Anniversary to Small’s Bar and a big thanks to Metro Detroit Pabst Blue Ribbon and Ironclad Tattoos for putting this show on and giving us our first chance to see Cadaver Dogs rip the place apart with their fangs.


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