Litany: Interview Archive

MacInnis, Craig. "Skinny Puppy U.S. tour going to the dogs." Toronto Star, 4 November 1988, E9.

"This tour is definitely turning into a movie," Cevin Key reports from somewhere in the middle of America.

The soft-spoken synthesist for Skinny Puppy is not talking about a movie movie like, say, U2's verite epic Rattle And Hum.

No, if Skinny Puppy's current concert trek were a film, it would be more like Martin Scorsese's After Hours, a blackly-comic travelogue through subterranean America. The kind of screenplay where the heroes are never quite sure what horrors lurk just around the next corner.

If all goes well, the three-piece band (including singer Nivek Ogre and percussionist Dwayne Goettel) will be back on terra firma Sunday night for a homecoming concert at the Concert Hall, 888 Yonge St. But the way things are going, one can never be too sure.

In fact, if last week was any indication, Skinny Puppy may never make it home.

The trouble started in Detroit (doesn't it always?), where the band's infamous prop-dog, Chud, was stolen by a young female fan who sneaked into the backstage area after the concert.

Now, if you know anything about Chud, you know that the band can scarcely do without him. The stuffed, toy canine is central to the group's vivisectionist drama, which forms the lurid centrepiece of this so-called Head Trauma Tour.

So, just as Cev and the guys were lamenting the loss of their doggy, "a skinhead with a big huge Mohawk" knocked on the door of the tour bus and said he might have some information about the pup-napping.

After stalking Detroit's bars into the wee hours, picking up the scent and losing it again, the trail finally led, at 7.30 the next morning, to a house in the suburbs.

"We cruised up to her parents' driveway," reports Key, "and there was Chud, locked in the car. We went up and knocked on the door and told them what was going on. The parents thanked us for not calling the police."

With Chud back in the entourage, the Puppies headed for their next gig in Cincinnati, where they were arrested for disorderly conduct after plainclothes officers barged into the band's dressing room after the show. The cops had been called to investigate a complaint that Ogre had performed surgery on a real dog.

"It was pretty ridiculous," says Key. "It reminded me of Rambo, how the agitation factor was pushed beyond the human realm.

"The relationship that I've always had with policemen is to be able to talk to them, but these guys, you just couldn't reason with them. It's pretty obvious that it's a prop dog - Ogre does a very drastic vivisection.

"But the irony of the whole thing is that we're arrested for something supposedly going on in our show that goes on one out of every three seconds in experimental labs around the Cincinnati area where animals are tested . . ."

After a couple of hours in the hoosegow, Key, Ogre and tour manager Dan McGee were released, though not before paying a $200 fine.

For all of the hassles on their American road trip, Key couldn't be happier with the results.

"We've found the most enthusiastic crowds here. There's no inhibitions. We're playing the same places (as last time) but three times the amount of people are showing up."

Puppy's gothic theatre may not be to everyone's taste - if it were, we'd all be in trouble - but there's no denying the band's far-flung sense of symbolism, from foreboding electronic landscapes to graphic decapitation fantasies.

Fellini should be so iconoclastic.

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