Blank Dogs Under and Under
Published May 24, 2009Though he's become somewhat of an underground hero in a short period of time because of his anonymity and mounting body of work, the prolific Blank Dogs is really just a guy from Brooklyn who loves making music. His name's Mike and in the last couple of years he's put out a remarkable stockpile of limited vinyl and cassettes on random indies, but it appears he's ready for a change. After releasing his debut full-length on Troubleman Unlimited last year, Blank Dogs has upgraded to the thriving In the Red for Under and Under, a double-vinyl album (the CD has five fewer tracks) that exemplifies how quality and quantity can go hand in hand. The quality, however, can't be said for the production; Blank Dogs is about pushing melodies through some murky lo-fi and unnerving, ghostly effects. It's still undeniably "pop," no matter how dark and uncanny it gets, and Mike is certainly the master of his domain. With a hang-up for early '80s goth and post-punk there are undeniable associations. "Tin Birds" sounds like a forgotten demo from New Order's Movement; "L Machine" makes Cabaret Voltaire seem palatable; and "Face Watching" sounds like the Cure drowning in the deep end.
Why the anonymity?
I have never actually been anonymous; I just haven't promoted myself in a way. I guess, at the very, very beginning I was kind of anonymous, but then a few people knew and word spread.
There was a lot of confusion over your press photos.
Yeah, people kept using all of these photographs that weren't me, of somebody wrapped up in bandages, which were pretty funny. But that was one of the advantages at the beginning of nobody knowing what I looked like. If there was a photo shoot I could just send a random person. I'm not interested in people knowing who I am, what I look like, but I'm not going to completely shy away from it.
You're very prolific. Do you release basically everything you record?
I find when I get frustrated by a song I just get rid of it. I can usually tell when I'm halfway through a song if it will be, if not good at least something interesting. Lately I've been having fewer problems doing the Mayfair Set [a side-project with Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee] stuff. If I get stuck I can send it to her and she can make it way better. (In The Red)