The Winery Dogs   « Back To List

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MUSIC

Bio & Info

Members

Richie Kotzen (Vocals and Guitar)
Billy Sheehan (Bass and Vocals)
Mike Portnoy (Drums and Vocals)

When a new band gets nothing but glowing live reviews right out of the gate for their first two albums, they must be doing something right.

THE WINERY DOGS–Richie Kotzen (vocals, guitar), Billy Sheehan (bass), Mike Portnoy (drums)—have been mesmerizing live audiences at over 200 shows with their monstrous musicianship since they exploded onto the scene in 2013 with the release of their self-titled debut album.  

Now it’s time to show fans, old and new, what people have been saying about THE WINERY DOGS since their first worldwide tour launched in 2013. DOG YEARS: LIVE IN SANTIAGO & BEYOND 2013-2016, which will be available in both standard and deluxe editions, is a collection of live concert footage, music videos, and an EP of previously unreleased studio tracks, is due out August 4 on Loud & Proud Records. Pre-orders are available now on Amazon for the deluxe and standard editions. A trailer can be seen on the label’s official YouTube page.  

A standard two-disc edition of DOG YEARS: LIVE IN SANTIAGO & BEYOND 2013-2016 will be available which includes one Blu-Ray disc of the 100-minute concert, eight music videos from the band’s two albums, and the DOG YEARS EP on CD. A special edition five-disc package will consist of one Blu-Ray disc, one DVD of the live concert material and the eight music videos, the DOG YEARS EP on CD, as well as two CDs of the live concert audio.

This is not the band’s first foray into the special edition CD/DVD world.  In 2014, THE WINERY DOGS SPECIAL EDITION was released as a two-CD collection. Disc 1 is the standard album and Disc 2 is entitled UNLEASHED IN JAPAN 2013, comprised of 10 songs recorded live in Japan during their July ’13 tour, including “Criminal,” a track previously unavailable in the U.S., along with a 16-page booklet of live photos and lyrics.  UNLEASHED IN JAPAN 2013 is also available as a stand-alone digital album. DOG TREATS: THE WINERY DOGS DELUXE SPECIAL EDITION, a limited edition release, is available in a box resembling a box of dog treats, which includes the SPECIAL EDITION collection of music, a DVD featuring four music videos and interview footage, demos from the original recording sessions, a “studio diary” written by Mike Portnoy, as well as some unique merchandise unavailable elsewhere.

THE WINERY DOGS’ debut album was hailed as “…one of the most intriguing releases of the year” by Loudwire.com, and in a recent reader’s poll on Revolver magazine’s website, fans called it their “Album of the Week.” After it was originally released on July 23, 2013 on Loud & Proud Records, it debuted on Billboard’s “Top Alternative Albums” chart at #3, “Top Independent Albums” chart at #4, “Top Rock Albums” chart at #5, “Top Internet Albums” at #8 and “Top 200 Albums” chart at #27.  

The band celebrated a continuing HOT STREAK of first week album sales for their follow-up album released October 2, 2015 on Loud & Proud Records via RED (a division of Sony Music Entertainment) and in the rest of the world via earMUSIC. It was preceded by the first single, “Oblivion,” which quickly made its way onto the Top 30 of the Billboard “Mainstream Rock Tracks” chart.  A double vinyl edition of the new album was released November 13, 2015. The trio’s second critically-acclaimed album sold 30% more than their debut, landing them on various Billboard album charts including #2 on “Top Current Alternative Albums,” #5 on “Top Current Hard Music,” #5 on “Top Hard Music Albums,” #6 on “Top Current Rock Albums,” #6 on “Album Core / Genre Rock,” #15 on “Top Current Physical Albums,” #16 on “Top Current Albums,” and #30 on the “Top 200 Albums.”  

Here’s a sampling of some of the live rave reviews:

“A modern power trio mixing elements of classic Cream, the instrumental muscle of vintage Rush and the sheer power of Soundgarden…with a palette full of ballads, straight-ahead rockers and numbers with blues, soul and progressive nuances, the trio’s versatility is formidable. This intangible combines with the band members’ respective experience and virtuosic pedigree to form a musical blueprint that sets the Winery Dogs apart from their modern rock contemporaries.” – Timm McPhate, Grammy.com, 10/4/13

“All three are virtuoso players in their own right; together, they’re a powerhouse….Bold power and intensity. Lots of depth. Balance. Everything a wine aficionado (or metalhead, for that matter) could hope for. Let’s hope The Winery Dogs bottle more of their vintage rock.” — Peter Chakerian, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/3/13

“Drums. Bass. Guitar. They are the essentials of rock and roll. And with the right musicians in control, you don’t need anything more… Despite this being their first tour, the classic rock tinged Winery Dogs come off as if they’ve been playing together for years.” – Alan Cox, Denver Post, 10/15/13

“It’s amazing how in concert the highly individual sound and styles of each member contributes to the band’s sonic big picture. Billy Sheehan’s superhuman inventiveness on bass, coupled with drummer Mike Portnoy’s explosive percussion created epic musical interplay with guitar slinger Richie Kotzen’s amazing bluesy vocals…this is what live music is supposed to be.” — Ray Laracuente, ElmoreMagazine.com, 10/23/15

Here’s the complete track listing of DOG YEARS: LIVE IN SANTIAGO & BEYOND 2013-2016:

LIVE IN SANTIAGO:

  1. 01. Oblivion
  2. 02.  Captain Love
  3. 03.  We Are One
  4. 04.  Hot Streak
  5. 05. How Long
  6. 06.  Time Machine
  7. 07.  Empire
  8. 08.  Fire
  9. 09.  Think It Over
  10. 10.  Mike Portnoy Drum Solo
  11. 11.  The Other Side
  12. 12.  Billy Sheehan Bass Solo
  13. 13.  Ghost Town
  14. 14.  I’m No Angel
  15. 15.  Elevate
  16. 16.  Regret
  17. 17.  Desire

MUSIC VIDEOS:

  1. 01. Elevate
  2. 02. Desire
  3. 03. Time Machine
  4. 04. I’m No Angel
  5. 05. Oblivion
  6. 06. Captain Love
  7. 07. Hot Streak
  8. 08. Fire

DOG YEARS EP:

  1. 01.  Criminal
  2. 02.  The Game
  3. 03.  Solid Ground
  4. 04.  Love Is Alive
  5. 05.  Moonage Daydream

You know what they say:  Familiarity breeds creativity.  Just witness the aptly named Hot Streak, the supercharged follow-up to the self-titled rabidly rocking 2013 debut of the three-piece musical dynamo known as The Winery Dogs.  Hot Streak shows the powerfully pedigreed trio’s initial burst of collective chemistry was no accident, from the sturm und headbang of “Captain Love” to the propulsive uplifting vibe of “The Bridge” to the introspective acoustic harmonic convergence of “Fire.”  If these three Dogs thought they captured lightning in a supper dish the first time around, Hot Streak barks ups the aural ante into exciting new territory.

The Winery Dogs - Hot Streak“We elevated the band to the next level,” says vocalist/guitarist Richie Kotzen.  “I wasn’t nervous about it at all.  There’s always that worry with a follow-up record when you have a first one that’s so well received, but I believed in it from Day 1.  I knew in my heart if we made a record that wasn’t as good as the first one that we wouldn’t release it, but I know I did my best on every song.  I also like the fact that there’s a commonality between the first and second records — and there’s also an evolution too, as we’ve dug a little deeper.”

Adds drummer Mike Portnoy, “The mission of this band is to write catchy songs, and not have the musicianship overpower them.  That’s the icing on the cake — but the cake itself is always the song and the vocals.  Every song on this album is memorable and catchy, and you’ll wake up whistling them all the next day.”  For a drummer accustomed to having superstar status in the progressive music realm, Portnoy feels he’s done some of his best work with The Winery Dogs.  “It’s been refreshing to play music that’s so easily digestible all across the board by any listener, whether they be a metal fan, a prog fan, or a classic rock fan,” he admits.  “I think The Winery Dogs have something to offer for everybody.”

Some of The Winery Dogs’ intrinsic universality has to do with the way each band member understands how to serve the song first and play off each other, rather than showboat their own chops.  “It’s the great advantage of this three-piece band,” observes bassist Billy Sheehan.  “We always have each other on our radars pretty tightly.  I can see when Richie’s going for something or if Mike is going for something, and I can either lay a path down for them and get out of the way, or get behind them and help push them towards it.”  Sheehan clearly relishes his role as The Winery Dogs’ anchor.  “As a bass player, I’ve always been aggressive in my playing, but my job is to lock in with the drums,” he notes.  “If you’re aggressive and you’re all over the place, it’s a mess.  So I’ve always tried to use that as my focus point — and the point is to play as an ensemble player, as opposed to an individual.  Fortunately, I’ve worked with Richie a lot in the past [in Mr. Big], and I love his playing.  Same with Mike.  If you’re willing to step back and get out of the way and enjoy what those guys do, it’s a lot of fun being a supportive member of this band.”

Kotzen heartily agrees.  “These two guys are playing in a way that not many people can play,” he marvels.  “I mean, there’s no one else who approaches playing the bass guitar like Billy Sheehan.  The thing that’s unique about us is that we are obviously playing real songs with real lyrics and real melodies, but we have these moments of musical chaos where we go crazy and play these things the average musician wouldn’t be able to play.”

On Hot Streak, The Winery Dogs have found themselves sniffing around outside their comfort zone to expand their musical horizons while staying true to their power-trio roots, as songs like the subtle whirling dervish “Spiral” and the aforementioned “Fire” easily attest.  “‘Fire’ is a great example of Richie’s ability to create something that’s very poppy or very mainstream, something that you could hear Sting or Sade doing,” observes Portnoy.  “It’s an unusual left-turn for us,” concurs Sheehan.  “I’m glad we’re not playing it safe and just doing songs that automatically fit in the category of what we did on the first record.  Some of the songs are a little different, and we definitely took chances.  But you have to do that — otherwise, you don’t grow.”

The album’s funky, hard-driving title track is fine evidence of such growth.  “That one came from a bass lick I did sitting around and warming up,” reveals Sheehan.  “It was something I did for years — my adaptation of a Stanley Clarke move.  I did that lick with a little tag on the end of it, and Mike just played along to it.  It caught Richie’s ear and he said, ‘Oh, what’s that? What’s that?’  And I said, ‘Check it out,’ showed him what key it was in, and he jumped right in.”  Recalls Kotzen, “I remember being in the studio hearing Billy’s riff and thinking, ‘That’s cool.’  So I started riffing over it vocally; I wasn’t even playing guitar on that original jam session.  There are so many little spots on it where we could have stepped on each other.  But I was able to go in and play key parts that elevated the song’s progress and, at the same time, leave space for Mike’s drums to do the things that made the song even more special.”

After playing over 100 shows in support of the first album, The Winery Dogs are eager to head back out on the road to get behind Hot Streak.  “We’ve now been all over the world, and you have to put those hours in up on the boards to make things grow and evolve,” Sheehan points out.  “All that adds into how well we can read each other’s minds onstage, so when you get back to actually performing as a band, the songs all have a greater depth to them.”

As far as Portnoy is concerned, the more original material to cull from live, the better.  “This time around, I’m looking forward to having two albums and 25 or so of our own songs to choose from,” he says.  “We can even keep the set completely, exclusively Winery Dogs material if we want.  That’s the sign of a real band.  When the first album came out, a lot of people were writing us off as a supergroup or whatever, but we wanted people to understand this wasn’t just a ‘project.’  It’s a legitimate band, and we want to make many albums together in the future.”

Sheehan relishes the thought of playing a lot of Hot Streak onstage.  “The original material opens up the set list quite a bit,” he notes.  “We can pull from both records to make the live shows a little bit less formulaic and predictable, because sometimes we’ll play three or four shows within a 100-mile radius, and we have people coming out to all of those shows.”

Kotzen loves having the broader set list option as well.  “I always like the idea of not doing the same thing, so I very much like bringing the new songs into the set,” he says.  “That keeps the whole thing turning.  You don’t want to keep playing all the same songs every time we go on tour.  In the beginning, the question was, ‘Is this a real band?’  And I thought to myself, ‘Well, we’re not a mirage!  We’re three real people, discovering and making music together.’  So yes, it is a real band.  As long as we’re inspired and excited about making music, we’ll keep going.”  The more time The Winery Dogs play together onstage, the sharper the band will become.  “That’s something that comes with playing together over time within the trio, and also the knowledge you acquire in playing with other people,” Kotzen theorizes.  “There was a world of difference from the first time we got onstage versus the last show of the last tour.  And there’s still room for more growth to move beyond where we are now.”

Portnoy feels the future of the band looks quite bright.  “I may be in 46 different bands right now, but The Winery Dogs are my priority and my home base, and everything else revolves around that,” he confirms.  “It’s the same with Billy and Richie.  It’s something that all three of our hearts and souls are fully into.”

That level of commitment ultimately leads The Winery Dogs to reaching higher ground.  “The thing that resonates the most with me is that I feel we’ve taken the band to another level,” Kotzen concludes.  “The compositions are stronger on this album.  I feel more connected lyrically and musically to what I did on this record than on the last one.  I feel we’ve stretched the parameters the band operated within on the first record.  We’ve widened the musical scope of the band on this record and moved it forward.  That’s what I’m most excited about.”


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