Cadaver Dogs’ Lex Vegas momentarily ponders cracking his beer open on the glass table, then decides against it. While the Hilton Honors lounge isn’t the first place you’d expect us to be interviewing a punk band, we’re glad to be sharing some morning craft brews with the Columbus duo, who have toured extensively with Foxy Shazam and systematically shunned major labels. Guitarist Mathew Franklin prefers to do all the album art and let his blitzkrieg shreds speak for themselves, an approach that has gained them an extensive following in the Midwest. They’ll be the first non-Michigan band to play Detroit’s Halloween music festival (as hard rock Elvis impersonators, no less). As for Fashion Meets Music Festival, the two have played their cards perfectly, nabbing sponsorships from Ink Addict and Jaegermeister.
Lex: I’m glad that something like this is happening in Columbus, because it’s a great city. There are a lot of little local festivals: Independence Day, ComFest, but there’s nothing that’s bringing in artists from all over the country. I dunno, are there any international artists playing?
Jules: Local Natives are big-er.
Mum: Future Islands just got back from Australia.
Lex: I’m glad there’s something on this scale– that somebody was like, I’m going to take the reins. ‘Cause logistically it has to be insane.
Jules: You live in Columbus. So you started the band from here?
Mathew: When we first moved here, we had a house together, and we’d do house show, and just be as depraved as possible.
Jules: I saw you first when you were touring with Foxy Shazam, did you learn anything from spending so much time with those guys?
Mathew: Their guitar player, Loren Turner, produced our new record. They’ve obviously been a big brother situation– I was touring with them and I started Cadaver Dogs while on tour with them. The idea for it, being in the desert and writing songs. They helped push me to start my own project.
Lex: I learned never to sign to a major label.
Mathew: Yup. Don’t sign to a label, don’t worry about management, just get a good agent.
Jules: So you put out three albums, without ever being signed?
Lex: Two full-lengths, and two EPs. This newest one is out on a label called Mind Over Matter. It’s based out of California. They’re not a major– but in a good way. They do–
Mathew: Art releases, small releases.
Lex: They’re a boutique sort of label, where everything they’ve put out is sort of hand-made. Crazy books, only vinyl, no cds. Everything they do is as intensely handcrafted as possible. Their only stipulation was, ‘we want to put out your album, but we want to make it as detailed and deluxe and awesome as we possibly can, but sell it for as cheap as we can.’ I was like, ‘Yes. That’s right. Perfect. Us too. Do that.’
Mathew: The vinyl comes out in a couple of weeks, and it’s all in 3D, you get 3D glasses. All the art is in 3D, when you pull out one thing it’ll look different.
Lex: Slightly offset red and blue. The vinyl itself is gonna be red and blue. It’s gonna be fucking rad.
Mathew: [leans close to the recorder] Fuck-ing-Rad.
Jules: You have a punk rock sound that isn’t as common now as it was in the 80’s or 90’s. Are you comfortable with being considered a little old school? Right now it’s all about the dance-pop–
Lex: I would much rather sound like we sound than dance-pop shit, whatever that is.
Mathew: I would much rather we sound like Motorhead than Skrillex.
Lex: We sound like my favorite band [laughs].
Jules: So have you had people come up to you and say, ‘this sounds like what I used to listen to?’
Lex: Constantly. A lot of people are like, ‘thank you! Nobody else sounds like this! It’s all this dance-pop shit!’ Rock n’ roll. Even the band that played after us, they were a two piece, and it was all backing tracks. I’m like ‘cool,’ but every bit of sound we do is the loudest drums we can find and the loudest amps we can find. And then just play it as hard, and fast, and wild as you can.
Jules: So how did you guys start living together?
Lex: I saw Matt from afar. Ten years ago, or something.
Mathew: We went to college together.
Lex: We were prettymuch the only two who– I saw him, and he was wearing a Misfits wristband.
Mathew: Oh, that’s very true. I also probably had a giant pink mohawk then.
Lex: You did have a giant pink mohawk then. Of course I noticed the Misfits wristband [laughs]. We went to Miami University, that’s where we met Alex, the trumpeter of Foxy.
Mathew: He was journalism. And I have painting and photography.
Lex: It’s an awesome way to run our band, ‘cause we don’t have to hire PR people, or art people, so many other things that other bands have to pay for. We do everything ourselves. It’s just now, recently, we’ve gotten ourselves an agent. It was really awesome that we had college degrees in useful things, that then– instead of me going out, interviewing people, I just knew how to get us interviews.
Mathew: He writes anything that is publicly online, listed with us.
Lex: So many bands shop out their art too.
Jules: So, being in Columbus, have you found that the music scene is on the rise? Or has it been limiting to be here?
Lex: We’re never here. We’re out on the road.
Mathew: I’ve specifically noticed that Columbus has a great scene, and one that’s constantly expanding. It’s a hipster, indie-esque kind of scene, but it’s hungry. So, you go to all these cities, and in most cities it’s like, live music venues are closing, and the scene is shrinking. In Columbus–
Lex: There’s constantly new venues opening up. All of the local journalism stuff in town– the free magazines, and stuff– are great. They really keep things moving. When you travel a lot, and play every city in America, which we have done, it makes you appreciate Columbus more. Because it’s doing it right, and a lot of other cities aren’t.
Jules: So what city has been your favorite?
Lex: Well, it’s like our last album, we say ‘there are all of the pretties in all of the cities…’ Matt got roofied in New Orleans once. On the Foxy tour.
Mum: I just gave this lecture to my nephew, going off to college.
Lex: Especially bands, because people are buying us drinks, it’s part of the job.
Mathew: People rob bands. I just woke up the next day, on the floor of the bus, my pillow was stuck to my face from the blood. I guess I tried to do a front flip.
Lex: I saw it from the not-roofied standpoint. Matt was like, ‘I’ma do a front flip!’ and then he was just face first into the concrete.
Mathew: [leans toward the recorder] I have two college degrees. [laughs] I blame my father, he said ‘never trust a man who turns down a drink.’
Lex: We drank shots with scorpions in them at SXSW. You just went straight out, I thought I had to chew mine.
Jules: I was going to ask about “Superloose and Turbohigh.”
Lex: Our motto!
Jules: Is it just supposed to be a headbanger?
Lex: Do you bang your head to it?
Lex: It’s workin. It can be whatever you want it to be. That’s actually one that we get a lot, people are like ‘that song!’ The epitome of rock n’ roll. And I’m glad we wrote it, too.
Mathew: We were trying to determine our genre, and I think “Superloose” embodies what we do.
Lex: I think Miley Cyrus would be Superloose. It’s the same thing as ‘Turnt.’ or whatever, that shit.
Jules: Turn down for what?
Lex: We were in a Radio Shack commercial that ‘Turn Down for What’ premiered in.
Mathew: With Lil John and Michael Phelps.
Lex: They didn’t tell us, they didn’t ask us for permission. So we had to sue radio shack. They played our song, and then they played “Turn Down For What,” right after it. They didn’t pay us, or tell us. People were like ‘hey, heard your song, sounds great!’
Mathew: It was on Monday Night Football.
Lex: We were on tour, our phones just started blowing up. People were congratulating us, and we were like, ‘we have no idea what you’re talking about.’ It got 2.5 million views on YouTube, but then they pulled it, because of the lawsuits. I was able to download a rip of it, before it went away forever.
Mum: Snapchat that! [laughs]
Lex: It’s an interesting thing, in the history of our weirdness. [But] the lawyers still made more than we did.
Mum: It’s a great story, are you keeping a scrapbook?
Lex: I journal, yeah.
Mathew: Lex is writing my biography.
Jules: …And he had two degrees.
Lex: He had two degrees, and sixteen shots [laughs]
Mum: And then did the double-flip.
Mathew: It was more like a quarter flip.
Catch Cadaver Dogs on PromoWest Live! After SNL tonight on NBC, and in InkAddict’s afterparty at the Garden Green Room tomorrow.