Kevin Flowerdew of

Do The Dog


1. Kevin Flowerdew please give us a history of your musical life to date and tell us about how Do The Dog Music came to be?

I first started to get into music when I started secondary school way back in 1979. At the time the 2 tone era bands The Specials, Madness, The Beat, Bad Manners & The Selecter were dominating the charts so our school discos were always blasting out loads of ska tunes along with all the usual pop nonsense. I was instantly hooked on everything about the 2 tone movement, from the fast paced highly catchy music to the striking black & white imagery of all the record sleeves & posters & the cool clothes that all the bands & their army of fans were wearing. As I was only 12 when 2 tone exploded I was too young to go to any of the shows, my gig-going experiences only began when my younger brother Sean started playing in a ska band called The Loafers. The mid & late 1980’s saw a resurgence in the UK ska scene & pretty soon The Loafers were gigging in London with other great new ska bands like The Hotknives, Maroon Town, The Potato 5, The Deltones & Capone & The Bullets. When I discovered all these bands, plus fab European ska bands like The Busters, No Sports, Casino Royale, Skaos & Mr Review & US bands like The Toasters, Fishbone, The Untouchables, Bim Skala Bim & Lets Go Bowling, I was well & truly hooked on the ska scene & started up my own skazine called Rude in 1989. The zine is still going strong today (I changed the name to Do The Dog Skazine in 1996) & to date I have published 105 issues! In 1990 I started my own ska band called The Bakesys & over the next 4 years we toured all over England & Germany, supporting the likes of Bad Manners, Desmond Dekker & The Selecter along the way. To celebrate the 50th issue of Rude Skazine in 1996 I decided to release a CD compilation featuring some of my favourite bands that had been featured in the zine. The compilation was titled “Rude Vibes” & featured tracks from the likes of Skankin Pickle, MU330, The Peacocks, Ruder Than You, Intensified, The Kingpins & of course The Bakesys. The compilation was only supposed to be a one off release, but as it sold really well & I had really enjoyed putting the CD together, doing the artwork, sending out promo copies, etc I decided to set up Do The Dog Music as a label & release lots more ska releases. Since then I have released a total of 46 CD’s on the label.

2. How do you go about getting bands onto your label - do you approach them after a viewing or hearing or do they primarily come to you?

It varies from band to band really. Some bands I have come across at live gigs (Smoke Like A Fish, Rebelation, Too Many Crooks), some have been recommended to me by other Do The Dog bands (3 Minute Warning, New Town Kings, Captain Black No Stars), some sent me demo CD’s to check out (Honeyshop Screamers, The Skints, Jimmy The Squirrel) & some I discovered myself on Myspace (Dirty Revolution, Drewvis, John Player Specials).

3. Do you have any secret criteria that a band must meet to be on the label?

The only criteria I use for signing any band is that I love the music that they play.

4. Who are the bands that most excite you at the moment and which ones do you think may make a major breakthrough?

The last couple of years have been a pretty exciting time for the UK ska scene with bands like The King Blues & Sonic Boom Six looking set to make a major breakthrough. The bands exciting me the most at the moment are Do The Dog’s more recent signings like Dirty Revolution, Jimmy The Squirrel, John Player Specials, New Town Kings, The Skints, Resolution 242, Cartoon Violence, Rasta4Eyes & Captain Black No Stars, all of whom I think have the potential to emerge as real forces on the scene & perhaps follow in the slipstream of the likes of The King Blues & Sonic Boom Six to more mainstream recognition.

5. How are you finding sales at the moment and are there any external factors that are effecting the shift of CD's?

Our CD sales are still ticking over pretty well, both through our mailorder distro & through the bands themselves at their gigs. Luckily the label does have a pretty loyal following who seem keen to continue supporting us by buying our releases. Overall we are selling less CD’s than we did say 2 or 3 years ago, but I think CD’s are in general selling in smaller amounts due to downloading & also due to the fact that people have less money in the pockets due to the recession.

6. What do you think of bands offering free downloads?

I’ve not really got into downloading myself, I prefer to have a CD in my hand & some CD artwork to look at rather than just having another mp3 file on my computer. Some bands do seem happy to offer up their music for free download in an attempt to spread their name around & for some it does help. But I think in general it only really serves to encourage that attitude that many kids seem to have these days that music has no value & that they can download any music they want for free. Such an attitude makes it very hard for any independent band or record label to survive no matter how good their music is.

7. How do you think the ska scene is doing at the moment in comparison to other genres? Is it holding its own and do you expect a massive revival anytime soon?

I think the UK ska scene is doing really well at the moment with the likes of The King Blues & Sonic Boom Six knocking hard on the door of mainstream success. There are loads of cool new bands popping up all over the country & of course the fact that 2 tone legends The Specials & Madness are both gigging again has also helped to boost the scene. I certainly don’t expect a ska revival on the scale of the 2 tone era, but on a grass roots underground level things are better than they have been in a long time.

8. How many hours a week to you dedicate to the label and do you foresee any future expansions or cutbacks dependant on your domestic situation?

I work full time on the label, so on average its at least 40 hours a week. I don’t foresee any changes to that in the foreseeable future.

9. What is the mission statement of the label if any - and if you ain't got one lets have one made up on the spot ya bugger!

The main aim of the label really is just to bring more attention & recognition to the bands that we work with & to help spread the word about the UK ska scene in general.

10. Are there any plans for any Do The Dog festivals - a 3 dayer perhaps showcasing your team of bands?

We do tend to organise at least one big Do The Dog Bash in London every year, so there should be another one of those coming along in the not too distant future. The next one could well be a 2 day event with about 8 Do The Dog bands playing each day.

11. What advice would you offer to anyone starting up a record label?

Be prepared to lose lots of money, ha ha ha!

12. Finally give us all your contact details and promotional verbology. Basically push yer cause and give us a sales pitch to savour!

We have a number of Do The Dog related websites where people can find more info on the label, our bands, gigs & releases. These are:

We also now have a Do The Dog Music Facebook page, so people can seek us out on there too!

The next few months should hopefully see us putting out brand new CD releases by Jimmy The Squirrel, Smoke Like A Fish, Rebelation, Robb Blake, Rasta4Eyes, John Player Specials & Dirty Revolution amongst others. We also hope to mark our upcoming 50th CD release with a special compilation release featuring brand new, rare & unreleased tracks from Do The Dog bands.

FOOTNOTE: This interview is published later than expected and was initially meant for the on-line magazine Distorted. However since the aforementioned magazines demise rather than waste the textual matter it has been agreed to publish it here - hope you still enjoyed it - Fungalpunk/OMD