20 Questions For The Head Slug
- by Dan Brisebois
As frontman for Doug and the Slugs, Doug Bennett has seen more limelight than most slugs prefer … slugs prefer the dark you know … The Slugs first invaded our radios in the early ’80’s and have never really left since. Countless singles, more awards than most groups could dream of and a dynamic stage presence have all helped make Doug and The Slugs one of Canada’s most endearing and entertaining groups.Join me now as I engage Doug and The Slugs’ Doug Bennett with his most hard-hitting interview to date … just don’t tell him I would’ve settled for 10 ….
Dan: What’s your favourite colour of toque?
Doug: Red and green, about two feet long.
editor’s note: My Mom knitted him his dream toque, and he wore it on stage at a Xmas show in Edmonton a couple of years before he passed away. He squeeled like a little girl, and sang “Red & White Xmas.”
Dan: What was your first gig as Doug and the Slugs?
Doug: A Halloween bash at a communal house in the Kitsalano area of Vancouver. I went as a wino’s nose and almost won a prize for being a giant hemorroid.
Dan: What’s your favourite hockey team?
Doug: I’m tempted to say the Leafs because I grew up in Toronto and remember the glory days of the mid sixties.
(editor’s note: a time when they only had 6 teams and the Leafs STILL struggled to make the playoffs. Leafs and glory days re an oxymoron – not to be used in the same sentence … )
However, the greatest hockey team I’ve ever seen is a group of blind kids who did a 10 minute exhibition game at UBC. The puck beeped one note while the goal posts beeped in two alternating notes. Talk about exciting!
Dan: If it one day rained beer … would you care what brand?
Dan: Do you feel the upcoming surtax on rewriteable cd’s is fair, considering it’s also the choice of format for most computer programmers?
Doug: I think all forms of duplication should be taxed and the monies used to support the creators who use CDs as transport. Duplication in any form takes money from the artists who are the ones who can least afford it. Just look at the example of MP3 who’s basic position is that music should be free to the people while at the same time raising $11,000,000 US in investment to grow their company. Do you think one dime of that $11 mil went to the artist who created the music that MP3 gives away on their website? MTV does the same thing, selling advertising at national rates for their ‘video programs’ and refusing to pay the artists for their performances.
Dan: What were your musical influences growing up?
Doug: Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkel, any Motown.
Dan: What similarities and differences are there between the obstacles faced by today’s new artists and when you broke onto the scene?
Doug: The similarities are the difficulties in getting heard on the radio. The differences are that in my time, a band worked at getting their live chops down and building an audience in hopes that you would end up with a recording contract. The down side was that it took longer to break. The upside was that once the band’s radio days were over ( 95% of bands have a radio life of less than 3 years – The Righteous Brothers had 18 months) you still had legs. It’s sad to say but with the technology so accessible today, most bands focus on recording to the detriment of playing live. This means that audience loyalty is limited to what they hear on the radio and not what they have experienced live. Radio affects the ears but live affects the heart. The only audiences that are still artist loyal are Metal and Country
Dan: Kirk or Picard?
Doug:Jack Daniels or Johnny Walker Black?
Dan: What was up with The Dealers?
Doug: Lost a bet or needed something different to do – take your pick.
Dan: What colour are your socks? That’s right, the ones you’re wearing right now.
Doug: Grey. Anything else is just wrong.
Dan: Tim wants to know … Who really DOES know how to make love stay?… help him before it gets away. Actually he and my niece are doing great … thanx for asking.
Doug: No one KNOWS how to make love stay. If they say they do…they’re liars. But tell them I say hi, wish them the best and will poke a few balls around the table next time we’re in town.
Dan: How’s Tomcat Records doing? (now’s a good time to get in some shameless plugs for some of the great acts under your guidance and mind control)
Doug:Tomcat is actually at the vet right now. We signed a slew of artists over the last few years who did not want to tour. A hard lesson learned. Too many young acts think having a CD is the end of their contribution. In reality, it’s only the beginning.
Dan: What were the names of the Friendly Giant’s two animal puppet friends?
Doug: You got me there, I was a deprived child. I hope this doesn’t affect my Canadiana status. (editor’s note: Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe)
Dan: Betty or Veronica?
Doug: Marry Veronica for the money but keep Betty as a mistress. Then plot Veronica’s murder, get caught, be convicted and end up as a movie of the week.
Dan : Would you like to fill in this space with a good story from the road?
Doug: No. You’ve seen what happens and you swore to secrecy. Besides, the really good road stories are only to be told on long bus rides down moonlit shoulderless highways that are slowly turning into gravel roads with roadsigns that have names that are not on your map. Ring a bell?
Dan Any chance of a live album ?
Doug: All our albums are live.
What were the challenges of recording ANIMATO?
Doug: Paying for the studio time 😉
Dan: Do you think the Canadian media give established bands (Trooper, Loverboy, YOU GUYS for example), the respect they deserve, when compared to the push American artists such as Aerosmith or Kiss get during their ‘comebacks’?
Doug: No. Canadian radio is well known for it’s lack of faith. Why else would they have to forced by law to stop playing all their Canadian content during the 2:00AM TO 4:00 AM and spread it out during the daylight hours so that the music could compete fairly with its American counterparts. The lack of faith is not only centered on Classic Rock acts. Look at the abandonment of Crash Test Dummies and Bare Naked Ladies by Canadian radio until American radio success forced Canadian radio to tuck their tail between their legs and start playing the songs that they should have been playing in the first place. Canadian radio plays three or if I’m lucky four Slugs songs, and I still can’t afford my own private island in the Pacific.
Dan: What’s your favourite movie?
Doug: The Godfather and Casablanca.
Dan: Where were you in ’72 when Paul Henderson scored the winning goal?
Doug: In a bar screaming my head off.
Dan: What should be done to the person who invented the glowing hockey puck?
Doug: He should be hounded by ravenous dogs until he apologizes. Then hung.
Dan: If it was up to you, what changes would you make to ensure proper government support for nurturing the homegrown arts community?
Doug: I think revenue should be raised via entertainment taxes (like Ontario’s existing 10% entertainment tax) BUT it should be put directly into an Arts Pool as oppossed to going into general revenues where it’s lost in the mud and mire. Get the money back to the artists and their support systems.
editor’s note: Canada lost our best comic, singer, entertainer, and all-round nicest guys on October 16, 2004 when Doug Bennett passed away in a Calgary hospital. He was admitted a week earlier and slipped into a coma, where he remained on life support until falling victim to complications from a long-standing heart ailment. He was one of our most original entertainers and everyone who knew him lost a friend.
Fine musicianship always ran through the band, regardless of who the other Slugs have been. His energy gelled the other guys together, and it was the live presence that kept Doug & The Slugs at the cream of the Canadian music crop for nearly three decades. Their no-nonsense, ‘gotta make my feet move’ party atmosphere put them above the rest. There’s never been anyone better.
We’ll miss you Doug ….