File this one under “You read that right!” Caninus is a New York City grindcore band (more on grindcore in a minute) with a dog as lead vocalist. Actually, Caninus used to have two lead singers — Pit Bulls Basil and Budgie. Basil, however, passed away in 2011 of a brain tumor, so Budgie has been forced to rock the mic solo. The group is currently recording a new album in Basil’s honor.
Lineups aside, you might be wondering, What the hell are you talking about, Dogster?
Let’s start again: Caninus is a band who has a dog for a lead singer. Really. The dog lays down the vocal tracks, and humans (vegan ones!) play the instruments. The vocal tracks from a dog sound exactly like what you’d think vocal tracks from a dog would sound like. Meaning: Barking. Lots of barking. And growling. And barking. Followed by growling, and barking, and so on — until the Grammys.
(Note: If you don’t know what grindcore sounds like by now, it’s probably best that you never know, so take a moment to consider that before you play the video at the end of this post.)
The human members of Caninus are animal rights activists as well, and they work in dog rescue. Song titles include gems such as “Bite the Hand That Breeds You,” “Locking Jaws,” and “F**k The American Kennel Club.”
We wouldn’t know any of this if not for a fascinating interview with guitarist Belle Molotova on the Noisey blog by Vice. Here’s an excerpt:
Noisey: How did the idea come about to use dogs as your vocalists?
Belle Molotov: We were all fans of grindcore and death metal bands, and we noticed one day that our dogs could growl with the best of them. We learned how to safely get them to growl and bark along to the music, and Caninus was born. We got a lot of backlash that we were actually recording the dogs fighting but that’s bulls**t. Hasn’t anyone seen the Husky that can say “I love you?”
How did you get them pumped up to perform?
We do lots of calisthenics — we practice “give me paw,” “rollover,” “take a bow,” and give them lots of treats. Then the rawhide comes out and the vocals just start flowing naturally.
Tell us about the concepts behind your songs.
Most of the songs concern issues that Pit Bulls face today. They are the most misunderstood and abused breed out there. The lyrics give the dogs’ perspective on all that they face as Pit Bulls and as dogs. The dogs sit down and try to explain to us what they want us to say and we try our best to put it on paper.
So, dogs as lead singers from a vegan grindcore band whose members support animal rights — got all that? Oh, one more thing: Susan Sarandon and Bernadette Peters reportedly love the band. Of course they do.
And now, without further ado, put your hands together for CANINUS!!!