The Los Angeles-based band known as That Dog formed in 1991, inking a proper record deal with David Geffen’s DGC label within two years. That Dog went on to release three albums with DGC, touring alongside major acts like Blur, The Wallflowers, Weezer, Beck and the Counting Crows. The quartet of Rachel Haden, Anna Waronker, Tony Maxwell and Petra Haden disbanded in 1997, although none of the members of That Dog ever abandoned music; for example, that is Petra Haden’s violin work you hear on Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).” A proper That Dog reunion happened in 2011, leading to more shows in 2012 and finally a new album slated for release later this year; at this time it appears that only Rachel, Anna, and Tony are onboard for the forthcoming studio effort.
Before the new music from That Dog hits stores, Hello Records is releasing the limited-edition Totally Crushed Outtakes 7″ today, Mar. 31. One of the four tracks, “Silently,” features Beck on banjo. To learn more about the Outtakes, Downtown spoke with Anna via e-mail. More on Anna can be found at www.annawaronker.com, while That Dog keeps up an official page on Facebook.
What do you remember about the first gig you ever played in New York? Was it as part of That Dog?
Anna Waronker: I think the first show we ever played in New York was opening for Beck and Evel Kneivel at The Grand. It was a tribute to Evel Kneivel and Beck was asked to perform. We were on tour with Beck at the time so we were also on the bill. All I really remember was that we learned our tour manager misplaced most of our merch cash, I tried to shield a very pregnant Kim Gordon from the crowd, and we had a lot of wigs backstage.
Do you have a favorite of the Totally Crushed Out outtakes? Are there other outtakes in existence, by the way?
AW: I love the acoustic version of “Silently.” And I love that Beck played banjo on it. We were such good friends and collaborators during that time. It was fun to have him on one of our songs.
Members of That Dog have contributed to the work of Weezer, Beck, Mike Watt, The Rentals, Jimmy Eat World, Todd Rundgren, Nada Surf…plenty of great artists. Did that have to do with hanging out with other artists often, as opposed to the work of agents and managers?
AW: Absolutely. It was a very creative and social scene. For us, it was fun to work with different people. Mostly friends. Some people we looked up to.
Promoting Totally Crushed Out outtakes aside, what’s coming up for you? Any chance of more That Dog shows in the future?
AW: Well, we are finishing a new album. It’s pretty close to being finished. It’s been a very cool experience making a new album together. It’s like we picked up where we left off when we were at our most creative state. We are also doing a 20-year anniversary show for Retreat From The Sun at the El Rey in Los Angeles on Apr. 8. We will have some fun guest stars.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
AW: Mostly with kids. Whether our own or with nieces and nephews.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
AW: Tony lives in New York, so he has lots of favs, including Barrio Chino (Mexican), Via Carota (Italian), and the Grand Central Oyster Bar (for Oysters, of course). New York can’t be beat for amazing food options, but I have to say L.A. is giving New York a run for its money.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
AW: Be creative however you need to. Take risks. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, we all make them. Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s a waste of time. Know when to make your own rules and then make them.