Ken's Retro Pick – WILD DOGS (1983)

In the summer of 1981, Jeff Mark, Mick Zane, Pete Holmes and Matt McCourt teamed up to perform in Portland as the Ravers, promoting McCourt’s release of  “I was a Teenage RocknRoller” on Matchbox Records.

Guitarist Mark, drummer Holmes, vocalist McCourt and bassist Danny Kurth were asked to record a few songs for a recording class at Recording Associates. The first session produced “Fugitive of the Law”, which also featured local guitarist Kip Doran. The second session produced “We Got the Power”, “Runnin Away”, and “Tonight We Rock”. The third session proved to be the turning point. Drummer Pete Holmes was lured away by the band Black ‘n Blue and was replaced by Jaime St. James, Black n Blue frontman. The next session yielded “The Tonight Show”, “Life is a Game”, “I need a Love to Call My Own”, “Two Wrongs” and the song that brought them to the attention of local FM radio station KGON, “Born to Rock”.

McCourt saw a one time news segment on the new Music Television (MTV) about Shrapnel label president Mike Varney, who was searching for unsung guitar heroes. Jeff Mark was known as one of the most notable guitarists in Portland. McCourt took notice and sent Varney a demo of their recording sessions with Recording Associates. Varney offered an appearance on his compilation series. The band originally named themselves DMZ, but changed it to Wild Dogs after being inspired by two old hound dogs that the band passed daily, on the stairwell at their practice studio.

After the release of US Metal Vol 2, the response and demand for Wild Dogs increased, evidenced by local and international fan mail, and interview requests by fanzines. McCourt suggested to Shrapnel that they take the band with the best response and produce an album. Varney suggested Wild Dogs since there was most of an album recorded. However, Jaime St. James left the band to join Black n Blue in Hollywood, so the band was left with the task of finding a drummer. McCourt placed ads in the local newspaper, managed to get airplay on a local radio station and persisted at getting the demo played at local clubs during band breaks. McCourt recruited local whiz kid, 16 year old drummer Deen Castronovo to join the band. The first album was released and the band had it’s first gig on August 20, 1982 in San Francisco at The Stone, with Culprit and Varney’s band Cinema, leading to another MTV news segment. The following week the band played in Seattle, sharing the bill with TKO, Rail, Atom Bomb and Myth (Queensryche). They later toured with Slayer, Metal Church, Anthrax, Dio, Raven and Girlschool. Wild Dogs became known for its live show. With McCourt’s use of spiked baseball bats, blow up dolls and other props, and Castronovo’s twirling and stick juggling showmanship, the band earned its wild, bad boy reputation.

Wild Dogs has experienced numerous line-up changes. McCourt is the only original and constant member of the band. Several attempts to reunite most of the original band members have failed, most recently in July 2010. McCourt has kept the band active for 29 years, playing local and regional shows and international festivals with various band members. He continues to reproduce CDs and do interviews for fanzines and radio stations.

Here’s my favorite song, “Life Is Just A Game”. Give it a listen I think you will enjoy it.


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