Beauties and Truths with Dogs Die In Hot Cars

The way Dogs Die in Hot Cars front man Craig Macintosh sings is subtly proper. You can find within it a sort of lax authority and diplomatic resonance that Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Morrissey can be accused of having, but not just anyone with an accent will get the same. The regal quality with which Macintosh’s voice seems to have been treated belies the fact that most of his lyrics descend from the rantings and ravings of his father and conversations he has with old men in Scottish pubs—not from an overly studious and poetic eye, recording all of the beauties and truths in the world, then relating them to audiences as higher truths, stunning to behold.

“My father was actually over last night and we were ranting over a couple bowls of wine. My dad and I, we can’t get enough of it. It’s just talking. It’s just kind of bits of things. I couldn’t say any specific thing, but I know a lot of things because of him,” Macintosh said. “We go to a pub that’s kind of good for that sort of thing. It’s a place that sells traditional ales, like real ales and hand-pumped ales. It’s an old man pub. Everyone in there looks like Gandalf. The walls are covered with pictures of Glasgow town in the heyday and beer badges. They have a blackboard with all of the beers written in chalk and you order by saying, ‘Can I have a number seven?’—as if you’re ordering a Big Mac meal. You meet some real brilliant people in there. It’s magic.”

Dogs Die can’t, with too much confidence, actually pinpoint its birth. A lifelong friendship became a career.

“We’ve been doing this band so long. We get on so well. We don’t even have to say anything to each other. We’re like an old couple, the partner that you’ve known for 50 years and you only speak to when you want to,” Macintosh said. “We all love each other. We’re best friends. I can’t imagine playing with anyone else.”

It began well over a decade ago when Macintosh, bassist Lee Worrall, and drummer Lawrence Davey played on the same youth rugby team when they were 13- and 14-year-olds. Macintosh would invite himself over to Worrall’s house following matches to listen to the two play and to snack. Shortly thereafter, Gary Smith joined the band on guitar.

“All Lee knew were power chords. It was hilarious. It was all majors. It was just something we did on weekends,” he said. “When I started singing, I just kind of went downstairs one afternoon; they were playing and I picked up a microphone that was lying around. We’ve got hundreds of demo tapes. I had a ridiculously high-pitched voice before my balls dropped. It was angst-driven and it was great.

“I didn’t want to sound like I was singing in an American accent. It was at a time when there was a Manchester kind of thing going on, with the slurring of words. I wanted it to be clean.”

As it’s gone, Macintosh has created a bouncier, but just as vibrant and interesting version of Andy Partridge’s XTC, using Kate Bush and David Bowie as primary influences.

“We did know of XTC and we did really like them. But ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ was the only song I was familiar with,” Macintosh said. “When I went into a record store thinking, ‘What shall I buy?’ and I got stuck, I never thought to buy XTC, you know? It’s a compliment. I can totally understand what people hear, but we got there our own way.”

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