Bogue is the kind of band that can tell you exactly where to find the best burrito in town. But they won’t. Hanging out with the Detroit trio at their practice space in Detroit is like getting a street-level lesson in the Detroit good life. From grub to gear to Ghettoblaster, Bogue knows its way around our (un)fair city. And that hunger for bringing the best of the overlooked to light is central to why their manic soul-blues punk ’n’ rollwhatchawannacallit get-down sound is both immediately intoxicating and worthy of repeat deep listenings.
In their otherwise-anonymous practice space, you can hear the incessant cowbell of a nearby drummer working out a new song. Bogue lingers for a moment, shooting the shit. Guitarist Dan Maister mumbles something only his guitar foil Mike Walker can hear and BAM! They’re off, ripping through the Stones, Bo Diddley, Otis Redding and the Bassholes all plugged into one electric socket without rubber soles and with a thunderous back beat. That damn cowbell is a distant memory.
Formed as a duo in 1999 by Maister and original drummer Matt Blake (who has since left the band to focus on his work as a sculptor), Bogue played the circuit for months before finding their sound.
“The duo format can be frustrating because you’re trying to do so much,” says Maister. So it is that Bogue’s music wouldn’t really find its legs until the ranks swelled to three with the addition of second guitarist Mike Walker.
“I used to see Mike in the alley between our buildings when I was coming or going or taking the trash out or whatever, and he just looked cool,” says Maister.
Turns out recruiting Walker was like a Detroit rock ’n’ roll family reunion. (See Detroit Rock Family Tree, Post-Hardcore-Ann Arbor Branch, Section 3.)
Pedigreed fellas all, Maister held down the low-end for Detroit blooz-destroyers Mule before that outfit morphed into the Preston Long-fronted PW Long’s Reelfoot.
Walker was the rock riff-center of noise hulk Gravitar’s sound before forming his own short-lived blistering hard rock outfit, Gaffle.
So it was that both Maister and Walker cut their teeth in the classic style of Detroiters beating holy hell out of rock music until it bent to their will.
And while their CVs surely inform the Bogue sound, they by no means dictate it. In fact, before Bogue, Maister hadn’t played six-string in a band and had never before taken lead vocal duties. To see him tear up both with the artful abandon of a seasoned frontman during a Bogue set, you’d wanna call him a liar.
“I’m not the kind of singer who can whip the crowd into a lather with banter. Like Tommy’s [Potter of Bantam Rooster] great at that, but it just isn’t me,” says Maister.
But it’s Maister’s commanding shouts, howls and lovelorn lamentations that are the eye of the Bogue storm.
Elsewhere, guitar lines intersect, divide and conquer like Maister and Walker are reading each other’s minds. (“It just comes from practicing pretty much every day,” insists Maister humbly.)
Either way, Bogue comes on tightly coiled then fast, furious and astoundingly buttoned-down for a band that careens along the edge full- throttle.
“One of the things that I think we both admire most about the Stones is that Keith and Brian really worked hard to make two guitars sound like one, but with exponential power,” says Walker. “And that’s sort of how we look at it.”
For a while there it seemed like Bogue was going to be Detroit rock’s best-kept secret. But somehow (as it always does, eventually) word got out. Go to a Bogue show and you’re going to sweat, and you’re going to sweat along with a hundred of your new closest friends and the three live wires on stage leading the charge.
And now the trio’s close to firming a label deal for their debut album, and they’re ready to be road-tested.
Yet, as recently as two months ago, the future of Bogue was a bit cloudy. After recording a dozen whup-ass tracks with Jim Diamond and Potter, establishing a name for themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the Detroit rock scene and then justifying that reputation both here and on the road, Bogue had to face the departure of Blake. (And anyone who’s seen Blake beat drums knows that those are big shoes to fill.)
“Seriously, I didn’t know what the fuck we were gonna do for a minute there,” says Walker.
They called on ringer Eric Cook (late of both Gravitar and Bantam Rooster) to temporarily fill Blake’s shoes, then set about finding a full-time Bogue-er on skins.
Enter Joliet, Ill., native Bill Hafer.
“Eddie from the Sights told me that Matt was quitting, and I couldn’t believe it cuz Bogue was my favorite band,” says Hafer.
“So I thought, ‘Well, sombody’s gotta do it, why not me?’”
Maister and Walker came to the conclusion that the kid had chops. But there were other factors to consider too.
“He was an absolute fucking monster,” says Walker, “but more than that, we had to be sure we’d get along with him. We have to be able to spend weeks at a time in a van with you and not have to kill you.”
And so it is that we find Bogue this week: fighting trim and ready to resume the Rock.
As Bogue “fourth member” Thomas Jackson Potter (of Bantam Rooster and Dirtbombs glory) aptly notes: “Of course, it’s all about coppin’ some licks and grabbin’ some beats, but you also have to wanna make ’em your own. Bogue isn’t about payin’ tribute, they’re about bein’ part of the lineage.”
Hint: That burrito? It’s somewhere in Southwest Detroit. Good luck!
Bogue will be playing very near said Tacaria this Friday at the Lager House (1254 Michigan Ave.). Call 313-961-4668 for more information. This show is not to be missed; it’s the good stuff, man.Chris Handyside writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]