When punk music first exploded in Boston during the late 1970’s and 1980’s, all major record labels had their main offices in NYC and kept their eyes and ears on what was happening on the local music scene in New England. The Dogmatics were playing garage punk before the genre even had a name and their sound was specific to the area and showcased their power, passion and pride.
Twins Pete and Paul O’ Halloran and Jerry Lehane spent eight years together starting with the first grade at St. Matthews Catholic School in Dorchester. Paul began a band with himself on bass and vocals called The Savage Beasties and a bit later one of the members moved to Thayer Street in the South End of Boston. Soon after, the brothers themselves moved to a loft on the same street and Paul wanted to continue what he started in The Beasties; he got together with both Jerry and brother Pete on guitar and vocals and the guys recruited their good friend Dan Shannon to play drums with the new group. They played their first and last gig as The Guttersnipes at their Thayer Street loft. Pete didn’t like their name and thought The Dogmatics was more appropriate so it was changed and the band got tighter and better.
The Dogmatics played their first show at Cantones in 1981 where they opened on a Tuesday night and weren’t paid for their performance; they continued to play around town for a year until Dan left the band, in 1982, to go to college; eighteen year old Squantum resident Tommy Long got behind the kit. In 1984, The Dogs released their first and only single on their own Cat Records, “Gimme The Shakes” on the A-side and Eddie Cochrane’s classic “20 Flight Rock” on the B-side, and they began to get a ton of airplay on college radio stations WHRB (Harvard), WMBR (M.I.T.) and WERS (Emerson).
In 1985, after signing with Homestead Records, their first album Thayer Street was released, and to this day it remains one of the label’s biggest selling products, and immediately had an impact with the album making the cover of The College Music Journal. The greater exposure helped the band and they began touring across the United States playing with The Replacements, Young Fresh Fellows, Los Lobos, The Bangles, The Fleshtones, Dash Riprock, The Del Fuegos, Scruffy The Cat, Dinosaur Jr, Hoodoo Gurus, Long Ryders, Forgotten Rebels, The Lyres and The Neats. Their second l.p., Everybody Does It, was recorded in the Summer of 1985 but didn’t see the light of day, after administrative delay after delay, until June 1986; the two hit singles “Teenager On Drugs,” and “Teenage Girls,” also appeared on Mr. Beautiful (Steve Barry)’s Rock Turns To Stone 1988 compilation album.
In 1986, keyboardist John Goetchius joined the band for a year but left to join The Cherry Popping Daddies and is currently with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. On October 23, 1986, Paul O’ Halloran died in a tragic motorcycle accident and the band has played many times since with Paul and Pete’s brother’s Jimmy or Johnny playing bass and singing. Lehane remembers: ” Of course when Paul died we were all heartbroken and it took some time to start playing out again. Today, we don’t play often but when we do Paul’s brother’s Jimmy and Johnny have always filled his spot.”
More recently, you can still see them at benefits and special shows including: The Pan Mass June 10, 2011 gig at The Paradise with The Neats, Last Stand, Band 19 and The Classic Ruins, friend Peter Sisco’s show on July 27, 2012 at Johnny D’s in Somerville with The Flies, The Bristols, Piranha Brothers, Sourpuss, Hired Men, White Dynamite, Lenny Lashley, New Frustrations, and The Lucky 88’s, and for Team Mr.8 on March 20, 2015 at T.T. The Bear’s with Jennie Dee and The Deelinquents, The Other Girls, The Hired Men and The Gypsy Moths. On November 16, 2017, The Dogmatics played a bunch of songs including “Another Saturday Night,” “Pussy Whipped,” “Thayer Street,” “Drinking By The Pool,” Good Looking Girls” and “Sister Serena” at the record release party for Live At The Rat Volume II, held forty one years after the original album came out. For their song, they contributed “Saturday Night Again” recorded live in The Rat Suite at The Hotel Commonwealth located in Kenmore Square on the former venue’s exact spot. Their Chuck Berry meets The New York Dolls, Nick Lowe meets Eddie Cochran, and Stiff Little Fingers meets The Clash sound is still intact and as vibrant and vital as ever.
Tommy Long says: “Our sound hasn’t really changed, but the musicianship has gotten better and the songs are effortless to play.”
FUN DOGMATICS FACTS
* The Paul O’ Halloran song “It Sure Don’t Feel Like XMas Time” was featured on the Midnite XMas Mess 1984 compilation.
* In 1998, Shredder/Vagrant released The Dogmatics two l.p’s along with some previously unreleased material.
* The Mighty Mighty Bosstones recorded “It Sure Don’t Feel Like XMas Time” in 2005 for the Mercury Records compilation Home For The Holidays.
* Dogmatics songs have been covered by The Bosstones, New Orleans pranksters Dash Riprock did “Whipped,” The Pussy Willows, Heap, and Swedish garage punk kings The Locomotions. Pete O’ Halloran said he “likes the Swedish band’s version of ‘Saturday Night Again’ because they do a boisterous version of it.” Jerry said he “likes The Bosstones’ version of ‘It Sure Don’t Feel Like XMas Time’ as they do a very heartfelt version of the song that was written by Paul.”
* The Dogmatics recorded a Richie Parsons (Unnatural Axe) song “Summertime” for The Unnatural Axe tribute record Ruling The World From The Backseat in 2008 on Lawless Records. They later backed up Richie for the tune at the Live At The Rat Volume II record release party on November 16, 2017, and it appears on the album also.
* They also contributed to The Reducers tribute album Rave On doing “Black Plastic Shoes” in 2012.
* They also contributed to Live at The Rat Volume II doing “Another Saturday Nig
ht,” and backing Richie Parson (Unnatural Axe) on “Summertime” in 2017.
*Jerry is the cousin of famous crime fiction writer Dennis Lehane. Jerry says: “Dennis has seen us play. He also wrote a little known film called Neighborhoods and used our song “Sister Serena” in the soundtrack for the film.”
(by A.J. Wachtel)
Published on March 2, 2013