Interview: Reunited After 21 Years, ’90s Alt-Rock Band Dogstar Set a High Bar on ‘Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees’

Dogstar © Brian Bowen Smith
Dogstar © Brian Bowen Smith
Dogstar’s first album in two decades, ‘Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees’ proves at once all-consuming and engaging – a charged and energetic alt-rock experience, underpinned by an unceasing desire to bring connection, meaning, and purpose into our lives.
‘Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees’ – Dogstar




The songs really have a story to tell throughout the record as they weave into each other.

It’s really hard, when talking about Dogstar, to ignore the Keanu Reeves of it all.

And quite frankly, I myself don’t know how I did it for so long. When the Southern California trio announced their reformation, together with news of a third album last summer, what I took away was a handful of deft melodies, dynamic vocal performances, and infectious alt-rock choruses. I didn’t think to look up who was in the band – admittedly, I seldom start with the deep-dive.

So yes, famous actor Keanu Reeves plays bass in the band, together with guitarist/vocalist Bret Domrose and drummer Robert Mailhouse. But the who’s who of Dogstar is hardly as exciting as the music they’re actually making.

Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees, Dogstar's first album in two decades, released October 6 via Dillon Street Records
Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees, Dogstar’s first album in two decades, released October 6 via Dillon Street Records

A product of the ’90s (their first run together spanned a decade, from 1991 through 2002), Dogstar are inherently reminiscent of groups like Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox Twenty, and Lifehouse – guitar-driven rock bands built on driving beats, heart-on-sleeve lyrics, and singalong choruses ready to be sung from the rafters, at the top of our lungs.

And Dogstar’s first single since the turn of the millennium did all that and more: “Everything Turns Around” heralded the band’s return after 21 years, and while everyone’s got a little more gray in their hairs, that charming youthful spark so evident in their first two LPs (1996’s Our Little Visionary and 2000’s Happy Ending) still shines bold and bright, both in Bret Domrose’s emotive, impassioned vocals, and in the full band’s spirited performance:

You’re a dream but I’m not dreaming
This is real, all too real
Days I spend when I’m not dreaming
Make me feel how I don’t wanna feel
Then I drift away and you arrive, comin’ to me now
Well, all my days feel the same
But at night you call my name
And everything turns around

“The inspiration musically was to try and write an upbeat song,” Domrose says of the track. “Lyrically, I wanted to keep up with the optimism of the music we had written. Going with the message that everything gets better if you wait it out. Things you dream about can become reality.”

“Everything Turns Around” proved the perfect reintroduction to Dogstar, as well as a faithful sneak-peak at their third studio album, Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees – released in early October via the band’s own label, Dillon Street Records. A record of candid self-reflection, human connection, and perseverance through life’s highs and lows, Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees is a dreamy, dramatic alternative rock reverie in its own right: Encompassing moody upheavals, love-soaked anthems, and all the in-betweens, Dogstar’s songs are relatable snapshots of life through an introspective lens. From the album’s energetic opener “Blonde” to the feverish and churning finale “Breach,” Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees proves at once all-consuming and engaging – a charged experience, underpinned by an unceasing desire to bring meaning and purpose into our lives.

Atwood Magazine briefly caught up with frontman Bret Domrose late last year to chat about Dogstar’s return, their new album, and the difference between releasing music in the 1990s versus in the 2020s. Read our conversation below, and listen to Dogstar’s third album Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees, out now!

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:: stream/purchase Dogstar’s album here ::
:: connect with Dogstar here ::
Stream: “Everything Turns Around” – Dogstar



CATCHING UP WITH DOGSTAR

Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees, Dogstar's first album in two decades, released October 6 via Dillon Street Records

Atwood Magazine: What inspired “Everything Turns Around” and why did you choose to reintroduce yourselves, and your new album, via this song?

Bret Domrose: The inspiration musically was to try and write an upbeat song. Lyrically, I wanted to keep up with the optimism of the music we had written. Going with the message that everything gets better if you wait it out. Things you dream about can become reality. The song was chosen as the first single by the band and when we played the album for people around us, we kept getting reaffirmed that this was the right track to come out with. A fun, upbeat, positive song for summer. 

How is the Dogstar of now similar to (and different from) the one we first met 20 some odd years ago?

Bret Domrose: I would say we are similar in that we are still the same three guys wanting to write the best songs possible. The difference this time around is that we are doing this all ourselves with no record label. The idea while writing this record was to just have fun. With that, we had a great time and the songs came quickly. No pressure except what we put on ourselves to get things as good as possible. We also have much more variety in our songwriting now and there are many different feels to this record.

Dogstar © Brian Bowen Smith
Dogstar © Brian Bowen Smith



What most excites you most about having “Everything Turns Around” and more new music out in the world?

Bret Domrose: The fact that with the invention of streaming, everyone in the world with the internet can hear it. That feels great for us to get the music out there.

How does “Everything Turns Around” fit into the greater narrative of Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees? In other words… What is this song’s place on the album?

Bret Domrose: This song has the responsibility of being the first reintroduction of Dogstar. While there are deeper, slower, as well as some more rocking tracks on this record, this one feels right to say hello to the world again. We spent some time sequencing the songs on this album. These days most people do not listen to the album in one sitting but if you do, you will feel the journey each song takes you on. The songs really have a story to tell throughout the record as they weave into each other.

How would you describe Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees in the pantheon of your music?

Bret Domrose: We made efforts to not limit ourselves on this record. Meaning we did not censor any ideas until they were fully worked through. Everything we came up with had a fair shot at being a song this time. No preconceived ideas of what style we wanted. Just, if it “feels” right, it is making the record. That lends itself to the variety you will hear this time around.

— —

:: stream/purchase Dogstar’s album here ::
:: connect with Dogstar here ::



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Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees, Dogstar's first album in two decades, released October 6 via Dillon Street Records

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? © Brian Bowen Smith

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