Local Noise: Adrian Dodz

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s there was a “buzz band” that used to play at all the top Jersey clubs, and their forays into New York hotspots such as the China Club, the Limelight, Nirvana and The Cat Club always brought out scores of industry people. It was the heyday of hair metal; hairspray, gang vocals and spandex were everywhere. Adrian Dodz was in the middle of the scene, and were getting raves in rock rags across the country, including The Aquarian.

The group had its genesis in central New Jersey, and hit long forgotten clubs such as the Raritan Manor in Somerville, the Playpen in Sayreville and The Show Place in Dover. They also played in such venerable mainstays of the past and current scene, such as the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. John Bushnell, Freddie Dodds, Joe Nevolo, and later members Lance Hyland Stark and Robert Mason all provided the basis for a band that actually ended up achieving more notoriety years after its breakup than during its prime.

The Dodz boys recorded constantly, and eventually put out a CD on Rock Dream Records. The 500 CDs quickly sold out. With shows with bands like Skid Row, Bullet Boys, Dirty Looks, Prophet and others, the hype grew until the record labels started to take notice.

After signing a deal with Epic Records, the band headed into the studio to record with David Prater, who was working with groups such as Dream Theater and Fire House. The sessions were somewhat antagonistic, with David splitting the members apart and working with them individually, and not letting any of them hear the whole result until it was done. Of course, when Don Grierson, the now-legendary vice-president of Epic, heard the new songs, his comment was, “This doesn’t sound like the band I signed.”

After much rancor, Robert ended up leaving the band to join forces with George Lynch in the Lynch Mob, before heading on to other projects, including his present day gig as the singer of Warrant. Fred started his own band, John put together a blues rock group called Unguided Missile, and Joe played with many acclaimed bands, including the heavy progressive band Shadow Gallery.

After the recording version of the band fell apart, the music scene changed, and some of the members, joined by guitar virtuoso Stephen Ross and vocalist Anthony Lee Fontayne, hit the club scene playing Pearl Jam, Nirvana and whatever else was on the radio. Things kept going for a time, but soon the wear and tear took its toll.

There were occasional reunions, including getting together to do a song on the Kiss tribute CD Kiss Fans Salute Kiss, which garnered rave reviews in Kiss fanzines. They also did several songs for a Cheap Trick tribute CD, hooking up with Angel singer Frank DiMino, American Angel singer Rocco Fury, Twisted Sister guitarist Eddie Ojeda, and Starz guitarist Richie Ranno for the sessions.

Fast forward to just a few years ago. All of a sudden, the original Adrian Dodz CD started showing up on eBay. For some unknown reason, the CD had been bootlegged, and an underground following developed in Europe. Some of the original CDs went for as high as $120. References were made to other bands sounding like Adrian Dodz, and being influenced by them. The band decided it might be time to do something together again.

With a wealth of unreleased material, and several labels in Europe that specialize in melodic rock interested in re-issuing the album, they decided the time was right. But in order to make it special, they wanted to include a couple unreleased tracks, but that wasn’t enough. So they decided to record a new song for the release.

To make the reunion complete, they got back in touch with their original co-producer, Alan Douches of West West Side music. Alan has gone on to become a major force in the world of CD mastering, and is one of the most credited mastering engineers in the world. But he made time for the project. “If you’re going to do it, we might as well do it right,” he relates. “We wanted to make it as true to what it was as we could. I actually think it might sound better than it did originally.”

Last month the German label Schmankerl Records officially released the album, and reviews have been extremely positive. “We’ll see what happens,” says Fred. “If it does well, we’ll work on some more songs. And we still have a lot of unreleased material as well.”

The band also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of live shows, should the right situation present itself. Some of the European festivals have been mentioned as possibilities for one-off appearances.

With the success of endeavors such as the Rock Never Stops tour, and festivals such as Rocklahoma, bringing in large crowds for the vintage ‘80s bands, the potential is there for a return to the glory days for Adrian Dodz. Although it’s a place they would look forward to visiting, they wouldn’t want to live in again. “It would be fun,” laughs Fred. “But we’ve all moved on to other things.”

For now, Adrian Dodz will see how the re-issue is received and take it from there. For more information about the newly re-issued CD and how to get a copy, check out schmankerl-records.com.