Dog’s Eye View
Dog’s Eye View
Dog’s Eye View leader Peter Stuart’s emergence on the national scene came as a result of a song called “Everything Falls Apart,” and given his penchant for penning moody songs backed by upbeat pop melodies, this fact is somehow fitting. The first single from his band’s debut album became a surprise hit in 1996, earning radio and MTV airplay and establishing Stuart as one of the mid-1990s new rock ironists.
Dog’s Eye View—which consists of Stuart on guitar and vocals, Tim Bradshaw on guitars, vocals, and piano, Dermot Lynch on bass, and Alan Bezozi on drums and percussion—was assembled by Stuart around 1995 in New York, after Stuart generated a buzz among record company executives for his solo singer-songwriter act.
Music played an early and important role in Stuart’s life. Hard-hit by the unexpected death of his father Fredric when he was a young child, Stuart found himself comforted by Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman. As Stuart recalled later in his Columbia Records biography, “I went home and put it on. Here was this song called ‘Father and Son’; all of a sudden, there was this songwriter who talked about a relationship between a father and a son and that kind of blew my head apart. I’ve always felt that every generation needs to hear about the same things in a different way because times change and people change…. I’ve always sought out those transcendent moments where you listen to something and it affects you very deeply.” “Waterline,” a song from Stuart’s debut album, was reportedly written about his father.
A New York native and the product of an upper-middle-class suburban family, Stuart attended high school on Long Island. Educated at Northwestern University, he began his performing career in Chicago, where the view from his basement apartment inspired his band’s name.
Stuart started on the road as an acoustic solo artist, playing guitar and singing on the small club circuit. Building a fan base by establishing a mailing list and keeping in touch with listeners through e-mail, Stuart sold more than 6,000 copies of a three-track homemade demo tape that contained early versions of “Waterline” and “Shine,” which both also ended up on his debut album.
After spotting Stuart perform, Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz invited Stuart to tour with Duritz’s group. Serving as both an opening act and a roadie, Stuart spent six months on the road with the Crows in 1994—exposure that attracted the attention of Columbia Records executives, who subsequently signed his band to a record contract.
Along with his bandmates, Stuart recorded Dog’s Eye View’s first album, Happy Nowhere, in Woodstock, New York, in a rented house. After writing all of the songs for the record, Stuartalso co-produced his band’s debut with James Burton. Although promotion for the album started around the fall of 1995, Columbia officially released Happy Nowhere on January 30, 1996. Because Stuart was probably best-known to audiences as a solo artist, Columbia’s promotional efforts included emphasizing the fact that Dog’s Eye View consisted of not only Stuart, but also Bezozi, Bradshaw, and Lynch. The band achieved national prominence via “Everything Falls Apart,” one of the singles from that album. The wry song became a radio staple in the summer of 1996. With the single drawing attention to the band, Dog’s Eye View spent more than a year on the road in support of the record.
For the band’s follow-up, 1997’s Daisy, the New Yorkers of Dog’s Eye View headed west to Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, Washington. By the time the album hit store shelves, Stuart had relocated to Seattle. Produced by Matt Wallace, the more mature Daisy featured Duritz as a guest vocalist. Besides Duritz, contributors to the album included multi-instrumentalist
For the Record…
Members include Alan Bezozi, drums, percussion; Tim Bradshaw, guitars, vocals, piano; Dermot Lynch, bass; and Peter Stuart, vocals, guitar.
Formed in New York after Stuart opened for Counting Crows as a solo artist, circa 1995; released debut album Happy Nowhere on Columbia Records, 1996; released second album, Daisy, on Columbia, 1997.
That Stuart’s list of friends and associates reads like a who’s who of modern rock has no doubt enhanced his career success. Stuart’s pals included the likes of folk singer Jewel, the acclaimed late singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, and Duritz. He has also toured with Tori Amos, Belly, Catherine Wheel, Cracker and Matthew Sweet.
Contact with more established artists helped teach Stuart important lessons about the music business. Counting Crows “’told me what deals consist of, and I learned what to stand up for and demand and what wasn’t worth fighting for,” Stuart is quoted as saying in Billboard. In the same article, he stated that Amos advised him “’to make your own record, and live or die by it. If you make it for the record company, they might turn against you if it stiffs, and if it’s a hit, you might end up thinking it was all because of them and not you.’”
Maintaining control over his work has apparently paid off. Although not all critics have found favor with his work, Stuart has earned high marks for his songwriting skills. In a 1996 review of Happy Nowhere, People writer Craig Tomashoff wrote that the album contained “the perfect balance between folkie-style introspective lyrics… and intensely energetic pop hooks.” Reviewing the band’s debut, Mark Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote that Dog’s Eye View “purveys routinely tasteful adult rock,” while in a 1997 review of Daisy, Jae-Ha Kim of Entertainment Weekly lauded Stuart’s “knack for marrying bittersweet words with pop melodies to create evocative vignettes.”
Since breaking onto the airwaves in 1996, the music business-savvy Stuart has built a career that balances creativity and common sense. As he told Tracey Pepper in a 1997 interview in Interview, “It’s not about selling the most records; it’s about my experience and progress as a human being. In thirty years I want to have learned more about the world.”
Happy Nowhere, Columbia Records, 1996.
Daisy, Columbia Records, 1997.
Billboard, January 6, 1996.
Entertainment Weekly, March 15, 1996; August 22, 1997.
Interview, September 1997.
People, April 22, 1996.
Washington Post, March 22, 1996; September 26, 1997.
Additional information was provided by Columbia Records publicity materials.
—K. Michelle Moran