Max Eisenberg (DJ Dog Dick/Dog Leather) is a noise artist and illustrator currently residing in beautiful Bushwick, Brooklyn. Fusing untraditional crooning “rap”-esque vocals with rhythmic noise, DJ Dog Dick creates energetic tracks flavored with grease, stink and slime. You could call DJ Dog Dick a little bit ‘fun’ but that does not mean that Eisenberg does not take his project seriously. Eisenberg invited me back to his studio-where he also lives and works as a superintendent- to talk about “idiot savant-garde”, moving to New York City and what it takes to push one’s work to the next level.
Jane: What were you like when you were a puppy? When did you begin to make music and illustrations?
Max: When I became a teenager I was just smoking weed… and shit. But for real, I did do a lot of drugs in high school and didn’t give a fuck.
I was a graffiti artist, but I was not very good at it. I didn’t know I had much artistic talent until I drew a portrait of the RZA for an art class. We had an assignment to draw a picture of someone that we admired, and I drew the RZA from Wu-Tang Clan in blue-purple oil pastel. Life Size. It was damn good and immediately I became the art star of the school. From that point on I would skip many of my other classes and just sit in the art room and draw. Mostly portraiture. I knew then that I wanted to be an artist.
Shortly after I graduated high school (class of 2000) I discovered the American noise scene and there I matured into a full-grown dog. Eventually.
Jane: What was it like to move to Baltimore from St. Louis? What did it feel like to leave everything that you knew to collaborate with Nautical Almanac and tour with Costes?
Max: I got to play all these huge shows opening for one of the most mind blowing performances I’ve ever seen (Costes’ Holy Virgin Cult http://www.costes.org/usindex.html) and I had never played solo before that tour! I REALLY had to get ALL my shit together for that one. It was a crazy ‘throw myself into the fire’ deal and there I first realized the rewards for taking a big risk with life. You buck up and face the unknown, you just do it. The rewards for that are so vast.
After moving to the East Coast I had it made. I joined Nautical Almanac, we toured Europe, we recorded Cover The Earth, we toured the US. That was my alternative to going to art school. Those were my formative years as a young adult. Learning the craft of music, performance and art under the guidance of older artists I respected. Honing the rawness into what became DJ Dog Dick.
Jane: You have collaborated with many other artists… Dog Leather (w/ Griffin Pyn of Sewn Leather), Rubbed Raw (w/ Robert Francisco of Angeldust and M ax Noi Mach)… How have these collaborations affected DJ Dog Dick?
Max: They have been vital to Dj Dog Dick. I learn so much from my peers. In collaboration both artists always walk away having learned something- even if the collaboration doesn’t manifest into what you had hoped. It works to strengthen your personal vision and [create a] collective vision.
Working with Griffin… He has influenced me greatly, taught me things and I know that I have informed and influenced him. You know there is this other cool person out there and you’re both flying a flag of allegiance. But you retain your individuality. I like to work with people.
It’s hard though, in the noise world and the art world… Or whatever this world is… Everyone is SO individualistic. Like Griffin, and I, for instance. Griffin is fucking Griffin. And me too… We both have diva meltdowns… In a way we are the most imperfect pair to work together. It’s amazing that we get shit done. But we’ve gotten amazing stuff done. Through the toil. Sticking to it. Compromising. Sometimes it’s a fight. You spar until you create something and I think that is beautiful. I will always be excited to work with people who inspire me. Anytime that I get the opportunity to do that, I jump on it.
Jane: How did the collaborative track with Antwon [“tramp on a jumpoleen”] come about?
Max: Antwon and Dog Leather have been communicating for a while. We like each others shit and it was like, oh, duh. Rap on a track. We actually have a few things with him on it that will eventually be out in the world.
Jane: So when are we going to get the DJ Dog Dick LP!?
Max: SEPTEMBER. On Hoss records.
Jane: dYsgeniX coined the genre of “resmarted” and/or “Idiot Savant-Garde” music. Do you think that DJ Dog Dick could be classified as such? Does DJ Dog Dick fall under this umbrella?
Max: Most definitely. I’ve never been afraid to play the part of the fool. Why would the best art just be a flattering reflection of the artist? I don’t buy into that. It’s not raw enough for me. You need to show the awkward stupid parts of existence as much as you need to show the brilliant, austere parts. Otherwise, I literally do not give a shit about it. There is not a person I know that is absolutely all one way or another. There is not a person I know well that is not a complete fucking contrary freak formation. Especially this generation. In Western culture we have so much crammed down our throats that it is impossible to not be influenced by the whole host of American pop culture.
Also, so I’ve heard, “Idiot Savant Garde” was actually coined on the first Wolf Eyes Tour in Europe. They kept seeing posters for their shows that said “Idiot savant garde” and Dilloway was pissed about it.
Jane: I DID NOT know that.
Max: He wasn’t into it. Not at all.Hahaha. Dilloway rules.
Jane: So, New York City is certainly a very different artistic climate from Baltimore. As someone who has been labeled as a “lifestyle artist”, how has your move affected your creative process and art?
Max: I was in a hypnotic trance in Baltimore. I believed I had to maintain this low sort of living where everything’s super cheap and there’s a “supportive community” around. I was too comfortable. The idea of moving to New York City seemed impossible. How could I move to a place, pay crazy amounts of rent and still be creative? But once I made the move, which happened almost accidentally, the whole hustle here supercharged my capabilities as a human artist. Right away got me taking things a lot more seriously.
If you do not work hard here you are going to fail. So the vibe in the city is total hustle and people do well here. Even every little shitty bodega is doing good. Artists who want to play any show at any level can find any show at any level to play. There are so many galleries to do whatever, Everywhere you go, you meet insane people doing their fucking thing and it is so inspiring.
It freaks me out to imagine… Almost a year after I have moved here… How I would be if I did not move to New York. I think I would be very, very depressed. I’ve one hundred percent learned the life lesson that it takes risk to get big pay offs. To succeed, you need to take risks. It is not going to feel like success unless you do. You need to walk into that void. You’ve gotta intuitively step into it, with a leap of faith. It’s great being here. I feel like my capabilities are completely expanded. I feel like I see the bigger picture and I see that it is a lot more malleable to my fucking control.
Jane: Hey what is your technical job description here? Is it keeper or janitor or?
Max: I am the superintendent. A janitor, rent collector, emergency tender to…
Jane: But this place is your studio, your home and your employment. And this is your last month here. What is your plan after this?
Max: Well, I am going to do something I have been needing to do for a while and that is to step into the unknown again. I am going to be staying a lot in Far Rockaway Beach… With the homies… Working on a live show… I also have a residency in a studio this August. I only have a few possessions here. So I will have what I take on tour, and it will be awesome and hopefully people won’t be sick of me hanging out at their place.
Jane: What is the next big move? Where do you see yourself in a year?
Max: Honestly, I want to be playing Saturday Night Live. In a year I want what I am doing and what my friends are doing to be on another level. We are doing our shit, we are taking it as seriously as we can and we have the support to bring it to the next level.
Fame is tantalizing, but as an artist you really just want to be able to make your work as realized as possible. There’s no ceiling to our imaginations. If traditional success is achieved you can do bigger shows with backup singers and wasted Muppets on stage snorting zombie dust. I’m fine doing the shows where I am doing the thing I have been doing for a decade… Just me on stage… But I am more excited to up the production on it, a lot of talented people working together on one thing. Epic. I want to succeed and I want to see all my friends succeed. I am committed to that.
Jane: Who are some of the artists that you are rooting hardest for right now?
Max: The whole Far Rockaway gang… Yellow Tears, Pharmakon, John Mannion, dYsgeniX, constantly getting my mind blown by that scene. My brothers Sewn Leather & Narwhalz(of sound). ANGELS IN AMERICA!!!!! SHAMS. Lil Ugly Mane. ANTWON. PICTUREPLANE. MYKKI BLANCO. Fucking GATEKEEPER is SOOOO sick and I’m super bummed their album release show is the same as night 1 of the Burning Fleshtival. Autre Ne Veu is tite as hell. TOTAL FREEDOM is the best DJ I’ve ever seen & he’s playing the next Gh3ttoGothic party… BATMAN DARK KNIGHT RISES will be seen by me at least 3 times in the theater. I’m sure I’m forgetting some shit. JANE PAIN.
Keep an eye out for a new Dog Leather music video featuring Travis Egedy from Pictureplane.