Keanu Reeves is probably best known by younger audiences from his role as John Wick, the tough-as-nails assassin dragged out of retirement on a mission of vengeance. However, he’ll always be Ted “Theodore” Logan to children of the 1980s; the headbanger who traveled space and time with his bandmate Bill S. Preston to save the world with the power of music in the Bill & Ted film series.
Go back a little further and you get to River’s Edge, an existential crime drama in which Reeves plays a nihilistic hesher whose cynicism is matched pound-for-pound by his misfit, sometimes murderous peers.
The real-life Keanu might not be a metalhead in the traditional sense, but his taste definitely skews towards some of the harder and darker edges of hardcore and punk.
When asked about his favorite bands in a 1996 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor said: “I’d say Fugazi, The Ramones, Exploited, Discharge, early Elvis Costello, The Clash, Violent Femmes, Joy Division, Minor Threat, and Bad Brains. That’s definitely what I cut my teeth on.”
Elsewhere, Reeves has namechecked Canadian noise-rock heroes Metz as a recent favorite and even expressed an admiration for producer Steve Albini’s notoriously caustic Big Black. It might not all be the deepest plunge into the underground, but for an A-list Hollywood star it ain’t half bad!
Given his pedigree, it’s not entirely surprising that the actor occasionally moonlights as the bass player in an alternative rock band. Named after a Henry Miller reference, Dogstar released two albums during their initial tenure, 1996’s Our Little Visionary and 2000’s Happy Ending, before going on indefinite hiatus in 2002.
They regrouped not long ago and are scheduled to release a third album, Somewhere Between The Power Lines And Palm Trees, on October 6th.
The 1990s were a weird time, and someone had the genius idea to book Dogstar to play the preeminent headbanger gathering of them all in 1992, the Milwaukee Metal Fest.
Sandwiched between the hardcore and shock rock of Murphy’s Law, Agnostic Front, and the Mentors and the death metal mania of Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Deicide, and Cancer – the literary punk band with a famous bass player were doomed to fail before they hit their first note.
Reeves spoke about the experience with GQ, saying: “We played Milwaukee Metal Fest. Got killed. I think we played close to Murphy’s Law. Imagine. So we played a Grateful Dead cover, at Milwaukee Metal Fest.
“We were like, ‘They hate us. What are we doing here? What can we do? Let’s do the Grateful Dead cover,’ ” Reeves says, laughing at the memory. “They were just like, Fuck you, you suck. I had the biggest grin on my face, man.”
Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can watch the whole trainwreck right here. Riki Rachtman had the dubious honor of introducing Dogstar, and the crowd didn’t pay the Headbangers Ball host any favors either.