It’s been, well, a literal dog’s age since the vibrant powerhouse trio known as The Winery Dogs marked their recording territory with new music. But now, following a seven-year break from the studio, The Winery Dogs are back in full force with their aptly named third album III, which is set for release on February 3, 2023 on the band’s Three Dog Music label (via Burnside Distribution/The Orchard) on CD and all digital formats. (A vinyl edition of III will also be forthcoming in just a few months.) III was self-produced by The Winery Dogs and mixed by longtime band associate Jay Ruston.
From the clarion call for connection and societal understanding in “Mad World” to the door-opening personal realizations of “Breakthrough” to the undeniable muscle-flexing reign of the white-hot “Pharaoh” and the album-closing energy spillage of “The Red Wine,” all 50-plus minutes of III prove The Winery Dogs haven’t lost a step when it comes to conjuring fresh hooks, gutbucket grooves, and bold harmonies.
That said, it’s been a long road back to the collective compound for Winery Dogs guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen, bassist/vocalist Billy Sheehan, and drummer/vocalist Mike Portnoy. Back in 2015-16, they hit the road hard together to showcase their mettle as hardcore (you guessed it) road dogs in order to build upon the success of their well-received 2015 sophomore studio effort, Hot Streak, by touring all across the globe. Eventually, the seasoned trio returned to their respective corners to focus on various other projects for the ensuing next few years. But when that live itch needed another scratching, these three working musicians knew just what they had to do.
“We wanted to tour,” Kotzen confirms succinctly of The Winery Dogs’ 22-date run in early 2019 that was appropriately dubbed “Who Let The Dogs Out,” before adding, “We had to get those cylinders firing together once again.” Concurs Portnoy, “That was a fun little tour that reignited our enthusiasm — and that’s also when we knew a third album was definitely in the cards.” Adds Sheehan, “Getting back together like that was really refreshing. We could relax a bit and enjoy being together onstage, playing without any pressure. It was a beautiful thing.”
Given the overall breadth and scope of the music that fills the grooves of III, the mutual goal of The Winery Dogs is quite direct. “Our objective is to give people a truly pleasant listening experience,” outlines Kotzen. “Our music is created by real people playing real instruments, with all of us doing it in a room together. There’s nothing artificial about it.” Notes Sheehan, “I’d like our listeners to be transported in a way that they can experience what we are going through. Our records are snapshots of life, and how we’re living it. Our music reflects what’s important to us, and what isn’t.” Concludes Portnoy, “The strength of this band is, first and foremost, it’s about the songs. Then comes the musicianship, which is obviously important. What makes The Winery Dogs so great is, every one of these songs is memorable, catchy, and singable, but at the same time, you have this great musicianship in all three departments. It’s like a three-ring circus. No matter who you’re watching or listening to, you will always be entertained.”
As III handily proves with each successive listen, just like a fine wine given the right amount of time to ferment and to breathe, The Winery Dogs keep on getting better and better with age.