Small Dog Syndrome: Is There A Doggy Hell? Probably.

It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.

It's been a while since your nomenclature specialist had a good name to tackle a juicy band name. We've been up in the Himalayans learning ancient Buddhist secrets of... sorry, we meant to say Batman: Arkham City came out. Suddenly music journalism seemed meaningless next to screaming, "I am the night!" at the TV while punching Joker.

So who is this group that roused us from hibernation?

Experimental ska band Small Dog Syndrome, that's who. We didn't really know how much you could experiment with ska beyond making it all about Jesus and loading your name up with religious puns. Small Dog Syndrome, though, does some rather interesting things with the genre.

They're more on the punk side of ska than swing, and by that we mean that they have no full-time horn section. Singer Nortnii sounds like she's eight years old, and for all we know, she may be.

The songs are fast and vulgar, mostly anti-parent, fuck-filled riots. Yet there really is some fascinating twists in the performances such as the almost Elfman-esque keyboarding in "Las Gaygus" or the acoustic opening of "Small Dog Syndrome" that plays like XTC's "Dear God." It's like Jello Biafra and Eric Cartman collaborated on a music project, and we literally can't tell you if it's a masterpiece or cause for counseling.

That name though... Small Dog Syndrome? What the hell does that mean?

Dogs are dogs, right? It's not like there's some kind of Chihuahua neurosis that sets them horribly apart from Great Danes. Oh wait, there's totally some kind of Chihuahua neurosis that sets them horribly apart from Great Danes, and yes, it's called Small Dog Syndrome.

Surely you've noticed how some people's little dog's can be yippy little dictators, snapping, blocking your path, and otherwise not acting like you couldn't punt them 50 yards if you were the dickheads they were being? Well, there's actually a brilliant, and at the same time stupid, explanation for this.

If you own a German Shepherd and it jumps up on people, you have to get that stuff under control, because a hyperactive German Shepherd can probably hurt someone. However, when a Min Pin does the same thing, we act like it's adorable and don't bother because, again, they're tiny and can't hurt us.

What happens though is that you're reinforcing in the mind of the small dog that they are in charge, and to them it doesn't really matter that you are 10 times their size and that this game of dominance can be won with an overturned laundry basket and a dictionary.

"It started with naming a song that, but before the band name became Small Dog Syndrom, the song is originally about a person who attempts to dominate others, as well as being snippy and stubborn," says Nortnii via email. "We kind of decided to make it our band name because it just fits."

Well, they certainly seem to be scrappy little folk. As we mentioned most of the tracks we've heard from them take the concepts of peace, love, and understanding and draw dicks all over its face when it's sleeping.

Yet in heraldry, dogs are supposed to represent loyalty, courage and vigilance, not viciousness like tigers do. Before pronouncing final judgment, we decided to ask Nortnii the ultimate question to determine the depths of someone's malice... or whether they're Homer Simpson.

"Is there a doggy hell?" we queried.

"Ha ha! Probably," she answered.


Small Dog Syndrome: (n) 1. A tendency of small dogs to believe themselves to be dominate to the humans they live with; 2. An experimental ska band; 3. Doggy hell.

Small Dog Syndrome plays Scout Bar Friday, February 17, with From Guts to Glory, Six Gun Sound and Abolition Formula.

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