- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The rock band Jet rose out of Australian soil in 2001, the product of brothers Chris and Nic Cester, Mark Wilson and Cameron Muncey’s musical efforts and a slew of old-school rock influences from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin. Since then, radio, the Internet and TV spots have carried their raging rock anthems (like their first single, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”) and gentle ballads (like the title track to 2006’s “Shine On”) around the globe with the foursome in tow.

They currently clock in around eight months of touring a year.

“Home is like a distant dream, a memory,” says Mr. Muncey, Jet’s guitarist.

After releasing “Get Born,” its 2003 debut, the band rode its repertoire for three years to triple-platinum status. While Jet’s members were getting a taste of how rich the rock life could be, however, it received a shocking blow; the Cesters’ father had passed away. They took their grief into the studio and penned the track “Shine On,” a hopeful message from their pop’s perspective, which became the centerpiece of the more emotional (and so-far less commercially successful) sophomore record.

Besides that loss, the rockers have also struggled with a pigeonholing or pooh-poohing press and too-close-for-comfort tensions.

“When [our success] first began, it was really exciting,” Mr. Muncey says. “After a while, you get used to it and it becomes more of a job.”

Jet hopes to nestle into the studio before the end of the year to begin work on a third full-length recording. “We always try to be a hard-working band,” Mr. Muncey says. Jet plays the DC101 Chili Cook-Off (www.dc101.com) on Saturday; gates open at 11 a.m.

Dog days

“I don’t trust rock musicians,” singer-guitarist Scott McMicken says.

There are other living creatures he feels differently about: canines, for example, whom he and his Philadelphia-based quintet, Dr. Dog, hold in the highest esteem.

The furry beast not only lent his name to the band via a short story that bassist Toby Leaman wrote, but he’s become something of an official mascot, and wanders freely into their ‘60s-minded rock tunes. In fact, the Band-esque “Alaska” (off this year’s “We All Belong”) states that the dog “thinks he’s in the band.”

“You just get really attached to [dogs],” Mr. McMicken says. “They call them man’s best friend and I don’t think that’s any small claim.”

This companionship between man and his beloved pet is an important theme for the group, but even more vital to Dr. Dog’s success is a long-term human relationship; Mr. McMicken and Mr. Leaman have been playing music together since the eighth grade.

In addition to cultivating their skills with instruments, they’ve also bonded over learning to be expert music listeners.

“It becomes very exciting in your teenage years to find out about music that nobody else listens to,” Mr. McMicken says. “That quest began at a really young age for us.” The duo “gobbled up classic rock standards,” stumbled onto punk music, and recruited others to help them practice Beach Boys-style three-part harmonies.

They grew so close that at one time, they applied for jobs at the same restaurant and when informed that there was only one position available agreed to become a single employee, thus sharing the related duties and shifts.

“Everyone would refer to us as ‘Scottoby,’ ” Mr. McMicken says.

When they weren’t working in menial jobs, they gained experience with groups in a host of genres from experimental rock to bluegrass.

Mr. McMicken says that throughout it all, “There was always this concept in our minds of what we could do [musically] with each other, but it took a really long time to happen.” Dr. Dog finally got off and running in 2004, when one of their early homespun albums, “Toothbrush,” fell into the hands of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. His was the first of many invitations to tour. Two records later (2005’s “Easy Beat” and the recent “Belong”), the Philly five have put in road time with the Strokes, the Raconteurs, Cold War Kids, Black Keys and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Dr. Dog’s tunes share traits with songs by all these artists; on the group’s latest disc, listeners can hear a pervasive MMJ-like laid-back vibe and even the occasional Strokes-esque rebellious rock yell. Yet, these tracks would fit equally smoothly into a classic rock or indie rock mix. The ambling “Weekend,” for example, coasts along on an easy piano melody and suggests that listeners “grab a case of lager and some old beat-up shoes/ We’ll head down to the river/ I’ll strap on the canoe.” This territory might be well-tread, but with these guys as the guides, it’s like spending time with a delightful old friend, be he man or mutt.

The Dog barks Saturday at 9:30 p.m. at the Rock and Roll Hotel (www.rockandrollhoteldc.com). The Teeth and Hoots & Hellmouth open.

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