Dog Fashion Disco

Dog Fashion Disco

Final bow after their farewell show on January 14, 2007.
Background information
Also known as Hug the Retard
Origin Rockville, Maryland, United States
Genres Avant-garde metal, alternative metal[1]
Years active 1995–2007, 2013-present
(reunions 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013)
Labels Outerloop, Spitfire, Artemis, Rotten, Razor to Wrist[2]
Associated acts Polkadot Cadaver, Knives Out!, The Alter Boys, El-Creepo!, Ideamen, Phantom Communique
Members Todd Smith
Jasan Stepp
Brian "Wendy" White
Tim Swanson
John Ensminger
Past members Greg Combs
Stephen Mears
Jeff Siegel
Mike "Ollie" Oliver
Sennen Quigley
Jason Stevens
Mark Ammen
Geoff Stewart
Kristen Ensminger
Josh Gifford
Dave Sislen
Ken Willard

Dog Fashion Disco is an American avant-garde metal band from Rockville, Maryland, United States, that was active from 1995 to 2007 before disbanding. The band officially reunited on October 10, 2013.


Combining many different music styles (1970s psychedelic, jazz, piano recital, heavy metal, circus music and vocals, among others) Dog Fashion Disco was primarily considered an avant-garde metal band.[3][4] The band's lyrical content is often highly esoteric and satirical, with constant tongue-in-cheek references to the occult, drug use, and mutilation. A major influence on the band's sound was the California genre-defying act, Mr. Bungle.

Early Years (1995–2000)

Dog Fashion Disco, or DFD as many fans refer to them as, was formed in 1995 by Todd Smith, Greg Combs, and John Ensminger, who all went to high school together.[5] Originally their name was Hug The Retard,[6] but this was changed name to Dog Fashion Disco before releasing any material, as they felt the name Hug The Retard was too offensive and might cost them fans.[7] Their first two releases were self-released and low budget products. The first - Erotic Massage - was funded by a loan taken out by drummer John Ensminger, which his father had to co-sign on and "took nearly a year of local shows to pay off the part of the loan that was used for studio time, printing and pressing"[8] and was released independently by the band in 1997. The second self-released album was titled Experiments In Alchemy and released in 1998. Experiments saw more heavy metal numbers, as opposed to the more ballady feel on many of Massage's songs. That same year, DFD signed with Outerloop Records and released The Embryo's in Bloom. The studio quality of the album is noticeably better than its predecessors, and the band was very pleased with the resulted sound.[9] It was then that their management by Maryland resident Derek J. Brewer began and lasted until they disbanded. Polkadot Cadaver is now also managed by Derek J. Brewer under Outerloop Management.[10][11] In late 1998, Jeff Siegel would join the band as the keyboard player, replacing Sennen Quigley. This lineup would be the longest lasting lineup and stay intact for over 4 years.

Rising Popularity & Personnel Changes (2000–2004)

In 2000, DFD played on USA Network's FarmClub.[12] The exposure DFD received from the show lead them to signing with Spitfire Records.

With the release of their major label debut Anarchists of Good Taste in 2001 on Spitfire Records, DFD saw much wider popularity and distribution of their music than ever before, and recorded a track with System of a Down front-man, Serj Tankian providing vocals, "Mushroom Cult" on the Anarchists album. This song is often wrongly attributed to System of a Down, although Serj Tankian was the only member of System of a Down to perform on the track.[13] The band shot their first music video for the song "Leper Friend", and embarked on their first UK tour in support of the album. DFD also toured with the likes of Mindless Self Indulgence[14] and Tub Ring through 2002.

In 2003, they released Committed to a Bright Future on Spitfire Records and toured with Lacuna Coil on Lacuna Coil's first U.S. tour in support of the album.[15][16] Although the album contains the same lineup as Anarchists, both guitarist Greg Combs and drummer John Ensminger left the band before it was released, the latter being replaced by Mike "Ollie" Oliver before the album was released (and is pictured in the album booklet, as well as being listed as an official member of the band). Ensminger and Combs were credited as performing on the album, though not as band members. The spot of lead guitar was temporarily filled by Jason Stevens for the Committed tour, during which bassist and original member Stephen Mears left the band to join the Navy. Mears was replaced by Brian White, and after the tour, Stevens was replaced by Margret Heater member Jasan Stepp as lead guitarist. This lineup recorded the Day of the Dead EP and the live album The City Is Alive Tonight, released in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and is the band lineup in DFDVD.

Rotten Records, Adultery and Hiatus (2005–2007)

Guitarist Jasan Stepp performing with DFD at Fletchers Bar in Baltimore, Maryland.
The members of Dog Fashion Disco hugging after performing their final song.

After a short period of off-time in the first half of 2005 (in which The Alter Boys sole album was made and released), Oliver quit the band. Shortly after, DFD's contract with Artemis was ended, and DFD were signed to Rotten Records. On April 4, 2006, they released their sixth studio album, Adultery, which featured the return of original drummer John Ensminger. Their CD release party was held at Peabody's in Cleveland on the April 6th with Tub Ring.[17] The band toured in support for the release of Adultery along with Tub Ring during the summer of 2006, in which keyboardist Tim Swanson temporarily replaced Jeff Siegel. Many of the shows took place in smaller venues (with subsequently smaller audiences) than their tours while signed to Spitfire and Artemis, and, according to Jasan Stepp, resulted in low morale among the band.
On December 5, 2006, Todd Smith Dog posted a blog entry on Dog Fashion Disco's official MySpace stating that the band had decided to call it quits.[18] They performed their farewell show at the Sonar Lounge in Baltimore, Maryland on January 13, 2007 to a capacity crowd, with fans coming from as far away as the United Kingdom. The band played a marathon 25+ song set, ending with the crowd-favorite "Albino Rhino" from the 1998 Experiments in Alchemy album (this was a common concert-closer), and played the song "Sweet Insanity" from their newest album, Adultery, for an encore song. Other past band members including Sennan Quigley and Mike "Ollie" Oliver attended to show support for their former musical family. The show was opened by the band Oddzar. The event was recorded and then released on the DVD DFDVD II by Rotten Records on October 28, 2008.

Post–disbandment bands

Polkadot Cadaver

Main article: Polkadot Cadaver

On April 17, 2007, a bulletin was posted on the Dog Fashion Disco MySpace page, announcing a new project, Polkadot Cadaver, which is stylistically similar to Dog Fashion Disco. The project features Todd Smith, Jasan Stepp and John Ensminger. The project's MySpace page has four songs and an album (Purgatory Dance Party) which was released on the week of November 17, 2007 for pre-orders and had a street date of November 27, 2007.

"Its not a DFD song but it's the closest thing that you are ever going to get again. Todd and I have been putting in quite a bit of time working on material for all of you kiddies. We are excited about the direction of this project and we are looking forward hearing what you think."
Jasan Stepp on "A Wolf in Jesus Skin", via a Dog Fashion Disco MySpace Bulletin

They released their second album, Sex Offender on May 10, 2011. Their third album (and first on their own record label Razor to Wrist Records), titled Last Call in Jonestown, was released on May 14, 2013.

Knives Out!

Main article: Knives Out!

In late 2008, Todd Smith and Jasan Stepp teamed up with members of Nothingface as well as Hellyeah to form Knives Out!. They released their debut album, Black Mass Hysteria, on February 14, 2012.


In 2010, Smith released his first solo album titled El-Creepo! under this moniker. He released his second album under the El-Creepo! name, entitled Aloha, in 2012, and the third Bellissimo! on January 1st, 2016.

Celebrity Sex Scandal

Main article: Celebrity Sex Scandal

In 2012, ex-guitarist Greg Combs's new band Celebrity Sex Scandal released their first single "Ode to Katy Perry".[19] Their full-length debut, entitled Derivative, was released in February 2013. In 2015 Celebrity Sex Scandal released their second album Integral.

Other projects

Todd Smith, Matt Rippetoe and Jeff Siegel are members of The Alter Boys since 2005, although Todd Smith has stated that The Alter Boys will not release any new material.[20]

Tim Swanson has since formed the band Ideamen.[21] The band released an EP titled Progress in 2007 Their full-length debut studio album, May You Live in Interesting Times, was released in 2009 on Rotten Records and their second full-length album Schemata, was released in 2014. Matt Rippetoe released a solo record, BOINK in 2007, and formed a side project, Willamette, who released their self-titled debut in 2012.

Reunion (2013-present)

The group reunited four times after breaking up before reforming as an active band again in 2013.


They first reunited on September 12, 2008 for the release of DFDVD II and their compilation Beating a Dead Horse to Death... Again.[22] The show featured Stephen Mears on bass for the first time in nearly 5 years.


The second reunion (and first with the final lineup) took place on April 17, 2010 at the Ottobar. The show was opened by Smith and Stepp's side projects Polkadot Cadaver and Knives Out!

2011: Anarchist and Adultery Shows

They reunited once more on June 24 and 25 2011 for the tenth and fifth anniversary of their albums Anarchists of Good Taste and Adultery, respectively.[23][24] At the second show, Dog Fashion Disco announced that they will be releasing an acoustic album. Attendees of the reunion shows with VIP passes were provided with a code that allowed them to download an acoustic version of their song "Sweet Insanity." it was also announced that the concert series are to be released on DVD sometime in the future. However, these DVD and acoustic plans have been postponed, and their fate is uncertain.

2013: Committed Shows and Reformation

The most recent reunion was a two-night set of shows that took place on May 31 and June 1, 2013 at Baltimore Sound Stage, featuring the Adultery lineup like the previous two reunions. These Shows were preceded by an El-Creepo! "warm up" show at the Ottobar on May 30, which included drummers John Ensminger and Scott Radway, as well as Jasan Stepp. The first night of the reunion featured original guitarist Greg Combs on stage with DFD for the first time in over 10 years. At the second show, Smith announced plans for a new album, with the title "Sweet Nothings". On October 10, 2013, a status update via the Polkadot Cadaver Facebook page confirmed that Dog Fashion Disco is officially back together as a band. The line-up is the same as the previous three reunion line-ups, however, Tim Swanson will replace Jeff Siegel on keyboards once again. It was then announced that Mike Oliver would be playing drums on the summer tour of 2014.

2014 - Present

The first album from DFD in eight years, Sweet Nothings, was released on July 22, 2014 after being funded through Indiegogo. Due to the success from their Indiegogo campaign, in 2015 the band announced that they will be releasing a follow up album entitled 'Ad Nauseum'. They also announced three nights in London, England for September 2014, and the success of those sell-out dates prompted a UK tour with Psychostick in 2015. The album was released on October 2, 2015.


Vocalist Todd Smith performing with DFD at Fletchers Bar in Baltimore, Maryland in April 2006.

Current Lineup

Previous members



Studio albums

Title Album details
Erotic Massage
  • Released: 1997
  • Label: Self-Released
  • Formats: CD, Vinyl
Experiments in Alchemy
  • Released: 1998
  • Label: Self-Released, Rotten (2006 re-release)
  • Format: CD
The Embryo's in Bloom
  • Released: 1998
  • Label: OuterLoop, Rotten (2006 re-release)
  • Format: CD
Anarchists of Good Taste
  • Released: March 6, 2001
  • Label: Spitfire
  • Format: CD
Committed to a Bright Future
  • Released: May 6, 2003
  • Label: Spitfire
  • Format: CD
  • Released: April 4, 2006
  • Label: Rotten
  • Format: CD, Vinyl
Sweet Nothings
  • Released: July 22, 2014
  • Label: Rotten
  • Format: CD, LP
Ad Nauseam
  • Released: October 2, 2015
  • Label: Rotten
  • Format: CD

Compilation Albums

Title Album details
Beating a Dead Horse to Death... Again
  • Released: October 28, 2008
  • Label: Rotten
  • Format: CD

Live Albums

Title Album details
The City is Alive Tonight...Live in Baltimore
  • Released: January 25, 2005
  • Label: Artemis
  • Format: CD


Title EP details
Mutilated Genitals EP
  • Released: September 3, 2001
  • Label: Spitfire
  • Format: CD
Day of the Dead EP
  • Released: June 2004
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD

Music Videos

Title MUSIC VIDEO details
Tastes So Sweet
  • Released: August 14, 2014
  • Label: Rotten
  • Written & Directed by Ric Peters


Title DVD details
  • Released: June 15, 2004
  • Label: OuterLoop
  • Format: DVD
  • Released: September 12, 2008
  • Label: Rotten
  • Format: DVD


  1. Dog Fashion Disco. "Dog Fashion Disco - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  2. "Razor to Wrist Records » Artists". Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  3. "Top Artists tagged as 'avant-garde metal' – Music at". 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  4. "Albums by Dog Fashion Disco: Discography, songs, biography, and listening guide". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  5. "Dog Fashion Disco". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  6. "DOG FASHION DISCO Interview". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
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  13. "Venues". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  14. Archived March 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
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  16. "Domain Cleveland Entertainment | Cleveland Entertainment is our domain". 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  17. "Featured Content on Myspace". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  18. "Ode To Katy Perry Our first released... - Celebrity Sex Scandal". Facebook. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  19. "The Wolf and the Sheep – Phantom Communique – Discover music at". 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  20. "theshellagency Resources and Information". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  21. "Dog Fashion Disco: Reunion Concert Footage Available". 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  22. United States. "Dog Fashion Disco Reunion Show: Anarchists of Good Taste at Bourbon Street (Baltimore) on 24 Jun 2011 –". Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  23. United States. "Dog Fashion Disco Reunion Show: Adultery at Bourbon Street (Baltimore) on 25 Jun 2011 –". Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  24. "Dad Hearts You". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
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