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Dredg Interview

Shizu: Is it so important for you to cure the artwork, or only music is important and then the artwork is something like a ďway to make it betterĒ?
Dino: Yes, it is a way to make it better, and we like to be in charge of how we display all the music, so.. Drew and I paint, we use that to advantage the band, be able to do it ourselves..
Shizu: Is it Drew who made all the paintings inside the booklet of Catch Without Arms?
Dino: Drew and I.
Shizu: They are very beautiful.. And why all the figures are so sad?
Dino: Öbecause theyíve lost their dog?.. [he smiles] I donít know.. Do they look sad?
Shizu: Everyone is sad, also the penguin is sad, and I wanted to know why. Well, I understood that they are sad just because they look down, they never look up, and so I wanted to know if thereís a link between the direction of their eyes and something like hell, or paradise, spirituality..
Dino: It wasnít intentional.
Gavin: Well, for you yes. Itís your interpretation.
Shizu: You seem interested in the contamination between music and visual arts. Could it be one of your projects to bring your paintings in your future live shows?
Dino: Yes in the USA we do that usually, but bring in advance the paintings over here it would have been a trouble..
Shizu: Do you expose them on the back of the stage?
Dino: Yes, we usually bring some easels, you know, and weíll get some of them here when weíll be able to do that.
Shizu: Iíve found in the web some ďCasio RemixĒ, can you tell me something about it?
Gavin: First question ever about that!
Shizu: They are very funny, I would like to put them on my mobile phone, for when someone calls me! Who did them?
Dino: I did them, just for fun.
Shizu: With the keyboard?
Dino: Yes, they all come from an old little Casio, of 1998. I was just really bored at home, after the tour, and Iíve worked on them. Just for fun, you know. Iíve almost finished the whole album. 2 more songs, and I have the whole record done.
Shizu: Let me know when you finish them..
Dino: If you have a CD-R I can burn you 9-10 of them..
Shizu: But do you think in the future you could sell them, maybe in your live shows?
Dino: Maybe.. maybe.. just for fun.
Shizu: And the soundtrack of Waterbone? Who did that?
Dino: Mark and I worked at it, with keyboard and guitar stuff.
Shizu: I didnít see the film, because I donít know if is on cinemas here in Italy, but Iíve found this information in the web. And I wanted to know, as you are very interested in contamination of arts, if could it be one of your programs in the future to make other experiences like that, to make the music for some other films.
Dino: Yes, very opened to that. Is instrumental music we like to make too, just like not songs all the time, so, weíd love to keep doing it.
Shizu: So it has been a good experience.
Dino: Yes, definitely.
Shizu: And the collaboration with Chris DeGarmo? He arranged a part of Catch Without Arms, how had it been to work with him?
Gavin: It was great, he served as an outside-ear, he came in and mediated all the situation, he listened to everything weíve written and threw certain ideas that we worked with him. Some worked, some didnít. He was there to be a listener, but as one who has knowledge of all the music; it was great, and heís like a good friend of ours now. It was very painless.. maybe it has been more painful for him! [he smiles]
Shizu: And whatís your musical background? Because all of you are very original, everyone has a particular way to approach music which I like so much, and is the reason because I love you. I am a drummer too..
Dino: Are you?
Shizu: Yes, and I wanted to know what you use to listen today or did you listen years ago, what are your inspirations, your favourite albums.
Dino: There are so many... great drummers.. Iíve heard a lot of heavy-music before, like Igor Cavalera from Sepultura, and Carter Beauford from Dave Matthewís Band, have you listened to him drumming? Heís incredibile, Iíve learned a lot from him. I play piano since I was young, and I think that it told me a lot about the sake of music. When Iíve learned piano I felt the rithm through my hands..
Shizu: Itís very good to play piano and then play drums.
Dino: Yes, absolutely. But then you have to find your own style, make it unique. I think that anybody who can play should have his own style..
Shizu: Yes, in fact you do. So, Catch Without Arms, I think that is the easier to listen album that youíve ever done, because there are many songs that are ďsongsĒ, they have a structure that lots of people can listen ad appreciate so much. I wanted to know why this jump from El Cielo, which is a very great masterpiece, and is in my opinion an only song with facets. Have something changed in the way you approach music?
Dino: Yes, we wanted to do a totally different record. We never did so much touring as we did after we made El Cielo, we were warning of what works live and what doesnít, so we tried to focus on writing a record which could be translated live very well, assuring the right energy to it; and we focused on song writing, as what song writing is, an art. For people is hard to make something of really creative of their thinking, you know. Itís just that we wanted to do something different.
Shizu: I think also that after such an album like El Cielo it would have been very difficult to produce another similar album. In fact, when I listened first to your new album Catch Without Arms I said: mmmÖthey are a little bit Pop-RockÖand Iíve been a deceived! Then, after many listens, the more I listened to it the more it was beautiful. [I smile to be forgiven]
In ďSorry but itís overĒ from El Cielo I think that you seem just a little bit like Morrisey.. and also the title reminds the Smiths.. Is there a link between the choice of this song and Morrisey?
Gavin: Not really. There are bands that weíve never listened to, but after people say: he sings like him.. he plays like that..
Shizu: But, so, do you like Morrisey? Do you know him?
Gavin: Yes, I never bought his albums, I mean of course I heard his music and everything, but I was never really into it. Shizu: Ok. And the Dredg symbol, I know that it means ďchangeĒ in chinese simbology: on the cover of the new album is dominant, and I wanted to know if this big size, instead of the little size on Leitmotif or El Cielo, is to underline that your evolution maybe is your vocation. ďChangeĒ is Dredgís symbol, and in Catch Without Arms Dredg are changed again, is it a right supposition?
Dino: I think it is right, but I donít think it was intentional. The way we wrote the songs in the album is totally natural and normal, we didnít know it was going to be so different from the previous one. But it is, it makes perfect sense. We always change.
Shizu: Which one of you chose this symbol?
Gavin: Drew painted it a long time ago. We wanted the name of our first song being a symbol, and then it became a kind of an icon for the band. [Here Gavin yawns.. little stop because Iím scared to have bored them! Gavin denies, but confesses to be a bit tired, he needs a coffee to wake up.. little discussion for the big difference (in my and all the Italianís opinion) between our ďcaffŤĒ and the Americanís slops..]
Shizu: In ďCatch Without ArmsĒ, the song, you sing against the show business and writing songs for the audience, but the way you sing and the way the song is built makes me think to something a little bit Pop, easy-listenigÖ
Gavin: Itís a kind of sarcastic. A balance between us and the business, because if you choose to be part of the business you are really part of it, you have to realize that. Itís a sarcastic theme. Shizu: Does this concern also the behave of your label? Gavin: No. Shizu: Your label than left you free to produce. Gavin: Yes, we didnít have any pressure.
Shizu: You are in Italy for the first time for your own show, how do you feel? Why you didnít come here when El Cielo was out?
Dino e Gavin: No idea. You know, our shows are booked for us, we did certain things for certain reasons: our album wasnít out here, and financially itís a lot of money to spend to go in a place where they canít even buy your record! So we just started in bigger markets, and now that we have grown a little bit notoriously weíre able to expend. Weíre going to play in Barcelona, itís going to be our first time in Spain. And so it took us a little while to get here. But weíll come back..
Shizu: Are you going to come back in Italy?
Gavin: Yes, sure.
Shizu: Oh please!
Gavin: And we need to play in Portugal as well.
Dino: You can sell t-shirts for us, our merchandise, on the road?
Shizu [incredulous]: Are you serious?
[It starts a little scene where they try to convince me to follow them in the Usa..]
Shizu: Do you feel famous? Gavin: Thereís a lot of people that love our music but we donít feel famous.
Shizu: I like Dredg as they are now, so simple people that make great music, never commercial.. but maybe Catch Without Arms itís something just like ďeasy-listenigĒ.
Gavin: It is if compared to El Cielo, but not compared to commercial music.
Shizu: No, in fact, if commercial music was like just like yours the world would be better.. and also people maybe. [they smile] But would you like to expand your market?
Dino: Sure..
Shizu: Or would you like to preserve your nature?
Gavin: Yes, but we would love to touch more people, itís part of a musician life. You know, whatever you do I immagine you feel better doing it, with sacrifices, with people joining you. So if we enlarge our public I think weíll be pretty content.
Shizu: And what do you think about the choice in Catch Without Arms not to make any ďbrushstrokeĒ? Because in El Cielo they marked the link between painting and music, but they miss in Catch Without ArmsÖ Is that because you have changed your song-writing, or what?
Dino: It wasnít intentional. We played 5 days a week and this is what came of it, really. We didnít even have much instrument stuff..
Gavin: And we wanted to record the way it was, we didnít want to have a lot of instruments this time. We said: should we do it because we did it before? Will people get upset?.. But we said: Thatís a stupid way to think. We never thought that way before. It was always: what we want to do in this particular album. And that is how it is ment to be.
Shizu: I think itís a very sensible way to make music, when ideas come spontaneously.
Dino: Itís very free music, you donít want ever to feel locked in a net, just because people liked you before. Itís our opinion, about all. But itís the way we feel as right, itís left to other people to determine what it is, but I think weíre really prouded of the record we made and, who knows, our next record may be 80% instrumental music and 4 songs.. weíll se whatever is necessary at the time.
[Moment when Dredg thanks our website users, so I leave them a copy of my El Cielo review, translated in English, and they are excited for the 5 stars vote!]
Shizu: How do you feel with the promotion that your label is making?
Gavin: They are doing a lot more this time, I think.
Shizu: Would you like to push it more?
Dino: Itís perfect for now.
Gavin: Yes, the label is doing perfect.
Dino: I donít want to have excuses for everything: they are doing too much.. they are doing too little.. I think itís perfect. I mean, itís our business to promote ourselves, itís why we tour so much.
Shizu: Gavin, your voice changes in every album. In Leitmotif it was very angry, you screamed, in El Cielo you expended your voice in a light but intense way, a little more lyrical. Instead in Catch Without Arms your voice is very clear, no imperfections, elastic, with a different range.
Gavin: Iím just getting better, really. In Leitmotif it was really like the first time I sang. I never thought Iíd be a singer without studying deep.
Shizu: Did you begin to study after Leitmotif?
Gavin: I took a few lessons just before El Cielo, and maybe one or two after that. Now, not that I donít need more lessons, but Iíve learnt what it means and now I can do things on my own, to try different things. I think itís kind of Iím in a comfort zone right now. Probably itís in the last record where my voice is how I want it.
[autographs moment, than the interview continues] Shizu: El Cielo is a concept of Sleep Paralysis: did you suffer by it?
Gavin: For some people itís a disease, it creates an insomnia. Theyíre scared to go to sleep. I never had it to that extent. I only get it if I take a nap in the middle of the day, at siesta. But itís not something thatís reoccurring every night.
Shizu: But when did you choose this theme?
Gavin: We learned it from Salvador Dalž, because we wanted to write a record about a painting, and he was a famous artist, very creative. But we didnít want to get someone who wasnít famous, because we wanted people to relate to it in a lager scale. Because there are a lot of artists that are small and that we love, but he was a huge artist and did something amazing. We found that a lot of his paintings are inspired by Sleep Paralysis and based on that idea. Than we examinated it and gave to it a better aspect, so we could make the painting a little more subdued and not as upfront. Itís kind of a double concept, between Sleep Paralysis and the painting of Salvador Dalž.
Shizu: And ďThe canyon behind herĒ is the canyon that you see on the right side of that painting, is it?
Gavin: Yes.
Shizu: I found this song perfect for the end of the album, with the chorus in the end, and I confess you I would like this song to be played when it will be my funeral.
Gavin: Really? Itís beautiful. Thatís one of the best compliments Iíve ever heard.
Shizu: Yes? Are you sure?
Gavin: Yes, because Iím so obsessed of the whole idea not of the funeral but of dying.. Iíve always thought that it would be great to write music that people would want to hear when they are dying. Something thatís healing.
Shizu: Yes. I would like to go in paradise or hell listening to that song.. Youíre very poetic in that song, it touches me in every mood I am. Itís my favourite song in absolute and Iím happy that itís very important also for you.
Gavin: Yes, very important.
[Gavin then relieves the dialogue sketching a few words in italian and spanish]
Shizu: But do you like sacral and choral music?
Gavin: Yes, very interesting, itís beautiful to listen at, every time there are so many voices all working together, itís beautiful.
Shizu: Did you sing with the chorus of ďThe canyon behind herĒ?
Gavin: No, I canít remember their name, but they are 4 or 5 men, we did a couple of takes, we guided on we wanted, they cought immediately, theyíre very open-minded.
Shizu: It was a surprise to hear the chorus. And what are your favourite albums that you are listening now? Gavin: I love the new Peter Gabriel album, ďUpĒ. And ďThe Ugly OrganĒ of Cursive, and Bright Eyes.