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AP.net (LOST) Interview: Dredg
AP.net (LOST) Interview: Dredg 06/07/10 at 10:34 AM by Adam Pfleider Before I started work here, I was freelancing at some other publications, and a few articles I did never surfaced. About a year ago I was able to sit down with Dredg to discuss The Paraia, The Parrot, The Delusion. Here's what I put together.
Dredg (LOST) ArticleComfort zones are woven into many of our lives. It’s what keeps us from adventure, but keeps us safe in our minds. In music, both instrumentally and ideological, comfort zones can unfortunately hold back an artist’s progression.
For the California quartet Dredg, their zone is constantly being broken, and on their fourth proper full length, they’re not playing it safe again and are trying to continue their journey past what they are already safe with doing.
“We felt like we could have taken Catch [ Without Arms] and made it a little more unique, a little more dark,” says guitarist Mark Engles. “We got exactly what we wanted.”
What Dredg delivered is a traveler’s log made across three separate studios. The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion contains what some fans and critics say is their most “pop” music to date, but there’s something darker and brooding across the hour-long album. Engles, vocalist Gavin Hayes, bassist Drew Roulette and drummer Dino Campanella have pieced together something that Engles says was instrumentally mapped out since the beginning stages of demoing.
“I know having talks with some of the guys before we started writing, I knew I wanted it to be bit more darker for sure,” he says.
Dark isn’t the only way to describe the album’s mood. Hayes calls it “assertive,” and contains “positive undertones” and a “sense of hope.” Hayes says the description he hears best is “brightly dark music.”
While “Ireland” is specifically about leaving one’s comfort zone, the album’s content is lyrically based off an essay by Salman Rushdie called “A Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen.” The essay was in a book that Hayes borrowed from Roulette called The Portable Atheist, around Hayes’ early stages of writing for the album.
“It was such a short essay, but from beginning to end, it was encompassing everything I was already writing,” Hayes says. “I was seeing if we could mold a loose model around it…I just think human progress shouldn’t be doctrined by certain beliefs or certain religions. There are so many scientific and medial advancements that we could be further along with.”
Engles agrees. “How much of the world is just indoctrination? How many of those things [you know] are not true? How many people based their lives on non-truths?”
If the lyrical content of Pariah is thick with a marketplace of ideas, the music is equally matched. The band recorded in three different studios, each one a new inspiration of creativity.
First, The Plant Studios, a famous place for artists in the '70s. After some touring, the band set up shop at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone, where Hayes says contained a lot of vintage gear that made you unable to do anything “regular.” After one more tour, the band ended their sessions at Barefoot Recording, a home studio, more relaxed for finishing the project.
While the band had material going into recording, Engles says the album took its color and shape in the studio sessions. Those sessions and ideas formed the “Stamp of Origin” tracks of the record as well. Hayes said the concept came out best on vinyl, as each track ends each side of the record.
“The ‘stamps’ are their own ideas that basically unfolded in the studio,” Hayes says. “For example, the song ‘Ocean Meets Bay,’ that was a whole other song, and the part that you hear is just the chorus. They were parts that we wanted to have on the record. We wanted to have this common thread throughout the record that kept reoccurring.”
For Engles, the “stamps” are “great accents.” Once the band did one, he says, they were up for doing more. “All of a sudden you realize, having accents on [the album creates] a record that doesn’t just have rock songs, it has some other glue on there, which makes it more interesting.”
That glue was missing from the last record, Hayes says, but it was done on purpose, and is just something the band realizes about how their audience attaches themselves to the band’s previous catalog, and the reaction they get from each new album.
“We didn’t want to regurgitate El Cielo [with our last album],” Hayes says. “It was kind of like rebelling against our own material, and that’s what we did on [ Pariah]. We wanted to bring in elements of all our records.”
As for the “pop” criticism by some, Engles says it doesn’t affect him. “Gavin writes really catchy melodies, and people can consider that pop, but when you’re writing in a rock band and someone comes up with a melody, and it’s in your head for weeks at a time, what are you going to do, not use it because it’s too poppy?
“We find there’s a lag time for the appreciation of Dredg records, because when we were done touring for El Cielo, there was no hype. We were just some band that opened up for some other bands. Some people though we were interesting, but it wasn’t like a huge, ‘Oh my god, this is an amazing record!’ Then we made Catch Without Arms, and we put that out, and it’s more successful, but there’s all these people saying, ‘Oh, well, it’s not El Cielo.’”
For whatever the band’s new album is to their audience, they look at it as the next step in their progression as artists. They’re going to continue to keep the discussion of ideas alive and a creative, un-comfort-able career ahead.
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