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Getting Past the Industry to Love Music Again
Show Review: Dredg / The Dear Hunter 2011 Spring Tour
06/02/11 at 02:08 PM by Adam Pfleider
Sometimes it can be hard to see a great band struggle. But unless you have a quick fix or continue to please a certain quantity of fans with "that sound" that got them hooked in the first place, your greatness can fade in time among the countless number of quick hits and changing soundscapes of what's "fresh" each week. Dredg is one band that continues to make powerful music, but they never really "fit in" with any particular sound - which graciously makes them unique in their own right - but as a fan, you never see them reach mass potential. It keeps them a fine jewel in your music collection, but one that you don't see shared enough.

Starting off Dredg's headlining run for their new album Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy was The Trophy Fire. You can file this one under lame radio rock. I felt like I was listening to the worst hour of what ever Clear Channel station was on my dial. It wasn't exactly a great start to the night. If I wanted to stay at home and watch American Idol, I would have. Things certainly picked up with Balance and Composure, whose alternative throwback sets the band apart from the punk and hardcore styles of their friends and peers at the moment. Their set proved that Separation is a statement among the rest at the moment.

The Dear Hunter was a packed stage of performers. The Dear Hunter has always been Casey Crescenzo brain child. What's even more effective about his project is that he always brings in a well rounded set of musicians on every album and on each tour that pulls all of his creative ideas together. Hearing favorites off of Acts II and III were one thing, but the Color Spectrum songs were really incredible. When the band ended on one from the Black Spectrum - a record I'm told is the heaviest (I'd been informed that night that Crescenzo is a Boris fan) - there's no doubt in my mind that my expectations for this musical effort will not be disappointed. What Crescenzo does best is that he pushes passion and feeling through the heaviest and lightest of songs. I believe The Color Spectrum will take the unevenness of his orchestral Acts and separate those feelings and movements in way such as The Alchemy Index. I'm interested to see which "colors" fans like most.

With a good room of people, Dredg took to the stage and shined as usual. They played a varied set of songs from their discography, and started the night with the opening of the the new record which sounded brighter and fuller live. As Dredg has yet to make records with similar moods, always hearing the band play mixed sets (and as heard on their live record) shows that there is a common sonic thread laced throughout. It's what keeps the band unique in execution, yet tied to a general sound diehard fans have come to love. I'm unsure if having a second guitarist was necessary for the tour, as the band was still powerful when he wasn't on stage. For Dredg, it's always been about four people's approach to rock music. It's unfortunate that the band hasn't always been accessible to reach a certain audience, but their show has also proven how they're powerful enough to keep fans coming back.
Tags: show review, dredg, dear hunter, balance and composure
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AP.net (LOST) Interview: Dredg
06/07/10 at 09:34 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.


Stay tuned every day this week for a new article/interview from the archives.
Tags: Interviews, AP.net, Dredg
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