Dredg Interview Volume 1
Recently Music Frisk was granted a rare, full-length interview with Dredg, we hope it is the first of many interviews over what will hopefully be a long Dredg career. To ensure this, please go out an buy a copy of Dredg’s “El Cielo” either the normal version or the soon to be released SACD version. Be sure to leave some comments about the interview to quantify the devoted following that Dredg has. Thank you. Now without further delay, please enjoy Volume 1 number 1 of the soon to be legendary Music Frisk Dredg interview series…
MF: You frequently say that “music has no eyes” and that in concert say “thank you for your ears”. Please expand upon the concepts behind this view of the world that Dredg has and how and why it causes Dredg to do approach music differently than most people in the music industry today.
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: I think it’s just part of our personality really. I don’t know where it derives from really. It’s kinda how we are as people, so it just comes forth in live shows and stuff. There’s nothing really deep behind it, but I appreciate people. I think with our music you do have to use your ears and listen, so I appreciate when people are looking out and focusing on what we are doing and stuff, that’s what I mean by that.
MF: What other music are you listening to lately?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: New Mars Volta, great record and DJ Shadow always off and on?
MF: If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Somewhere in the art field, I’m sure. I was studying to do special effects, so maybe somewhere in there.
MF: What are your favorite foods and what type do you never touch?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: I like Ethiopian food, I like different foods you know? I like trying new things. I love Middle Eastern food a lot.
MF: Personal habits: good and/or bad?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Bad, sleeping habits! Good habits, that’s a tough one, we are usually on time and punctual.
MF: If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Greater space travel program!
MF: Really? Does that come from a personal desire?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Yeah, it’s very interesting. We are all really interested in it. Spend some money on getting to Mars rather than getting to war.
MF: What individual people and bands served as mentors and role models to you as you developed your musical tastes and talents?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Recently, I think Peter Gabriel has for me personally, just speaking for myself. At his age, his newest record is the first record I was really into. I guess I could revert back to the earlier question. It just kind of shows his wisdom in the business and how his writing has evolved. I find it really intriguing, at his age, to be writing music and something that sounds original. I think any band that has a long career and continues to evolve is always interesting.
MF: My understanding is that you guys formed Dredg as friends who had similar musical tastes. I saw the other night that you guys work also work tightly as a unit on stage. How have your friendships and tastes changed since forming Dredg?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: We’re closer in a lot of ways I think. We’ve always been good friends. I think just living, not only with the band members but the people that work with us and everything so closely, (make us closer). We are basically together all the time. Even when we go home we hang out a lot too. It’s just a close bond because we share a unique lifestyle and we all understand that. Of course, being together so much, you’re involved in a lot more disagreements. It’s anything, like a marriage or any bond or any family members.
MF: You are good at resolving those disagreements amongst yourselves?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Yeah.
MF: What are some of the best fan interactions that you’ve ever had?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Some of the best are just people saying our music helped them in some aspect. I talked to a guy who got drug rehab and he’s like “seriously it’s the reason why I got through it.” Anything like that. Any positive thing where it helped stabilizes someone’s problems or whatever or have some understanding or something, which I think is good. I think music is good for that, ya know? Kind of answers the unanswered things that everyone deals with, ya know? Kind of like religion or something, it helps people feel comfortable in everything that is uncertain.
MF: You use a lot of unique objects as instruments, where did that creativity originate, did you have all the instruments available to you that you wanted as you grew up and started writing your music? Where did that urge to experiment come from?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: I think just boredom and playing your own instrument all the time. There are a couple of stores in the Bay area that just have world instruments and a lot interesting things. I think the first time I got a mandolin as a gift, a Brazilian mandolin, and we used that on a song. That was kind of like our first little instrumental piece. From there we were just always searching for something new. It’s basically us experimenting and keeping it exciting for us and, hopefully the listener, ya know? Adding noises that aren’t always used, it’s really interesting. I think going into certain stores that are just covered with world instruments from all over – different countries and cultures – is interesting, there’s some really amazing sounds you can get from it.Limited time: Click here to hear part of this clip!
MF: Then specifically with the steel guitar, that’s rare for a rock instrument. You kind of created the usage of it in a modern rock sense, was that completely self taught?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Yeah, it’s self-taught. Originally Mark Engles and I were at a Guitar Center in San Jose and Mark’s like “This is $90, I’m gonna pick it up.” I just started using it live, when we recorded we added in texturing and kind of give it more of an atmospheric thing, and so live I can serve as that person and it’s nothing like in your face. It’s more of a texturing thing for live to match more of what is heard on the CD. I think I’m getting more creative with it as we use it more.
MF: Gavin, why do you sing into a trumpet – when you could make this muffled sound in other ways?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Another instance, Dino (Campanella) and I just shopping at like a thrift store, kind of used furniture place and there was one on the wall for cheap. And we are like let’s pick that up and try it out. We were writing and we picked it up just for fun, just to try something new. Of course you could buy a pedal that does that, but it’s always a lot more exciting to do it organically. As well as in the studio, you can use a computer and pretty much achieve any sound. To actually go through the process of making it naturally and organically with whatever it is, using this chair as a snare drum or whatever makes it more exciting.
MF: That’s interesting. Dino Campanella’s drum playing is extremely unique and violent and he gets a wide variety of sounds out of a rather simple drum kit, do you understand what drives his unique style and emotions that drives his drum playing.
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: From what I know of him, he’s a real hard working guy. His personality is a good businessman; he is kind of the business side of our band. More so, he’s making the phone calls when needed and stuff. It’s just his personality; he has grown up playing music. His family is very musical, especially his mom. Some of his uncles I’ve met and everything, it’s in his blood.
MF: I noticed Drew Roulette plays bass while barefoot, why is that?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: His bass foot pedals are very small, so it’s necessary live.
MF: Where do you look for topics to write about and describe your writing process?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: As a band I just kind of bring all of the words that I like and it’s derived from improvision basically. Another thing why we use random instruments, it sparks writing a song. Like that trumpet, helped write “Whoa is Me” on El Cielo. I’m still trying to learn how to play, but I’ve learned enough where I can get some notes out and get some more of like texturing ideas, it helped write that song. It could be anything, a guitar part that Mark (Engles) played at sound check, it helps. Dino (Campanella) plays piano?anything like that.
MF: Sleep paralysis and a Salvador Dali painting, can you explain the process of how did these two extremely obscure topics become the foundations of El Cielo?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Yeah, we had the idea of basing a record on a painting, a single painting. After researching Dali, a lot of his influence had come from Sleep Paralysis and sub-conscious. So we were like, maybe we can tie that in and have that be more of the forefront and have the painting be the more obscure part of it helped a lot.
MF: Crickets DVD?I’ve heard this is a cool thing?what was the idea with that?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Mainly to just get some extra promotion out for us and do something creative. Drew (Roulette) is always filming tours and recording sessions and everything. One of our good friends is a pretty qualified editor. We worked on it with him and asked the label, would you mind if we had something to give out if fans bought a t-shirt or we wanted to give out promotional things or something. Basically we did it ourselves and it turned out good. I’ll get you one.
MF: Some bands who’ve made concept albums, like Queensryche’s – Operation Mindcrime, have performed them live from start to finish – starting the show with some other songs – would Dredg ever perform an album from start to finish live?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: We’ve done that Leitmotif, years ago, in San Jose. We did it twice. We even had the girl come out and sing because we were playing with the band at the time. We figured since she is there, we might as well do it all the way through in order and everything. We thought about doing it on this tour with El Cielo, but we wanted the dynamics to work better, mixing in old songs and stuff.
MF: Most people are still getting exposed to you, so it’s not that you are opposed to it, it’s just not the right time?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Definitely, I got home, people knew the record for a year and we were able to do that. This is basically to see where we stand as a band and kind of our first experience as a headliner across the country at least and bring friends out and have fun.
MF: Speaking of live, you guys openly allow audio and video taping of your shows. There is a wealth of downloadable live material on the internet, which seems to build and strengthen your core fan base. How has this benefited Dredg and does the vast majority of the industry got it wrong on this issue?in your personal opinion?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: I think so, in my personal opinion. I have mixed feelings because I think about it a lot. I remember being young and over half of my tapes were dubbed. All my Zepplin, AC/DC, I just remember all this Sabbath – I did go out and buy the records, but I remember dubbing a lot and that affected sales just as people downloading music and burning CDs. I think maybe the industry should look at itself a little bit and see what is driving it, ya know? I dunno. For where we are as a band, it helps us because we are mainly interested in bringing people to our shows and developing a fan base that is really loyal to us throughout our career. So, I mean it’s not really affecting us directly, but if we don’t meet expectations (at the label) after a couple of years then it definitely affects us. It’s kind of a catch twenty-two for us. Limited time: Click here to hear this clip!
MF: You recorded El Cielo in numerous locations with three amazing producers – Ron St. Germain(Tool, Creed), Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam) , and Jim Scott (Red Hot Chili Peppers) – in multiple locations. Sometimes, it’s hard to get people to get to work together in this industry, how did this process work with the multiple people of this caliber involved? It’s very unique.
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Yeah, originally thought that would be a good idea, different producers with different songs that fit kind of what they did, then kind of steered away from that. Ron St. Germaine did the majority of it. There were little things that we wanted to change, just discussing with the label and management; we wanted someone else to mix it, so Tim Palmer did that. At the time we had written two other songs, like “if we could record these – quick do them in a couple of days.” So that worked out good. One of the songs was a remix, of a demo; we did in Oakland with a producer there. There are a lot of people that worked on it. I think it helped in some ways and in others it wasn’t the best thing, but it was interesting. It was a privilege to work with all those people.
MF: Probably next time one producer then?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: I’m sure and then maybe someone else to mix it.
MF: Some people consider El Cielo a masterpiece, groups of people have dissected its meanings and built entire websites to discuss it. Are there any common misconceptions that people have about your music’s meaning?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Not really?
MF: It’s not face value music, like “boy meets girl, girl meets boy,etc”?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: I’ve read some negative reviews of it, almost we are trying too hard or like “what are you talking about”. It’s all opinion really, ya know? It’s what we like to do and it’s what we enjoy. There will always be people who don’t understand or don’t want to. But, for us, it’s what keeps us going. I don’t think we could write – it’s hard to write a good pop song and I don’t know if we have that in us?
MF: You use a lot of sound clips and voiceovers that you use on your albums and in your performance; can you describe the sources and inspirations of these?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: One is a Jazz DJ from LA and we loved his voice and we wanted him to do a little like outro to the song as if you are listening to it on the radio or whatever. I just wrote a thing, kind of relative to the concept, so it wasn’t straight forward. A Japanese girl talking is an assistant in the studio. It’s basically she’s just explaining the record in Japanese. It’s another thing where we were like “hey, let’s do it”. It’s fun to do those things.
MF: Did it catch on in Japan?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Yeah, people have translated it.
MF: Drew (Roulette) told me the other day that next album would most likely be a concept album as well. Can you speak broadly in terms of the proposed time schedule for writing and recording that and how you currently see your sound progressing?
Gavin Hayes of Dredg: Maybe a mixture of the first two. A little more of the energy of the first one, maybe a little more dramatic in the dynamics, probably a little more upbeat, ya know? This one was based on dreaming and sub-conscious so the songs kinda like felt that way. Depending on the concept and how things go, I feel there will be a lot more energy. It will be that mixed with what’s been done. It’s hard to tell before. Try to re-correct all the mistakes we thought we did on the other two?so I think there will be progress… Limited time: Click here to hear this clip!