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Interviews   

Dredg is a free band


Dredg is an alternative rock band who considers music as a large range of possibilities. This artistic freedom can be fully measured in Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy, the fifth album of the American band, out since the 25th of April. A record in which the band emphasize on electronic sounds, and which melodies are very different from the ones from the masterpiece The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion, a concept album out in 2009 that made a deep impression after the great Catch Without Arms (2005).

In Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy, the band chose to innovate and go out on a limb that may, this time, leave some fans behind. This record actually got very mixed reviews from both the journalists and the fans. Gavin Hayes (singer) takes all these with a smile, and confesses that he grew used to it. During our interview, he says laughing about Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy that « Most of our records had really bad reviews when they came out. So it’s nothing new to us really! ».

During the ten-minutes long conversation we had at the Greenfield Festival, the singer appeared consistent with his music: sincere and genuine. Maybe Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy won’t have the success the previous Dredg records had, but Gavin Hayes and his bandmates couldn’t care less. The singer may have to spend a little more time answering his emails than usual, though…

Interview.

(About the new album) « I have had people write to me saying that they have always been a long time fan and now they don’t want to be one anymore. Other people will say that they didn’t like any of our old music but that they love this record. […] Or there are even people who wrote to me telling me it sucks and then they wrote back a month later to say that actually they like it now! »

Radio Metal: Dredg are an American band but you don’t play in Europe a lot. How come?

Gavin Hayes (vocals): We play in Europe a lot but we don’t have the opportunity to play in France that often. I don’t know why that is. It is most likely due to routing and booking agents. That is the business side that I don’t deal with. But obviously, if we were given the chance to play France then we would definitely do it. Actually we were supposed to play in Paris this time but it fell through. We come to Europe about twice a year on average.

Can you tell us about the fame Dredg has in Europe and in the US? Here in France, it’s a bit hard to consider how famous you really are…

It depends on where you are. The United States is obviously very big and we do well in major markets. Sometimes we play shows for 200 people and other times we play for 1200 people. It always depends on where we are, but I think that in major cities and in what are considered “global cities”, we tend to do well. It is different over there because we are more of an underground kind of band and then we are super mainstream in Europe. It’s because we get more press and a little bit more exposure over here, which is nice to have. Perhaps that in the US we are not considered as cool because we are from there (laughs). But fuck them because we always done it ourselves and we still are doing it so it’s fine.

[…] This last run in the US was great. We weren’t sure what to expect since there were mixed reviews about the record. But it was honestly one of the better tours that we have had in years. So I was very pleased about the energy in the room and people having a good time. For us, as musicians, everything was positive and the morale was up. The tour has been great. Regardless of the opinions about the record, I think that people are still enjoying themselves during the live performances and that means more to us. I would rather be a shitty band on record and an awesome band live (laughs).

Actually, how do you feel about both the audience and the media’s response to your last album Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy?

It’s funny because it has been very mixed. I have had people write to me saying that they have always been a long time fan and now they don’t want to be one anymore. Other people will say that they didn’t like any of our old music but that they love this record. People have also written to say that they love the new album and that we are always evolving or changing and that they accept that which is cool. Or there are even people who wrote to me telling me it sucks and then they wrote back a month later to say that actually they like it now! I have heard anything that you can imagine about it. But in a way, our last record came out and then it left so i’m glad that there is some reaction whether we are making people happy or not. That is why we have been a band for so long. To us, this is a collaborative effort you know. It’s not just a Dredg record, it’s us with Dan The Automator (note: Daniel M. Nakamura, Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy’s producer) and to me that is what the record sounds like.

I don’t really know what people were expecting from it, but to me it sounds exactly like what it is – you know what I mean? If you take these songs and sing them, then it sounds like us. It’s just about production and how it was mixed. We have had complaints like “you have a great drummer, so why don’t you use him?” and well he actually wrote all of these beats, so we did use him but just in a different manner (laughs). That’s more what he is into nowadays, he doesn’t want to be all crazy anymore and this is what he likes. It’s tough because we have been a band so long (note: Dredg began its career in 1996) so it’s hard to always make people happy forever unless you regurgitate the same thing and that is not what we are about. We want to expand, be bold and try new things whether people like it or not. We could always just go back to being just a rock band but we felt that the timing was right and that our last record was very much us. It was just good timing to do something different, so we did it.

« I love electronic music and I have been a big fan since forever. I think that on all of our records there has been a certain element of that. I don’t think that it has been dominant on any of our records but there has always been a taste of it. Some of our biggest influences are more from the DJ and electronic world as opposed to the rock world. »

There are even more electronic sounds in Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy than in your previous albums. Has the electronic world always been important in your relationship with music?

I love electronic music and I have been a big fan since forever. I think that on all of our records there has been a certain element of that. I don’t think that it has been dominant on any of our records but there has always been a taste of it. Some of our biggest influences are more from the DJ and electronic world as opposed to the rock world. Although we are a rock band, some of our most important influences are outside of the rock genre. Then again maybe our next record will be the heaviest rock album ever made, I don’t know. We just do what we want. Maybe that sounds selfish but we want to make ourselves happy first. In fact, I don’t know if we would have made another record if we didn’t try something different. So if you don’t like it then at least it’s something right? (laughs). I’m happy with the passion behind it you know. It’s funny, sometimes I can’t believe some of the emails I get. It’s like “Jesus, they are just songs you know!” but some people react like I just beat up their family or something. It’s ok though and we get that for every record we make.

What you’re saying apply to every musical style. It makes me think about the outrage caused by the latest Morbid Angel album, Illud Divinum Insanus, on which the band uses industrial sounds. A lot of fans didn’t like it, even though other artists of the extreme scene like Behemoth mentioned publicly that Illud Divinum Insanus was a really good record. They seem to understand the process…

Yeah. It’s funny because if you’re the purest hardcore rock fan and you hear it but you are not into it then you are automatically turned off by it. I don’t really understand that because I listen to a broad range of music and I think that we have always been a bit more than just a straight up rock band. There are many elements to our band that are not just that. I figure that nowadays, especially with the way that people buy music. When you look at someone’s iPod, it’s not usually all death metal or all hip hop, it’s a broad range of songs. Records people compare our new album to other records that no one gave a shit about when they came out. Maybe in time people will like it but we just always do what we do. Most of our records had really bad reviews when they came out. So it’s nothing new to us really! (laughs)

So you were touring America and now you are in Switzerland. What is your schedule for the next few weeks?

We are here in Europe until the 28th of this month (note: interview conducted the 9th of june). Then we are going to take a few weeks off because we toured for a month in the US and then came straight here pretty much. So we will unwind for a couple of weeks and then 2 or 3 weeks in the US. We will be playing a lot of markets that we didn’t play on the last tour. Then I think that we might be back here in the fall. That is being worked on right now so I can’t give you any details. Then in the winter we will be back in the US supporting a bigger band. Then we might go to Australia in February and maybe through Japan on the way home. We are pretty booked for tours throughout the year.

Interview conducted the 9th of june 2011 at Greenfield Festival
Transcription: Isere and Chloé

Dredg website : www.dredg.com



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