Dino Campanella (drums, keys) Mark Engles (guitar) Gavin Hayes (vocals, guitar) Drew Roulette (bass, moog, speak & spell, samples)
Dredg specializes in meaningful contradictions: they're at once aggressive and beautiful, visceral and thoughtful. Dredg has blurred boundaries since their inception in 1993 but The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion puts their skills in dramatic relief, combining all the raw power of their earliest records with the epic sweep of El Cielo and exceptional songwriting of Catch Without Arms. It's a statement of purpose that finds the Californian quartet embracing their new status as independent rockers, relishing the opportunity to try ideas that have been percolating for years.
The Pariah The Parrot The Delusion defies the notion of conventional rock in its sound and in its substance. Far from being a typical rock album, The Pariah is diverse and textured, driven by rhythms as much as guitars. Inspired in part by Salman Rushdie's essay "Imagine There's No Heaven: A Letter to the 6 Billionth Citizen," a piece guitarist Mark Engles discovered when reading Christopher Hitchens' The Portable Atheist. Dredg seized the idea of capturing the madness of this modern world, particularly its battles over religion and science, within a musical missive to the future. Fittingly, The Pariah is packaged and constructed like a letter, its songs and instrumental interludes connected by eerie, evocative Wurlitzer piano-and-voice segments called Stamps Of Origin. These Stamps Of Origin are just one indication of the musical risks that Dredg takes here with the assistance of producer Matt Radosevich. "Dredg is a band that looks at the recording process as limitless" says Radosevich. "They constantly want to push for a new sound. We worked at the record for seven months but it never felt like we were not being productive - it's the fact that the band is so meticulous about what they want to do. It's sort of an anomaly in music today." This experimental bent doesn't mean that The Pariah The Parrot is a refined art-rock record - far from it. "It's rough around the edges and loose in areas like our old stuff," says guitarist Mark Engles. These intentional imperfections expands the scope of the album, letting in some of the mellowest moments Dredg has ever had on record along with some of their harshest. This fearlessness hearkens back to when the band were in high school in the mid-‘90s, when the band was jamming in their parents backrooms. After graduation their sound - equal parts punk aggression and metallic complexity -- began to gel, first on two self-released EPs then on their independent 1998 debut, Leitmotif, an album that threaded melody into their heavy sound. Leitmotif earned attention outside of the Bay Area and brought them to Interscope Records, who signed the band and re-released the album in 2001. Dredg supported the major-label release of Leitmotif with an international tour and then took full advantage of their major-label status with 2002's El Cielo, an album decidedly more ambitious in its concept and instrumentation. Inspired by a painting by Salvador Dali depicting sleep paralysis, El Cielo found the band breaking away from the pack, getting dark and atmospheric. Dredg responded to the density of El Cielo by stripping back to basics for 2005's Catch Without Arms, focusing on songwriting over concept and working with producer Terry Date. Again, the band supported the album with an extensive tour that was documented on the 2006 CD/DVD set Live at the Fillmore.
As Dredg worked on their sequel to Catch Without Arms, the individual members stayed busy with extracurricular projects, notably a series of soundtracks. Engles and Dino Campanella scored the 2005 independent film Waterborne, while Campanella scored the '06 comedy Carbabes on his own; Hayes also collaborated with founding Queensryche guitarist Chris DeGarmo for music for the '06 film Expiration Date. These projects are only one indication of all the creative energy spilling out from the band: Hayes has toured numerous times as a vocalist for Dan the Automator (who also remixed Dredg's "Sangreal"); Hayes and Drew Roulette are accomplished painters whose work has graced Dredg's records and merchandise. Roulette has also designed album art for many other bands, and he and Hayes contributed lyrics to the experimental rockers The Sounds of Animals Fighting.
Every one of these artistic obsessions is evident on The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion, an album that rewards close inspection of its sounds, its lyrics and artwork. It can sound bracingly raw yet it has a cinematic sweep; it's the perfect balance searing ballast of Catch Without Arms and the operatic ambition of El Cielo. It's the album Dredg has been working toward their entire career.
Interview by Mike Aylward
Mike: How would you define the Dredg sound to a newcomer to your music?
Dino: Thatâ€™s always hard to answer. I usually ask an outsider to describe it. I donâ€™t like to mention bands that itâ€™s similar to, because we strive not to be similar to other bands. I would tell them that itâ€™s a rock band, a four-piece rock outfit, with unordinary and unpredictable surprises. I would tell them that itâ€™s loud, but not ear-piercing, rather itâ€™s loud and ear warming.
Mike: What types of music and which musicians/groups influenced you growing up?
Dino: My mother was a professional accordian player, so she was my first influence. I studied hardcore classical piano as a child for about 8 or 9 years. So, classical musicians such as Chopin, Beethoven, or Bach came next. In my high school years, heavy music was what I thrived off of. Sepulchre being most important, Igor Calavera, their drummer being one of my first drumming influences. I learned the art of loud drumming from him first. Pantera, Entombed, another big influence (Wolverine Blues, the name of their best album is amazing). Far From Sacramento, Various electronic music, DJ Shadow, Unkle, Portishead, Bjork as well, Pink Floyd, a big part, and Radiohead.
Mike: How did growing up in Los Gatos, California influence your music?
Dino: We were able to play music every day because of our wonderful families. Lots of shows came through the Bay area so we would go to every one. I used to sneak out of my house on school nights when my parents wouldnâ€™t let me go, and go to shows an hour away. The scenery of the location is beautiful as well, mountains, great weather. San Francisco was nearby, a huge plus for inspiration. We did our first recordings/mixings in that city, we loved its feeling.
Mike: Which do you prefer, writing/recording or live performance?
Dino: They are both their own entities. Recording is so much fun, but far more stressful than playing live. Both are equally as creative. Live, we like to challenge ourselves and improve various parts, but weâ€™re not as concerned with outcome as much as in the studio. I canâ€™t say that either is better.
Mike: You describe your music as abstract paintings. What are you trying to convey to your listeners with these paintings?
Dino: Thatâ€™s for you to decide.
Mike: Why do you enjoy mixing musical motifs and styles so much?
Dino: We get extremely sick of monotonous music, albums that have songs that all sound the same. We love all types of music as long as itâ€™s good. I like an amazing heavy band like Sleepy Time Guerrilla Museum as much as I enjoy a badass jazz pianist. When we play together, thereâ€™s no limitation of what type of music we want to create. Itâ€™s never weird if we change styles instantaneously. That, to us, is fun and exciting. It keeps us interested. I ask you, why should there ever be a limitation on the kind of music you want to create? Who decided that you must fit into one genre? I hope these decisions arenâ€™t influence by money, but I think they are. Thatâ€™s another quality about us, we are not driven by money creatively. Sure, a nice car is wonderful, but Iâ€™d rather be broke and make amazing music that comes from my heart than be rich and be miserable because I force myself to make shitty music. That is the definition of a â€œmusical whoreâ€?. (take note please)
Mike: Whose music are you listening to right now?
Dino: Black Heart Procession from San Diegoâ€¦amazing. Code Seven from North Carolina (album â€“ The Rescue)â€¦amazing. DJ Shadowâ€™s Private Press. Tosca Suzukiâ€¦amazing. McCluskey from Scotland.
Mike: Can you describe the experience of recording El Cielo at George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch?
Dino: Skywalker is an amazing place. Itâ€™s a huge isolated creative campus. Itâ€™s not in LA, nor is is near anything quite close. It allows all types of artists to concentrate solely on their art and not to worry when they will get their blackberry pager repaired. The equipment on-site is top of the line, the people are the nicest ever, the food is great, the there are geese walking around grape vines that surround the studio, couldnâ€™t be a better place.
Mike: How has new technology affected how you deliver your musical message to the world?
Dredg: The internet is an amazing help in the way that it allows our music to be distributed to people anywhere. I mean all over the world, weâ€™re very lucky to have our music accessible to everyone. It has a put a lot of special people in contact with us, weâ€™ve been able to hear music from artists all over the world and hear about them faster thanks to the internet, which, in turn, has affected us. Itâ€™s the greatest medium ever for what we do.
Mike: What is a musical goal that you would still like to achieve?
Dino: I would like for us to be able to travel to Japan because of the music we have created?
Mike: What do you think are the embodiments of good and evil in the music business, and in the world today?
Dino: Money. Money. Money.
Mike: A hundred years from now, how would you like
Dredg to be remembered?
Dino: A musical gathering that helped bring people, and sometimes, even themselves together.