Silent Uproar: So, you guys have been working on The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion for a while. Obviously, it's been a while since you put out Catch Without Arms. Did you intend for it to take that long, or did you just get in there and...
Gavin Hayes: It wasn't intentional. We changed labels in the middle of the process. Just some personal things in our lives. Then, just us being very meticulous and weird about everything.
SU: How long were you actually recording for?
Gavin: Collectively, it was maybe seven weeks.
SU: OK, that's really not all that long then.
Gavin: Most of it was writing, the writing process.
SU: I know this album is kind of based on a loose theme, at least from the stuff I read...
Gavin: This is kind of an "inspired by" record. There's a Salman Rushdie essay that Mark, our guitar player, found called "A Letter To The Six Billionth Citizen" (Ed. "Imagine There’s No Heaven: A Letter to the Six Billionth World Citizen"). That definitely inspired the artwork and helped gel the whole record together.
SU: What exactly does that mean for the music? Or, is it just the visual nature of it?
Gavin: Yes, visual and content-wise. He found it towards the beginning of the writing process, and the artwork's like a letter, so...
SU: I've seen the cover, but that's about the extent of what I've seen. I know you were planning to do limited-edition packaging. What will that be?
Gavin: It's going to be a DVD case. It's going to read like a calendar, not like a book. So, it'll open like a letter. It's going to have some footage from the studio, some extra stuff in there, different artwork. We're also doing vinyl for this record. So excited about that, because we've wanted to do that forever and have never been able to.
SU: As far as this tour, hooking up with Torche and From Monument to Masses, did you guys actually pick those bands, or was it kind of thrown together?
Gavin: Torche has the same booking agent, so they proposed that idea. We were like, "Yes, cool. Love the band." From Monument to Masses we picked. They're from the Bay Area as well. One guy lives in New York, but the band's based in the Bay Area for the most part. We played with them [and are] fans of their music. They're doing half the tour and we have other friends coming on in May. The backup is Judgment Day, who we've toured with before. It's cello, violin and drums. They play crazy metal or technical metal. But it's really great because they play with us every night as well.
SU: They play while you're playing, too?
Gavin: They'll play their set and then come up with us as well. It's really nice. Helps the show, helps the songs.
SU: It's funny. When I was doing research for the interview, I found a quote from one of the guys in Torche saying that they've always felt that it's really hard for them to decide who to play with because their sound doesn't really fit in nicely. It doesn't fit with the heavy stuff, but it doesn't fit with the lighter stuff. So, they have a hard time.
I always felt that you guys were the same way, with the different kinds of styles that you're jumping between. But it's hard to find where you fit when you're trying to pair yourselves up with things.
On past tours, have there been any pairings that really just didn't work at all?
Gavin: We went on with Deftones a few times and those are always great. For some reason, our music's very different from each other, but a lot of their fans enjoy our music and vice versa, obviously. I don't know if it's because we're both from the same region or what.
SU: I actually saw that tour and I think that there is a lot of cross-over.
Gavin: I don't know what it is. It works. I guess it doesn't matter, if it works. We did a tour with Hoobastank. That kind of worked. Their fans didn't even care who was on stage. They're like, "Cool! Someone's playing." Really nice. They liked it. We've done a lot of different tours that are nothing like our band. We have a pretty diverse range of songs, so if we really have to we can mold to the tour a little bit. For heavier bands, we'll do a heavier set.
SU: With this tour, are you playing most of your new stuff or are you mixing it up a lot?
Gavin: We're doing about five new songs, the same songs we've been playing over and over. The record hasn't technically released yet, so we're trying to keep some surprises for once people buy the record or finally get it. So we've been playing the same songs over and over. But I think once it does leak, we'll start throwing in more songs.
SU: When recording of the album, you guys posted The Leaflet series on YouTube. It was good to see not only just the whole process of little clips here and there, but also to hear little pieces of songs and other ideas. So what made you guys decide to do that?
Gavin: I just think to keep people. We realize it has been a long time since putting out a record, so we just wanted to give people a little taste of what was going on and show that we were actually doing something. Creating it and take them through the process. Drew was filming everything and a few of us edited. We'd switch off and edit different Leaflets and so on. I think all of those videos are going to be one piece on the limited edition with some extra stuff as well. This will all be available as one movie.
SU: I think one of the things it did was it was a good way of showing some of your music without giving it away. It gave you a taste of it, but it wasn't like, "Hey, here's the whole song," unless you already have heard it and are used to it. As a fan, it was a neat way to see it, and see the process and hear pieces of it as it was coming out.
Gavin: I love studio footage. It's always entertaining. I think it's cool, too, to get, like you said, little bits of songs, and when you actually hear them, you're like, "Oh yes, I remember that little instrument from that video, " or whatever. To actually see it happening is cool.
SU: Is there some stuff that you did or that you recorded that didn't make the album?
Gavin: Yes, lots.
SU: From watching those clips, I felt like there was.
Gavin: We honestly had a lot more material than we have ever had for a record. That's part of the reason why there was a lot of time as well. We had 25, 30 songs. We had never written that many, so we had a lot of songs lying around in demo versions, and some that were even tracked in studio. We'll probably give them away once the record is out. Give away some as b-sides and screen them on our site or something.
SU: A lot of bands are trying to release music in different ways these days. They're recording a bunch of songs and then putting out small groups of songs at a time. Or, they're just giving them away. Or, like you said, doing a vinyl release and tacking a download card in with the vinyl.
Gavin: Yes, that's really cool. I love that idea.
SU: As far as the label, what made you guys decide to leave Interscope or to just look for something different?
Gavin: Basically, we got signed there in 2000, 2001. Been with them forever. It was a whole different world when we got signed, as in music world. It basically just didn't fit their business model anymore. Large record companies are changing their ways. But I mean, they helped build our band for a good seven, eight years. That's a pretty good run with a label. It was just time, you know. And it wasn't a surprise to us. We weren't like, wow, you know?
They were dropping tons of bands, changing their roster a lot, focusing on the pop side and the urban side. So it was like, yeah, I get it. I think a lot of people there are still fans and it's cool. We've been around long enough where it's not - I don't see a difference, or feel any different than we did when we finished it.
SU: What was weird about Interscope, in particular to me was they went through a couple years there around that time where they signed a bunch of bands that didn't really fit the typical mold of what a major would pick up. You guys were one of them at the time. Yeah Yeah Yeahs was another one. That was kind of like, "really, you going to pick them up?"
Gavin: Trail Of Dead...
SU: Exactly, Trail of Dead. I think you've got to give them credit for really trying to see if they could push music that was maybe outside of the mainstream and pick stuff up.
Gavin: Definitely give them credit. They were in a good position to do that. They could take chances on a band like us, because they have so many huge accesses from the label. So it's cool. They can sign bands like us and Trail Of Dead and so on.
SU: We've worked with Independent Label Group a lot and know how their model works. But for you guys, why would you do it that way instead of saying just flat out, we have our own label (Ed. Ohlone Recordings), we're doing everything ourselves...
Gavin: I think, obviously the distribution side is a huge thing. They're going to put some money into promotion for us. I think it's a good partnership. We're running our label, but they're there to help where we probably wouldn't do so well.
SU: Right. It's almost like the more mechanical parts of it, you know? Distribution is distribution. Trying to get an album into the stores is not necessarily specific to a band. With promotion, you hope you've got people that are fans of the band that are promoting it. But it's still just the mechanics of getting it out there. Sounds like a good model and does more than you could do yourselves.
Gavin: Yeah, I think it's a good balance. It's a great... Seriously, to do everything yourself is pretty difficult. We need the help. We tour so much. To have people helping in those areas is really beneficial to us.
SU: You can not answer this question, or you can tell me to take it off record, or whatever. But, I've always wondered about bands at the stage where you guys are. There are plenty of people who know you and really like what you're doing, but you're not at that tier where - at least from the sales perspective - you're selling tons and tons of records. From a financial standpoint, is it difficult to be in that tier?
I feel like you're successful, you have a good following and people appreciate what you do - but you're not selling hundreds and hundreds of thousands of albums.
Gavin: I think we're definitely successful on a level, that's for sure. To get where we're at is a very small percentage of people.
SU: Right. Just to make sure you know, I don't mean any disrespect.
Gavin: Yeah, no, you're right. Reality. Yeah, financially we definitely struggle. I think a lot of bands do, even some bands that are even bigger than us do.
Gavin: It's a tough business. It's not exactly the business to get into if you really want to make a lot of money. It's a fun life.
SU: I guess the reason I ask is from wanting to know what pushes you to keep doing it? You really don't think about it until a band goes away for an extended period of time. Then, you're like, "are they going to put another album out? Are they going to come back and keep going?" So, what pushes you forward to get another album out there or hit the road?
Gavin: I'm confident in our music. I have faith that we can progress more and gain new fans. I think once we hit a wall and things start to feel stagnant, we'll probably stop. There's always some little thing to keep you interested and [continually improve] from a creative standpoint [or from] the point of view of success.
I always think, oh if we didn't make this record - this to me is one of our best records - that wouldn't even have been there. Then our career would've just been that period of time. So you feel like you can do something a little better the next time. I think that's part of it. You look at the record you did, you say, "I could do that better, I could sing that better." I guess that's part of the drive.
SU: What other bands are you into right now?
Gavin: I've been listening a lot to Why. I like Cursive. Lately, I'm just trying to think of what I've been listening to. Antony and the Johnsons.
SU: Yeah, I can never answer this question when people ask me.
Gavin: Yeah, there's a lot of musicians.
Yeah, I'm excited about the new mewithoutYou record. I don't know, just like friends' bands and stuff, a lot of different things.
SU: Different topic, random question. Do you feel like the area you live in has any influence on the type of music you make?
Gavin: Yeah, I think so, especially when we were young. Northern California's always been a good area for music and creative music. I feel like its relation to LA is - you know you have LA there, the business side of things. I feel like Northern California has always had these successful bands, but maybe not a huge commercial success, but bands that have influenced a lot of people. People take chances there. The scene there lately hasn't been really acknowledged, but there's still a lot of great music there, I think.
A lot of creative stuff, not necessarily commercially, but from like an artistic standpoint and the musicianship point of view. There are still a lot of great things going on.
SU: I can't remember if it was a Deftones show I saw or an Ozomatli one, but you had been doing some paintings on stage and some other things like that. What kind of stuff are you doing with this tour?
Gavin: Not a whole lot on this one. We just got some backdrops, but some of these, like tonight's a pretty small club it doesn't really work. So we have some of the artwork from the new record that we made into stamps and stuff. We made a few of those as a backdrop. That's about it, man. Pretty low budget.
SU: So, you've been inside and seen how small the place is?
Gavin: Yeah, it's going to be crowded, I think.
SU: I think so too. We were a bit surprised that you were playing The Brewery. It is one of the smaller places in town. It'll be close, so it'll be good.
Gavin: Yeah, I think it'll be fun. A lot of the times - we did a show in Baltimore, a pretty small room, but we sold out and it just ups the energy. They tend to be fun shows.
SU: In your bio, the press release there was a quote at the bottom. It says, "It's the album Dredg has been working toward their entire career." Do you feel like it is? Do you feel like this an accumulation of all the past work you've done?
Gavin: Yeah, I really think so. I'd say that's a pretty legit quote there I think. I feel like that's what the record is. It's like bits and pieces of our whole career with obviously some progression there. Yeah, that's how it felt to me. We recorded it in San Francisco in the Bay Area and just felt like we're back to our roots a little more.