Dredg has been making records and touring
the world for 10 years. Their sound is a well-established
mixture of pop and progressive styles. This is arguably an odd
mixture but it works for dredg. Iíve been fortunate enough to
catch this band live on at least one other occasion and now
with the release of a new record, "The Pariah, the Parrot, the
Delusion," I finally got the chance to do the interview.
My photographer and I arrived a little
early, so we quietly watched the sound check. As the band
worked their way through setting levels and getting a cohesive
sound, I reviewed the questions that I had prepared. Minutes
later we were being escorted to the stage.
I met Gavin Hayes, lead singer of dredg,
backstage at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona. We sat in
the spacious dressing room, Hayes was comfortable on the
leather couch and I was perched on a camera case with my
recorder. He was relaxed and eager to talk about the new
DB: What can you tell me about the new
GH: It was a long time in the making,
thatís for sure. We reverted back to our earlier days in the
manner that we did it at home. It felt good to be in the Bay
Area recording it. We changed labels, so we weíre a little
more independent now and had a little more time to experiment.
We worked with a young producer, Matt Radosevich, who was very
hungry and willing to (laughs), hungry in a literal sense as
DB: Welcome to music!
GH: He was beneficial to the record and
also made us feel comfortable.
DB: You chose a very unusual title for
the new record, "The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion." Where
did the title come from and what is its significance?
GH: Actually it was originally the title
of the first track on the record, but we changed the title of
the song to just "Pariah." The whole record is loosely
inspired by a Salman Rushdie piece called "A Letter to the Six
Billionth Citizen." It was a short essay that he wrote about
belief and basically a letter to an unborn child, which
obviously there are well over six billion now; weíre on our
way to seven. So the title is about pariah: being an outcast,
going against that grain. The parrot is symbolic of a flock, a
following or group and the delusion is what weíre all
suffering from (laughs).
DB: I was going to ask about the Salman
Rushdie essay. It seems like an unusual source for inspiration
to write a record, how did you become aware of the essay?
GH: Mark (guitarist Mark Engles)
actually found it in a book he was reading. There was a
collection of different authors in this book. He felt the
essay paralleled the lyrics and where we were. It was towards
the middle of the writing of this album and many of the lyrics
were pertaining to what he was talking about. I read the essay
and thought it was awesome, so we loosely based the remaining
lyrics from there on out. The album artwork is very inspired
by all this. We will actually be playing a show with Salman
Rushdie in October over in New York, itís an AIDS benefit,
itís just him and us. I donít have the exact details, but I
assume that heíll be doing a reading, maybe the essay and
weíll be playing some songs.
DB: Most of the records that dredg has
released have been called concept albums. This record is
different or at least no one in the media is using that
moniker. Whatís the change?
GH: I donít know, I guess we just didnít
want to pigeonhole ourselves. This was more of an "inspired
by" kind of record. I mean thereís always a theme going on, we
just didnít present the album in those terms, that can put
unnecessary pressure on us sometimes.
DB: To discuss your earlier albums for
just a moment, my question has to do with the performance of
songs from concept albums. Do you feel any obligation to
maintain the integrity of the concept in those albums when you
play live or is performance a completely separate animal?
GH: Live is so different. Obviously
weíre playing many songs from different records. I donít feel
restricted by what we play from a live standpoint. We have
done a few shows, one night we did "Leitmotif" from beginning
to end. The next night was "El Cielo" beginning to end. Those
nights we really stuck to the concept or theme of the record.
DB: Earlier you mentioned that the new
record was slow in the making. It seems like most of your
records are on a three-year cycle. Why does it take so long to
produce a new record?
GH: I think the main reason is that
after the record is complete and out, we tour for a good year
and a half and, as it turns out, weíre not really a great band
at writing on the road. I mean weíre usually in a van and,
well, weíre lazy I guess! I mean thatís really the main
excuse. Touring eats up a lot of time. Weíre going to try to
get the next record out a little quicker this time I think. We
have a lot of leftover material from this record that is
worthy of being heard I think.
DB: Youíve already mentioned your
departure from Interscope. "Liberating" was the term I think
you used. Has your new arrangement given you a freer reign on
GH: They really didnít interfere with
the creative side of the band. I mean obviously they would
gravitate toward certain songs and consequently put a little
more pressure on those. They knew what kind of band they
signed, I think, and we were us. I really think they let us go
because, one, we really didnít sell tons and tons of records
for them and two, itís just a different business now. When we
got signed it was a different world and they were able to take
chances with bands like us and still keep it balanced. These
days the label is a little more focused on the monetary
aspects of the business. I suspect that theyíre doing a better
job with that now. I feel that they are a little more R&B and
hip-hop based, you know, the pop side of the world.
DB: I guess I can see your point, but
Iíll counter with you are known as a progressive band, but I
think most anyone can hear that there is a pop element within
your music. I donít think anyone would consider you strictly a
GH: We were with them for eight years so
we canít complain. It was a good run.
DB: You mentioned the current evolution
that has been occurring in the music business. My next
question goes hand-in-hand with this evolution. There are so
many artistic elements within dredg, even beyond the music
and your fans are well aware of each member of dredg and their
creative adventures-- I wanted to ask if you thought art is
returning to music?
GH: I really think so. There are more
bands than ever. In fact I think the market is a little
over-saturated with talent. There is definitely a lot of
creative and great bands that Iím hearing about every week.
Itís crazy. There are so many bands and so many great bands as
DB: And the Internet has given everyone
the opportunity to step and become a bigger band they ever
could have 10 years ago.
GH: And I think that encourages a more
artistic approach. I mean every band has that resource. Bands
can be whatever they want to be and still get showcased within
their genre. All they have to be is good.
DB: And that is a great thing for the
fan. For me, music has always been much bigger than the bottom
I want to thank Gavin Hayes for spending
a few minutes with us and sharing his thoughts on dredgís new
record, "The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion." If the band
holds to form, they will be touring extensively giving
everyone a chance for everyone to attend this must-see show.
Don't miss it!