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Interview: Gavin Hayes of Dredg

Originally Published: Thursday, August 25, 2005
Written by: Emily E.

Can you give me a short history of Dredg?
GH: This is our 11th year as a band. We met in high school, a couple of us in junior high, and started playing music back then, cover songs and whatnot. We put out our first record in 1996, and have been continually working on progressing and have remained the same band the whole time.

Compiled by David P. & Emily E.

GH =
 Gavin Hayes, lead singer/slide guitar

Can you give me a short history of Dredg?

GH: This is our 11th year as a band. We met in high school, a couple of us in junior high, and started playing music back then, cover songs and whatnot. We put out our first record in 1996, and have been continually working on progressing and have remained the same band the whole time.

Any line up changes?


GH: 
Nope, same people.

So then there’s a lot of solidarity in the band?


GH: 
Yeah, it’s like a family.

So no side projects either?


GH: 
We’ve done other things on our own time, but we don’t really have side projects, no CD’s out or anything like that.

Who are your main influences? I read something about you being in to Peter Gabriel.


GH: 
I actually just got his newest record. I always liked him when I was younger, he’s amazing to me. I found a better appreciation for sound quality and how much effort he put in to it and what he could do with simple ideas, great song writing, but also making it very creative at the same time. I’ve been going back and researching bands that are established such as him, like The Police and things like that and critiquing it in a different way, I wasn’t able to do that back in the day. I’m just studying what I’m involved in on a different level now, now that we’ve been involved in the business for so long.

You guys are going to be on tour for a long time. How’s this tour been so far?


GH: 
Yeah, we’ve been on the road for a while. It’s been great, this is kinda the part two of a headlining tour, we did eight weeks headlining in the US and then we went two weeks over to Europe, took four or five days off and now this is the second half, playing all the markets we missed. And a lot of smaller markets we haven’t played before. We’ve never headlined here or anything, it’s just been going well.

What’s it like to headline, as opposed to being just part of a lineup?


GH: 
It’s cool. This is our 14th week in a row now.

So you’re kind of used to it now?


GH: 
Yeah, we’re going out with Coheed [and Cambria], The Blood Brothers and MeWithoutYou. I’m kinda looking forward to that. Quick half hour set, and playing in front of a bunch of people who don’t know who we are. It’s almost more encouraging, you have to try to win these people over . In half an hour you can just put it all out there as hard as you can for that thirty minutes, no conserving of energy.

How have the venues been capacity wise?


GH: 
Really mixed. It just depends on the market really. Nashville and Memphis we’ve never played and we we did maybe 5 or 600 seaters, and it was pretty full, Nashville sold out and they were amazing shows.

Where are guys from?


GH: 
The Bay Area, San Francisco.

Do you find that there’s a big difference between playing there and playing here?


GH: 
Yeah, all through California is. It makes sense, we’ve been playing there for a long time. L.A. and San Francisco has just been amazing for us, we sell out 1,500 seaters, of course, people embrace us a little more at home. We have more time to digest what we do.

What’s the writing process like?


GH: 
It’s really collective, we don’t have one songwriter. I write the lyrics, vocal parts and the slide guitar parts and Mark [Engles] writes the guitar pieces, Dino [Campanella] does drums and piano, so it’s kind of anyone’s idea really. Drew [Roulette[ comes up with a bass line, and we’ll build off of that. Most of our music is sparked from inter-vision. We mini-disc all of our rehearsals. It’s so different when you go back and listen. It’s like when we’re performing it doesn’t sound that great, but when you go back and the parts that maybe you through were good aren’t and other things jump out like whoa, that vocal line is cool right there or that guitar part or drum beat is really awesome. We didn’t do this initially, we did that a lot for this album and it helped a lot.

The new album, Catch Without Arms. The songs broke out on to the internet. What do you think about that?


GH: 
The demos, that really upset me. I realized that our CD was probably going to be out online before it was released and that’s fine, it’s the completed product and I just hope that people will go out and buy the artwork and take in the whole package. But when demos get out there, that’s like our work in progress and people start critiquing it, and it’s not even complete. And once the real product comes out, people are so used to the demos, that the final product doesn’t sound right. We’ve had comments like oh, I liked the demo version better. But it’s not better by any means! It’s just because it’s their initial listen. That part of it bothers me, when it’s just the work in progress. I mean it probably only happens in music, people don’t get unedited films online, other than that I realize it’s a normal thing that people get.

I’ve read that you guys don’t put yourself into a genre. Do you find yourselves trying to break the genre boundaries?


GH: 
It’s kinda weird. I would just say we’re in the rock genre. You go to a CD store and go to the rock section. The way we write, it’s like our individual influences all come together, we’re in to a lot of different kinds of music, were not all in to the same thing, so I think it kinda opens us up to, you know, letting us play with the Deftones, then going to do something completely different. And we do a lot of acoustic stuff so we can kind of mold to what’s necessary. I’d love to do an all acoustic and go out with Iron and Wine and do something totally different.

I heard about your acoustic sets. How have those been?


GH: 
It’s been cool. A couple have been rough, I lost my voice for a couple days just from touring a lot. I kinda sang a little lower register. But it’s fun, they’re different and I like doing them. We just get the acoustic guitar, piano and vocals and it works. The genre thing is a curse in a certain manner, like major label act, indie act, and we try to work our band as an indie act, but we’re on Interscope. So we’re in this void of, I don’t know what the hell we are. So it’s been a curse sort of.

How did you get discovered?


GH: 
We weren’t shopping ourselves around, we were doing really well in California, the business saw we were selling out shows and playing, and a band we had played with referred us to them and said go check us out live, and that’s kind of how it happened. We weren’t expecting anything like that. If anything, we were expecting an indie deal or a subsidiary of a major.

I’ve read some negative reviews of your albums and shows. Some said you were too artsy and the lyrics were so vague it seemed like you were trying too hard. What would you say to someone who said that about you?


GH: 
I’ve heard that. I don’t know, this is just kind of what we do, and we’re not trying to hard to be anything. It’s just the way I write lyrics and we perform together as people, and if you want to hear something more straightforward, you can go back and listen to some of our stuff from the early 90’s. We’re just trying to progress as musicians, we’ve been playing for so long together. We’re hear to, first of all, make ourselves happy, and keep pushing ourselves as musicians, and not be stagnant. We’re getting older and our next record is going to be way different than this one. Maybe it will be very simple and people won’t think we’re trying too hard. You’re always going to have both sides, if we became a simple band, all the people that liked our creativity would be like, fuck them.

Well, here’s a twist on that. Say you’re in the 9th circle of hell. What’s playing on the radio?


GH: 
Wow. Um. There’s a couple bands that I could say for this one. Okay … Spindoctors. For some reason that band just rubs me wrong. I’m not going to discredit them, but I think THEY’RE trying to hard. I don’t know, just something bothers me. I can’t listen to that.

I’m surprised you answered! Other bands have refused.


GH: 
Now I want to vent too, now that you’ve told me people think we’re trying to hard! I want to rip on someone else! I like how you placed those questions.

You recorded this album at Longview Studios in Brookfield, MA, which is a small, out of the way recording studio. What’d you think?


GH: 
It was cool, very secluded. It was a lot of fun. It had in-house cooking, chefs, basically like band camp or something. But it was cool, it was nice to be at least within driving distance to Boston. We could go out and escape a little bit if we had some free time. It was nice to be removed for that recording process. It was good for the record. In Seattle, it was like we’d write in the studio and come out to a city. Here it was a nice change.

Okay. Last one. Favorite Ninja Turtle and why?

GH: 
Donatello, because my friend was actually in the movie, he was the guy that was in the costume and did all the stunts. Larry Lam, he’s a karate instructor from my hometown. I got to try on his suit! It was cool, the suit was amazing, it was all spongy.

Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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