Ahead of the release of Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy, dredg vocalist Gavin Hayes graciously took the time with us to discuss the writing process for the new album, working with Dan the Automator and future plans for dredg.
[email protected]: For the record, could you please state your name and role in dredg.
Gavin Hayes: Gavin - Vocals
[email protected]: Your upcoming record Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy is set to be released May 3rd via Superball Music. Guide us through the writing and recording process of this album.
Gavin Hayes: A lot of this album was written remotely (via e-mail) as I was living in Seattle at the time. We traded a lot of music and random ideas back and forth and would then meet about once a month as a band and write and work on the material we had been trading.
[email protected]: How do you feel the process differed from that of The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion?
Gavin Hayes: First and foremost, it was written about three times as fast and wasn't meticulously picked to death. We wanted to get this record out a lot quicker and were determined to expedite it on many levels. We only spent two days in the studio and the rest was recorded at Dan's house.
[email protected]: Musically, Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy is a departure for dredg. Was this intended?
Gavin Hayes: Yes, definitely. After 17 years of being in the same band and making 'rock' records we wanted to branch out and try something a little different. This record is more of a collaboration (Dan the Automator) than it is a straight dredg record but we knew that from get go. I'm happy we took a chance and tried something else. I'm not sure there would have been another dredg record if we didn't.
[email protected]: What made dredg go down this route and was it merely an experiment for the band?
Gavin Hayes: Well, after spending so much time on Pariah, which, to us, was a very 'dredg' record, we figured it was time to try something else. The last thing we wanted to do was make another Pariah-style record. All of our records are different from each other so this shouldn't really come as a surprise. Who knows? Maybe the next record will be instrumental.
[email protected]: Lyrically, how does Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy compare to your previous work and what influenced dredg during the writing process of Chuckles?
Gavin Hayes: In my opinion, this is our most personal record. A lot of these songs are about close friends and family. If there was a common thread it would be that....family.
[email protected]: What songs throughout Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy are most personal to you and why?
Gavin Hayes: "Before it Began" because it was based on meeting my biological family and about being adopted in general. "Upon Returning" and "The Thought of Losing You" as well because they were about my sister and her life as an Army soldier. She has dealt with a lot...too much really.
[email protected]: What other dredg songs in the discography “mean the most” to you/the band?
Gavin Hayes: Honestly, I don't really think about our past songs very much but when I hear them, like all of our music, I critique them.
[email protected]: You worked with producer Dan the Automator this time around. It’s clear his influence flows throughout the album. Why did you decide to work with Dan, and what was it like working with him?
Gavin Hayes: He remixed our song, "Sangreal,” back in 2005. From that point on we became friends. He lives right up the street from me in San Francisco and we ended up having a lot in common (drinking, not talking about music, movies, etc). We had all discussed working with him over the past five years and the timing finally seemed right. Dan is a very fast and hard worker. He has a vision and rolls with it and cares more about feeling than perfection. It was great.
[email protected]: Is there a theme or motif that occurs in Chuckles, or is it just “a collection of songs” that just happened to make the album?
Gavin Hayes: As I said, family.
[email protected]: Speaking of which, dredg are notable for concept albums. Will you continue this for your future releases?
Gavin Hayes: Yeah, our next record will most likely be a concept record. We'll see how we view music when the writing process comes back around.
[email protected]: One of the songs on Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy is titled “The Ornament”. There is also a song on Catch Without Arms with the same name. Do the two songs have any connection or was it just pure coincidence?
Gavin Hayes: Yes, it's the same music.
[email protected]: Regarding new music, have you already started to work on songs that plan to be on the release after Chuckles?
Gavin Hayes: We have a lot of material left over from Chuckles but other than that not really.
[email protected]: Dredg have been around for almost twenty years. How has the band grown, musically and personally, since its beginning?
Gavin Hayes: We are completely different people and in turn completely different musicians. I feel like we are much better writers and musicians now. While our earliest records had a cool feel and free form approach, the writing was lackluster. I know as we continue to evolve as people our music will follow. It's really the only honest approach.
[email protected]: Has being in the band taught you any life lessons?
Gavin Hayes: Yes, finish school and then you can experiment with fancy hobbies like music.
[email protected]: What advice would you give to people wanting to make music/start a band?
Gavin Hayes: Finish school, be honest, and listen to and be influenced by as much different music as possible.
[email protected]: Dredg have a pretty intense fanbase. There are some people across Facebook and YouTube saying that since Catch Without Arms, the band has progressively “gotten worse”. Why do you think they hold that opinion and what do you say to these fans who seem to just want El Cielo repeated 3 times over?
Gavin Hayes: It makes me laugh because to me our earlier records are very immature and poorly written. They have a great feeling and innocence to them but we will never recreate those records. They are what they are--a moment in time and in our lives that we decided to document musically. Let's face it....people claim they're progressive but they aren't. Nobody likes change. It scares them. It rattles their boring little comfort zone. I don't get why people want to hear the same thing over and over. I thought being "progressive" meant you actually progress? We don't enjoy listening to prog and never really considered ourselves to fall into that category so it only makes sense we are trying to avoid it.
[email protected]: You are going to be touring with The Dear Hunter, Balance and Composure and Trophy Fire. How did the tour with these bands come about, and what are you looking forward to most for this tour?
Gavin Hayes: The Trophy Fire are our friends and the others submitted and we agreed. I'm looking forward to this fancy Motel 6 near St. Louis.
[email protected]: What has been your most notable/memorable tour to date?
Gavin Hayes: Our first tour in Europe because I finally lost my virginity.
[email protected]: Would there be a chance where dredg would do a tour where they played one of their releases from front to back, and if so what album would you choose?
Gavin Hayes: Yes, we have played "Leitmotif,” "El Cielo,” and "Pariah" in their entirety, but not as a tour. We have explored the idea though.
[email protected]: What does the rest of 2011 for dredg hold?
Gavin Hayes: Touring.
[email protected]: That’s all I have to ask! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?
Gavin Hayes: Thanks for listening and for all of the hate mail!
Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy is set to be released May 3rd via Superball Music. Pre-order options can be seen here.