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Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy take dredg in a poppy new direction

:: dredg ::
:: May 11 ::
:: Marquis Theatre ::

By Joe Kovack

 

Sometimes as a band it’s necessary to reinvent yourself.

The Bay Area-based dredg did just that, combining their signature art-alternative rock with the musical styling of well known hip-hop producer Dan the Automator, to create an album very different than fans are used to.

The new release is a one-eighty for the band, topping at just 41 minutes with more samples and loops, which was something their friend Dan the Automator helped them achieve, as guitarist Mark Engles explained in a recent interview with The Marquee.

“We definitely always want to challenge ourselves and take risks; we don’t want to repeat ourselves. And working with Dan for the first time, he was the true producer in the sense where we had the songs and once we had our parts written and played, it was then in his hands. And that is definitely new for us. It was a lot more expeditious. Just making sure you had the tone you want and the parts you want and letting him do the rest,” Engles said.

After touring for eight months in support of 2009’s The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion, the band took some time off to rest in their various residences around the West. But even with members spread out from the Bay Area to Seattle, they continued to write and collaborate on songs which would eventually evolve into Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy. “The way Macs have been developing, we’ve been doing this for the last few years, giving each other ideas and just writing a riff or a melody,” said Engles. “The geographical separation between us made it more important. It also shows on the record, too. There are only a couple songs that came about from us in a room playing, and a lack of more guitar driven songs comes from that.”

The album breaks the conventions of any previous dredg record to date. With lead singer Gavin Hayes calling it ‘dark pop,’ the band moved away from Engles’ guitar-driven material and Dino Campanella’s intricate drumming for a more loop-laden, poppy sound. “Pop is a relative term. If someone listens to this and thinks it’s extremely poppy, it’s probably relative to our music. But this record compared to actual pop  —the crap that’s out there — it’s not that poppy at all,” Engles said. “You can call it pop for us, but it also has that dark edge. The instrumentation, melodies and the lyrics are not bubblegum, so I think ‘dark pop’ is a good tag for it.”

Known for their albums being concepts from various world essays and literature, the band completed its transformation by electing to ditch the concept model. “It just felt more natural this time to not make it a concept, and we wanted to put the record out a little bit quicker. Our records are usually reactions to our previous records,” Engles said. “This time we just wanted to be more streamlined, not only sonically streamlined but also just not worrying about this being a profound record. Sometimes you feel like you’ve made an effort to make it profound and people don’t even notice. So we just said screw it, let’s just make a record.”

For a band that’s adapted literary works for albums, it’s not surprising that art (beyond just music) has always played a role in the band’s existence. With lead singer Hayes and bass player Drew Roulette displaying self-created paintings onstage, the band has continually explored all facets of creativity, as if the music is just one portion of the whole picture. “It’s just another medium. Whether it’s film, art, music, we don’t want to sit here saying we’re artists, all smug and elitist, but it’s just another medium that if you have at your disposal it’s great. Why not add a visual aspect to it? Drew and his brother did the artwork for this latest album, and if you can keep everything in house, then, why not?” Engles said.

Fans should expect a healthy mix of old and new for their show at the Marquis Theatre, along with some rarities and B-sides that long time fans will enjoy. And though this record may take a few listens for fans to get used to, it’s still dredg, temporarily reinvented and exploring the limits of their creativity. “I’m sure after doing a record like this we’ll want to do something different and change. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next record is extremely different than the Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy record,” Engles said. “And I’m sure as the anniversary of El Cielo [the band’s second album]comes up, I’m sure we’ll want to do something special. In 2012 it will have been 10 years since that album came out and we’ll probably want to do a tour to commemorate it.”

 

:: dredg ::

:: May 11 ::

:: Marquis Theatre ::

 

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• A Perfect Circle

• Muse

• Baroness

 

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