How did you get your start in music?
Well I’ve been playing guitar since I was I a kid, I didn’t actually start writing songs till I got out of college, I just waited till the songs sounded the way I wanted them to sound in my head, then slowly started thinking about putting the band together.
How did Daydream Nation form?
The band started after I got laid off from a well-paying boring mundane job. I figured no amount of money in the world was worth rotting away at something I really wasn’t interested in. So I cashed out my savings, and went on the dole. I built a tiny studio and set about writing a record in a last ditch effort to save myself from the quote on quote “real world”. Just forgetting everything else, and just focusing on making a cool record, and seeing what could happen. I figured I could do the bulk of the work, and get buddies of mine to come down, and help me with the shit I couldn’t figure out. I ended up with my buddy Angus McLachlan doing all the keyboard arrangements, and my other buddy Andrew doing some drumming here and there. Hunter actually didn’t come into the picture till after the first record was done. He actually mastered the first album, and was good friends with Ben Vendetta my label head honcho. He ended up getting in touch with me through Ben, and asked if I would want to another record with him down in L.A. After working with him for about 2 weeks, we basically both knew that we were meant to work together. It was quite surreal; I mean we met in person on a Thursday, and were making what would become Bella Vendetta on Friday. And it just clicked, I think once we tracked a few tunes, we were in utter disbelief at how well we just clicked! If he had been a woman, I would’ve asked him to marry me!
How did you decide, as a band, to create your “sound”? What prompted you to play the kind of music you do?
I think it actually started with my mom, she’s really into musicals and classical stuff, I was always fascinated by the dynamic range of that stuff. As a kid I used to listen to the different sections, and see how they all were playing variations of a melody, and meeting up to create a huge sound. I always thought that it would be cool to apply those concepts to big loud electric guitars!! Rock and Roll for the most part has always been rhythm guitar bass drums, solo break etc, which is cool…but I always wanted to make it bigger, and larger than life! Vie always thought why start slow, then build, then come back down, when you can start huge with all the instrumental parts climaxing simultaneously, blending with each other to create a huge collective sound! Anyway eventually I was in my buddy’s apartment and Swervedriver’s 99th dream came on, and I was like fucking hell somebody’s doing it, I was absolutely blown away, there were a million parts going in and out, it was the biggest sound I had ever heard!! All of a sudden it seemed possible to actually pull of these ideas I had.
What kind of process do you go through to write your songs?
I usually start of on my couch with an acoustic guitar, and bang out the actual song itself. I figure if it sounds good on an acoustic guitar you’re on the right track. Then when that’s done I set about recording it. I never sit and plan out my overdubs, melodies etc. I like to work in the moment I do everything on the spot for the most part, I think working instinctually is the only way to go, the first takes are always the most honest and best suited for the song. Once you start thinking about it too much, it usually turns to shit in my experience.
How do you feel about Bella Vendetta? How was it recorded?
Bella was a crazy record to make!! I went from a tiny pro tools rig in Ottawa, to a massive studio in Hollywood. I felt like I had a huge learning curve to figure out. Once Hunter told me of the capabilities of the big rig set up my jaw dropped. I was like 90 tracks of audio eh!….alright I’m gonna use them all!!
We tracked the drums up at the New King Sound, the owner Jimmy Sloan has the most ridiculous good taste in gear, everything was run through the most legendary gear out there, I was totally freaked out by the selection, I was a kid in a candy store!! Then we did the rest of it at Hunters Studio, which was equally as cool! We ended up grabbing a whole bunch of vintage 60’s amps to record the guitars, and a whole host of vintage mics, which was totally rad. Hunter did all the micing and engineering on the record. He has a great ear for tones, and was willing to see how far we could take these ideas. We worked very quickly, and to all hours of the night. we would get up in the morning, drink some coffee then set out recording till 3 or 4 in the morning for about seven weeks, completely lit with copious amounts of caffeine, props to the Starbucks people down the street, I think they thought I had a serious caffeine problem, going in there like 20 times a day all shaky and disheveled. Mixing the album was a very traumatic experience, trying to fit between 50 to 90 tracks of audio into a mix, can be very exhausting. There were a few nervous breakdowns between Hunter and I here and there, but Hunter managed to figure it out. God bless him!
Were there any themes (musical, lyrical, etc) that you were exploring with Bella Vendetta?
Generally I don’t tend to consciously write lyrics, I end up just writing, if that makes any sense?…listening to it all I think it’s just my own longing for getting the most out of my life, and those people in it. Wanting more than the norm, the ultimate high, and an understanding out of the world I live in. Bella Vendetta is a musical and lyrical snapshot of my dreams, great moments, and my regrets to this point I guess..
What inspires you to make music? Anything in particular?
I make music cause it gets me off, and nothing really comes close to the sense of intimacy I feel when I’m writing or listening to music. I just don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than music out there for me. Hearing what starts of as a simple acoustic guitar melody, come full circle into a cacophony of sound through a set of speakers, is absolutely amazing…nothing else comes close for me. Making records is the coolest thing ever, every-time I listen to stuff vie done, I can remember all the cool moments I had getting from point a to point b in the song. Most importantly it’s the relationships that are forged out of making music. It’s like being brothers in arms, stuck together through good and bad, moving together to create something collectively, and more important than our own individualism.
How has the Canadian music scene treated your band? What do you think of the music scene in Ottawa, Ontario, and Canada as a whole?
It’s weird cause I’m not really apart of any scene or community, Hunter lives in L.A, I live in Ottawa so we aren’t a Canadian band per say, or an American band…just Daydream Nation I guess. Most of the press we’ve had has come from the states, and overseas…in fact I think we’ve only gotten one review in Canada in the exclaim. Canada’s weird you know, in my experience, we tend to only pay attention to Canadian artists once they have gotten attention down south! Personally I don’t give a shit where we get the most attention, just that people get into our music.
Does living in Canada affect your music somehow?
Not really, but I do get called a socialist/communist every-time I talk politics etc in the states.
Is rock and roll dying?
I don’t think so, as far as the mainstream goes it kinda sucks. People are just down on it right now, cause they expect the NME or Spin to feed them the next big thing., but they just keep getting lied to, every-time they’re like “The Killers are gonna save rocknroll”, most people end up just being more bitter, when they go out, by the Cd listen to it, and go “what the fuck this sucks” The reality is there are a whole lot of great bands out there, who aren’t part of the commercial corporate machine. Which basically gets them excluded from any big rag like Spin or the NME. people have to start paying more attention to indy rags like Under the Radar etc, and more importantly web zines, cause these people are covering what’s cool, and besides when you read a good review in a smaller rag, I personally trust it more than seeing some band being hyped cause of their cool haircuts, and 100.000 dollar marketing campaigns. Smaller media, has only one mandate pure and simple, talk about bands they really like, and you know they aren’t making ridiculous amounts of money with record company advertising budgets, so ya’ I for one trust them more.
What is in the future for Daydream Nation?
Well were starting another record now, so that’s really cool….and hopefully well keep reaching more and more people, and just keep writing more and more music. It really means a lot to Hunter and I that we have a label that really cares about what were doing, and that everybody involved with this thing are just music lovers, just wanting to write and listen to music that we can all get off on!!
What are some CD’s that you are enjoying these days?
Right now I’m listening to the Frausdots, I fell in love with that record the first time I heard it, as well as a lot of the L.A indy stuff that Hunter turned me onto BJM, Warlocks Etc. Oh ya’ everybody should check out this band Alcian Blue these guys are absolutely brilliant, probably one of the best shoegazer outfits out there. Aside from that the classics Swervedriver, MBV, The Stones, Velvet Underground etc.
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