INTERVIEW: Dreams of The Fall
Death of Summer and Birth of Winter
By: Sonya Brown
As my thoughts now turn to Autumn, a rather fitting accompaniment to my renewed state of mind is the debut self-titled cd recently released by "Dreams of The Fall". Autumn is my favorite time of the year. With crisp cool mornings and the turning colors of the leaves, the feelings that fall brings to me are directly reflected in the philosophy of "Dreams of The Fall"; who explain that "...The fall represents that time after ascension and the time before renewal. The season itself represents the death of summer and the birth of winter".
With the advent of fall upon us, here are a few words with San Jose, California's "Dreams of The Fall"...
Sonya: Who makes up the current Dreams of the Fall lineup, and what are the specialties of each band member?
James: There are three of us in Dreams of the Fall. Benja sings, and plays guitar on a few songs here and there. He writes all of the band's lyrics and has written or co-written the music to several of our songs as well. He also creates all of our visual artwork (e.g., CD covers, flyers, merchandise designs, etc.)
Jason plays guitar and bass, as do I, and helps out with the drum and synth programming. Jason is more skilled at acoustic guitar and finger-picking on the guitar than I am, so he usually plays those types of guitar parts, whereas I'm more skilled at "lead" guitar--for instance, Jason plays guitar on Twelve, and I play guitar on Shadows on the Wall. We have very different guitar and bass playing styles and ideas, which I think makes our sound richer than if one of us stuck to guitar and one of us stuck to bass. Jason is also the webmaster of www.dreamsofthefall.com. I (James) play guitar and bass. I handle the majority of the synth and drum programming and write most of the synth and drum parts, although Ben and especially Jason are getting more involved in that end of things. I also record and mix all of our recordings, all of which so far have been done in my apartment. I write a little more than half of the band's music, although everyone contributes to each other's songs, turning them into Dreams of the Fall songs instead of just "Ben's songs" or "Jason's songs" or "James' songs".
Sonya: You describe your sound as goth/hard rock/folk/electronic. These are quite varied descriptions of your music. Do you prefer any particular category over the others?
James: I don't listen to much folk myself, but I enjoy lots of types of music... metal, goth, classical, older punk, glam, hard rock, industrial... all three of us have somewhat different tastes in music, and think that makes our sound that much richer and more varied.
Benja: Our music is pretty diverse and we all add in our own personal tastes. I think it works out quite well. It's hard for me to sum it all up in a genre-based description. Post-goth perhaps.
Sonya: Who/what are your major musical influences?
James: The Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, Joy Division, Ikon, KMFDM, Aphex Twin, Underworld, Clan of Xymox, Human Drama, Christian Death, :wumpscut:.
Benja: Swans, Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Sisters, Xymox. A lot of sappy ballads. I have my own personal idols i suppose - Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Michael Gira, Peter Murphy, Ian Curtis to name a few.
Jason: I think they got it just about covered.
Sonya: What movie samples are used in the track "w1"?
Benja: They come from - Dellamorte Dellamore (released stateside as 'Cemetery Man'), Dawn of the Dead, Zombie Holocaust, and Boogie Nights.
Sonya: The piano part on the track "twelve" is quite beautiful... is this done on a standard piano, or is this also electric keyboard? What can you tell me about the equipment that you used in creating this CD?
James: I'm glad you enjoyed the piano sound we used. That was actually an electric keyboard, specifically the Alesis Nanopiano, which is supposed to have one of the best, most accurate sounding piano samples ever created. As for the equipment used to create the CD, well, here goes!
-Tascam Portastudio 488 MKII recorder
-Alesis Quadraverb, Quadraverb II, and Microverb III effects processors
-dbx 262 compressor/limiter
Synths, drums, and programming:
-Alesis Nanobass, Nanopiano synth modules, DM5 drum module
-Roland SC-50 SoundCanvas synth module, GR-30 guitar synth
-Korg M-1 synth
-Boss DR-660 drum machine
-AudioMulch, ReBirth 1.0, Impulse Tracker (software)
-Cakewalk Pro Audio 5.0 sequencing software
-Gibson Les Paul Studio
-Epiphone Les Paul Standard
-Ovation 12 string acoustic
-Hughes & Kettner ATS-120 guitar amplifier with Marshall 1960 2x12 speaker cabinet
-Fender Twin Reverb guitar amplifier
-Fender Jazz Bass Special
-additional Fender Jazz Bass (borrowed from spitkiss)
-Carvin LB-20 bass guitar
Sonya: Several tracks on your self-titled CD fall into a more "instrumental" category with minimum vocals (i.e. the first track, "Falling", which I recall is entirely instrumental). What can you tell me about this?
James: We kept several of the songs on the CD instrumental because we felt they were good as instrumentals and that vocals would detract from the songs... no need to put something on a song that doesn't need it. We'll probably continue to do the odd instrumental track here and there.
Benja: A lot of times, the music itself will convey something that I'd never be able to capture in a lyric. Words would just get in the way so to speak.
Sonya: What can you tell me about the upcoming Rozz Williams tribute CD?
Benja: It's going to be released in 2001 through RozzNet.com and the proceeds go to get Rozz a gravestone in the Hollywood Cemetery. James and I are both Christian Death fans. I am going to feel really good being a part of the comp when it is released. Also doing this song ('Evening Falls') has become a fun challenge musically. It's the first time we've done a cover.
Sonya: Is Dreams of The Fall on any other compilations or tribute CD's?
James: Our discography consists of the full-length Dreams of the Fall CD, and the six song Cold World EP, which includes 3 remixes/alternate versions of songs from Dreams of the Fall and 3 new songs. A friend of ours from England, Davi Lovatt of Blind Before Dawn, does a 'zine called "House of the Succubus", and we're going to be featured in a compilation CD that will be included in the next issue, which should be coming out in a few months.
Sonya: On your website newsletter (www.dreamsofthefall.com), you list the date of 11-15-99 as the date Benja joined the band, completing the three and one half person lineup... who is this "half person"?
Benja: I joined earlier than that. I think Jason wrote that in just to re-cap what's been happening with the band recently.
Jason: I thought that was around the time that he joined, but since it was made long after that, I just took a wild guess basically.
James: hehehe, the "half person" is the MiniDisc player we use to play the sequenced synth and drum parts live.
Sonya: You recently performed in Portland, Oregon, at the Paris Theatre with Soy Futura and Blind Before Dawn. When will you be performing in Portland again?
James: We have a date tentatively scheduled in mid-October, although this is very tentative right now. Regardless, we'll be back soon, and you'll be the first to know when we do.
Sonya: When, and where else, might you be touring next?
James: We hope to play in southern California and return to the Pacific Northwest soon, but for the most part we're focusing on playing and building a following in our home, the San Francisco Bay Area, at least for the time being.
Benja: I'd really love to be able to come up to Portland again and also do something in Seattle too.
Jason: I really enjoyed getting to play in Portland, so that would definitely be something I would like to do again. But I think we need to keep our attention focused on this area mostly for now.
Sonya: What does the future hold for Dreams of The Fall?
James: More good music! I think that our best work is still ahead of us... I think we've come a long way since the three of us first started playing together, and that we're still improving, writing better music, working more as a unit instead of three individuals who happen to play together, trying new things while keeping the same basic sound... More specifically, we're going to write new songs (and finish some of the songs in our rather substantial backlog of partially completed songs), keep playing live, develop our live show further, record another full length CD within the next six months or so, and keep spreading our music to whoever wants to hear it.
Benja: Hopefully the future holds more and more opportunities for us to share our music.
Jason: Basically what James said. We have more songs in the works than I can keep track of that are just waiting to be recorded. So a new album would be great. Other than that we'll just have to see what happens.