Jevon: I'll get right to it
and ask the hard stuff first and then move to the fun stuff. There
has been some stuff written about you on various message boards over
the last year about your health, and basic state of being. So how are
you, and do you ever find it incredibly odd that people you've never
met have an interest in how you're doing?
went through the worst year of my life where I lost everything ...
literally, save for my faith, That said it has all pretty much turned
around thanks to the kindness and prayers of the very strangers you
mention like the people on the various message boards that took the
time to support and pray for me, I know my limitation and that truly
is what sustained me I always have be a great believer in grace, both
the divine and human forms and I receive an absolutely humbling and
overwhelming amount of it from many people I will never know or get
to meet who simply reminded me what wonderful things people can be
to each other, I think sometimes we get in this mindset of seeing
people as a by product of the evils we see around us that we by fallen
nature cause and I was taught though this all that the reason we see
the worst is because it stands out from the norm, it's like the news,
you don't hear about planes landing safely because that is the norm
you hear about the oddity that a plane crashed, I think I lost sight
of the fact most people are doing their best to be good and change
the world for the better but it's the norm so I tended to neglect
that part of human nature far too much, that doesn't mean their aren't
some real self serving prick son of a bitches out there , it's just
those few are a loud exceptions to the rule and not the normal people
, I lost sight of that, the down side of this is I have had some people
say and do some very actual evil things to me in the past year as
well and that darkness held up to the light of the vast amount of
goodness in my life showed me I was underestimating both sides of
the equation so I had to modify my world view in regard to that information
and just re enforce my two basic rules in the light of the old "do
onto others" so I require from myself and others in my life that they
simply be themselves and they be honest, If you're an asshole fine
be an asshole but don't bullshit me and others that you are some reasonable
nice guy only to spring the trap 6 months later….In case you didn't
notice I really have simplified my already simple life and frankly
it is working.
Jevon: I've read that you used
to double for the late John Candy (good Canadian kid). How cool was
John was a very kind and generous person who helped me very early
on to understand what real class was, he was a great person and an
incredible talent who died long before the world got to see how truly
great and talented he was beyond comedy, I remember the day we shot
a scene for Trains, Planes & Automobiles that tragically got
left on the cutting room floor in the final film, it was a scene where
Del opens up the trunk they have been lugging the whole movie and
we are shown that it contains the last remnants of his life with his
late wife and it was like watching Chaplin as John picked up items,
totally improvisational, with such affection and care and simply talked
about the knick knacks and a lamp and all these junk things to others,
as if they were the most valuable thing in the world to Del to the
point of even the most bored harden grip on the set had tears rolling
down his face because John was so believable and he stuck a cord in
the emptiness and fear all of us feed in the darkness of our souls
at times so John is not only giving an incredible performance but
as an artist he was writing the scene right before our eye's in his
mind and it was real life, but the real life of a fictional character.
Jevon: Did you ever give him
Bian: He showed
me what it was like to be in the presence of greatness and generosity
and how giving the others you work with all the laughs as long as
the final product of the work was improved, I can say from first hand
experience no one ever stole a scene from John Candy they couldn't
because john in his artist and human brilliance already gave it to
them by letting others look good around him and letting them be the
focus and get the laugh and the limelight. He also showed me how fame
can be a asset to kindness I know of several times John catered food
for the whole crew that would be cool enough but when John found out
I was working with the homeless in downtown L.A. from that point on
he kept accidentally order far too much food and would ask me if I
would mind taking it to the homeless I worked with, that was the man
I knew he would want to risk some odd scene of generosity so he just
would over order by mistake and ask if I wouldn't mine taking it with
me when I went down to skid row, Every time I tried to thank him he
would claim to have done it by "mistake" but for some reason his "mistakes"
were all always wrapped up in to go boxes where as all the other food
was ready to serve on the spot, I always asked him how he never lost
sight of his being a regular guy and he always said I'm just a lucky
kid from Canada, that was so him he really saw himself as just a guy,
not the star he could claim to be.
Jevon: Saving Grace
is a pretty solid album. Thematically I would guess it was like shooting
fish in a barrel. Didn't you even feel a little guilty about picking
such an easy target?
No, Not in the least, those who are dragging other astray with their
borderline heresy are the ones who should feel guilty, not me for
pointing out the sickness of the power hungry in the evangelical subculture,
I have never bought into the myth that judging something wrong and
calling it that is worst than the wrong being judged for lack of a
better word, besides I haven't made my comments in secret I am very
up from about biting the hand that bleeds me, I also feel if some
of these right wing idiots who spell God G-O-P were held accountable
for the words and actions by people of faith maybe those who are in
fact sincere but, misguide by zeal or arrogance can be brought back
on to the track of true redemption though God's grace and mercy.
Jevon: I guess you're not
holding your breath to appear with Carman on a TBN special. I think
you guys could remake the Little Drummer Boy for a Christmas special.
If Bowie and Bing can work together, my mind reels at the possibility
of you and the tuxedo clad megastar belting out a tune. Perhaps you
could re-enact "The Champion".
As I listened to Saving
Grace, one thing kept running through my mind - this is all familiar
somehow. And for the longest time, I couldn't put my finger on it, then
it came to me - it sounded like a Jeff Elbel solo album, with a singer
who could actually sing. I mean, was the deliberate?
Brian: Boy, I don't
know who should be more insulted by that ridiculous statement Jeff
or me. In fact I can't think of anything DAS or Ping has ever done
that make us sound even remotely similar in our work, it is totally
different, I have no role in Ping and Jeff's role in DAS was to do
what I wanted and what I asked him to do as a player not his personal
taste as he would in his own projects so I doubt either of us would
agree with your assessment nor do I believe would any DAS or Ping
fan, Ping does folk rock DAS does not, Nor would I venture to say
anyone would see anything in common between Ping and the Goth Rock
DAS does. I mean it's like saying a Yugo and a Rolls Royce are the
same because they are both cars. Outside of the fact both DAS and
Ping projects involve music they otherwise have nothing in common
at all. Save for one song for DAS that we co-wrote they are written
by two totally different people, They have nothing in common lyrically
or stylistically outside of Jeff playing on both and nothing he did
in Ping or DAS sounds anything like the other project, And I think
Jeff has a great voice and uses it well in his work of course you
are entitled to your opinion but to imply Jeff can't sing is a cheap
shot at best and out and out mean at worst. Beside, the statement
is factually incorrect in light of the reality of the situation. But
hey what do I know I'm just some guy in a band ...
whole Goth thing ... what is it all about?
Brian: Oh just
another label people toss out so they can hold the preconceived notions
Jevon: Was it just a label
that more or less fit, or did you set out to fit the mold?
Brian: Well the
father of Christian Goth label was applied to DAS and me by the late
Roz Williams of Christian Death when he heard our stuff back in the
day; I'm not one for labels… DAS sounds like it does because that
is what I was doing as an artist at the point in time whichever project
was recorded and when it's finished I walk away from it. I don't really
care what people call it, when I use the term Goth it's simply because
it seem to be in most peoples glossary not because I agree with it.
That said there are very dark elements to my DAS recordings I have
a low vow voice so I'm sure that adds to the label, But I have heard
others do DAS songs and some of them are borderline pop songs stylistically,
I guess it has do with what you grew up around to a lot of people,
deep voice = means dark, to a little old lady in Nashville It's not
considered dark at all because they were raised on Tennessee Ernie
Ford or Bing Crosby, Johnny Cash and Frankie Lane, To me the father
of Goth Vocals in the modern era would be Neil Diamond yet I doubt
you would fine anyone who considers him a Goth artist But he was perhaps
the most obvious singer who would go for the low note at the end of
a line instead of a high note, Hell even Elvis started doing that
once Neil had a few hits that way, I also think the ever-overrated
Jim Morrison had a lot to do with deep voices somehow being consider
dark, either way, that is the perception these days so I'll live with.
I also think because I do use a lot of drama and dynamics in my style
of singing it is hard for people to label unless they grew up listening
to old Broadway musicals, when I do a song I always think of it as
a story or soundtrack to an unwritten film, I really care more about
turning a phrase and song craft as being of the utmost importance,
I'm a storyteller and an actor playing the role of the singer/Artist
in DAS. So in that sense we are dark romantic and at times dreamy
sounding and yet out of the blue when we do the harder stuff will
hit you like a truck because of my punk rock Alice Cooper and 70's
glam rock roots that I grew up hearing pre-punk, toss in the Bowie-Ronson-
Ian Hunter-T-Rex-Lou Reed-Iggy Pop and my never ending love for Roxy
music and the music of the early eighties and I think it a pretty
easy to follow the map of why we are such a interesting hybrid of
songs and style.
Jevon: Is there any truth to
the rumour that you're trying to buy the Munster's old hot rod off of
Hired guns. Over the years
you've wrangled some pretty impressive talent to work on your terms
- how do you approach the studio versus the studio?
Brian: I'll assume
you mean the approach between live and the studio, in the studio I
just boss around really talented people who know my talents and trust
me I like to have a very solid frame work of what I want to do and
as I add players and their talents to my ideas I will drag them into
my vision of what a work should sound like or I may just take them
down a rabbit hole in the spur of the moment if I get and idea and
run with, that either works or it doesn't, for everything I love that
turns into a magic moment there is also some parts I have put in I've
hated myself for adding, the up side is once I put a album in the
can I walk away from it. Of course now DAS is starting to play live
full time I have to visit the songs all over again, some I love others
have things I now would do very differently but in the live set I
can always make changes to the songs and the set list while the cd
are sort of lock in digital media so the key is to entertain my audience
and enjoy it myself. Yes it's my job but hey I want to enjoy what
I do… When I work with people like Mike Roe, and the seven's or Derri,
Steve & Dan the choir guys that is always fun, what I have had the
a lot of fun with is just doing DAS at some big festival without rehearsing
at all and letting it fly. Anyone who has seen a DAS Cornerstone set
can tell you it's always interesting I won't say it's great or terrible
but it always is memorable, without artist trust it could never happen
but I stand on the shoulders of giants and they never get to just
let it go in their own bands in DAS the moment is more important than
any career implications so we are free to go anyway we like and not
care beyond let put on a show kiddies.
Jevon: Mary Anne, Ginger, or
Brian: Mary Anne
Jevon: If Ted DiBiase approached
you to take part in a Christian wrestling event would you take a chair
shot in the head for Christ?
Brian: Just the
concept repulses me, sort of like crack whores for Christ, some concepts
for exploiting Jesus are simply evil.
Jevon: Is there any truth
to the rumour that you're a closet Celine Dion fan?
stand her stuff or that lame song from Titanic, twenty minutes of
that flick and I was rooting for the iceberg.
Jevon: You're working on a
new album - what is it that drives your creative process? I mean, no
offence, but I'm pretty sure it's not the money.
Brian: Hey the
money don't suck but No I have been very lucky to get to do what I
do with very talented people and was simply doing the right thing
at the right time and people liked it, for me I just start with a
thought or a story in my head or maybe a melody and I sort of just
play with it for a while and either I see if it writes it's self or
if I should put it in the idea section of my brain for further work
at a later time or maybe program it out on the old G-5 to see what
comes of it, most of the time I seem to get the whole song at once
and just keep reworking it till I happy and then I walk away from
it for a few weeks and check it out later to see if I still like it
or if it worth doing. Most of the time in the studio is just seeing
where the song takes itself and following that course. By the time
I bring in other player it is at the point of me just telling them
what parts I want them to play and capturing that performance, which
is where the magic happens, I can give Derri, Mike Roe and Jeff the
same exact part and get totally different results on style and feel
or texture. At that point I can pick one or blend them all into one
part or track. Every level offers a whole new world of choices and
options to explore and I try to simply find the best of many versions
to complete my vision of the song. So I while I openly admit I can
stand on the shoulders of musical giants they are standing on the
floor and foundation I built under them.
Jevon: What's playing at the
moment in your CD player?
Brian: The Choir
Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen which is a brilliant masterpiece.
Jevon: What song do you wish
speaking "Five Years" by David Bowie, Commercially anything
that sold 20 million or any U2 song. Best of Both worlds A Day In
The Life or Hey Jude by Lennon and Mc Cartney I will say narrowing
it down to only one tune is impossible because I listen to everything
how can I compare Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin to London Calling by
the Clash or Johnny Cash to Peter Gabriel there is simply too much
great music available to the world today I mean how do I compare Leonard
Cohen to Sinatra or Elvis or John Williams to Mike Roe… my life has
a very weird soundtrack.
Jevon: I'm about to open the
whole CCM can of worms, mainly because I'm too lazy to think up anything.
The one caveat I have is that you have to try and differentiate between
radio CCM, and the majority of the stuff that gets released with no
real radio support.
Brian: Sadly most
Christian music played on the radio is just something like a commercial
for Jesus simply to fill time in between commercials for Christian
chiropractors and to entertain bored and unhappy Christian housewives.
Jevon: If you could pick any
act to play with live who would it be? Personally I think you and John
Tesh (another big guy) would make an interesting double bill. I can
almost picture the two of you together at Red Rocks doing a special
for PBS and asking for donations (or perhaps TBN, you could pray your
way to financial freedom!)
Brian: Billy Graham,
Alice Cooper or U2
Jevon: Prints of Darkness
- I'll admit it's not an album in my collection, but I get notes from
people fairly often telling me it's a killer album (maybe I should buy
a copy, know anyone who could get me a deal?). I heard a couple of tracks,
and the Christmas song was wicked. Are you ever surprised at the shelf
this project seems to have?
Brian: Well anytime
something takes on a life of it's own you kind of have to sit back
and enjoy the ride, I really don't view it in a success or failure
mode I just see it as this is what I do and you can take it or leave
it, But something about certain records or a song does appeal to people
on a universal level and you catch a break that keeps it alive and
on Prints I guess I caught one of those breaks as it's has never stopped
being in demand. In fact we just recut a new version of "Christmas"
that will be out this fall on a compilation for Psychoacoustix.called
"Shadows of Christmas" that we are real happy with, I recorded
it with L. Ron Jeremy of Frankenstein and who has been in some of
my all time favorite bands since he was a kid in the whole LA Goth-punk
scene. He and Steve of Frankenstein did a great job playing and I
will pretty much be working with them in the future for the new DAS
Jevon: If you were able to
clear up one misconception people who don't know you have about you,
what would it be?
Brian: That I'm
a total nice guy or a complete asshole, both are wrong I'm just another
idiot in a band stumbling toward the light in a dark world.
Jevon: What's in the future
for Dead Artist Syndrome?
releases and just playing club it's a lot more fun than the big rock
shows we have done in the past I'd rather play for a hundred people
who are into the music we do than 2000 where a lot of them are just
waiting for the next band in the old festival mix to hit the stage.
We are getting incredible mainstream press and attention and we will
continue along that path as far as it goes. Jeremy and I plan to start
work on the new DAS project Kissing Strangers in a little bit
here we start recording yet again. Also nailing a better mainstream
deal for DAS in the US and Europe and a bunch of live gigs.
Jevon: Well, I think that's
about it ... I think I've pretty much run out of wind, and I don't want
you to think I'm totally unprofessional. Wait, unprofessional would
be to introduce potty humour into a serious interview with a serious
musician. Brian, do you ever pull your own finger to see what happens?
There, I've officially overstayed
my welcome. Once again thanks to Mister Brian Healy for taking time
away from his busy schedule to play the home version of "Interview with
a professional." Visit the official DAS site and learn more for yourself.
Jevon the Tall