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Interview von: arne mit Dan, am: 03.04.2012 ]

Seit Sommer 2011 sind Bassist Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me), Walter Fancourt (Tenorsaxophon/Flöte) und Matt Lynch (Drums) als TRIOSCAPES unterwegs. Die Musiker bringen 70ies Fusion mit Progressive Rock, Psychedelic, Jazz und einer experimentellen Grundhaltung zusammen. Mit „Separate Realities“ erscheint das Debüt des Trios schon bald auf Metal Blade Records.


Musicscan: What's your self-understanding of Trioscapes - what does your band stand for? Please introduce yourself and the idea behind your band to our readers, please.

Trioscapes: What's going on guys, this is Dan from Trioscapes/Between the Buried and Me. Trioscapes is all about pushing boundaries and experimenting to the fullest. Having three people in a group gives you a lot of space to really be creative, finding new ways to fill space. In that regard, I kind of feel a closer connection with a band like Gentle Giant, where you have all these wild multi-instrumentalist constantly re-writing the way their songs were being presented and then having the live experience be something even more wild than you thought it would be on the record. We feel a deep connection with alot of the bands from the 70s, which we really feel like was the golden age of forward thinking bands creating really what I feel like will always be the bench mark, go to records. Whether it's Red, No Mystery, The Grand Wazoo, Bird of Fire, etc...these are records that will always be the first of their kind, and that's where we draw inspiration from.

Musicscan: The first thing people probably notice about Trioscapes is the absence of a singer. Was it always your intention to be an instrumental band?

Trioscapes: I would say that the thought never ever crossed our minds until I read that question haha. The group started by working on an arrangement of Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters", which is an instrumental song, and well...none of us sing at all, it was just an unspoken thing really. I think the focus was way more on being able to properly play this incredibly challenging music we were writing. For the three of us, it is easily the most brain consuming, physically demanding stuff we've ever played...but man it is just so fun!

Musicscan: A lot of people think that all music is better with vocals. The idea is that instrumental bands start at a deficit, having to try harder to keep the listener entertained and having to “compensate” for the tangible emotional connection a singer brings. As an instrumental band, how does Trioscapes approach its music so that the listener is not only entertained but emotionally invested?

Trioscapes: Well, I've got to say...if someone is going to write off music simply because it doesn't have a singer, this group is just not for you. Some people can't listen to jazz or classical music, and that runs deep through our veins. I studied in a classical program in college on the upright bass and I just feel like I've been surrounded by and involved in instrumental music in some capacity for as long as I can remember. Everyone has a different connection to music and interprets it in different ways. I usually hear something and am drawn to what the instruments are doing initially. With Trioscapes the real connection is the energy of the band. When people have a chance to see us live it won't be a matter of not having someone to sing along with. Walter (saxophone) and I face each other on stage and have Matt (drums) in our peripheral, and we are just raging and feeding off each other's energy and it really becomes this intense force. For as much love as we have for fusion and progressive rock, when you hear the full album you'll hear there's a much darker element that we can't hide. Maybe it's my roots in the hardcore scene, the inherent punk inside of Walter...I don't know, but I think there's a great connection people will have to the energy and sheer force live.

Musicscan: Is it liberating not having a singer somehow?

Trioscapes: I've always viewed the singer in a band as an instrument, adding another layer along with the instruments. I've been very fortuanate to work with two super talented singers (in BTBAM and ORBS) who are vastly different from each other but have the ability to take a song to a whole new level. So to me, it's like not having a keyboardist in our band. In my other band ORBS, our keyboardist Ashley takes songs to new heights and inspires me with parts I never in a million years would have written. In Trioscapes I have that same great sensation with having a saxophone and an absolutely manic drummer who uses auxilary midi pads as a part of his ensemble to really further things. So I don't really see having a singer as liberating or not liberating, we just don't have that one layer present in our music. Also, it's a littler harder naming songs when there aren't lyrics haha. But you just have to close your eyes and really focus in on the songs when you listen to them and what kind of weird things run through your mind while listening and then try to put it into words. I guess that's like writing lyrics?? Clearly I'm just an instrumentalist!

Musicscan: Where do you guys see the line drawn between progressing on what you do well, and completely offering a new direction or sound? Especially in the context of your band of course…

Trioscapes: This band is something completely new and different for all three of us. Walter's never been in a band that wrote really intense, heavy distorted stuff, Matt and I have never been in a band with a saxophone. The first time we were rehearsing and Walter broke out one of his John Zorn like shrieks, we were just dying! We'd only heard that kind of playing on albums before and man, we were just so excited. I think if people knew a song like "Blast Off" was something I composed the majority of, they might be inclined to be like ok I can see how in writing that he might have written this handful of BTBAM stuff, but it's so extremely different. To be able to know that I can just lay back for a whole verse and just play this grooving bass line and shut my brain off for a while and play the roll that a normal bassist might play is so great and refreshing. But then of course a few minutes later I'm not only building a loop of a bass line, but also stepping outside of what I've done before and ripping a distorted solo over top of it. It really gives people who've followed my playing with BTBAM over the years to see a whole new side of me. I look forward to seeing what we write in the future, I feel like whenever the three of us are in the same room together something new and wild is going to happen.

Musicscan: Do you think it is necessary to create a certain distance between you and the music in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality – how do you handle such questions?

Trioscapes: There is no distance whatsoever between myself and any of the music I'm ever involved with. I am head over heels, full-on 100% ontop of every beat, every every drum hit, every effect, everything. Especially the bands I get to do outside of BTBAM, it's like I become a part of everything, music or otherwise; t-shirts, cd artwork, show posters. I like being very hands on every step of the way, and I can't help but be completely absorbed in the music when it's happening. We definitely took a bit of time to reflect on the songs over the summer in between writing sessions to make sure the songs were perfect to our ears, that goes with any writing session really. I don't think I could ever do a session where everything just happens in the studio in a week or two and then that's it. I like capturing that initial spark, but the more familiar and the more comfortable I am with something the more my mind can wander and think of new ways to interpret a part.

Musicscan: What are you looking for in your songs? Do you think there are still genuinely new sounds to be discovered or can modern music basically be said to be a recombination of already existing forms and known elements?

Trioscapes: The kind of musician I am, and the kind that I generally surround myself with, are all forward thinking people who are hell bent on pushing themselves further and constantly becoming better techincal players and expanding your sound pallete. Whether that's listening to Indian classical music and trying to mimic the way a sitar plays and in turn trying to play with those wild legato slides on bass, or listening to some mind melting music like CAN and trying to make new sounds that aren't traditionally heard on your instrument (yes we use phaser on our saxophone!), there's always going to be an endless amount of possibilites. Constantly surrounding yourself with musicians thinking outside of the box, you'll never have a shortage of creative output, and that's what I thrive off of and what I look for in and group that I do.

Musicscan: A strong part of your sound is about experimentation. Of the songs you guys have recorded, which one do you feel crosses the most borders? What other borders, musically speaking, do you guys wanna knock down in future?

Trioscapes: Well, most people have only heard the tune "Blast Off", which is one of the most straight-forward song on the record. The arrangement is pretty easy to grasp even if there's wild stuff going on over top of it all. But once you get into the second track, "Separate Realities", be prepared for something completely new and different. That song was alot of fun to write, it's super abrasive and high energy and we envisioned all having kind of an eastern, Indian feel to it. But then there's a track on the record that Walter plays flute on for the whole thing while Matt is creating Bruford-esque sounds with his midi pads and I'm playing with looped soundscapes. So really, each song is a little experimentation and distortion of what the track before is, and I really like that. I'd love to be able to keep up that kind of approach in the future. Maybe in the future we'll write some bigger arrangements with fuller instrumentation, we really love the early Zappa records and maybe someday we'll do something like them.

Musicscan: How important is the improvisation factor to your music, and is it different when you enter a stage?

Trioscapes: Improvisation is the world that Walter comes from. He's been in this wild Afro-Beat band for the last few years, and their sets are largely built on improvisation. To him, it's just like having a conversation, he knows exactly how to emphasise whatever he's trying to get across and it's really impressive to me. I've never been fully comfortable in that world. When I was doing the bulk of my jazz studies in highschool and college, it was all mainly in a big band sense, and there's no room for rhythm section improvisation, and whenever I'd have a solo the Eddie Van Halen deep inside of me would take over haha. There's definitely recorded evidence of some really embarassing and hugely inappropriate solos back then, eesh. For Walter though, all of his solos are improvised. He'd do 5-10 takes of a solo in the studio and each would be vastly different. Somtimes he'd do the first one and we'd be like that's it!! He really thrives off the live situation though, feeling that energy, I know he felt a little weird in the studio capturing that. That's really one of the exciting things to me about playing live with this group, I'm finally comfortable enough with the material that during those solo sections I can really zero in on what Walter's playing and get super psyched on the new places he goes to. There's a few parts throughout the set that I improvise as well. In our version of "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters", I learned Jan Hamer's keyboard solo verbatim, but then extend it twice as long and improvise the second half. That's really fun and challenging, since the god damn song is in 19/16 and in an 11 bar phrase. John Mclaughlin is such an asshole haha. The best kind though, of course.

Musicscan: What are the feelings you get out of what you are doing with Trioscapes, and is there something you want the people / listeners to leave with?

Trioscapes: Trioscapes fills this place inside my soul that craves writing music that stands on its own instrumentally, having an outlet for alot of my more melodic groove oriented parts ("Blast Off" and the beginning of "Curse of the Ninth" had been around for a little while), and really having the chance to be inspired to write music that I never would have ever imagined on my own. The songs "wazzlejazzlebof" and "Gemini's Descent" came out of our last writing session in August and were both written and arranged on the spot, and it was such a cool experience. Our energy was just through the roof. I can't wait to write more music with these dudes!! First thing's first though, the album's coming out May 7th in Europe and the UK and May 8th in the USA, and then we intend to tour as much as we can. I want to fill in all the gaps in my Between the Buried and Me touring schedual with Trioscapes.

Musicscan: Are there specific aspects on Separate Realities that stand out in your mind, or aspects that have an inner meaning to you you would like to share with us?

Trioscapes: It's just a very honest record. It captured exactly where we were at as musicians this past summer, the recording is very bare bones, sometimes just bass in one ear and sax in the other, we just wanted to present it exactly as it would be live. We tried our best to make it feel like a jazz session record, even by emulating the old look of the Blue Note records. This is really important music to all of us and I'm really excited that it's almost time to share it with everyone!

Musicscan: How did the deal with Metal Blade come about, and were they sort of your first choice, or did it just sort of fall into place? To be honest: I wouldn’t expect releases like Separate Realities to be out on MB…

Trioscapes: Most people only see Metal Blade as the lable that puts out really intense, extreme music...obviously Cannibal Corpse is always going to come to mind. But one of the big things for BTBAM being interested in working with Metal Blade was the fact that they also put out prog rock bands like Spock's Beard and OSI, and a band like Astra who are one of my absolute favorite bands from the last 3 years and are straight from the 70s. Brian Slagel is a huge fan of progressive music, and so I thought I'd sent it to him to check out and he was really into it. I was surprised to find that other members of the staff were secret 70s fusion fans as well, so that was super exciting! The fact that it's something new and different for Metal Blade is exciting, we're getting them to try and expand the outlets they usually go to for promoting records, but also we'll be exposed to the places where they send their more extreme records too so hopefully our music will be reaching people on both ends of the spectrum that might not have heard it otherwise.

Musicscan: Do you care about fitting into a certain scene or genre?

Trioscapes: Haha obviously not! If that weren't apparent from my work with BTBAM and ORBS, then it should definitely come across with Trioscapes. Boundaries were meant to be crushed, and the only scene I care to be involved with is the one where people are lovers of forward thinking music.