Last month I asked our new staff writer/photographer Todd Sipes to review the Dredg show at San Francisco’s historic Great American Music Hall. Todd took upon himself to not only take great pictures of the show but interview lead singer Gavin Hayes before they took the stage that night. The band is currently riding the waves of their most daring and audacious album to date and Todd was able to get Gavin’s thoughts on the reception of the new album, the future of the band, and performing acoustically.
Todd: New album is awesome; a great new direction for dredg. How have fans been reacting to the songs live?
Gavin: Thank you. A lot of ‘em hate it, a lot of ‘em love it. Same old story. I think there’s a little more shit-talking on this record than usual, but, whatever, I expected it. I don’t know why people are surprised, it’s like, dredg working with Dan the Automator and it’s exactly what it sounds like to me, at least.
Todd: Anytime you have some kind of progression like that, some fans seem to be pretty pissed off.
Gavin: Yeah. We needed to do something different or we wouldn’t have done another record, at least right away. We put out Pariah and the last thing we wanted to do was regurgitate another record we’ve made in the past.
Todd: Or try to make El Cielo 2…
Gavin: Yeah, we don’t want to do that, we want to keep moving forward.
Todd: Do you think that albums to come, you’ll continue veering off in new directions or doing a hybrid of previous albums?
Gavin: It’ll be a hybrid. I think most of them are in one way or another. We’ll always revert back a little bit here and there. There will always be elements of progression, or at least in our eyes, progression.
Todd: A lot of fans love your acoustic take on songs (like Bug Eyes and Information,) how do you go about reworking the songs into acoustic versions? I know that for the most part, you pretty much stay the same but just more mellow tuned, but is it something where you have to go back in the studio and completely rework the song or do you just wing it?
Gavin: No, we just wing it. We’ve been trying to write songs that transpose well to acoustic format because to us, and a lot of people, I think that’s the purist form of a song and it’s important that the song translates well in an acoustic way. I think we choose to do songs that work well when it comes to playing acoustic. I can sing any of them in that way but it’s more up to Mark and how it works on guitar and if it’s more of a lead-y thing, it isn’t necessarily the greatest thing but he can find chords and roll with it.
Todd: Do ever see dredg doing entirely acoustic album or tour?
Gavin: Maybe! We’ve done some acoustic shows so it’s not definite but it’s possible, yeah.
Todd: I actually went to one of your acoustic shows when Live at the Fillmore came out, I loved the whole down-tuned feel to it.
Gavin: I like it. As a vocalist, you can hear everything and there aren’t crash cymbals in your ears and blaring amps and stuff. I mean, I like rock music and everything but for being able to hear and sing…it helps.
Todd: When you’re out on the road, what are some of things you guys do in your down time?
Gavin: Drive. Honestly, if we’re not in a bus…we kinda go back and forth between bus and driving depending on the tour. We try and avoid it because it’s a lot of money and we’re broke. It helps to rough it sometimes and get the van and trailer. But yeah, not much man. A lot of our days off are long, long drives, that usually how it’s routed.
Todd: This is the last day of your tour, right?
Gavin: It is, yeah. We’re doing a one off in L.A. on the 19th and then going back overseas to Europe.
Todd: Are those more arena/festival-type shows?
Gavin: No, these are headliners. We’re doing a lot of markets we haven’t played before like Istanbul and St. Petersburg.
Todd: That’ll be great; you guys typically get a great response overseas especially in places like Germany from what I’ve seen…
Gavin: Yeah, yeah, we’re doing Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Istanbul which we’ve received tons of fan mail. There’s like a huge dredg fan club in Turkey, so they’re expecting a lot of people at the show. I don’t know what to expect but from the attention we get from that country, I don’t know what it is. Maybe a few people spear-headed it and it kinda snowballed from there, I don’t know.
Todd: Is that going to be for the rest of the year, just tour out and then take a break?
Gavin: Yeah, we’re pretty much done after that. That goes into October and then we’re going to take the winter off this year and then Australia early next year and then I don’t know after that.
Todd: Sounds good, I’ve got just got a couple more easy ones for you. What’s your personal favorite song to play live?
Gavin: On this tour it’s been Down Without a Fight because its chill. It’s kinda like a “break” song ‘cause I get to sing low-register and kick back. I’m old so I like the hangout songs. I also like the lyrics; I think it’s a good song, a well-written song. It’s one of those songs that we performed acoustic for radio in Germany. We did that song and The Thought of Losing You acoustic. It was just on the spot but it worked really well, it was such a different feeling obviously without rhythm stuff, but it was cool.
Todd: Are they any bands that you’ve been listening to in particular lately?
Gavin: Yeah, the new Subtract record I like a lot. Let me take a look here, (pulls out iPhone) I always draw a blank. I’ve been listening to that record a lot, I just got it and it’s really good. It’s really diverse and there’s a lot of stuff going on. I like When Saints Go Machine. It’s very Arthur Russell-esque. He’s, I believe, a Finnish guy, I think he’s just one dude who recorded it in his house. I like Arthur Russell’s stuff, it’s interesting, and it’s very reminiscent of that.
Todd: What bands have you seen or listened to that you’d like to tour with in the future?
Gavin: I’d love to tour with Elbow. I think they’re such an amazing band. They do extremely well in the UK, I wish they were doing better over here. I mean, they don’t do bad, they probably play the same venues as us but they should be a lot bigger than they are. Maybe it’ll finally happen. It took Muse a long time but look at them now.
Todd: Thanks for your time, Gavin, have a great show tonight.
Gavin: Thanks, man.
Photo and Interview by Todd Sipes
dredg – Light Switch from The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion (2009)
dredg – The Tent from Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy (2011)