Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Sunday Conversation with Dimaension X

Avante-garde metal, progressive metal, symphonic doom metal. All of these are terms that could be used to describe the mountain of music created by the one man metal destroyer, Dimaension X. Known as Dave to his wife, we brought Dimaension in to the Ripple office and plopped him down on our red leather couch for a Sunday spot of tea, some crumpets and some doom metal. And just as the good man says in this interview, his heart is in his music, not money, so all of his albums are available for free download on his myspace page.

Is this a great world we live in, or what?

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever hear Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I looked at music, what it could sound like, how it could make me feel?

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

3rd Grade - a friend of mine brought his older brother’s Black Sabbath “Paranoid” album to school. We didn’t like the music, but we played the introduction to “Iron Man” over and over and over - ya’ know, the part with the heavy, spooky footsteps, then the “robot voice” goes, “IIIIIIIIII AAAAMMMMM IIIIRRRROOOONNNN MAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaannnnn…..”
To an eight-year old, THAT was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. I begged my parents to by me the album - and they DID! I have never been the same.

And that album is part of my genetic structure. To this day, I can probably play the whole album by heart.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

- All kinds of ways. I mainly use my “Word/Phrase” Composition method, which is explained in my blog somewhere. I assign letters of words an equivalent musical note, and this may become a bassline, a chord progression, or a chord itself. This just gives me odd combinations of musical notes that I might not think of, and the chords don’t always make sense. The point is to “make” them make sense. It’s all about how you play the notes.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Blogs like The Ripple Effect have introduced me to so many different types of music that I would never find on my own. Hearing a new band usually gets the juices flowing. I also love Frank Zappa, and listening to his stuff almost always sparks new ideas. I read a lot of music reviews, sites like Transcending the Mundane, Chronicles of Chaos, Satan Stole My Teddybear, and a few others are always good.

Check out a site called Avant Garde Metal. Great, interesting stuff.

Oh, music and recording forums where you can post your own music. There’s always other real talented people posting their own music that inspires me to be better.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

Actually, “avantgarde-metal” is pretty good, … experimental instru-metal?? Progressive Metal??

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

I want them to feel like they are going on a journey. I want my music to start somewhere and take you someplace else. I want it to inspire them to want to play music.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

I don’t ever intend to make a penny. I play what I want, when I want to. If I don’t feel like it, I may not touch my guitars or instruments for months at a time. Record labels have deadlines and commitments. So do bands. I have none. To paraphrase the incredible Mr. Robert Fripp, I will play Dimaension X music when it needs to be played.

Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?

Hopefully better and more interesting. Perhaps not quite as “metal” as time goes on, but I still love the sound of a big, distorted electric guitar, and interesting, complex drumming. Maybe more fusiony, but not as “wimpy” as John McLaughlin has turned out to be. Sorry John, I love ya, but what happened to that incredible tone?

What makes a great song?

If my wife is humming my music it must be pretty good for her to even remember it. Though I probably can’t hum much Allan Holdsworth, but I love just about everything by him. Dunno. You just hear it and it stays with you (in a good way).

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

We’re going back about thirty years now. An acoustic guitar with new steel strings - I was just hitting the low E right near the bridge, letting it ring, then hit an F, then the F#, then back down to F. It just sounded so cool, with my ear pressed to the vibrating guitar body.

In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

I guess I don't really think of it that way - if a riff or beat is in my head, I just try to find a way to play it, whether it is complex or simple. Which is dangerous, because I can think of very complex things, but I can only play with a limited ability. This is where MIDI programming is a HUGE help. I get frustrated when I can't play my own ideas. I had to heavily edit a lot of the sections on my most recent album ("1st iZ LaZt" - just posted the other day) because I couldn't play the guitar parts that I imagined.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

I think I am really very proud of my cover of Frank Zappa's "Orange County Lumber Truck" (available at my Soundclick page, or at zappafan. net). Zappa's music is often very difficult to figure out, so when I actually figure out a song, it just feels like such a great accomplishment. Also, the whole "I Am Become Daevel" was such an achievement, too, finally bringing to life music that had been sitting there for seven years.

When you write a piece of music, do you consciously write from the mind set of being different than what's out there now?

I thinks that's the very reason why I create music in the first place - to do something that no one else does. Or to combine styles that no one else would even think of combining. To create something that only I seem to be hearing. Hopefully. I like to throw weird little covers of weird songs in the middle of an unexpected section. Like playing parts of "The Sound of Music" in the middle of a metal song.

Who today, writes great songs? Why?

craft some incredible melodies. Mike Akerfeldt has become one of my favorite artists. Their music is so complex, yet melodic. Heavy and soft. Great dynamics. Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree also has this incredible soft voice that spews forth some pretty disturbing lyrics over these incredible thick atmospheres. Ihshan (formerly of Emperor) also creates such heavy, yet beautiful music full of loud and soft parts. Variety is so important, yet is must be cohesive.

Do you pattern your writing style after that of your "heroes?"

For my "guitar-solo" songs, I definitely try to imagine what it would sound like if Sonny Sharrock were jamming with Frank Zappa's rhythm section. Just listen to one of my "solos", and I think you'll hear it. If my guitar style is patterned after anyone, it would be Sonny Sharrock. And my backing rhythms always feature a kind of complex, ostinato bassline, and very active drums, just like Zappa did.

For my other songs, I really don't know where they come from other than the odd combination of listening to Pat Metheny and Anaal Nathrakh consecutively.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

I can’t stand audiophiles who insist Vinyl is the only way to listen to music, scratches and all, because “that’s how it’s supposed to sound.” Sorry, the scratches mean it’s time to clean the needle and wipe the record off.

As far as CD or Digital, they’re both fine be me. I still buy CD’s. I don’t have an I-Pod yet. Someday. I do tend to listen to most music through headphones early on Saturday and Sunday mornings before the rest of the family wakes up.

What's the best record store in your town?

Newbury Comics. I love that place. They were the first place where I was actually able to find some of the music I was reading about, like Sigh, Krisiun, Emperor, … though I do download a lot of stuff, I still go to Newbury Comics to actually buy Cds of the bands I really like, and DVDs of live shows. My wife thinks I should have a small apartment in the store.

Thanks for taking the time with us, Dave. Now back to the basement with you. You have more music journeys to create!

This was fun. ThanX for the invite.


juck / ヨッシー said...

Your blog is very cool!!
Please link to my rock blog MRMR.

The Mad Hatter said...

Mad props to anyone who can "get" a Zappa song. You can ape the notes, but you can't ape the feel. "Orange County" is one of the few songs I love and can stomach from Weasels.

Dimaension X said...

Many ThanX again to my friends at the Ripple Effect -

Hey, MAD HATTER! I know what you mean about "Weasels" - "Orange County..." was such a nice little burst of melody compared to the rest of the album. Your review of the album at your blog is dead-on.

The Mad Hatter said...

Dimaension X,

Thanks. I try to keep it honest. Sometimes people think I'm bonkers and perhaps I do overdo it sometimes, but I feel justified in my distaste for Weasels. And I agree with you: "Orange County Lumber Truck" is vastly different than anything else on the album; I don't want to say it's better than "My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama" but it has a greater overall effect, I think.

Subash S L said...

Hey Guys at The Ripple Effect,

Dimaension X had commented on my blog when I reviewed Buckethead's albums "Monsters and Robots" and "Chicken Noodles". So nice of you to have taken the time to interview him on your blog. Thanks to Dimaension X for sharing his insights and experiences too.


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