Sunday 30 April 2017

An Interview With DUSTRIDER

Dustrider are an Instrumental Stoner Metal band from Italy who will be releasing their debut album – Event Horizon in May 2017. Newly signed to Argonauta Records (The busiest label currently out there), this hard-rocking trio bring something different to the realm of Instrumental Stoner Metal.

As their debut album has a different kind of sound. I've heard the album from the rough stages to the finished product and I can say it's an exciting take on all things Stoner Metal.

I wanted to find more about Dustrider and it helps that Bruno Bellisario (Lead Guitars) writes for Outlaws Of The Sun. I asked Bruno and the rest of the band kindly agreed to do this interview. Check it out.

Hi guys. How are things with you today.

Dustrider: Hi Steve! It's all about swinging an thanks for this interview!

Can you give a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

Dustrider: Well....The story starts in late 2014 when me (Bruno) and Francesco were seated to eat a pizza and talking about the stoner/doom metal scene and, almost for gaming, we said: ‘Why do not we set up a group?’ That said, the following weekend we were in our first rehearsal room with Andrea. The real challenge would be to collimate our personalities ... well ... I guess we are succeeding, day after day. This is our genesis, like many other bands, I mean...sitting in front of a beer and talking about the music we like and how we could give a contribution to that.

How would you describe your overall sound.

Dustrider: Good question Steve... How can we define our sound? You know, in recent years the scene has radically changed. Dynamics, new technologies and the desire to express themselves have changed dramatically the distances between "strumming" into a room and producing (often bad) an album. This is not necessarily a bad one, but certainly has radically changed the perception of music. Having an original sound today is really, really hard. 

The only solution is to diversify. Listen as much music as possible and do not necessarily follow the dictates of a musical genre. would we describe our sound? For some aspect is very rough and scratchy, which is typical of Southern Rock influences. Someone (our good pale Frazer Jones) has defined us as 'Hawkwind that meets Colour Haze'. We can not tell you if it is true, but it is definitely a definition that we accept in good faith! (AHAHAHA!).

We are here to talk about your debut album. What can people expect from the album.

Dustrider: Well. We think that Event Horizon can be defined as the natural evolution of what is our concept of making music, a road already undertaken with Agartha, the single we released late next year and that wanted to be the prelude to the album that would come out of them shortly (but this is another story we speak later). In Event Horizon we put all our desire to create a product that was stoner but not necessarily like many others. 

We have given ample room for the composition (at least we hope), trying to join our stoner/doom side, made of lowered tuning and valve saturation, with more metal dynamics seasoned by a good dose of ambient effects, to give that psychedelic touch that we like so much. Definitively, Event Horizon is a instrumental/stoner album over which we have tried to discard all different kind of music we love.

What influenced you all when recording the album.

Dustrider: Before starting the recording sessions of Event Horizon, we were really worried about the timing, since a label has its own (right) time-line. For people who, like us, are forced to divide between everyday work and the most artistic aspects of their lives, all becomes more complicated. Time and money, unfortunately, become the main variables. Sometimes it can be a stimulus, sometimes an impediment. 

In our case, we were more than lucky to find along our path a comprehensive label-head (Gero) and Matteo (guitarist of MrBison) with his Blotch Studio, which contributed enormously to the good performance of the record. All about the sound, recording, editing and mixing were taken care of by Matteo alone, helping us where the fatigue and rushing pace of recording sessions took over.

The thing that I have been impressed with Dustrider is your work-rate. As you kindly let me listen to the rough demos back in Feb/March 17 time. You recorded the album quite quickly and now it's being released in May 2017. How did you work that quickly and what were the reasons why. Not that I was expecting a Tool-style length for your debut album.

Dustrider: Ahahaha! Love such comparison with TOOL, who have now become a joke! Seriously, there is no secret behind the recording of the album in such a short time. Be clear .... and here we go back to the previous answer, time and money were, also in this case, the key variables of the whole affair. When we released Agartha in May 2015, it was our intention to go ahead and arrive in the Autumn at the publication of what at that time it was supposed to be Astrosphere, our debut album. So, we were already working on creating new tracks. 

At the moment we entered the Argonauta roster we sat down at the table, we felt with the label and decided that, as our habit, things should be done slowly with our times, without rush. So, when we entered in Matteo's studio was a relative (if so can be said) walk, considering that we had so many months to try new songs and bring them to the studio.

The album is being released on Argonauta Records. How did that come about. Did you have any offers from other labels.

Dustrider: The genesis of our collaboration with Gero at Argonauta Records was particular. Sooner or later, arrives always for a band that moment when you want to make the ‘jump’. So, many begin almost compulsively firing in the pile to contact this or that label, hoping to have at least an answer. We made a different choice. We personally picked up a (very) narrower set of labels and asked for advice to a small but trustworthy number of friends in the music industry to understand how best to address our requests. The funny thing was that many of them told us: “You should try with Gero ad Argonauta Records”. At the end we said that probably this Gero could really be interested in us ... you know the rest of the story.

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group participation or down to one individual.

Dustrider: Our song-writing approach is absolutely collective. Probably because we don’t have a singer! (Aahahah!). We're a creative jam band, so every song has had a spontaneous development based on improvisation. Obviously, the parties that did not go straight away had to be reasoned and adjusted afterwards, after several trials. Our songs always start from a cue or intuition of the moment, which can be mine (Bruno), Francesco or Andrea ... no matter. 

We take these fragments and slowly we begin to model the song according to our own personal vision of music. We do not hide that it was a difficult journey, especially at the beginning when a particular intimacy has not yet formed. We surely suffered our very different musical personalities, but we have always been motivated and, today, we can say that the path started is definitely a journey from which we will never go back.

What influences you when writing music.

Dustrider: Well, from a certain point of view, we are lucky enough to have personal tastes that are based on a common vision of music, but fundamentally different. The beauty is just this diversification. Our personal music tastes span from Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Black Sabbath to ZZ Top, Thin Lizzy, Danzig, Savatage, Bathory. Fortunately, we have jobs that allow us to listen to a lot of music all day long. Anyway, during rehearsals our personal idiosyncrasies emerge, of course. 

So it may happen that I (Bruno) can fix me on a typically stoner/doom/sludge riffage, while maybe Andrea or Francesco can deviate the song's throw to a different type of composition. The same applies to reversed parts. In short, what is most influencing the writing of the songs is, in the end, ourselves.

Are you all involved with different musical projects or is Dustrider your main band.

Dustrider: Dustrider are the only band for both me (Bruno) and Andrea. We don’t have enough time for other projects and, after all, that’s fine. For what concern Francesco he is involved in several different projects, some already started and satisfactory (Riti Occulti and Jarman), others are still embryonic but will soon be heard. Stylistically, every project Francesco is involved is very different and this represents a big challenge.

What is your musical setup when performing or recording live. Is it an advanced setup or a basis setup.

Dustrider: We like to think about our sound as always evolving. Andrea uses as main instrument a Dean Bass through a digital Boss effects and a vintage Marvin by Mack bass head, a glorious Italian company that had all the cards in place to compete with more well-known brands, coupled with a 2x15 cabinet. Francesco a mixed setup, keeping the drum almost essential, although he likes keeping a minimum of variety of the plates. The sore notes come with the guitar (AHAHAH). We all know that guitarists are the most restless about sound. It is always on the lookout for perfection, which will never come, of course. Over the years I (Bruno) have literally collected pedals, heads and cabinets.

Now the setup has become more or less minimal. I use a Yamaha Revstar RS502 as the main instrument and an Epiphone Les Paul Limited Edition when I want to give more boost in some songs. I use a modified version of the old OD-1 Boss and a Big Muff for distortions, while for the ambient effects the classic chorus, flanger, phaser and a Memory Man clone. Of course, a wha. As guitar head I use a Laney AOR Pro Tube Lead (that of Matt Pike in Dragonaut's video, to understand), coupled with a Marshall JCM 800 Lead 1960 with 4 Greenback . In general, what we can say is that the care we hold in the sound is designed to achieve reproducible results in the live context.

Instrumental Stoner Rock bands seems to be one of the most popular things for bands to become within the Stoner Rock genre. How hard is it to stand-out from the crowd. Or do you not worry about things like that.

Dustrider: It’s very, very hard. Today, in Italy as well as in other countries, there are a lot of incredible bands, both instrumental and not. Being able to propose a viable alternative in a highly influenced genre such as stoner, doom or any kind of 60-70 blues and hard rock-based genre is difficult. Today, many bands take care of few aspects, often related with "sound". This or that kind of sound is chanted because it "does more Sleep" or "Black Sabbath". 

Let us mean, we absolutely do not think to have achieved any kind of originality in our music. What we can do is try to evolve in this path and to propose compositional alternatives and even sound in our music. We still prefer some execution imperfection in a more original context, than the precision of a track that has been heard and felt.

We all know the Italian Stoner Rock/Metal scene has provided the world with many great bands over the years. How is the Doom/Stoner scene perceived in Italy. Is there a scene or community for you to perform regular or make contact with other bands.

Dustrider: The Italian Stoner Rock/Metal scene is absolutely amazing. Day after day we discover new artists and new bands that literally would break the ass of much more affirmed bands. The Italian underground scene is by no means one of the most creative we ever heard for the stoner/doom/metal genre. The perception that you have is definitely that of a large family, with its merits and its defects but, undoubtedly, a family. From our personal point of view, any other band is not a rival. Likewise, a label is not worth the other. 

There are choices that concern the individual, good or bad they are. Everyone engages their lives, often embarrassed and at the limit of sustainability, to support a project, an idea of music. This cannot go in second order. We received a lot of help by other bands to play live and, as soon as possible, we offer help. It is a reciprocal exchange not only of favours but also of experiences.

Do you perform many local gigs or do you have to travel further afield.

Dustrider: So far, we have not played so much as we would have liked. Playing in Italy is becoming increasingly difficult. Many venues close. Physically, the places where underground bands can play in appropriate contexts and with a minimum guaranteed repayment run out. It is true that there are as many beautiful realities set up by collective or simple groups of people who do not give up in front of the musical impoverishment of the country. From the very beginning, we were lucky. We met with exceptional people right away, which made us play in unthinkable contexts and bands until last year. 

So far it has been local contexts, but in May, we will bring Event Horizon around in three dates that will see Rome, Vercelli and Milan as protagonists. Certainly, one of the most beautiful things we could hope for is the ability to play abroad or at festivals. We will work hard to make this happen.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

Dustrider: Well ... First of all, we would like to thank those who, in their small, support us day after day. It's a very difficult time for music in general, and to be able to emerge with a proposal as ours will be arduous. But for now, we are delighted to seize the challenge and take all the necessary steps to make our claim. Wherever you are, thanks for your warm support. We look forward to meet so many enthusiastic people in this journey.

Well guys, thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album.

Dustrider: Thanks to you Steve! It was an honour, as well as a pleasure!

Words by Steve Howe and Dustrider

Thanks to Barbara at NeeCee Agency for arranging this interview. Thanks to Dustrider for taking the time out to doing the interview. Event Horizon will be available to buy via Argonauta Records on CD/DD from May 19th 2017.