Dreadversary are a four piece Southern California keyboard driven circus-core band. While that is a true statement, as many times as I repeat this true statement I cannot seem to shake the notion that Dreadversary is actually a four piece Southern California keyboard driven circus-core event! Why would I want to make such a wonky reclassification? Well, primarily because it just seems sort of corny to refer to Dreadversary as a mere "band" given how they are able to completely dismantle and reassemble their environment. That is, for the evening of Saturday, September 17th, Friar Tucks in Pomona, CA. -which left to it's own devices is just another bro-ski sports bar- was transformed into a magical sideshow chamber where if one is nimble enough to box step to an uptempo waltz they can do so. Of course, if one has just risen from their tomb and is likewise about as nimble as an elephant in matching cement tutu and ballet slippers then they can just drag their legs about in the best b-movie form they can channel because there is a song for that too. Ah, but what if one is a half starved hunger artist and sick of that annoying gig? Well, naturally they will be fed yellow moon pies from a green pail. Duh. And yes, there is a song for that as well. A pink parasol and mismatched war paint may or may not make an appearance, but hey, Dreadversary is all situational like that. Just go see them play for crying out loud in a green moon pie bucket!
After Dreadversary's fabulous set, frontman Skippy Spiral took the time to answer a few of my questions. Here's what transpired:
Can you introduce yourself to the Punk Globe readers and tell us about Dreadversary?
Skippy Spiral- My real name is Nick Ganas but as a performer I sometimes go by Skippy Spiral. I've been involved with various bands for the last 12 years. For the past 2 years I've been playing vox & keyboards for DREADVERSARY.
I was living up in Portland in the summer of 2009, playing keys & occasional back up vocals with a band up there, when I got a call one night from my old friend, Barry. We had started our first band together in high school & have been collaborating musically on & off ever since. He was wondering if I wanted to play keys with a new project that night at a backyard party, which was located in the greater Los Angeles area. I told him I would love to but that I was more or less a thousand miles away! We hadn't touched base in a while & he didn't know I was living in Portland at the time, but I was planning on returning to the LA area soon. He told me to let him know when I was back in town so I could come to there practice & play some keys.
A few weeks later, I was back in LA & I met up with the band members at the time to jam. I hit the ground running, trying to learn the 3 or 4 songs that they had at the time. I was only playing keys thus far & the singer was really struggling. We had all gone to the same high school he had never been in a band before. Despite being a great guy, over the course of the next few practices, there was concern over his singing. He was unable to show up one time & I offered to step in & sing along with playing the keys. I remember the guys liking it a lot. Next thing you know I'm singing, too. Our friend left the band with no hard feelings. We continued to write new material & Barry & I even pieced together some old riffs we used to play to develop new songs. We had a solid 7 songs when our drummer realized his arduous work schedule was not going to allow him to play in the band anymore. Fortunately, we knew another drummer, Christopher, who had also gone to high school with us! He picked up the songs quickly & we were itching to play in front of a crowd. We played our first show in the Autumn of 2010, around a year ago now.
Punk Globe- I really love both the music you cats make and the environment you create. It's like industrial circus core with silent film aesthetics & slap stick antics. Can you tell the readers a bit about Corpsey, The Moonpies, and any other characters or narratives that you feel have a strong presence in in shaping your performances?
Skippy Spiral- I've always loved the theatrics & aesthetics behind the cabaret & vaudeville acts of the early 20th century. I'm also a huge fan of silent films as well. I guess when DREADVERSARY was developing it's sound we began to visualize something that resembled a Brechtian performance, something beyond the music that the audience could interact with. At the end of the day we realized that our music had modern sounds but also something that has been around for quite some time.
Corpsey is a zombie clown who is hated & feared, who's appearance is terrible to behold & who's voice is unintelligible, except of course for the cliche zombie line "Brains...!" haha. At the end of the day though you really don't know whether he has hostile intentions or not. I suppose I was inspired, like with the song "Crawling Chaos" by the works of horror writer H.P Lovecraft. He has a great short story called "The Outsider" which has a similar character. I'm sure Shelley's "Frankenstein" character was another influence for Corpsey. I have no shame in admitting that my ideas aren't particularly original. I mean who's are nowadays? It seems one of the only ways I have found to be different is to combine what has been done in the past in a way that nobody has thought of yet. An artistic alchemy of sorts. Even then some kid in Topeka, Kansas probably beat you to it by a week! haha!
The "Moonpie" title for that song was our drummer Christopher's idea. So was the idea to throw out Moonpies during the show. He delivers cookies & snacks so he came up with the idea to print our band name on a bunch of Moonpies. It's a song that we half joke will never be fully completed. I went through about half a dozen title & lyric changes for that song before he came up with that. It works great because the song is pretty palindromic.
I have come to identify our band name as oneself, one's own worse enemy & deepest fears. It is our own inhibitions that prevent us from what we really wish to do, & in that way I think people are their own worse enemy. It is the adversary within that I dread the most.
So most of the narratives & characters have that theme to a degree. Whether the song is centered on social commentary, farce, death, sexuality, influenced by literature, or just good ole fashion absurdism. At the end of the day most of the lyrics attempt to convey a sense of introspection. The irony lies is that the performance is intended to be an extroverted expression, and just like with the range of human thought & emotions, it's all over the place! haha
What I find so compelling about circus/vaudeville culture is it's range of creativity & truly incredible use of the human imagination. The theatrics, music, and performances scream "Anything is possible!" I hope our music, despite it's dark lyrics & sound, has that message sprinkled in there amongst the gobblety gok.
Name 3 books you'd drag to a desert island.
Skippy Spiral- That's tough. A lot of books come to mind. Two books I will be rereading til I die are Burroughs "Naked Lunch" & McCluhan's "Understanding Media". But if those were not available I guess an anthology of poetry that contained everything from Baudelaire & Rimbaud to Ginsberg & Bukowski, I'm not sure if such a book exists. Something long winded to keep me occupied for a while like Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot", "Crime & Punishment" "The Brothers Karamazov" . But I would probably instead take a collection of Gogol or Kafka's short stories. At that point, due to insanity brought on by dehydration, hunger and claustrophobia, I would use a shaman spell book or ancient aboriginal guide book to escape the desert island. Or at least die trying. I'd probably only last about a week on the island! ha ha But I suppose if provisions were provided & I was comfortable, I would last a lot longer before going completely crazy. I do enjoy being alone.
Supposing you had a solar powered turntable, name 3 records you'd drag to a desert island.
Skippy Spiral- Another tough one. I'll probably cheat on this one too & name more than three. ha ha. I'll try not too, though. Some classical to listen to while reading my books, probably Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto. Something circusy to keep me manic like Tom Wait's "Rain Dogs" or Mr. Bungle's self titled debut album, & then Rudimentary Peni's "Cacophony" to motivate my escape. I would break one of these vinyls & take a shard with me while I wandered the desert to escape as a weapon to commit suicide with if the thirst became too excruciating.
Ya'll put on such a great show tonight. Do you have a place on the inter webs where people can check for show dates, updates and such?
Yeah. We have a website at: http://dreadversary.weebly.com/
where you can also listen to some demo tracks. Keep in mind they are only demo tracks & not the versions that will be on our album. The one we manage the most often though & will help fans find our next gig is on our Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dreadversary/131435593588005
If you want to check out some of our previous performances, just search "Dreadversary" on you tube.
Punk Globe- Funny. I would totally take Understanding Media to a desert island too and you know, it would all finally make sense. And it would be completely irrelevant. What would Marshall say about that?
Skippy Spiral- I think that McLuhan would have been right at home on a desert island. He had a few spells of over stimulation in major metropolitan cities or when exposed to too much modern media & would always flee to nature in order to calm down. Nature in itself is the oldest of mediums & I think due to technology & "progress", it's message is often forgotten or ignored. Unfortunately, to it's own demise. Having that book there would also allow me to recall a time in my life when I had access to an excess of information & technology. I'm probably sounding like a pretentious jerk off that thinks he knows what he's talking about. I feel like any second Woody Allen is going to interrupt me & tell me that I know nothing about Marshall McLuhan.
Ha! Such a great show tonight. Thanks again! Do you have any parting words for the Punk Globe readers?
Skippy Spiral- Thanks De, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, pursue your art & don't care what people think of you. Life's a struggle & when it seems like no one cares or you feel like you're failing, remind yourself that you're doing what you love. When you're going crazy because you can't understand why the world is so fucked up & why people do what they do, just remember what P.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute". If you're not happy with the life you have, know that it's never too late to change it, you can always run away with the circus.