1. Tell me a bit about the origin of Braindance, and how the band has evolved through the years.
As a young man putting off graduate school and the responsibility of a career in psychology, I met producer/guitarist Vora Vor and made a career of Braindance – writing material, developing lyrical concepts, and recording it all, some of which would appear two years later on the Shadows EP of 1994. Fear Itself followed in 1995, Redemption in 2001, and now, to coincide with the International Omelette Festival, comes Master of Disguise. Standard evolution – write songs, record songs, perform songs, write new songs, record new songs, perform new songs, write new songs...
2. Symbolism runs rampant through your work, so while this is usually a pretty standard question, I'm really curious what 'Braindance' means to you.
I'm going to assume that by symbolism, you're either asking about a) the album illustrations, b) the lyrical content, c) what Braindance 'symbolically' means to me, or d) all three...
Vora and I both grew up reading and collecting science fiction/fantasy novels and comics, and to this day, I'm a huge fan of comic art – the whole superheroes-wielding-magical-weaponry package, battling-evil-aliens-for-the-control-of-the-universe type thing. I've got enough reality in my life, so I make quite an effort to gravitate towards the other world, especially where Braindance is concerned. All of the album covers and inserts feature high-quality symbolic illustration by gifted artists, have symbolic themes running through and between them, and are symbolically most certainly related to the symbolic material contained symbolically within.
Lyrically, I believe in a good measure of ambiguity. Most Braindance songs are imported into a construct that is fantasy-based in setting. Naturally, the themes have specific meanings for me, but I try not to assign too many definitive conceptual values to the symbols in that construct, simply because it might translate differently for you. Insofar as everyone's experiences are different, so should their interpretations be. Whereas I might see a symbol representing despair and desolation, someone else might see a symbol communicating an egg salad sandwich.
Having said that, our music is still quite subjective. Along with wanting to produce music that represents a unique voice, along with wanting to push the limits of what is out there and what you've created for yourself, is the hope that this shit actually means something to you. That it defines at least a part of you. Behind the lyrical symbolism are meanings about real issues that have governed my life over the last few years. For me, Master of Disguise will be our lyrically darkest yet, and personally speaking, I'm hoping that there won't be one this dark ever again...
3. While you've rather consistently played live over the past few years, you haven't released an album since 2001, and there was a five-year gap between that and its precursor. Of course, you're not the only band to take breaks between albums, but is there any story behind these gaps?
Indeed there is a story – one that involves a time machine and a hopscotch-champion lobster with Parkinson's disease that is currently in discussions for a live action feature film.
4. You're due to release Master of Disguise in the fall. What's the official release date?
Before the end of time.
5. What can existing fans expect from MoD? How do you plan to lure in new ones?
Combine the sheer excitement of Swiss almond coffee ice cream with the danger of aged Manhattan clam chowder and you're still nowhere close. With regards to the material, we've taken everything that worked before and took it to the next level – production, performances, songwriting, lyrical imagery, artwork – everything has matured considerably. Joe ėSweetrot' Simko just finished the inside cover art for Master of Disguise, and I couldn't be more excited. In addition to the packaging, we still plan on luring in new fans with attractive spokesmodels, adorable company mascots and festive full-page magazine advertisements...
6. Do you have any touring plans in support of the new album?
We're sure to be headlining tremendously large and garish coliseums across the globe.
7. When I hear 'progressive darkwave', as you've labeled yourselves, I think Queensryche or Dream Theater meets Bauhaus or even Type O Negative. Surely you're asked to describe this a lot, but what does 'progressive darkwave' mean to you?
When we first started Braindance, we never really knew exactly what it was that we were doing in the sense of categorization. It was only after receiving press and response from the underground community that we came to be familiar with all of those little descriptive terms about music that vary from person to person like gothic, progressive, darkwave, industrial, epic, etc., etc., etc...In fact, I'm still not clear (and have yet to receive a satisfactory textbook explanation) on what those terms and their respective boundaries are. Perhaps if I had been clear on those terms and how they were supposed to be communicated musically, we'd be doing something completely different than
Braindance, something completely identifiable, and probably be more successful by this point.
Progressive Darkwave was simply a phrase that was engineered to save some time and simplify description. Humans, especially recently, like to have their information color-coded and labeled in bite-size chunks of easily understood descriptive boxes. It was a phrase that was created in lieu of explaining elements in our music that others needed to hear in order to work with it or understand it on whatever level. It was a phrase that hopefully would communicate dense programming, multi-layered composition, performance with a technical slant, distinct vocal melodies, and/or a lyrical content of a darker nature. It might be a phrase that fans of dark metal, ebm/electro, progressive metal, guitar-driven industrial, dark ambient, and dark house would understand. It would be a phrase that spoke of elements of goth, synthpop, darkwave, progressive trance, doom, vocal house, modern classical music mixed with enough pop sensibilities to make anyone nauseous.
With regards to comparisons, however, I've heard everything from Rammstein meets Paradise Lost meets Depeche Mode meets Queensryche meets Type O Negative meets Delerium meets Dream Theater meets Fear Factory meets Pink Floyd meets Sisters of Mercy meets KMFDM meets Hilary Duff. Some simply call it progressive darkwave, others call it doody.
8. Progressive Darkwave is also the name of your record label. How has preparing for an independent release affected the band in regards to creative control over the music as well as the ability to really get your name out there?
Progressive Darkwave Recordings was created simply as a business buffer for the band's activities. Out of necessity, we've had to learn production, engineering, publicity, promotion, and management as we went, because I believed that we owed it to ourselves to become recording artists. The underground fans, press, and radio have been always been exceedingly beneficent, whereas in the past the labels have had no clue what to do with us. Because what we do crosses a few different sub-genres, there seemed to be no ėniche' for us, even in the independent world, which prides itself on promoting new, exciting, underground music. Independent labels as well as majors have risk to contend with, and they've got to be sure that your music has succeeded in other realms – someone must have had one of you, and have done rather well with them. In the past, it seems we've always been too metal for goth labels, too goth for progressive metal labels, too progressive metal for industrial labels, too industrial for guitar-driven labels, too guitar-driven for dance labels, too dance for metal labels, etc., etc., etc...Hopefully, that's about to change...Until then, we retain full creative control over ourselves and hope to get the name out there by sending personalized croissants to every home across the globe...
9. Are there any plans to release any other projects other than Braindance under the Progressive Darkwave banner?
Yes. I've been trying to get in contact with Barry Manilow.
10. Back to the music... your compositions have a very classical, complex sound. What's your musical background – are you or Vora Vor classically trained?
Classically trained by the Gods themselves.
11. Many artists, especially in this scene, sometimes have difficulty striking the balance that you've managed between a visual aesthetic and the music. How important is the visual aspect of Braindance compared to the musical aspect, and how do you keep one from overwhelming the other?
The visual aspect in Braindance is not as important as the musical aspect, unless I happen to put on more weight than expected in a short period of time. To keep the visual aspect from overwhelming the musical aspect, I adhere to a low-carb, fiber-rich, protein-based organic diet and a healthy serving of daily cardiovascular activity.
12. How does this aesthetic sense translate to your live show?
If I'm not careful? Larger than life, baby...larger than life.
13. Do you currently have a touring lineup in place? What can you tell me about the musicians you're playing live with?
Braindance consists of Vora Vor, responsible for production, programming, arrangements, and guitars, and myself, responsible for minced onions, parsley, and braised shallots. We have between three and five revolving members, human and otherwise, responsible for percussion, basses, keyboards, voices, and a myriad of other aural excitements that we'll be performing with live, soon after Master of Disguise is released.
Currently, we're looking for a drummer, a bassist, and a (female) keyboardist/backing vocalist. We have interested parties, but have yet to formally begin auditions. If you think you've got what it takes and smell really good, please let us know at progressivedarkwave.com...
14. You've never been shy about your love of comics and comic art. Any favorite artists or titles? Marvel or DC?
I'm a comic fanatic – Spider-man, Daredevil, Batman, Spawn, The Punisher, The Darkness, Witchblade, and Pitt –I guess Marvel and Top Cow are the big players for me. In fact, I just went to the New York Comic Convention and paid a visit to the great Marc Silvestri and the talented guys at Top Cow Productions, and confessed my desire to play Jackie Estacado in an upcoming Darkness film. I'm not sure, but I think he was laughing at me. Internally.
15. What are your thoughts about the growing trend in comic-book films? Any favorites? Do you think comic films have jumped the shark yet, or do you foresee that day coming?
I don't know, but I still have faith in Hollywood as mankind's saviour – especially all that soulless C.G.I. stuff. The proliferation of comic-book films is probably the only societal craze that hasn't made me wince. I've been a long-time fan of many legendary comic, sci-fi, or fantasy adventure films such as Star Wars, Highlander, Dune, Conan, Dark City, The Matrix, The Fifth Element, Sin City, & Total Recall. In fact, I would love to find a comic artist willing to bring the events depicted on the Braindance album covers to life in either a graphic novel or an animated feature. Of course, they'll have to wait until after the action figures have arrived.
16. Okay, reigning this back in here. Braindance has a very rich, unique sound. Are you listening to anything inspiring lately (new or classic), and would you have any recommendations for our readers?
I'm a big fan of any and all hybrid music that combines musical intelligence with a darker intensity and a signature sound. Currently I'm listening to a lot of house, progressive trance, and classical music. I'm also listening to nifty Metropolis stuff like In Strict Confidence, Hocico and Velvet Acid Christ. I'm also listening to some progressive metal like Kamelot, Pyramaze and Evergrey, some thrashy melodic stuff like Dark Tranquility, Killswitch, Arch Enemy, and Lamb of God; Priest, some Maiden, Zeppelin, Jorn and old Whitesnake; anything by Noise Unit or Delerium; Juno Reactor; Pink Floyd; some soundtracks, some 70's complilations, the John 5 record, Katatonia, the latest Scar Symmetry, Opeth, Leaves' Eyes, Beatles, Bach's Musical Offering, Manuel Barrueco, a lot of Anthony Robbins. No other recommendations other than to utilize an oatmeal- based moisturizer with UV protection after bathing.
17. And, lastly, what's in store for Braindance for the rest of 2007 and into 2008?
Other than planning a superior sleep schedule, locating the best dark beer on the market, and spending time with the grandkids, not much else....thanks for taking the time out to find out about us and featuring us alongside the great Ministry in your kick ass publication...good luck to you and VF