Drop The Fear: The Interview
by Vish Iyer
Drop The Fear is a promising trip-hop-rock act from Denver, Colorado. They have a debut LP and a DVD out, both of which have been reviewed on this site. I happened to catch up recently with one of the band members, Sarah Marcogliese, for an interview.
Q: Tell me something about yourselves. The album has no band photos, and the website doesn't have an "About" or "Bio" section. Tell the world what Drop The Fear is.
A: Yeah, we received a bit of flack for that. We started putting together our website, and all three of us had the same thought on it. We didn't want our faces or our bio taking the focus off the music we were creating.
We are Sarah, Ryan and Gabriel. In short, we are workaholics, with an obsessive compulsive passion for music and film. We spend hours together writing, tweaking, laughing, designing, playing video games, fighting, crying, jamming, recording, filming, editing, laughing (did I say that?). We continuously push each other and our music as far as we can without totally killing one another. That's about it. It doesn't leave time for much of anything else really.
What is with the band's fondness with fear? You know what I am talking about, don't you; the band name, the whole eerie aura of the album, and asking visitors to your site to send e-mails on what they fear the most?
The whole world seems to be obsessed with fear; yet no one really wants to talk about it. We all happened to meet in a moment when life was beating us down, hope was fleeting, and for some crazy reason we all brought out the same reaction in each other, "fuck it; drop the fear, right?" It was like the eye of the storm, we knew it wasn't over but this time it was clear we all wanted to be on the same ship... thankfully. Everybody dances with fear everyday. It's not that we're fond of fear; I guess we chose to get through by giving the fear a soundtrack and some visual landscapes. What can I say… I guess we love the uncomfortable moments.
What do you do with the "fear" e-mails that you receive, anyway?
First off, it's been truly amazing how beautifully honest people's responses are. Sometimes it feels like looking in someone's bedroom late at night and seeing them naked, ya know? The e-mails go onto our website under a tab called "fear." We also put together a short film called "Questioning Fear" and put it on our Limited edition DVD/CD. We didn't intend on our "getting to know each other" road trip turning into questioning complete strangers about their fears. It's been a truly inspiring adventure for all of us.
Is this your first record?
Yeah, it's the first full-length album for the three of us. At first we put out an EP that had our first four tracks (of the LP). We distributed it through independent record stores for free as a way to introduce people to our music.
Drop The Fear is an indie band with no record label. Generally bands with no record label are also the ones with no money. Your album sounds so polished and professional that I am sure a lot of moolah went into the making of it. Are you spoiled kids of rich businessmen?
Ha Ha Ha! Thanks for the complement. The album and the DVD were both on our dime. No one comes from money… unless someone has been holding out on us… heh? I guess you could even say that we are broke-ass fools after this album, but without a single regret or compromise either. Nobody's handing out that magic bag of money anymore. So we decided to put our future in our own hands and team up with Orbit Service (www.orbitservice.com) and a few other Denver bands to form a collective called Helmet Room Recordings (www.helmetroom.com). We are also proud to say we got a distribution deal.
The record sounds so intellectually "electronic." I am sure at least a couple of you are computer geeks with eyeglasses.
Oh yes. We love computers. They're our "bestest" friends and we love to cuddle with them... we feed them lots of crackers and G Bytes if they promise not to crash…. too much. Man, we spend hours on end tweaking with sounds and images that evoke emotion. Our field recordings are a ton of fun to work with as well. We feel like experimentation is the key. We're like kids in science lab all over again!
Don't lie -- I'm sure Massive Attack and Cocteau Twins are two of your major influences. What are the other bands/artists that have affected your music?
It's funny you ask. None of us had ever gotten into the Cocteau Twins until we started to draw comparisons with them. Now we're diehard fans. Massive Attack, on the other hand, was definitely in regular rotation prior to Drop The Fear. We knew we had found a perfect match with each other by our CD collections: Bjork, Portishead, Hooverphonic, Sneaker Pimps, Lamb, Placebo, Sigur Ros, Godspeed, and You Black Emperor!
Drop The Fear has a "British" sound. What do you think is so special about British music that more and more American bands are adopting the "Brit" style?
Well one of us did live in Canada, eh? Does that count? We feel that people want more variety with their music now. The traditional guitar, bass, drums and vox combo isn't getting everyone off in the same way it used to. It seems that people just want more choices now. It may not be a Brit thing per se; maybe it's more of an open mindedness and acceptance across the board. We're always super excited to hear styles and genres, expanding and blending. And now, this "moody sonic vibe" seems to be more "commercially" accepted here.
A similar question to the previous one: In the early/mid nineties, bands wanted to sound like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and now they want to sound like Radiohead or Joy Division; any comments?
Wow, that's a tough one. To be inspired by your heroes is a necessary part of music creation. But when you spend all your energy trying to emulate something other than yourselves, it can be very destructive and kill the creativity and honesty. Our music can't have boundaries to be really fulfilling for us. You will always be less impressive than the original ya know? Like that soda company… when they did the "new" version of the old thing? Man, was that a bad idea.
It is interesting, the fact that all three of you play the drums. Are you all drummers? Who got together to form a band due to common interests?
Actually, Gabriel is the only kit drummer, yet all three of us spent time programming the beats and building the dynamics for this album. The rhythm and mood of the drums are incredibly important to us. As I'm sure we've all heard before, it's the heart beat of most music. As you can tell from our influences, our drum design is essential, and is a major common thread between us three.
The album doesn't have that much studio drumming on it, does it?
We love the way organic drums can mesh with an electronic vibe. Our whole thing is crossing lines and breaking barriers down with traditional music as we see it. Not like it's anything new, we just get off on that kind of exploration.
Lastly, the album is so lushly "produced" that it seems as if a lot of planning and thought have gone into its making. On the other hand, the complexity of the album gives the impression that the songs have been created from randomness resulted from impromptu sessions.
Most of our song ideas come from these crazy jam sessions where we lock ourselves in a tiny, 100-degree room and hit record. It's so hard, but we try not to play it back for a few days. That way we have a fresh and honest perspective with our sessions. When we listen back to the jam we pull out the inspirational moments and dynamics, and like the million dollar man, we reconstruct something well-thought out and beautiful….. We think anyway.
Honestly, that's the most important thing for us. All three of us have to love what we are doing. It's not that we don't care if people dig it, because we love our fans. Cuz if we don't get off from our music, how could we expect other folks to come ride the wave with us? Riding the wave and getting off is what music should be about, right?
[For more information on Drop The Fear, visit them at www.dropthefear.com]