Gilbert Potts was pretty happy with “Separate Realities”, the debut album of jazz/fusion ensemble Trioscapes. The band’s main man is Between The Buried And Me bassist Dan Briggs. He was more than happy to tell about his latest musical ventures, challenging musical status quo’s and the need to have different musical outlets for his creativity…
How important is it for you to have other projects to explore other sounds? What release does it offer?
It’s very important to me because I’m a musician who is never content. I remember being in the studio in 2007 recording “Colors” for BTBAM already working on the beginnings of “Swim to the Moon” off the next record and thinking of how we were already going to make that next record better. Doing Trioscapes is absolutely essential to me as a musician. It’s unlocking parts of my creativity that I hadn’t been using. I feel like I’m just this ball of energy waiting for people to give me new outlets to which I can just have an explosion of music come pouring out of me.
Can you tell us about the process of writing a Trioscopes song?
It’s really different for each song. Some I put together myself in my bedroom, some we came in with one or two ideas and jammed it out in a day or two…the Mahavishnu reworking was a lot of fun. We used the basic structure of the song and found a good point to really go of and do our own thing and get wild with it.
When I listened to your record it sounded like you were playing a style that was more natural than some of the contrived sounds I’ve heard that you could broadly call jazz fusion. Why do you think it flows so naturally?
That’s just exactly what it was, very natural. To me music should never be forced. You can tell in any genre when a band just isn’t feeling it and isn’t in the great mindspace they were for a certain release, but for this one we were totally locked in. We have a strong focus on the arrangements in our compositions, the songs aren’t just a platform for solos and wanking like a lot of fusion can be.
With Trioscapes the instrumentation is cut right back and each can be enjoyed for itself, yet the sound is full and layered. To keep the full sound and the pace you set, the three of you need to play more continuously than you need to with a five or six-piece. How do you deliver such variety in your sound with such a lean base?
We not only employ different techniques within our own playing, but also the use of different effects and different instruments. Walter plays flute on a couple of tracks which adds a whole new color to what we’re doing, and Matt plays with midi pads so he can add in xylophone, tabla, electronic drums, etc. whatever he wants to use really. We put phaser, delay, and pitch shifters on the saxophone and heaps on the bass. We’re all fans of psychedelic music and taking the sound of an instrument to different levels.
Instrumental music is often criticised for being self-indulgent, background music, or simply music by people who can’t write songs. What does your music offer those misguided people to convert them to the wonder of songs without words?
Well, like I said earlier we have a strong focus on composition and arranging which comes from our background in rock/metal bands I think. I love a lot of unapologetically self-indulgent music, but it’s really important to me to have a great flow and a connection with the music. To some, the absence of vocals is just not going to be pleasing no matter what you do. And that’s ok, there is a crowd for this kind of music. I mean Christ, classical music is music without words (operas aside)…..clearly I don’t really understand it, but that’s just because I’ve always written with the music being the focus. Tommy from BTBAM and Adam from ORBS can surely attest to that, haha.
There are jazz snobs and metal snobs who don’t like people messing with their established sounds and scenes and can get pretty cranky. What are your views on those who don’t like music progressing?
I’ve never written music for anyone else, it’s a very personal thing. It’s what keeps me going, it’s everything to me. The best music that bands make is when they’re just focused on progressing and having a creative overload. So I just don’t really have time, patience, or care for people’s opinions who would rather not think outside of their respective boxes.
Every bit of music that is out there is a progression on something or other. The Beatles had their influences, so did Metallica, and Miles Davis as well. If those dudes didn’t take what was going on at the time and do something new with it, who knows what kind of music world we’d be living in now. (everyone obviously knows the era of Metallica I’m talking about!)
How do your live performances differ from your recording?
We’re getting really comfortable playing live now and making cohesive seamless sets which adds and improved flare to what’s happening. Walter’s solos are always improvised and just wild, I think he captures a completely different vibe live. There’s just more energy all around live, like with most bands.
What have the crowd reactions been like so far?
They applaud us when we’re done, and that’s all you can really ask for! No circle pits or stage dives yet.
What does the future hold for Trioscapes?
We’re planning on doing a bit of touring this year, writing little bits throughout the year. We just want to get out and play as much as we can, the music’s way too fun not to!