The Only Way Out Is Through: Streamlined DTES plays V Club 3.22

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photo: LA Watson

Lexington, Ky.-based progressive rock band Dream The Electric Sleep (L-R: Chris Tackett, Matt Page, Joey Waters) will perform at The V Club Friday.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It’s been two years since Dream The Electric Sleep released its debut album, Lost and Gone Forever, for free, out of nowhere, to critical acclaim. The Lexington-based progressive rock band’s stunning 14-song concept record about the life of an eastern Kentucky coal mining family would not be easy to duplicate.

So, live, and in the studio, Matt Page, Chris Tackett and Joey Waters would move on in a new direction, continuing to see where their diverse musical influences take them.

“When we finished the first record, sometimes you just kind of know that you have something special on your hands, and you just cross your fingers and hope for the best,” bassist Chris Tackett said.

“Nobody knew who we were; we weren’t anyone. We hadn’t recorded anything and we’d never played any shows. So it was just really important for us to just get the music out there and let people hear it. We thought we’d achieved something pretty damn special.

“It’s been nice to get the good response; we’ll take it.”

After downsizing into a three-piece a few months ago, the guys in DTES were challenged with recreating live, the richly layered sound (think Pink Floyd meets Muse) found on the debut record.

“It was a definite transition,” singer-guitarist Matt Page said. “We were trying to figure out how to fill up the space, since the album that we wrote was fairly lush with keyboard parts, acoustic guitars, and harmonies.

“We sort of debated whether we wanted another guitar player, or someone that can do keyboards, but nothing really worked out. So at this point we’re a three-piece. We’re trying to work [arrangements] with samples, and applying the stuff we need to, as opposed to finding another member.

“So we worked hard at figuring out ways to sort of beef up the sound again, and I think we’ve finally got to that point. Last year was sort of us testing stuff out live while we were writing new material. But it’s kind of nice that the three of us gelled, and work together so well. We’re all pretty happy with where we’re at.”

Dream The Electric Sleep performs Friday at The V Club in Huntington with John Lancaster and Horseburner.

“Even though the three-piece, live, with the material from [Lost and Gone Forever] at certain points was maybe a little thinner than the album was obviously, because there’s not five or six guys on stage playing,” drummer Joey Waters added. “It made us a little less muddy live. So, from that standpoint it was a good thing.”

Tackett, who’d came on around the time the band was finishing the debut album, said writing as a three-piece has had its benefits.

“This record we’re getting ready to record was written as a collaboration between the three of us, as opposed to the last record, where I kind of stepped in and helped finish the album. This one, we all worked together on. So it does sound a little bit different. I wouldn’t say it’s anything drastic, but it sounds more like a real band.”

Tackett, with years of experience being in bands as diverse as Chum, The Heptanes, and Hyatari, said Dream The Electric Sleep is bringing everything together as a three-piece.

“As far as doing the three-piece thing, my role in it, like Matt mentioned, we’ve really experimented with some effects and different techniques to fill up some space, especially in trying to mimic the older songs. But the new material, I think, since it was kind of hashed out in a room with the three of us, it sounds a little more natural live.”

Page said Tackett’s sonic tendencies and sensibilities were more integral this time around, and that each member’s influences make the band what it is.

“This album, Chris’ influence and sound have really helped to shape that. Like, I don’t listen to anything like what Chris listens to, and I don’t know that Joey listens to anything that I do, so we all have our feet in different musical genres. It’s an extraordinarily exciting thing for me.”

“These guys have been really cool about letting that sort of influence leak into this band,” Tackett added. “I certainly wouldn’t say it’s taken over or anything like that, but there’s definitely some Hyatari-type elements that we employ from time to time. They’ve been really gracious with letting me express that side.

“It is a weird style, and it’s kind of like, my style, so it’s cool that they let me include that in this project. I personally think it makes for a really unique sound with Matt’s harmonies and writing. We do incorporate some of that Hyatari-type slower, doomy, dissonant stuff, and it works!”

Waters seconded Tackett’s increasing influence in DTES.

“I’ve always played with a really aggressive style, but I’ve never enjoyed playing metal, per se. I like listening to it, and that’s mainly what I’m listening to right now. Chris let me fill in on drums for Hyatari, and that was one of the coolest shows I’ve ever played. So he’s definitely been an influence on me as far as getting back into heavy music again.

“In Dream The Electric Sleep I hit as hard as I want, and really get the demons out. At the same time, I’m able to play that aggressive style but be in a band that’s more accessible to a wider audience. Matt and Chris are good at reining it in and making it sound like Dream The Electric Sleep.”

“Joey and Chris have kind of melded together,” Page said matter-of-factly, describing the rhythm section.

Page said it’s the experimentation and openness that makes DTES what it is.

“It’s really fun to work with two other musicians of high caliber that are also willing to take somebody more like me, who’s going to be more like a singer-songwriter, and put Hyatari riffs and thundering drums behind it, and come up with a sound that’s surprising to me. That’s why it’s so exciting.

Looking ahead to recording 11 new songs and 80 or so minutes worth of material with Jay Groves at Sneak Attack in Lexington, Page said he hopes the recording will be as much of a natural, creative process as the songwriting.

“I’m hoping that comes across when we start recording the album, that this is a step forward, sonically. I want to make sure we capture that as opposed to us setting up a bunch of microphones and crossing our fingers and hoping we get the sound we want.

“I’d rather go into a studio and work with a professional and get that sound, then take those tracks and kind of sculpt them outside of the studio session, in our rehearsal space, and start experimenting with amps, guitars, keyboards and vocals, all that.

“So I think that’s the process, at least at this point,” the singer and guitarist said. “To be honest, the recording process for us isn’t going to be recording something that’s already finished. It’s going to be us creating as we record.”

The guys said they’re looking forward to playing RosFest, a big prog rock festival held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in May.

“It’s a pretty big deal for us,” Page said. “People from all over the world fly in for this festival and they’re super stoked to be there, and they’re music aficionados, and they already knew about us, which was also weird to have people know who you are but you’ve never played for them before.

“These people-- the fans, the organizers, have been extremely supportive; they want us there. So I think it’s going to be a really positive experience for us.”

Page said 2013 is shaping up to be a good year for Dream The Electric Sleep.

“We’re playing shows, we’re playing new material, we’ve got the festival coming up, which is a really big deal, and we’re gonna be in the studio trying to finish an album.

“It’s gonna be a crazy six months I think.”


Dream The Electric Sleep, John Lancaster, Horseburner

WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 10 p.m., Friday, March 22
COST: $5
INFO: http://www.vclublive.com/, (304) 781-0680
ONLINE: http://www.dreamtheelectricsleep.com/

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