Shelley, Lynnette and Brandon Ross (The Red Masque) (April 2008)
Added: April 19th 2008
If you're in the Delaware Valley, you're just not going to hear the Geator With The Heator play music by or talk about The Red Masque. If he did so, it would be as unusual as their music. Ah, but in the world of progressive rock, unusual is, well, usually a good or even great thing. In the realm of the Philadelphia-based The Red Masque, avant-rock is the norm. A challenging and unpaved path by all means, these musicians put their hearts and souls into their music and presentation.
David Lilly: I didn't have to look far to find out that you and Brandon met in a band in Delaware. Are you from Delaware? Are you from a musical or artistic family?
Lynnette Shelley: Yes, both Brandon and I are both originally from Delaware. He's from Wilmington, and I was born in New Castle, then later moved to Newark and went to university there. That's where we met (he auditioned for a band I was in at the time). That would be about 1997. Brandon's younger brother, Doug Ross, is a very gifted guitarist (he's more into jazz guitar). My family isn't really musical other than I have a couple of uncles who play drums (one used to play in marching bands in Ireland) and my other uncle plays Boudhran currently for some Irish pub bands (my mother is from Ireland and all her family is still over there). I didn't come into being involved with music until I was in college. Brandon has been playing since his early teens.
DL: You and Brandon are married now, right?
LS: Yes, he's my husband. We've been married since February 06, but we've been together since late 1998; well, DATING since 1998, and we actually knew each other/played in bands together since 1997.
DL: When you two decided to move to a different music scene, why did you choose Philadelphia?
LS: I actually moved to Philadelphia for a job, not for the music scene. Then Brandon moved up and we started looking around for other musicians. We did actually, at one point, play with a couple of musicians who practiced at the warehouses by Orion Studios in Baltimore, but the drive got to be a bit much and then we eventually found the people we needed in Philadelphia.
DL: Have you considered New York City?
LS: Philadelphia is a pretty livable city for us. Cost of living is much lower compared to New York. I don't think I could ever live in New York; I don't think I could get used to the size of it. I like to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. There are also so many bands there - the scene is saturated. We'd be like minnows in a huge lake. It's better to establish yourself and THEN go to New York, in my opinion. With Philly, I could choose to play in New York (or Baltimore, or Wash DC or Boston, etc.) if I wanted to, but have a cheaper base of operations. Plus, I like having trees and greenery around, and where I live in Philly we are very close to some huge parks and woodlands. I also found a really awesome old Tudor-style house from the 1860s to rent, and it has a quarter acre backyard -- if I was in New York I'd have to live in a shoebox for three times as much rent as I'm paying now. There are also lots of cool little places I've discovered here (either music venues, or galleries, or places to hang out). Baltimore, I imagine, is probably about the same as Philadelphia in terms of cost of living, and for the music scene. I just happened to have moved north instead of south.
Brandon Ross: Basically I followed Lynnette up here, my dad's family was originally from Philadelphia so I am more familiar with this city than New York, plus it's within traveling distance to these other cities. There is a lot of great architecture and diversity, too.
DL: Okay, I see. I'd read an interview where you mentioned moving to Philly, and I assumed it was for the music scene. Thanks for clearing that up. The original version of The Red Masque had only been playing together a couple of months when you played your first gig. Where did you play? How did it go over with the audience?
LS: Well, the first gig was an open mic, so it was pretty low key. We only played two songs: "Tidal" and "A Moon Falls." Considering those were the only two songs we had sufficiently worked out to play live at that point, it was good. It was short and sweet. Well, short by "prog" standards. I think the show was still at least half an hour with two songs. [laughs] The show went very well, actually, from what I remember of it. It was at Doc Watsons, a bar in Philly that has original bands. I had a friend who is a music journalist there, as well as a person who was interested in producing the band (although that ended up not working out due to the fact we couldn't pay him anything at the time), plus some friends and whoever else was in the bar that night. We got a really good response from people and I think we played well. It was a lot of fun.
The second gig was pretty close to this one, and it was in Delaware for a benefit for a non-commercial radio station. I had been a DJ there for many years so I still had connections with them, and that is how we got that show. We played maybe a 40 minute set, and the actual venue was the student center at the University of Delaware. Again, we had friends and my brother showed up to the show. I think it went relatively well, though there were some cases of nerves.
DL: What did you do, if anything, to prepare for those performances? How have you prepared to perform since, and how do you prepare now?
LS: Preparing for performances is basically us practicing as much together as humanly possible. It's the same philosophy now as it was back in the beginning. That being said, things are a little more difficult currently because Vonorn lives about an hour and a half or more (depending on traffic) from the rest of the band, so we can't get together as often as we would like - right now we get together on the weekends. Andy, Brandon, and I get together at least twice a week besides this, however. Ultimately, I would like full band rehearsals to meet much more than this (at least when preparing for a live show or series of shows).
I realize there are many prog bands that only get together every once in a while to practice -- they only see each other in the studio and then get together a few weeks before a show, but I am not a fan of this approach. At least with our band, we have a very organic approach to playing together -- everyone feeds off of everyone else in a live setting ... as well as the fact there are some complicated sections that people have to master.
I think people play much better together if they meet together consistently as a band, as opposed to just coming into the situation with the mindset of learning parts for a show without thinking of the overall collective approach of the band. Instead of thinking Andy is going to play his part, and Brandon plays his part or Vonorn his part, and I my part -- we all have to be comfortable with each others' playing habits and approach the live situation with a collective intent. I get tired of seeing very technically well-trained bands play on stage, but they appear like they are only session musicians on stage, and I don't think the music really comes across as it could. There has to be a collective intent of the band on stage and you need to appear like a unit as opposed to a collection of parts. That's ideally what we would like anyway.
DL: How do you prepare on the day of a show? Or within a couple of hours and minutes from show time?
LS: Well, if we have time to have a rehearsal beforehand, that is great, but it's not always feasible. If that's the case, we just show up to the show and set up and hopefully get time to warm up a little before we go on. With a lot of smaller shows you maybe get 15 minutes to set up and that's it so that doesn't leave us a lot of time for anything. If that is the case we try to start off the set with a song that we know is easy for us to get into really quick ("Tidal" for example).
In the ideal world, we'd like to set up before a show and run through some stuff to make sure the sound is as good as it can be, as well as to warm ourselves up so we don't start off the show "cold."
Brian Van Korn ("Vonorn"): I find that consumption of exotic odd food groups from around the world helps me to prepare... Here's a handy helpful household tip... I find a friendly human sacrifice done the night before helps to appease the gig god. Mainly grab your axe or your axis of evil, and perform as if your life depended on it.
DL: Okay, so no bloodletting rituals or seances then. Not that there are rumors of that, but it's good news.
LS: No, we prefer to summon the spirit of "Jimmy" before each show. Don't ask. Only TRM members and former TRM members may know of the existence of "Jimmy."
DL: I know of at least 2 "Jimmys" you might summon. One of them is even alive, but let's move on. I read a 2001 TRM interview [at www.progfreaks.com or here) where you stated that you want to play in a band that plays what you want to hear; "If the audience likes it, that's great, but it's not essential." As a music lover and fan of too many artists to mention, including TRM, that strikes me as a strange attitude for the lead singer of a band, as if the hand that feeds you is great but if it goes away, no a big deal. That fascinates me, and I'm not attacking or criticizing at all, just questioning. Can you clarify or elaborate on that?
LS: Jeez. If I am going to have to explain EVERY comment I made in the past six years? Just kidding. I guess I should clarify: I would love everyone in the whole entire world to like our band and listen to our music, but obviously not everyone will like us. Sometimes, we just can't compete with Britney (though I bet I would be hotter bald... well, maybe not). So, all we can do is make the best music that we like to listen to. If I was purely into playing music to satisfy other people, I'd be forever chasing after happiness. There are people out there who like our music. We can just keep trying to reach them and get more people exposed to our music. No band wants to play to an empty audience, but at the same time, I couldn't play music I hated to a full house. There is a LOT of stress being in a band. There are more reasons to quit a band than there are to keep one going. So I have to be in a band for purely selfish reasons in order to keep my motivation, because quite frankly, there are a lot of people who would love nothing more than to see you fail. Or there may be people that are rooting for you, but they aren't there to deal with the day to day challenges of being in a band. I can't look to other people for motivation. My motivation has to be me. Hope that clears things up.
DL: That works for me. What is your performing experience like? Do you go onstage with a prepared setlist? Is there a preset structure that allows for a lot of improv?
LS: We do have a set list when we go on stage; however, we do allow time for improvs (when we have enough time on stage) or we agree beforehand to "jam out" at a certain section of a song before going back into the setlist.
Performing experiences vary. Many times they are a lot of fun (if a lot of stress as well) and other times can be frustrating (because we are reliant, at this point, on whatever sound system the venue provides for us, as well as their sound man. So the quality of the stage sound can vary from venue to venue. Sometimes we don't get monitors, and can't hear ourselves on stage at all, which is deeply frustrating as we are very serious about wanting to put on the best show possible and if we can't hear each other that can obviously affect things). That being said, we are also used to adapting to live conditions as much as possible so we usually can make do in the end, but overall I really enjoy playing live and enjoy the give and take that goes on onstage.
Andrew Kowal: Whenever we perform we always arrange an ordered set list. We organize it in reference to which album the individual song is on, length, and overall feel. There is a preset structure that allows for improvisation within the set list and within the individual songs as well. We have all been composing and jamming together long enough to connect on a third eye level that allows each of us to know what each is doing and is going to do within and without the point structures. Our live shows are similar to watching Alizarin Crimson drip from a vertical distance of 123ft to repeatedly land on its nano target in aid of the wind. It's all in the viscosity.
Vonorn: A set list is tossed together (without salad dressing I might add) at the gig.
Most of the compositions have sections that are left open for free improv, then return back to the structure. This affords a looseness that allows the material to breath, grow, and shrink, as if it were a living entity.
The best-case performing experience can be like climbing to the summit on an unknown mountain in an undiscovered country and then parasailing on the drafts of air that allow you to soar for as long as you can endure the sheer bliss of it all. At its worst, it's like playing your most advanced material at a music fest, only to find out the music fest is for The "TDBDPLOA" (The Deaf Blind Drunken Polka Lovers Of America), kinda like that.
DL: Lynnette, we know you play psaltry, erhu, and percussion in general. Do you use those instruments for percussion, and otherwise what percussive instruments do you play? I haven't been fortunate enough to attend a TRM gig, ergo I must ask: what do you do onstage when you're not singing or playing percussion?
LS: If you check out our YouTube videos you CAN see us play.
DL: Yeah, being in the midwest I've done that, but I mean being there physically in the audience and witnessing a performance. I want to do that sometime. Actually, I'd love to see you play Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, or even Chicago.
LS: How much space I have to work with will determine how much percussion I will bring. When I have a lot of space I'll bring out "Big Red" (my floor tom), snare, and cymbals, plus an assorted box of "toys" including "space flute" (a kind of light saber-like toy that makes space sounds when shaken, plus you can sing through a hole in its center and the vocals come out with a lot of reverb), tambourine, shakers, bells, wind-up toys, Mr. Death (Mexican Day-of-the-Dead shaker), or the "Condundrum," which is a metal sculpture Vonorn picked up from somewhere. Inside it's filled with water and you strike it with a metal stick and it makes odd noises that change in pitch depending on where you strike it. Plus, other little odds and ends. Also, I recently picked up a "Tree Harp," which is an original instrument that the owner of South Street Sounds studio made. I bought it off of him when we did some recordings there. It's a type of stringed instrument made out of a part of a tree branch. You play with a guitar slide, or pluck it, and you amplify it out of a guitar amp. It even has tuning pegs though it's basically an arbitrary tuning. I have played erhu and psaltery as well, though I wouldn't say I was a trained performer on them, as I mostly use them for sound effects.
When I am not singing I am generally playing percussion.
DL: Okay, I wondered if you played erhu and psaltery solos, fills, or used them as percussion. I love unconventional percussion. Well, I love unconventional music or I wouldn't be here asking questions of you. Does TRM have a local or regional following? Like, do you see familiar faces at your shows?
LS: I did play an erhu accompanying a Celtic harp at one particular show before, and I plan on incorporating the tree harp into some songs, but in general I do percussion when I am not singing. The Red Masque does have local fans though I would like to get our music out to a larger audience than we currently have. That is why I am hoping to do a tour of some sort.
DL: Any particular artists you'd like to open for? Any particular places outside Philly you'd like to play?
LS: Basically we'd play with anybody who was doing anything interesting and ideally somebody who appealed to more than just a "prog" audience, because a prog audience is usually somewhat limiting. (Some) people have all these expectations for what you should and shouldn't sound like. Of course, this is true for other genres as well (punk, etc.). But I really can't be bothered with trying to fit into a particular sound. Plus a more mixed audience gets you exposed to a bunch of different people and age groups. I think some people think of us as being this "difficult" band to listen to, or we're too "avant" or something for them (sometimes without actually hearing us), but I think we would actually appeal to a lot more people if they actually heard us because I think people can respect the energy and emotions that go into the performance. We're not reading sheet music when we play.
Bands we'd like to play with (and some we've played with before but would do so again): Van Der Graaf Generator or Peter Hammill, Bob Drake, 5UUs, Art Bears or any kind of Chris Cutler project, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or any of their offshoots, Muffins, The Mars Volta, Acid Mothers Temple, Ruins, Guapo, Zombi, Gong, etc.
We will play anywhere there is an audience and it's feasible for us to get to. I would love to do an entire East Coast tour (and this one is not too far-fetched for us to pull off) starting from North Carolina or something and going all the way up to some cities in Canada. Also, a West Coast tour would be fun. And to play Europe would be awesome. I've heard from other traveling musicians that it's much easier to play to larger crowds in Europe since the US is so large.
DL: In your comments I see frustration and ambition with a common denominator of passion. Are TRM public performances more emotional, technical, or some balance of those qualities? Do you get hecklers? If so, how do you deal with them? Do you get any audience members engaging in echolalia or singing along?
LS: The performances I would say are a combination of emotion and technical skill. I, personally, am not a fan of bands that are pure technique only. Or who look like they are reading sheet music on stage to play their parts. Not that we don't use "Cheat Sheets" on occasion; I know I sometimes write down certain lyrics on my hand or sometimes we'll write down certain sections like the pattern of stops at the end of "House of Ash" if we think somebody might forget.
No, never had any sing-a-longs, though we did play at a theater venue one time, and since they were a non-profit they had to give a certain amount of tickets away to different groups, including a home for mentally retarded people. They came out to the show and were clapping along. Actually, they seemed more into it than some other people since a lot of prog audiences are very quiet at shows, which can be unnerving at times (laughs).
DL: The mentally handicapped folks probably have fewer inhibitions.
LS: We have had a couple of hecklers but not too many because we have generally eschewed playing bars in favor of more "artsy" venues. Anyway, we're the ones on stage with amplification so if a heckler is going to start something with us, he best be prepared for instant tinnitus (insert evil grin here).
As far as frustration goes, all creative endeavors have their frustrations. Right now we're at the tail end of making an album that has an incredible amount of personal, technical, and emotional frustration associated with it. We started making an album over a year an a half ago. A few months in we had some major computer problems that we had to resolve, then we had a few blissful months where everything was going great, and then Vonorn had to be hospitalized. He was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis (most likely from a deer tick bite that he got when he was out in the woods with the rest of the band doing a photo shoot for the new album). He became paralyzed from the waist down, but then with some treatments, the doctors got the swelling in his spine to go down and then he had to gradually learn how to walk again. He was in the hospital for four months -- without insurance I might add, so you can't even imagine the extent of his hospital bills. He still does not have 100 percent complete recovery (he has some chronic pain issues), but overall he's doing great. He can walk, he can play drums, and the doctors were unsure how well he was going to do originally. If he hadn't gone into the hospital when he did, the doctors say the swelling could have gone further up his spine and his lungs could have also been paralyzed.
Then after his first show back, only a few days out of the hospital (he could barely walk at the time so he played keys and we had Paul Sears and Dave Kerman guest drum for us) we get a heckling post on the internet from a "fan" who was making fun of Vonorn. So stuff like that makes you question why you even bother sometimes. Anyway, then we had to wait a few more months for Vonorn to get well enough to drum so that we could finish the rest of the album tracks. Right now we're mixing and we hit a few more technical snags on the way due to a computer dying, but I think (knock on wood) we have everything resolved now and we are in the final month of finishing up. The one good thing about all this waiting is the album is absolutely killer. I am not just saying that to drum up hype. I am sincerely proud of it and the job everyone in the band did on it, but I really think it's the best thing we have done to date.
I also find it frustrating that we have been around since 2001 and not one American festival - other than Rogue Fest in Atlanta - has asked us to play a show, and believe me, I've tried to get us booked at just about every festival that wasn't completely neo-prog. I know there are a ton of bands trying to play these fests, and the organizers have to try and decide what ones would make the best fit, so I understand it's hard for them to pick and choose, but it's still frustrating.
I'm working on getting us into some European festivals, though that may be harder because they don't usually fly in American bands unless they are headliner status and we are still too new for that. I am also trying to get us into a Lovecraft Festival in Oregon, so we'll see how that goes.
I also think with this next album coming out on a bigger label (sorry, can't tell you the name of the label yet until the album is actually released), we may get more credence from certain quarters, or at least that is my hope. Plus we are going to market more non-prog venues and fests and audiences because I think there is more opportunity for us there.
I should also say that while there is frustration, there are also a lot of good things that we get out of being in The Red Masque. The people who like the band, really like the band, we get encouragement from them. Or we'll get fan mail or an encouraging email and that always helps. I feel bad that people have had to wait so long for our new album, and nobody feels more frustrated about the time delays than the band does, but all I can say is you just have to wait a teeny bit longer. We're almost done.
Also, besides the technical and physical frustrations this past year, we've had some emotional ones as well: Andy's brother died unexpectedly about 6 months ago, and Brandon's father about a year ago, also unexpected. A month after Brandon's father died, our apartment was burglarized and things that his father left him were taken, as well as other things that had sentimental value. Luckily they left all the music equipment even though they had access to it all. I was very glad none of that was taken or it would have really been a blow, especially if it had been Brandon's bass, which is a one-of-a-kind custom that he's had for years. So, everyone has had a lot on their plate this past year and a half. Despite this, we are all very positive about the future. We are just waiting a little bit longer for the album to wrap up, and then we have a lot of plans for things we want to do.
One more thing I want to note: I was recently discussing live band performances with a friend, and we were talking about some of the acts we had seen. I said that many of them were technically competent, but that was it. There was no audience connection, there was no passion about the music (that I could see anyway), there wasn't anything to really draw you into their band, other than admire their technical prowess. I said I'd rather see a band with less skill but more of an idea of what they wanted to do than a technically proficient band that said nothing musically. But then I thought I was being too harsh -- after all, there are tons of bands, and only a few are going to really stand out. But my friend said that he didn't think it was too much to ask of an artist to have an artistic vision, which is true. What's the point otherwise? Why make art if you have nothing to say?
Sorry if that sounds pretentious or like we are looking down our noses on anybody, because there is a lot we still need to learn ourselves, but I do think it is important for a musician or artist to have an artistic vision. Otherwise be a session musician and back up someone who DOES know what they want to say. And there is nothing wrong with doing that.
DL: Good point and not at all pretentious. The one common denominator of all the music I like -- and I have diverse taste -- is that it all gives me emotional pleasure regardless of how simple or sophisticated it is. Your vocals sound very accomplished on TRM recordings. Have you had vocal training?
LS: No, no vocal training other than I joined the school choir in high school, but I didn't have any individual training. I didn't really learn much there; I was one of 50 sopranos so didn't really stand out at all or had to really listen to myself... plus, I think I'm really an alto (laughs). I really only learned how to sing from the diaphragm once I started a band with my then-boyfriend. There was no PA to sing out of so I had to sing really loud to be heard out of a really crappy small amp. My voice was absolutely terrible at first trying to sing that loud but eventually I figured out how to sing "properly." I still would like to take vocal training at some point, though, or better yet, some sort of training in jazz singing to better improve my improv performances.
DL: How did the first TRM recording sessions go? Were you nervous? Was the material well-rehearsed when the band entered the studio or did you have to work things out "on the fly"?
LS: The first recordings (for the Death Of The Red Masque EP) were worked on overnight from 7pm-3 am or so, at an analog studio in New Jersey. We all had day jobs so we had to run in from work, go and record, then get 3 hours sleep and go back to work the next day. We recorded "Tidal" and "A Moon Falls" during those three days, and they were more or less recorded live except for overdubbed vocals and some harp and percussion parts. The improv "Ended Ways" was recorded on a Wednesday night ("Ended Ways" is an anagram for Wednesday; that is how we came up with the name), at a basement studio of a friend of our then keyboardist, Nathan-Andrew Dewin.
We had rehearsed the songs (except the improv obviously) beforehand so we more or less had them down before we went into the studio, though there were certain "jam" parts we had only sketched out a little (the opening for "Tidal" for example, is a kind of loosely structured improv).
DL: Sounds like a grueling but exhilarating experience. How does that compare to the recording of the Victoria And The Haruspex album?
LS: Victoria was recorded very quickly as well, on a couple of weekends, again, at a friend of Nathan-Andrew's who had a studio we could use. We had some misadventures with that recording, where the computers ended up erasing one of our songs and we had to do the whole thing over again. The improv "Haruspex" was recorded completely live, no overdubs, while "Birdbrain" and "Afterloss" were recorded in parts. Soundwise, this recording is more lo-fi, but we were pleased with the improv, and I like how "Birdbrain" came out.
DL: And the Feathers For Flesh sessions?
LS: Feathers For Flesh was done in Vonorn's home studio.
DL: In the Feathers For Flesh liner notes, there's a passage that states specific parties you'd like to NOT thank. Why "not thank" anyone?
LS: Well, most people have a "thank-you" section in their liner notes. We thought we'd have an "unthank-you" section as well. Yin, Yang. Some of it was serious; some of it was a joke. The "All You Can Eat Buffet" reference was an in-joke about an incident that happened with Vonorn at an eatery near him in New Jersey. Brandon is "Misery Boy" and I am "Dead Girl" in the "Bad Squirrel Karma" reference. We were in the midst of an epic battle with attic squirrels at the time.
DL: What can you reveal about the newest TRM album? Are you going to stay with the Big Balloon Music label?
LS: The new album, Fossil Eyes, will have approximately 10 songs on it. Some are full-length songs, some are "intersessionals," or short mood pieces. We have used some new instrumentation not found on previous recordings, including an accordion (oh the horror!) and a "tree harp." The album is thematic (man and nature and how they intertwine, or sometimes war with each other, as well as using natural themes to represent metaphysical ideas). One song, for example ("The Anti-Man"), is a rebel song, only the rebels aren't human. In this case they are insects, and they may be the only things left if mankind was to die. In this particular song, though, the insects want to speed up the death of man, and are actively at war with us. "Carbon 14" was inspired by a trip out to California where I saw the La Brea tar pits. "Polyphemus" was inspired by a gigantic polyphemus moth I saw in my office building. I researched them and found out they only live a short while after they become moths. They have no mouths, and cannot eat -- they live purely to breed and lay new eggs, and then they die. So, that song is about the ephemeral nature of life.
Fossil Eyes will not be coming out on Big Balloon. I am not allowed to say the name of the label until the album is actually released, but I can say it's a larger label whose owner is into adventurous music.
AK: Fossil Eyes is a straight forward progression from the previous release of Feathers For Flesh and yet belongs to a wildly different vector. Certain compositions are stripped back to reveal a heavier driving sound both macro and micro in division. Fossil Eyes will be my debut release as The Red Masque guitarist, and the universe simply provides as such. Also, there are pre-Cambrian insects in the album's inception.
DL: Do you foresee any possibility of TRM becoming primarily a studio band?
LS: We, most emphatically, do NOT want to be just a studio band. Personally, I much prefer to play live than do studio work, and I know others in the band feel the same, though Vonorn, as a producer, obviously enjoys the studio aspects as well. There are a lot of bands in the progressive scene who are mostly studio acts, and while I can understand why, it's not something we have any desire to do. We've had to put our live shows on hold recently, due to events in the past year, and I can tell you it's been a frustrating experience for everyone in the band.
DL: Very glad to hear that, and I hope to attend a TRM show at some point. I love "Carbon 14," from Fossil Eyes, playing at your MySpace page. Actually, I love all the songs on that page. Is there a specific CD release date for Fossil Eyes? Do you have live dates lined up to promote the release?
LS: We do not have a specific release date for the CD, as it is dependent on when the label owner decides he is going to release the next batch of CDs. We also finished a soundtrack for a short film that a friend of ours made for the Lovecraft Film Festival. An mp3 of that as well as mp3s of our last show with Dave Kerman and Paul Sears are available for free download on our site.
DL: What's the film called? Will that soundtrack be available for purchase? I'm sure that your fan base, as well as others who might bump into you and like what you do, would love it if some of your shows were recorded and made available for download and/or on CD. Is that something TRM would or could do?
LS: The film is called QWERTYUIOP and is made by David Pym. His email is dcpym (at) hotmail.com if you'd like to talk to him about it. It's a short film and features ex-TRM guitarist Kiarash Emami as the male character and a cameo of my eyeball as a sort of "Cosmic Eye" (laughter). Except it's yellow in homage to "Yellow Are His Opening Eyes." It's a pretty interesting film, as David is really into doing analog special effects (like taking different dyes and colored oils and whatnot to do these colorful effects ... refer to him to get a better description of what it is he's doing since he's more familiar with it). David plans on making it available on YouTube, I believe. He is also filming a "Death Of The Red Masque" video for us. It's a kind of a loose take on Poe's "Masque Of The Red Death," and I play the Red Death. We're going to do some soundtrack work for it when it's done and make it available for free download.
We also have tentative plans for doing a live CD. I'll know more for sure on that later, but I would like to do this. Also, Bob Lord, from the band Dreadnaught, has been talking to me about doing a split EP with us and I would like to do that, so we'll see how that pans out.
DL: It's cool that you're willing to make the "Death Of The Red Masque" video available for free download, but why not offer it for 99 cents or even less, but still make a little money on downloads? Sounds to me like something to include as a bonus on a reissue of the debut EP or a future CD release.
LS: Personally, I am more interested in exposure at this point, and also because people have had to wait so long for this new album, I wanted to have something as a kind of gift.
DL: So, basically, TRM maintains a consistent work schedule, is not slowing down but branching out, and fans should stay tuned in order to keep up with releases and works-in-progress.
LS: Yes. If anything, once the album is released we plan on being even busier.
DL: What about recording your shows and uploading them to torrent sites?
LS: I suppose that is an option, though I personally don't use bit torrent sites so I am not overly familiar with them.
DL: Well, I'm sure a lot of your fans would eat that up. Hopefully it will happen at some point. Listen, thanks very much for talking with me. I wish The Red Masque all the best and on your own terms as much as possible.
LS: In closing, I would just say it's an interesting time to be a musician, with the parameters of both the music industry and the medium changing. Brandon and I had a very strong vision for what we wanted The Red Masque to be when we started the band back in 2001, and we've met up with other strong-minded band mates along the way and have made some interesting music, if nothing else. I just want to get the word out about TRM as much as possible and encourage people to listen to the music with an open mind.
The band are scheduled to perform at the Baltic Prog Festival in Kernavė, Lithuania over the July 25 -26, 2008 weekend, alongside Flamborough Head, Indukti, Final Conflict and several others.
Death Of The Red Masque (ep) (2001)
Victoria And The Haruspex (2002)
Feathers For Flesh (2004)
Fossil Eyes (2008)
Stars Fall On Me (2009)
Interviewer: David Lilly
Artist website: www.theredmasque.com
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