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  • Interview: Big Black Delta

    Mon, 22 Apr 2013 12:07:18

    Interview: Big Black Delta - By ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino…

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    Rather than coloring outside the lines, Big Black Delta invents a whole new color scheme altogether on its self-titled debut album [Out April 30]. Intimately heavy and robustly immersive, this collection comes to life from the jump with impeccable songwriting and unsettlingly beautiful soundscapes. The vision of Jonathan Bates, this is one of the most important albums of 2013. Rules are blown to bits, and in their place a new paradigm of "mind-blowing" is born…

    In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Jonathan Bates talks Big Black Delta and so much more…

    What do you feel like ties the record together?

    I don't think I would look at it as one piece. I'm not capable of writing in a locked sense. These are just songs that were done in a certain period of time. Some people dig that, and it bothers other people. Ultimately, it's just who I am. I guess my voice would be the underlying thread.

    Each of the songs functions as an emotional snapshot.

    I never view it in terms of an "album". I want each of these songs to exist on its own. When I was a kid, if you listened to metal, that's all you were socially allowed to fucking do. You couldn't listen to anything. Now, that's changed. Everybody has Madonna next to Meshuggah next to Death next to The Knife. That's how I like to listen to music. I just like good songs. I feel like I'm not the only one.

    You've built a diverse journey that's unlike anything out there.

    I don't know if that's going to work in my favor or not, but I agree with you [Laughs].

    Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs? You can see them as much as you can hear them.

    That's the nicest thing you could say to me. That's exactly what it is. I hear what I see. I see colors and shapes whenever I listen to music or I taste food. I have a very back-and-forth relationship with my senses. A lot of the time, some of these songs are like a Mark Roscoe painting I was obsessed with. Or, it can be bringing back the feeling of drinking too much scotch and how your mouth tastes. To me, that has a certain sound. It was fusing that like sheets of music. It writes itself at that point.

    You have a palette that's both sonic and visual.

    Yeah, the only way I know how to write music is to think of a picture or a setting and then score it.

    What's the story behind "Dreary Moon"?

    It was around four in the morning, and I had been drinking scotch all night. I was messing around on a guitar, and I fumbled on these chords. It literally fell out on to the floor. It was a three-minute thing where the whole piece came out. It was almost like I didn't even need to be there. On a lot of levels, listening to your music is like watching your parents fuck. That was the one I could listen to pretty objectively. I grew up learning how to play old jazz standards with my dad. It was neat that I was able to come up with a song that had that vibe.

    What instrument did you play as a kid?

    I grew up playing guitar. I was one of those shredder guys, and I really wanted to be in Dream Theater [Laughs]. I went to Berklee in Boston for shredding. It wasn't until I was 20-years-old that I actually started listening to music as a release or an escape as opposed to something technical.

    Where did "Love You This Summer" come from?

    That was like Serge Gainsbourg meets The Kinks on a bunch of shrooms. It was a little ditty. I was really into listening to Serge Gainsbourg and The Kinks at the time, and the song fell out. It was one of those things that was given to me in like five minutes. It sits there, and you're like, "Oh shit!"

    What would be the cinematic equivalent of your record?

    Wow! That is the coolest fucking question! It'd be a little bit of Flight of the Navigator. It'd be a little Michael Mann. It'd have a little David Lynch, I'd hope. Then, I'd say Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

    You could see this playing over those nighttime scenes in Heat.

    Or Collateral with Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx

    What heavy bands do you come back to?

    The most important band ever for me is probably Pantera. I don't know anybody who doesn't like Pantera. I know people who don't like people who like Pantera [Laughs]. I never hear somebody say they don't like the band. They're probably the baddest dudes who ever existed. I love Meshuggah. Everybody I know who has heard them is like, "These are the fucking guys!" Lightning Bolt are a different kind of heavy. If you ever seen them live, it's something to fucking behold.

    Rick Florino
    04.22.13


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    Tags: Big Black Delta, Madonna, Meshuggah, The Knife, Dream Theater, The Kinks, Serge Gainsbourg, Pantera, Lightning Bolt, Michael Mann, David Lynch, Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Flight of the Navigator, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Heat, Collateral

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