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Progressive Rock Interviews

Brett Gleason

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Brett Gleason from 2010
MSJ: Can you give our readers a look at the history of your involvement in music?
I've always played solo though my focus has shifted from classical to jazz to rock, from piano to guitar and back again, though I've consistently focused on songwriting since my early teens.  I first saw myself as playing guitar based rock but became intrigued with electronica when I started learning digital recording and production in my early twenties.  The sound of The Dissonance came about as I tried to fuse both my alternative rock influences with my love for piano based singer/songwriters and growing fascination with electronica.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music, what do you think you'd be doing?
Hopefully writing, I'm a big fiction buff, would love to be a novelist but music is a more immediate outlet for now, perhaps when I've tempered down later in life, become more introspective and less passionate.
MSJ: How would you describe the sound of your CD?  
The short answer is a combination of Tori Amos and NIN. The longer answer is: a unique fusion of rock and electronica combining the low end crunch of industrial production with a piano based singer/songwriter style. The quote is from Dino Lull at MetroSpirit:  'An ultra slick, modern hybrid that is pure originality'.
MSJ: Who do you see as your musical influences?
I became a songwriter after being deeply moved by The Smashing Pumpkins, Adore album. Tori Amos' piano based style has also been a big inspiration for me, specifically her From the Choirgirl Hotel album. Production wise I've been really motivated by NIN, Aphex Twin and Portishead, especially their more abrasive sounds.
MSJ: What's ahead for you? 
Everything.  The Dissonance is my first, self release  so my main goal is a raised profile with enough support to record a full length album within the next year or two. I plan on re-recording these six tracks with my new backing band as well as the new songs I've been playing with them.
MSJ: Are there musicians you'd like to play with in the future?
While I prefer to be a solo artist in the sense of writing alone, I've had some great experiences playing with others and hearing their interpretations of the music.  I've always fantasized about playing with Jimmy Chamberlain, the drummer from the Smashing Pumpkins but to be honest, I think my drummer, Elliot Kavee may be even better.   And of course, a duet with Fiona Apple is in my future, our voices were simply meant to mesh.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales – would you agree?
I'd agree that that is a huge problem for the industry but I'd also say that music in the last decade has increasingly geared itself towards the lowest common denominator which hasn't helped.  In the efforts to appeal to everybody they've essentially lost music's real passionate fans: Music that is not personal is not paid for.  If a consumer doesn't feel a connection to the artist, they won't think twice about stealing their product.
MSJ: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?  
Love it.  Recording, uploading and trading fan videos is fantastic. It makes fans feel involved, helps them connect and quite simply, it's free advertising.  These videos tend to be of poor quality and don't replace any official products and recordings of the band.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch-nemesis and why? 
Justin Bieber.  Can't live with him, can't live without him.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it?
Andy Rourke or Jon Evans on bass, Jimmy Chamberlain on drums and Johnny Greenwood taking care of the samples and soundscapes.  Though I have nothing against guitar in my recordings, I tend to avoid it live.
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view, who would be playing?
The Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, NIN, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Bat for Lashes.  All from my favorite phases of their careers of course!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
I actually don't listen to a lot of music but have been on a Joni Mitchell kick lately.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Tori Amos, first concert I ever saw way back when and last concert I've seen recently. Her latest records haven't done for it me as much but she's still an incredible performer, excessively talented.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
I'm still waiting for it.
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?
That which aims to please all succeeds in pleasing none.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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