Publicity Contact: Ron Kadish
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For immediate release
When you own a company that records and releases contemporary orchestral and chamber music, composes and produces audio for international television commercials, and collaborates with the likes of Pete Townshend, your own work can be expected to run the gamut.
“Prog-rock listeners freak out when they hear a chicken-pickin’ guitar, pop listeners turn it off when the meter changes every other bar, classical and jazz listeners generally find it too heavy and bombastic. But there’s a little bit of all that in here, so how exactly do you decode this thing?” asks Bob Lord of Dreadnaught, who in his capacity as CEO of PARMA Recordings was named one of Musical America’s top 30 national ‘Influencers’ in 2015. “I honestly have no idea. It made sense at the time.”
For over two decades Rick Habib (drums), Justin Walton (guitar), and Lord (bass) have defied being decoded and refused any easy categorization, producing numerous eclectic releases, touring the country, and appearing with artists as wide-ranging as legendary Who bassist John Entwistle, author Dan Brown, NRBQ, and even Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It is an unusual mix.
A high-energy power trio reveling in quirky twists and turns, fast changes, and extended forms, Dreadnaught has a recorded sound built around deep-focus detail. “As a group, we’re not writing songs in the traditional sense, not trying to get the world to sing along,” explains Habib. “We like to make people want to dial in and pay attention, to make them laugh.”
The band’s new album HARD CHARGIN’ is destined to do both. The album’s tracks recall Rush or a sillier Fugazi (the first “That’s the Way You Do It”) one moment, and Willie Nelson or a wonderfully befuddled George Jones (the second “That’s the Way You Do It”) the next. Some tracks come out screaming in full Fred Frith-style madness (“Express Delight”), while some coo and groove their beautiful bassy, brassy way into your ear with the playfulness of Frank Zappa or Steely Dan (“Bo-Leg-Ba”).
On HARD CHARGIN’, Dreadnaught’s studio experience and arrangement expertise busts out left and right, each cut an ornate mosaic of timbre and time. Yet the music works differently in a live setting, where it is pared down by condensing the studio arrangements to better suit the trio format.
“We create a lot of sound together on stage, always have,” says Walton. “But we consider live performance to be a completely different artform than the crafting of a musical recording like this album, and while the tunes are the tunes, we like to approach each in its own way.”
Lord is clear that the band is indeed something unto itself in a business capacity as well as a musical one, which is partly why the album is being released on their own Red Fez label. “I have a policy of complete separation of church and state at PARMA,” he says. “The focus is entirely on the artists and projects we produce as a company, not the personal projects of the staff, myself included, no co-mingling allowed. Dreadnaught is its own thing, for its own purposes, and definitely apart from our day jobs even if they are in the music business.”
The prolonged experimentation of Dreadnaught does appear to have a clear purpose and goal however: Pure enjoyment and amusement for fans of oddball, far out, intellectually acute music and it seems for the band itself.
Going far out isn’t a grim, grave venture for this group, and there are no furrowed avant brows or self-aggrandising composerly ways here. HARD CHARGIN’ has adventurous musical fun at its heart, a feeling the band members trace back to their 1970s childhoods.
“We all watched The Electric Company growing up, Warner Brothers cartoons, Saturday morning television, all these musical experiments shown to kids as part of their regular viewing,” reflects Habib.
“We heard ‘Peg’ as kids while shopping at Marshall’s with our mothers too, that did something,” says Walton.
“And Juicy Fruit. The fact is, when you play with the same people for this long you develop a clearly defined, streamlined shared artistic language. We usually communicate with a short series of grunts and eyelash flicks, or possibly some clicking sounds,” jokes Lord. “We’ve been doing this for a while now, let’s put it that way.”