One of the things I absolutely had to ask Tree Adams for this DAGNASTERPUS interview for the debut album of the same name was what the hell is DAGNASTERPUS and what it means to him. While I had to also make sure I was pronouncing it right, Tree informed me that I was and it was at that point that we truly got comfortable conversing with one another. DAGNASTERPUS’ debut album releases June 25th on Six Degree Records and all additonal information on the band, not found during our DAGNASTERPUS interview can be found here. Below, you can catch our entire conversation as we talk musicians, the specific vibes provides by each track and so much more in our DAGNASTERPUS interview.
How are you doing?
Tree: “I’m doing well man, hanging in there, it’s been a while ride.”
I’m sure you’re excited to get some stuff going with music, I don’t know how 2020 was for you with music for you and everything. I see you’ve got that [FILO Festival] coming up.
“Yeah, yeah. I guess it’s been interesting trying to figure out how to record musicians remotely. We did that for this DAGNASTERPUS record a little bit. We started that beforehand but we finished it remotely kind of together and sending mixes remotely. It’s weird to not be in the same room as the engineer while we’re mixing, it’s just ya know, changes the dynamic of everything.”
Yeah, I could imagine.
“Are you a musician as well?”
No, no, big fan of music though. I never really actually able to pick up an instrument. I could never focus on it long enough to actually learn. Very frustrating to learn.”
“You’ve got that AcidTrapGiraffe name so I thought maybe he’s like an acid trap kid or something.”
No, yeah haha it’s just my online handle, people always pull different perspectives from it depending on where they see it but it’s more video game related. When I got asked to do the interview I was asked if I like soul music. Yeah, I mean you know music is music, I can appreciate all music and then I listened and said I could get behind this. So I’ll absolutely do the interview. Every song feels totally different, almost like you had different musicians in all of it. You know, like everyone has this whole different groove they can pull on I really like that, I love the variety.
“Thanks man, well that’s the idea. I think with each song to have it’s own little, like a little room in a house, you know. Each room has its own flavor to it but it’s all in the same house. I kind of like to create a world for people to dive into, get lost in.”
How about with the new song, Crawlin’ With Vipers?
“Yeah, excited about that. It’s been getting some nice attention, been getting a lot of love out there for it which is cool. It’s just really exciting to be able to start sharing all the music with people you know? We have a music video that’s almost ready for Crawlin’ With Vipers, I think that’ll be out next week probably. A mixture of some live recorded stuff and just weird trippy concepts. The lyrics are kind of about this, basically, it’s like a secret agent mission that goes sideways. It’s just kind of a fun little story so there’s like a little bit of that in the visual but then also the band playing and just trippy imagery and things to play with.”
That’s cool, definitely different. I get a lot of Chicago vibes in some points of the songs.
“The band Chicago?”
“Well they have a lot of great horn lines, probably vocally we’re different.”
More like the instrumentals, at a certain point.
“I think there’s like a horn melody in No More Waiting in the chorus that reminds me a little bit of something in Chicago, it also has a little bit of Earth Wind & Fire to it or something but its just got a lyrical melody to it.”
Yeah, I really like the whole groove of that song, I really like that one. As soon as I hit play on that one I was like this is really bass-y.
“That’s the idea, keep the heads boppin’.”
Do you have a favorite song off the album?
“No I can’t pick one man it’s like picking your favorite child, you can’t do that! I like them all for different reasons, you know, I think the one I’m most emotionally attached to may be Jinx Tattoo. Somehow, that one, I’ve been playing that one for a long time. Something about it, it’s kind of my spirit animal that song.”
I like that one too, that one stuck out to me a lot. Do you have any other plans after the album releases this month?
“Yeah we’re gonna play in New Orleans on June 23rd at Rock’n’Bowl, that should be kind of fun, that’s a good spot. We’re gonna play June 15th in Los Angeles at Momed in Atwater Village and that’s kind of for a big re-opening party cuz I guess June 15th a lot of the restrictions are lifted here in town and the restaurants and the bars have been at a limited capacity and I think they go to 100% June 15th so they’re having a big, they’ve got a big outdoor space and it’s kind of perfect for these pandemic gigs, or maybe we’ll call it post-pandemic gigs as we’re coming out of it.”
“But everything’s been outside you know, we’re been playing at this Hyperion Public in Silver Lake and it’s like outside, picnic tables and a barbecue kind of in a parking lot that’s been converted and I guess more inside gigs are gonna be coming up I guess because things are re-opening, that’s basically it. I guess The Filo Fest, July 10th, will feature some live performances we did. I think they’ve got a lot of other good bands involved, I know Dumpstaphunk is on that one and Bob Weir is one of the hosts and Dave Schools from Widespread Panic so there’s a lot of really good talent involved in that show and it should be fun, and to be part of.”
That’s cool yeah, it’s good to look forward to anything like that, sort of meeting people again. Especially be able to express your music, show you’ve been doing something during that time. I feel like a lot of creativity has come from a lot of places during the pandemic.
“People were cooped up, now it’s time to harvest all that stuff that people were generating.”
So, DAGNASTERPUS, that’s right?
I love it. When I see bands that have like horns and trumpets and stuff like that, big bands composed of eight to ten people, it’s always a ska show.
“Yeah, yeah they do a lot.”
It’s always a full stage of band members and like just the difference in that compared to three or four people on stage, it’s a whole other energy.
“Yeah it’s a lot of energy, I’ve seen three people you know come with a pretty barreling sound as well, it’s just, you just gotta use it right, make room for everyone. If you’ve got eight or ten, I’ve seen, opening up for King Sunny Ade once and he had like 20 people on stage. It’s hard to have enough space for everyone, not just physically on stage but musically, have to come up with tasteful parts and leave room. So that’s kind of what we have to do to in order to make it work and make it funky.”
Yeah, it’s cool though to see all that, people never think, “oh, we have too many people we can’t possibly tour all the time” but you know, you always make it work.
“Yeah, yeah. so the name DAGNASTERPUS, if you were wondering is just an imaginary creature that fell out of the sky, on my head, and it’s basically a cross between an octopus, Poseidon God of the Sea and the Buddha. So he’s a gentle creature, a benevolent creature if you will but definitely a little imaginative, a little crazy.”
Imaginative. I like that. That’s cool though. Honestly, when I was listening to the album I think that when I was listening to Why Not Make Believe, you were saying a whole song can just put you in a vibe, there’s a story to a song. That one just felt like stoner paranoia at first and it just really stuck with me and I just wanted to mention that to you.
“I don’t know if it’s so much paranoia as it is sort of like, saying to lean into the ride, you know what I mean, follow your imagination where it will go. Don’t fight it, just go upstream.”
Coast. Is there anything you want to talk about with the album, before it comes out, anything that’s most important to you about it? Anything you really want people to be aware of?
“I think it’s good for people to know about some of the specific musicians, there’s some really good players on there. Cyril Neville was featured on a few of the songs you know, he was an original member of the Meters and The Neville Brothers and he sings background on three songs and plays percussion. The drummer on a lot of it is this guy Eric Bolivar from New Orleans. Him and Yayo Morales, who’s a Bolivian jazz master who lives here in Los Angeles. Joe Ashlar is playing the keyboards on a lot of it. He plays with Stanton Moore from Galactic so he’s kind of a big touring musician based in New Orleans as well. He was in Dr. John’s last band, before Dr. John passed away.”
“So there’s some really good players on there, I could keep going. Shaunte Palmer plays trombone, he’s also in Earth Wind & Fire and also plays with Steel Pulse, reggae band. Dave Ralicke, he plays the saxophone, he was in Beck’s band among others. Jordan Katz, the trumpet player played with Common and De La Sol, you know, a lot of big bands.”
“Carl Sealove plays bass on a lot of this, he played with Bob Dylan I think, he’s been around. So it’s some great players and I guess the other thing is that the mixing engineer, this guy Jack Miele, he is based in New Orleans as well. So a lot of these guys are in New Orleans, a lot of them are in Los Angeles we kind of play in both cities. You know, it’s just really exciting to get out there and sort of play live again, get people dancing and get to hang out with these musicians who I love and love hanging out with.”
You had a personal relationship with each of them prior to officially forming the band?
“Well I mean it’s a number of different people, right? Some of them I know better than others but yeah for the most part I’ve either played in different bands with them or done recording sessions with them for these film and TV shows I’ve been working on as a composer. In the case of the guys in New Orleans I got to meet a lot of them while recording for the show NCIS: New Orleans which we were doing down there so I got to work with them in that context and then we started doing gigs together down there and you know just having fun playing.”
That’s cool, two different worlds. To be able to compose, that must be a whole other mindset.
“It is, you know, because it’s storytelling for somebody else’s vision, you know what I mean. If they want to go left, you go left. If they want to go right, you go right. But for, when you make your own stuff, it’s your story, and your vision. you know, with DAGNASTERPUS, we’re telling our own stories there. Kind of helps make, helps keep you satisfied creatively so that you can work on the other things and people can boss you around and tell you what to do and you’re fine with it.”
Have your own little outlet as well.
“Exactly, it’s been a good ride.”
I definitely get the impression, each song is, like you said earlier, its own vibe. It definitely has it’s own space, and headspace it puts you in when you out those headphones on and listen to it.
“Yeah well we want to be able to take you on a journey, like sort of welcome to DAGNASTERPUS’ world, we’re gonna tell you stories.”
You definitely nailed it.
“Thank you man.”
No problem, you definitely got a fan right here.
“I appreciate it.”
I have a couple friends that aren’t jazz musicians but they’ll just end up on the guitar for hours playing the music and ditch me say oh sorry, I got distracted, I was just really into it.
“It’s a loyal companion, it can be a very loyal companion and a good thing to immerse yourself in. It can heal you, it can give you joy, it can help you connect with people. It’s sort of a magical thing. I mean there’s other things that have done the same for me in different ways. You know, playing a sport can be like that sometimes, or skateboarding or skiing or surfing, they can almost become like a religion for you, just immerse yourself in it.”
I’ve had a great conversation with you, I don’t know if you can tell how nervous I am.
“You’re doing good man, it’s great. I appreciate the chat.”
I must say when I was looking you up, the first thing, well the most interesting thing to me was Showtime’s Belushi. I’ve never even heard of it, this is something I’d generally be interested in as a big fan of Saturday Night Live and that kind of stuff so now I’m going to have to check that out because of this interview so thank you for that as well.
“The music for the Belushi show, I did the score to it so anything that’s not a pre existing song, all the music that’s underneath, I did that stuff. it was a lot of band recording and a lot of the DAGNASTERPUS guys played on it but then in order to cover the dramatic stuff, and the kind of softer side like his emotional side and his darker side we took all these elements from the band recordings and just mangled them.”
“So I would take you know, a slide guitar or harmonica, a bass note, and just kind or warp it, reverse it, put effects on it like distortion, delay and make it unrecognizable and use that for the the pads and the things underneath so that it felt related to the band but different and able to tell the more dramatic stories. It’s kind of interesting and certainly if you like any of that stuff Belushi was in, obviously SNL and Blues Brothers or Animal House or any of those things. It’s a lot of fun to kind of see into his life, he was, really complicated and larger than life individual but he was a complicated guy, there’s an interesting story there.”
Yeah, to see the downfall of guys like him and Chris Farley, you know, not downfall but that road.
“Indeed, it’s tough to see.”
Anything else, anything you’d like to cover?
“No, that just about does it man.”
Great conversation, thank you.
“Talk again soon I hope.”