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Dust To Dust    
Dust to Dust
Sanctuary Records is best known for picking up established metal legends like Rob Halford and Megadeth and giving them the attention they deserve. While the major labels have been tripping over each other trying to scoop up the next "fresh" Limp Bizkit clone, Sanctuary has appeared to have a deeper understanding of the long-term value of good metal. So what would happen if Sanctuary stepped up to the plate and signed a new "no-name" metal act and gave them the label push worthy of a "Metal God"? Dust To Dust is that very experiment. In an effort to find out about Sanctuary's new blood, the Metal Update sat down with frontman and bassist Rob Traynor as well as keyboardist James Craig and drummer Steve Tobin. Rob did most of the talking. . .

METAL UPDATE: Why don't you guys catch me up on what's going on? You've signed with Sanctuary Records who is releasing your first album. How are you feeling?

DUST TO DUST: Good. I feel very good about being on this label. Check back with me in a couple of years, I'll probably say otherwise. (laughs) Nah, I think Sanctuary is great. Out of the labels that I met with that were interested in signing Dust To Dust, Sanctuary definitely had the coolest philosophy. I like where they're coming from. I like that they support their bands. They're really behind it. They're not one of these labels that signs fifteen bands, throw them against the wall and whoever sticks they go with. They believe in this band. They believe in the music and that's why they signed the band. They didn't sign us because we have orange hair and masks. They signed us because they heard the album and they really dug the material. That meant a lot to me. They didn't even see the band. We didn't even do a showcase. They just heard songs that they really felt strongly about. That's how we landed the deal. When I met with them, they told me their philosophy and I was totally into it. And when I saw that they had Maiden and Halford and all the rock gods, I was flattered to be approached by this label. That was all I needed. To just know that this is a true metal label. That's rare nowadays. Everything is corporate, but this label is metal and that means a lot to me. We are the first new band that they've signed. Sanctuary is kind of known for taking a seasoned band like Maiden or Halford and working them good. We're really the first new thing that they've signed and we feel good about that.

MU: It's a good honeymoon period right now.

Dust to Dust

D2D: Yes, it's the Cinderella period. We'll see how long it lasts.

MU: Take me back a little bit. What were you doing before Sanctuary?

D2D: I recorded a CD of practically all the songs that are on the album plus some others. I had a demo that I recorded myself. I have a little home studio. I recorded all the songs. I played guitar and everything. He (James) was in a band called Boiler Room that was on Tommy Boy Records. They were touring and the whole schpiel. He was building up his connections. James has always dug my music. We've been best friends for many years. I've always admired the work he's done. We've worked together on projects in the past, but we're both bass players and that's why we never played in a band together. Recently, he ran into some troubles with Tommy Boy kind of dropping the ball with Boiler Room. We lost the keyboardist in our band due to personal reasons. He didn't want to do the touring thing. He saw that this was becoming a serious situation and was scared off. It was perfect timing. James was looking around for a new gig and he's a great all-around musician. He said, "Dude, I've always loved the music and I want to get into the band." So he joined. When James was in Boiler Room, he dug my CD and handed it to his manager who was Larry Mazer. Larry heard my demo and was like, "What's this guy doing? This stuff is great." He wanted to get behind it. So I hooked up with Larry and one good deed turned around and we got the deal and there was an opportunity for James to step in. I'm very happy because he's a great friend and a great musician. I'm in a band with all good buddies of mine. You can't ask for much more than that. It's not like I had to find some freaks in the Village Voice. Calling up and like, "Well, I play the sax." (laughs). It came together well. I'm very happy. Keyboardists are the most difficult thing in the world to find.

MU: I thought it was singers?

D2D: I think a keyboardist, when it comes to rock and metal and stuff, is the most difficult to find - even harder than singers. And in this day and age, there aren't too many singers anymore. Everybody is screaming and hacking up loogies into microphones left and right. I think it's a little easier now to find a "vocalist". I'm happy it's turned out the way it has. That's pretty much how this came together to this point.

MU: What are your current plans? Are you going on tour?

D2D: Where "up for tours." You know what that means. It doesn't mean anything. We're up to possibly go out with Incubus, Sevendust or Disturbed.

MU: Have you toured before?

D2D: No. This band has never toured. We've played some local gigs and stuff like that. We're dying to get out there. They hate me here already. I'm always calling here busting chops. There are memos going around the office saying, "Watch out for Rob Traynor. He's a pain in the ass." (laughs) Just put me on the road. I just want to get out there. That's what it's all about - playing live. You gotta play. If you're N'Sync or something, I guess it's a different deal, but if you're a rock band, you've gotta get out there and tour.

MU: Even those guys are out on the road touring!

D2D: Yeah, they tour. It's big money.

MU: A lot 15-year-old girls want to spend their allowances.

D2D: It's a very tough climate. We've been offered a couple of tours already that we've had to pass on because there is a whole "payola" thing going on now. They want "buy ons." I think it's disgusting. You've got these big bands out there who have obviously forgotten where they came from. They are asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars for baby bands to buy on to their tours. What does that do? It excludes the independent labels. It makes it easier for major label bands to get on these tours and keeps other bands down. It's kind of messed up. These are big bands that don't even need the money. They can pack these rooms by themselves. They have four bands opening up for them and three of them are well know acts and are gonna pack the joint anyway. Why do you have to charge the opening band four hundred thousand dollars to go out on the road with you? It's ridiculous. That's theft. That's just greed. They are forgetting where they came from. It's supposed to be about the music and people are just losing that. There have always been buy ons. . . to a degree. "You want to come out with us, then you pay for half the bus. Or you pay shipping for the lighting rig. Or you pay the sound man." There's always been that. Now, it's just outright payola. "You wanna come out with us, then you pay us $300,000." The worst part of it all is that, independent labels are always the labels that are willing to take a chance on new acts with different sounds. In this climate, major labels are going to be the only ones that are able to get on these big tours because of this whole buy on thing. Major labels don't take chances. They don't take a chance with an unknown act with a different sound, like a Nirvana. Where are the new sounds gonna come from? A lot of dime-a-dozen bands are just gonna keep popping up and the major labels will keep supporting it because a million dollars to them is nothing. It's gonna have a bad effect on music in the future. A lot of these bands are really forgetting where they came from. It's unfortunate. It should boil down to "I dig this band. I dig this CD. Let's take them on the road with us." It's not even that. It's about whoever has the most money. That's messed up. That's so NOT rock and roll. You're no different than every greedy, corporate hog out there now. I don't care about how much you preach that you're a rock band and this and that and metal or whatever. You're totally missing the whole point. This is supposed to be a brotherhood, a movement. These people become a rock star and their head inflates to the size of a room and they just don't know anymore.

MU: How much do you think it's the bands and how much of it is the promoters and record companies and management.

D2D: It's the bands! The bands have the final say.

MU: Do you think it is presented to the bands like that? Or do you think it's like the manager says to them well you can take this band out on the road with you and make this much money or you can take the other band out on the road and make THIS MUCH MONEY!!!??? Of course, presented like that, most bands are gonna take the big paycheck.

D2D: It's tempting but there are a lot of bands out there that don't do that. It's not everybody doing it. Like Disturbed. They're not asking for buy ons. They're a big band. They don't need it. They know they can pack a house.

MU: I still don't want to believe it. I still believe that bands are not presented with the whole picture. All they know is that if this band goes on tour with us, we'll make another $100,000, so why don't we take this band out on tour.

D2D: Music Business is an oxymoron. It becomes too corporate at a point. I think it's something new. I'm hearing the complaints from my manager and other people in the industry about how it's never been like this before where they have these big buy ons. It's bad because it keeps the bands on the independent labels down because the indies can't afford to pay $300,000 to put them out on one little tour.

MU: It's probably the result of all the big tour packages like Ozzfest and Tattoo the Earth and Warped.

D2D: Sharon Osbourne used to just like a band and they would put you on. Now it's buy ons, but it's not ridiculous. You can afford it.

MU: Now for a new band to be on the second stage at Ozzfest is a real huge deal because sooo many bands have been broken after playing the second stage. Now they see how valuable a spot on the second stage is and, of course, the price goes up for such a coveted spot. If the bands want a shot at that, they have to pay.

D2D: I don't know. I just don't like the whole corporate thing. That's the school I'm from. My label is a business too. They're all doing it for the money, not because they like you. That's the reality of it, but it's a little disheartening. When I sat down and wrote this album, I wasn't thinking, "Hey, I wanna get a record deal." I did it because this is what I enjoy doing. This is what I love. I love to make this kind of music. . .

MU: I did it to get laid. . .

D2D: That's not even the reason! You have people like Kid Rock saying, "Who you kidding? That's the only reason to play rock." Well, maybe if I was writing music like Kid Rock, that would be the only reason. But I'm not making music like Kid Rock. When I sit down I get a feeling inside about my music and what I do. When I listen to bands like Alice In Chains, there is a vibe, there is a sound to that music that hits me inside. And it ain't about getting pussy. It ain't about getting laid. It's about how I love this music. If I wanted to get pussy and wanted to get laid, I would have formed another N'Sync. Those guys can get pussy and get laid. When I do a show, if there are a thousand people there, I guarantee you nine hundred of them are dudes and I ain't looking to fuck them. Let's face the facts. This is metal we're talking about here, this ain't N'Sync. You know what I' m saying? Kid Rock can talk all the shit he wants about getting laid, but that ain't the school I'm from. That ain't my school. I'm into playing this kind of music. I love this music. I get a feeling when I listen to this kind of music. When I listen to metal, it gives me energy. It gives me drive. That's why I love it. It's all about emotion. You can't get that kind of feeling from any other form of music as far as I'm concerned. That's why I love this music. I live for this music. This is what I do. I 'll listen to this music and be into it until the day I die. It ain't about the pussy and it ain't even about the money. I'd be happy if I could just survive on metal. Give me $30,000 a year and I'm happy. To play metal and do this, I'm happy.

MU: What bands do you like? Who are your influences?

D2D: There are a lot of great bands out there. I'm really looking forward to the new David Navarro album. I heard some cuts off that.

MU: Did you hear him on Howard Stern this morning?

D2D: No, I didn't even know he was going to be on Howard.

MU: I just happened to wake up to it.

D2D: I don't get up that early. I heard a couple of cuts off it. From what I hear, his stuff is right up my alley. I'm into that dark sounding, Alice In Chains type of feeling.

MU: You can definitely hear that on your CD. There is stuff that reminds me of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden.

Dust to Dust

D2D: We are definitely influenced by all those bands. And if you're influenced by Alice In Chains, then you're influenced by Sabbath because all those bands are influenced by Sabbath. Black Sabbath is like the grandpa and he has his great grandchildren and they're gonna have a little bit of his gene in there somewhere. It's like one big metal family. Everybody is kind of genetically connected in one way or another. Everybody is going to have a little bit of somebody in them. From the Beatles to Black Sabbath. I like a lot of old new wave. If you listen to the album there are a lot of keyboards and new wavy sounds on there. That's what gives us a different flavor than a lot of stuff out there. We have a lot of different types of stuff on there. The bottom line is if it sounds good, it is good. I'm inspired by a lot of different stuff. That's the wonderful thing about metal and rock and roll. You can take anything and just throw it in there and it's a still metal and still rock and roll, but you can have these different flavors and vibes and still be metal. You can't do that with any other types of music. You take any other form of music and add a heavy guitar and it becomes rock and roll. Rock is rock! You can add congas or sitar to rock. If you have a classical orchestra and add a distorted guitar in there, it becomes rock.

MU: It becomes Yngwie Malmsteen. (laughs) How is the playing dynamic now?

D2D: I play bass, James plays keyboards and Steve plays drums. We've got the whole rhythm section here. Everything you hear on the CD is what we do live. I didn't over produce this album at all. It sounds really produced because there are keyboards on there, but it's all done live. What you hear on the CD is exactly what we do live. That's one of the main reasons we have a keyboardist, so we can do those things live.

MU: There was something I was reading in your bio. You talk about being the outcast kid. You said, "I can understand why something like Columbine happened. I'm not endorsing killing anyone, but I can understand what pushes outcast kids over the edge."

D2D: Those kids were nuts. There is no question that they were out of their minds and delusional to have done such a horrible thing. I wrote this song "No Surprise" which is on the album. That song talks about all these parents when some tragedy like that happens, they all start blaming Marilyn Manson. How lame is that? They're gonna blame music. You always hear about everybody is blaming these bands for the ills of the world. What I'm saying in that song is why don't you look in the mirror. Maybe these kids did this because you are a bad parent or because you didn't raise your children to be respectful and they went to school and were abusive towards other kids. Maybe you should have taught your kid to be a little nicer to other people and not judge kids by the way they dress and the music they listen to. You know what I'm saying? It's no surprise to me that something like this would happen. It's very easy to point the finger and blame someone else. What I'm saying is just look in the mirror. For us, I think when we were growing up I think metal was an outlet to take our aggressions out. I think listening to metal saved us from doing stupid things like getting into fights or whatever. I would go to school and get pissed off and come home and put on Ozzy and I would feel better. It wasn't the other way around where I would listen to Ozzy and be like I gotta kill somebody! (laughs) When I was in high school, I had the long hair and the jean jacket. I was a metal dude. You had your little clique of friends and I know how the other kids would look at us. It felt good to be different from everybody else. I always wanted to not be the norm. I could just see what it was like to be an outcast and have people look down upon you because you' re not like them. You're different and they judge you by that. That's why I said to myself, you know there are these kids and maybe that's their thing and they like to walk around with the trench coats. And now I can see the rest of the school didn't like them and they were misunderstood and picked on. It just so happens that they picked on two of the wrong kids that were nut cases and came back to school with guns and shot everybody up. Before you go pointing the finger at everybody, take a look at yourself. I can sympathize with those kids. I'm not saying what they did was right. I would have said those kids should have gotten the death penalty had they lived through it. I can see why a kid would be angry and want to kill everybody around him. We all feel that way. I don't think anyone can say that they haven't wanted to kill a bunch of people that are complete pieces of shit and give them nothing but grief in their life. I know I've been down that road plenty of times. Every time I get on a goddamn train I feel like that. (laughs) You think it, but you don't act on it. That's the difference. It's human nature to feel that way.

MU: You write a song about it and get it out of your system.

D2D: Exactly! When I sit down and write my music, it's therapy for me. I write about things that I can't necessarily control but this is my way of controlling it. My way of getting my feelings out is through my music when I sit down to write music and lyrics. I'm telling my story and expressing my feelings. These kids expressed themselves by going into a school with a bunch of shotguns and that wasn't right. It's messed up. It wasn't right and they're sick for doing it. That's unfortunately the way it is and what this world has created. You can't blame music! Those people are looking away from what the problem is. They're not being too smart by holding their rallies against metal music. Spend your time doing other things and counseling children instead of attacking Marilyn Manson.

MU: Exactly. They talk about how the music is too violent, but then you look at the news and the news is all violence.

D2D: Let me tell you something, I've never heard or seen anything that's more violent than rap music. There is no metal song I've even heard of that is more violent than rap music. It's all over MTV and they have no problem playing these rap videos on MTV. I have nothing against rap, but how can you put these rap videos all over MTV and then have the nerve to come down on Marilyn Manson because he looks freaky? In the rap videos all you see is guys shooting each other, but you've got the nerve to come down on metal. It's stupid. People are blind.

MU: What else can I get you to rant about? How about the internet and Napster?

D2D: I think mp3s and Napster and everything is great and it's a wonderful thing. I think it should be controlled and if you are an artist and don't want your music up there, then it shouldn't be up there and if you want it up there then God bless it. There are ways that they can do it. If they can sit down behind a computer and make a Jurassic Park movie where the dinosaurs look so damn real, then they can make a napster program that won't let you download a Metallica song. They can do it. I think it's bad when kids can download a whole album. That's happened to me in other bands where kids come up to me and say, "I downloaded your whole album and it's great." Gee, thanks a lot. Great. Give me $15. We're all guilty. We've all downloaded stuff and as kids we all made tapes of stuff. This is on such a grand scale, it's a little scary. You go to our website and we have two songs available as mp3s. That's only two songs it's not the whole album. Everybody has that attitude, "If it's for free, it's for me." I have it too. If the artist wants it out there then cool, if not, then Napster should be responsible for taking it off there.

MU: What else can we talk about? Jennifer Lopez? Is her ass too big?

D2D: Definitely not. It's beautiful.

MU: OJ? Guilty or innocent?

D2D: Guilty!

MU: Bush?

D2D: A moron!

MU: Guliani?

D2D: A nazi!

MU: Britney Spears? Real or fake?

D2D: Die!!! I'm kidding. Fake. Pass her around with the boys. Britney and the rest of them are a bunch of bullshit artists. They preach to be so wholesome, but she is totally selling sex. Catering to the lowest common denominator - which is fine by all means. I love a porno just as much as the next guy. But if you're gonna stand up on your podium and preach to me how pure you are, c'mon! Don't feed me that line of shit!

MU: Have you been approached for the next Backstage Sluts video yet?

D2D: NO! We haven't.

MU: You'd better get your manager on that!

D2D: We can't do that I'm involved. We're all involved.

MU: Don't worry it's strictly off the record. (wink wink)

D2D: There have been a lot of bands to come out of Brooklyn. Biohazard, Life of Agony, Type of Negative, etc. Although all these bands came out of Brooklyn, they all have a different sound. I think that it shows the individuality of people that are New Yorkers. You go to Seattle and they all have a certain sound. You go to California or Florida and they have California or Florida sound. Why is it the bands from New York all sound so different? It's because New York is so diversified and everybody is so different. Dust to Dust sounds different. We have elements of a lot of different things but we don't sound like any of those other Brooklyn bands. Maybe it's a pride thing for New York bands that they are made up of individuals and don't try to sound like anybody else. They're not selling themselves out. They're doing what they want to do. I'm not saying people from Seattle were selling themselves out. They obviously weren't. They started a whole new sound. Maybe something like New York Hardcore. It had a sound, but you take a band like Quicksand and a band like Helmet, they sound nothing alike. People try to slap labels on this band and call us alternative and we have elements of prog rock. Whenever anybody asks me what I consider Dust to Dust to be, I just flat-out say, "It's Metal. It's just Metal." I'm not ashamed to say it. I'm proud to say this is a metal band. All these bands with their labels - what are you ashamed to say what you are? We're metal with a different flavor. Limp Bizkit, Korn, they're all metal. It's all rooted in metal. If they try to say anything different, who the hell are you kidding? If you took Bruce Dickinson and made him the vocalist in Limp Bizkit, it would be metal. What makes Limp Bizkit different? They're just rapping. Metal is very diversified these days, but they all try to avoid that label.

MU: Where do you see the metal scene in a couple of years? And where do you see Dust To Dust in the metal scene in a couple of years?

D2D: Hopefully, we'll be in it. I don't know where we'll be. Hopefully, we'll still be in the game and still be making music.

MU: No one can deny metal is making a comeback. It's getting bigger and bigger every day.

D2D: I'm happy it is. Metal for the masses. That's what I say. Get it out there and get everyone into it. I think people that are into metal and the kids that are into metal. . . I think it shows the type of person they are. I think a lot of people that are into metal are more intelligent people and more open and I think it shows what their views are as individuals. Of course, you've got some idiots! (laughs) I think a majority of the people that are into heavy music are, from my experience, more intelligent people. If you go to an Ozzfest, you might think differently. (laughs) You go to an Ozzfest in Camden, NJ, and you're like where do these people come from? C'mon. You get a couple of quarts in you and you ain't gonna be too intelligent either. You're there to have a good time. Smoke a couple, drink a couple and you ain't gonna be no fuckin' Einstein. The most intelligent people, though, are gonna be a little more daring and go for something different. I don't think it requires a lot of intelligence to listen to Britney Spears or N'Sync. I'm not saying they don 't have catchy songs. I think the more the people that get into metal, it would give me more hope for music in general. Metal is daring and is always breaking new ground. If all you want is to shake your booty on the dance floor, then don't pick up a Dust To Dust CD. If you want get into music that can be deep and interesting and you want to sit back and spark one up and listen to a cool album and feel the vibe and just get into it, then go out and buy the Dust To Dust CD.

MU: Radio has been kind to you so far.

D2D: Generally, we've been getting good feedback on "New Low" and other stuff. It's definitely starting to move on radio. I couldn't be happier. Bring it to the people and let the people judge. It boils down to having a label that is very supportive and willing to do what it takes to break a band. You can't be afraid to take a crowbar to that wallet and throw down t he cash if you believe in something. That's what I've always believed. That's why I'm living the life I do. I believe in what I do. I believe in my music and I'm putting it all on the line for this. We all are. We don't come from rich families. We worked shit jobs. We're doing this because we love it and we believe in it. You would hope that you have a record label behind you that's gonna do the same. I honestly believe that Sanctuary has very good intentions and hopefully they will live up to the philosophies and promises that they've laid before me.


Dust to Dust Concert Review





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Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
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