Interview with Dan Briggs of Trioscapes (and Between The Buried And Me)

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Interview by Jason Guest (Band photos by Chuck Johnson)

Thanks to Andy Turner of Metal Blade for arranging this interview.

According to your bio, Triocapes was formed with the intent of playing a
one-off show. What drew you together?

I had my first summer off from Between The Buried And Me duties in 7 years and had been in kind of a creative lull for a little while, I was looking to shake things up and try something new. I honestly didn’t put too much thought into it though, I had booked a show in Greensboro, NC for my friends’ band and needed someone to play with them so I woke up one morning and called Walter and Matt, who I had both talked to separately in the past about playing together some time,  and asked if they were familiar with “Celestial Terrestrial Commuters” by Mahavishnu Orchestra and if they’d like to jam a bit and play the show.

What was it about the material that you were rehearsing that made you want
to write an album?

Well…it was very demanding and required alot of preparation before playing our first show and seemed like a bit of a waste to spend all that energy just playing it once. Plus, it was a lot of fun!

When did writing begin for Trioscapes and Separate Realities?

The very first time Walter and I got together in June 2011 we worked on “Blast Off” and “Curse of the Ninth” which were tunes I already had pretty well fleshed out, as well as working through some of the lines for “Celestial Terrestrial Commuters”.

How does Trioscapes write? Do you write individually or jam out ideas?

Every song was different. I had all of “Curse of the Ninth” put together, and most of “Blast Off” was written and then Matt had a really gnarly beat that became the last section after the solos. That was something new and different for me, writing music just to a beat. I really liked it. Songs like “Wazzlejazzlebof”, “Gemini’s Descent”, and even the fleshed out arrangement of “Celestial Terrestrial Commuters” were all arranged on the spot just by jamming. It was good to find out that we can be really productive with that way of writing too, I preferred that way a lot more than sitting in my room fleshing out ideas.

Does the approach to writing differ for this project than with your other bands?

ORBS songs were mainly fleshed out with Ashley and I being in the same room, that was really important to the process. Only “Eclipsical” and “We the Animal” were tunes that I presented that were all the way finished. BTBAM writing usually happens outside of the rehearsal space, with a lot of arranging happening early in the day before rehearsals start. We just got done writing our new record, and it’s the first time I actually came in with two whole pieces of music that were start to finish done. I thought the guys would add to it, but it was kind of like, “Ok, sounds good! What’s next?” They’re short fun bursts of music, it was nice to be able to capture a single vibe and stretch it out for 4-5 minutes and have it be a singular vision. But that album is a completely different thing all together…we’ll get to talking about that some other time!

Did the writing of Separate Realities give you all space to explore influences and express ideas that you perhaps don¹t have in your other bands?

Oh certainly…Bits of “Blast Off” and “Curse of the Ninth” had been around for a few years. It was just like before Ashley and I started ORBS, I had the beginnings of “Lost at Sea” and most of “Megaloblastic Madness” written since before BTBAM wrote “Alaska”. But that’s the whole reason I do other bands is because I love writing off of people with different creative energy. It’s important for revitalizing me as a musician and keeping me creatively fulfilled.

Are there any particular artists that influenced the writing of Separate Realities?

We were all kind of vibing out on a lot of Zappa, “The Grand Wazoo” and “Roxy and Elsewhere” were high on my listenings that summer. Obviously Mahavishnu and all that were very influential… but this is all music that’s influenced Walter and I for years anyways. Zappa has found its way into my writing with BTBAM since the “Alaska” album (check the
instrumental section in “Autodidact”), and he’s one of my largest musical influences so he’s going to spill over into everything I do. Maybe it’s just a little more obvious in this group.

Did you discover or introduce each other to any artists that you hadn’t heard before?

Walter turns us on to new music just about every time we’re together, haha. At the beginning of our session he got me into this French avant-garde guitarist Marc Ducret and his album “Le Sens De La Marche”, which I listened to an absolute ton. There’s a lot of meandering on the album, but when it finally picks up and gets to the tune, it’s pretty amazing music. But Matt and I were able to get Walter into stuff like King Crimson and Meshuggah… bands that have been a part of our musical make up for years but were new to him.

You’re all clearly technically adept musicians. How do you work to ensure that technique doesn¹t overshadow the music?

We don’t really think about that… I think maybe that’s one thing that keeps this group from being “jazz”, we’re very focused on the composition and on riffs. The solos just kind of naturally find their space within a tune and are really just another layer to what’s already going on.

How do you feel about Separate Realities now that it’s finished? Have you achieved all that you wanted to with it?

Yep! Completely thrilled with how it turned out. I’m so glad that it’s finally almost out there for everyone to hear. You go kind of crazy sitting on material for that long.

What’s the future for Trioscapes? Will you be writing, recording, and releasing more material?

Absolutely. I know everyone’s got little bits. We’ll probably be progressively writing throughout the year.

How do you see the future of Trioscapes and its musical development?

I have no idea! It’s going to be fun to see where we go musically. We naturally want to push ourselves and do a million different things, so I’m sure it’ll be pretty out there. We wanna get weird and even weirder.

How did you work around the scheduling between bands for writing and recording?

I had the full summer off which we spent writing and jamming, recorded in between BTBAM tours in October, and we’ve been playing weekend gigs in between BTBAM writing sessions. My years with BTBAM are laid out super far in advance so it’s easy to fill in the spaces.

Any plans to gig/tour in support of the album? If so, will we be seeing you in the UK?

We just solidified a tour in September that’s gonna take us to most of the cities on the east coast, and we’ll have some stuff to announce soon for June/July. We’d love to get to the UK! It’s just a matter of getting an offer to do so and making sure we can financially do it. Turns out it’s really expensive to get to another country. It even takes a bit of money for bands to get into Canada here!

Many thanks for taking time out for this interview. Do you have anything you¹d like to say to our readers?

We really appreciate the interest in Trioscapes! Know that we truly would love to come to the UK as soon as we can; never fault a band for not getting over there, there’s about a million things that play into it. But we do WANT to get over there, so hopefully there’s enough interest and we can make it happen!

Now you’ve heard ‘Blast Off’, watch ‘em play it live: