Dale Turner -
I recently had the privilege of reviewing the latest CD by Dale Turner. Needless to say Mannerisms Magnified is a brilliant snapshot of music. It’s strong suit – it's rock solid consistency, song for song unpredictability, & musical brilliance of Dale Turner. The music is highly original, creative, extremely melodic, & like the aforementioned unpredictable as hell. You will have no idea what waiting for you around the next corner – that’s the best part of this musical experience. Equally as impressive is the songwriting virtuoso of Dale Turner. In less time than it takes most cadets to finish paying off their Marine Corps loans he was able to finish a brilliant album. It’s a huge undertaking to write, play & produce all the music himself. My hats off to Turner for taking all this on as it took him nearly 4 years to accomplish. I really admire artists out there who are themselves & just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to the artist that can show us something real and genuine beneath their veil of vanity. Dale Turner is one of these artists. So if you’re looking for a tripped out musical experience that offers rich melodic variety, brilliant songwriting, & total unpredictability then I highly recommend you jump head first into Mannerisms Magnified by Dale Turner as soon as possible.
"brilliant snapshot of music"
"Turner let's it all hang out"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
IMD Dale how would classify your music?
DT I'm kind of a genre jumper; I like many different styles of music. But I refer to the music on my newest CD, Mannerisms Magnified, as "moody, acoustic art rock." If you're a fan of older, darker, non-electronic Radiohead, Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley, Jon Brion, Joseph Arthur, Sufjan Stevens, Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, Mr. Bungle, King's X, or Bobby McFerrin, you're sure to find some common ground. Some who've reviewed it have also related it a bit to Queen, Jellyfish, Todd Rundgren, XTC, & Frank Zappa. What Mannerisms Magnified is, essentially, is a rock band record all done by one guy. But I tried real hard to make it not sound like just one guy. I spent a lot of time developing intricate acoustic and electric guitar parts, piano passages, bass lines, trying to find/create "non-generic" drumming approaches. Obviously, when I'm singing "normally"—somewhat "hard rock" style singing, offset with falsetto moments, and natural, mellower vocal sounds - you can tell all the voices are the same person. But when I'm doing some of the weirder stuff—cartoon-like voices, throat singing effects, and oddball noises - it diversifies the mix a bit. Since many people listen to the vocals more then other aspects of people's recordings, maybe I'll try harder to classify the vocal sound: On Mannerisms Magnified you'll hear Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith-like "intimate" vocal moments, rock-flavored singing that's maybe vaguely similar to Euphoria Morning-era Chris Cornell, OURS' Jimmy Gnecco, and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, all interspersed with wackier Mr. Bungle-era Mike Patton and Bobby McFerrin-type voice effects and sounds, plus vocal harmonies that are like a trippy mixture of the Beach Boys, King's X, and the Carpenters. All those vocal approaches presented over a somewhat progressive, borderline experimental art-rock backdrop, generated from a traditional "rock" rhythm section—guitar, bass, drums, and the occasional piano—with a heavy acoustic guitar presence throughout.
IMD Who are some of your top 5 musical influences as far as musical acts or artists go? Starting with the most influential?
DT Actually, I can give you my top four. Is that okay? Once I venture into five, I'd feel wrong about not listing a million other people! Okay, here goes..BRIAN WILSON, for his chord changes, vocal arrangements, and mastery at interweaving different instrument parts. There's a crazy amount of artistic Beach Boys' music; they're way deeper than being "a band just about surfing and cars." MILES DAVIS, for his devastating gift for melody, and ability to change with the times. He's a genius improviser and innovator, oozing with vibe. Kind of Blue should be in every household, and his autobiography is a must-read. JEFF BUCKLEY, for overall artistic vision and fearless originality. He has a voice that's second to none, and crafts very interesting guitar parts, all put into powerful, emotional, and extremely diverse—yet they all sound like "him"—songs. JON BRION, for his unbelievable multi-instrumentalist, songwriting, and film-scoring abilities, and the fact that he's impossible to pigeonhole and doesn't seem to care about that fact.
IMD Who gets to be the top musical influences over the years?
DT My top musical influence, ever? Well, a million influences and inspirations have helped me get from "point A," closer to "point B." But, looking back, Brian Wilson has been the most enduring, and I guess that makes him "the biggest," influence and inspiration for me. I've been a "loony-level" Beach Boys fanatic since I was six years old!
"I've been a "loony-level" Beach Boys fanatic since I was six years old!"
- Dale Turner -
IMD What inspired you to start singing & composing music in the first place?
DT Well, my dad's brother, Dave Guilland, played drums—and still does, and totally rules—in a band that played clubs in Seattle. They snuck me in to see a bit when I was in 1st grade, or something. I'd hear him play and sing Beach Boys songs that I already knew and loved, and it freaked me out. I also remember a long-time family friend, David Hopper, playing Rimsky Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" in a boogie-woogie "blues" style, really fast, when I was about this same age. Shortly after that I started piano lessons. And I always sang, since I was a kid, but I was super shy about it. I never really sang "lead vocals" publicly until a talent show at a rival high school, which we won, hilariously. Anyways, in addition to piano, since 5th grade, I also played trumpet. But I never started "composing" until I played guitar. Like anyone else, I made up riffs and all sorts of fun "guitar bits." Some got pretty elaborate, and became solo guitar pieces, or instrumental songs for bands I was in, which were all hard rock and metal. Eventually I started to get way into jazz and "classical" music, for lack of a better term… At some point, I wrote a bunch of pieces that were more like "jazz-fusion." It wasn't until I was about 27 though, that I actually became relaxed enough to want to write more vocal-oriented, introspective, somewhat complex, personal songs.
IMD Is there on particular song of yours that really stands out as your personal favorite or most memorable piece? Why is that?
DT That's a tricky one, because I certainly am a fan of all of them! But I guess I'd have to say the opening track, "Brian on the Brain," gets me as being the most memorable, because, though it's clearly adopting the Beach Boys' vocal style—just listen to "Our Prayer" from 20/20, or any of the SMiLE-era bootlegs—it's got a totally different vibe to it, partly due to how it was composed. It kind of rolls through pockets of tonality, has three distinct sections, is under a minute long, and has added impact, because it's the opening track. I guess, all that combined, helps make it memorable—I dig it! All of them are very personal though.
IMD What is the best concert you have been to over the years?
DT Most of Jon Brion's shows at Café Largo in Los Angeles would apply! Man, the next time you're in Los Angeles, and you feel the need to have your skull melted, you must go see Jon Brion's weekly show at Cafe Largo on Fridays. I've seen it six or seven times. He never has a setlist. He plays all the instruments himself—looping a real drum kit, then piano, then bass, then he'll grab one of a dozen types of odd guitars and rock out, singing "live" over the entire thing. Or he'll just improvise at the piano. Or do any song by request. I requested "Welcome Back Kotter" once, and he even did that! But one of the freakiest things is when someone will request a song—like Radiohead's "Creep," for instance—and then a random band or artist name—like Tom Waits, or someone. He'll then spontaneously do a Tom Waits version of that Radiohead song! Or whatever—an Elvis version of a Cars' song, a Beach Boys version of a Nirvana song, a Prince version of a David Bowie song… I've seen him spontaneously do all of the Who's Tommy at one set. It's crazy! And he's super funny too. You will never be the same afterwards, I promise you!
IMD I especially enjoyed the pieces 'Taken" & "Five Things" what else can you tell us about those particular songs? What inspired them?
DT Hmmmm. Well, lyrically, "Taken" is sort of an homage to my father, who lost his life to Lung Cancer. Of course, he didn't have to smoke… Some of the lines in there, like "Uncle Sam killed my old man," are a reference to how, in my opinion, the U.S. Military, in a way, indirectly encouraged their soldiers to smoke, back in the day. My dad went into the Navy after getting tossed out of high school. Back then, in the 1950s, if you were working, you'd get a "smoking break" of 15 minutes, every couple hours. If you did not smoke, you didn't get a break. So obviously, eventually some people started to smoke, since it would also give them a small break. I know it's still my father's fault for smoking, but that was kind of the start of his addiction, and it generated that line in my head one day. As for "Five Things," lyrically, that came about after having long conversations with a friend of mine, who had "five things" that, the moment she thought of any of them, she'd instantly start crying. Her actual "five things" are totally different from those depicted in this song, but the idea certainly sprang from my social adventures with her. The musical aspects of all of these songs though, are not necessarily related to the lyrical aspects, since I create all the music first—vocal melodies included—before I even start thinking "lyrics." The music itself is usually spawned from all sorts of real direct, personal emotional stuff—things we all go through, that for me, would be less interesting, lyrically, to put to paper. I always channel emotion through music most—find solace in it—more than writing my thoughts down. That said, all these lyrics are still very personal to me, they are just different kinds of "babies," to me.
IMD I was touched by the dedication of the CD to your father. How did your dad influence you as a Songwriter & Musician?
DT Thanks for noticing that. My father was not a musician, but was definitely a music lover. The Beach Boys, the Beatles, and Spike Jones were playing on the turntable in our house, back as far as I can remember. As for how he influenced my personal "music" stuff, I'd have to say the biggest things would be in the "work ethic" department—just set goals, and chip away—and in just "living life." He always seemed to have a "plan"—always working on something in the here and now, but had an eye on the future. Each step built upon the next, no matter what the "project" was—building houses, communities, cars, or starting his own company. I saw him make "something" out of "nothing" on an almost daily basis. He just seemed to never be afraid to try stuff—always up to a challenge. I think that really helped implant that "do-it-yourself," or DIY ethic within me. Certainly, as it relates to MANNERISMS MAGNIFIED, which took me years to pull off—writing everything, performing all the instruments and vocals, producing, arranging, engineering it all, doing the album artwork, etc.—he inspired me to give it a go! Plus, he always seemed to be having a good time, despite how hard he worked.
IMD What's the one thing you want fans to take from your music?
DT I'm hoping it's a bit of a rollercoaster ride for people. My goal is to keep creating music that takes the listener on a journey. I hope anyone listening is able to finds things in it that they might not necessarily get from someone else, especially all in one package. I have no desire to chase a trend, or try to sound like anyone else. I just work on songs till they feel and sound "right" to me. I don't think I can really write anything that "sounds like a commercial hit" song. There are tons of people that are a million times better at that than I will ever be. And it honestly doesn't bother me. Instead, you can depend on me for some funny songs that are catchy and intricate, some serious songs that are dark and interesting, and occasionally some "prettier" sounding things. And hopefully you'll dig my guitar playing, and how I play other instruments, as well as my chord progressions, melodies, and lyrics—and laugh at some of my funny voices too! I also hope people enjoy seeing me play live, because it's a totally different experience than on record—hearing these "full band" songs with just "acoustic guitar and voice" is pretty fun.
IMD What's next for Dale Turner?
DT I have many other songs that I'd like to finish and record, of course! But I'm not going to just jump back into "recording mode"; I'm going to work this project for quite a while. There are certainly "new" and "unrecorded" songs I will be playing live, towards the end of this year though, after I take care of a few things. My wife Hiroko, who plays piano and sings, will join me on some of the songs, at certain types of shows. At this exact moment, I'm looking hard into licensing the two instrumental tracks on this disc—"Brian on the Brain" and "Solace Song"—to an independent film. There are also a couple of other songs I've submitted to a quirky television show that would be cool, if it pans out. Another song, "Hiding Place," will be coming out on a couple compilations soon. I will also be filming a video for "She-Hab" in the fairly near future—hopefully it turns out as funny looking as it seems on paper! Meanwhile, I'll continue trying to get some airplay on certain Internet radio sites like Pandora and Slacker, as well as satellite radio, and other broadcast outlets. By the end of the year, assuming I'm able to ramp up "live playing" more by that time, I'll basically be going gonzo with that for a long time, but local only, primarily, with hopefully some "on air" broadcast stuff, live in small radio stations. That's as far ahead as I can look, at the moment. Down the road, in addition to continuing to record more of my own stuff, I would still like to produce more people over here—record different artists, having me play most of the instruments, while they sing, or play whatever their primary instrument is. I recently did that with an artist named Roy Marx, where I recorded, produced/arranged, and played drums on his songs. It was fun! Thanks a lot for asking such thoughtful questions, Cyrus! INDIE MUSIC DIGEST is awesome! I'm honored you'd take the time to hear my thoughts, and let me babble 'bout myself! You rock!
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
Copyright © 2010
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