Takes One To Know One… DANTE WHITE-ALIANO > 3/30/12
In a world made from fabrications of all kinds: John Mayer, Lady Gaga and the evening news (topping the list with the highest levels for distortions), we find ourselves attempting to peer past the thickening haze of electromagnetic information bits in search of something else; something novel; something that brings us closer to the eschaton (or historical climax). While most anything you connect your mind to these days tends to steal your soul and time, DANTE VS ZOMBIES and their album BUH jumps us thru time; is prone to altering the consciousness (be especially on the lookout for this during live shows!), and is full of mighty and costumed talent. Here, is an account of my attempt to unravel the secrets behind this bold adventure. – by Siddhartha’s Max Henri Guirand
Max: Every time we have run into each other, I tend to walk away with the impression that you are shy and possibly introverted. The total destruction of that modality comes the moment you begin singing and moving about the stage. Where do your super-powers come from and how do you and the band coordinate the swell outfits and hyper-space dream attire?
Dante: I guess I’m just one of those people. Many fortnights ago, while attempting a career as a waiter (a true “Natural Disaster” yuk yuk yuk) at a Persian mafia owned San Francisco 24 hour diner that specialized in serving Monte Christos to angry prostitutes, I was told by one of the said prostitutes that I looked like Jeffrey Dahmer. It was then that I suddenly new, In a revelatory flash of brilliance, that I should immediately continue spending countless years floundering about and blindly colliding with philosophical, artistic and financial dead ends until I eventually found myself answering your interview questions. Thank you prostitute!
As for the hyperspace dream attire, We coordinate everything at the last minute. (by last minute I mean the very last minute ever, aka the end of time, hence the “hyper space” aspect of it.) The band’s least successful attempts usually occur when we break that rule.
M: There is a great deal of chatter amongst the humans regarding us all being on the verge of a new kind of age or relationship to the logos. The song ‘Natural Disaster‘ has a couples lines in it: “In another land you find what you found in this one” and “Pick a fairy tale, you’ll believe until you feel smothered“. Are you trying to warn the humans about something, because the song is great and makes me feel optimistic!
D: I don’t think I’m really trying to warn anyone of anything in particular, other than any aspect of their own nature that might bear any resemblance to my own tendency to adopt comforting myths. But I think there’s also a sense in this song, and some of the others, of feeling liberated by a recent realization that I don’t actually need or want comforting myths. P.S. I’ve read a little Pinchbeck. Now I can’t decide, do I want to A) try Ayahuasca or B) someday write a book with coherent structure?
M: What would one expect to see while watching someone perform the martial art moves needed to chase ‘A Ghoul’s Rainbow‘?
D: You’d see a unit consisting of A and B. Then you’d see a third party, which we’ll call “C”, who seduces B. Next, there would be some form of deceit, which would lead to the distengration of A and B. Then B and C would form a unit that was intended to be revolutionarily superior to that of A and B, but was in essence, the same, at which point, D would appear, and C and D would do to B what B and C did to A. And so on so forth. I don’t think a black belt in this discipline is a rare accomplishment.
M: Several of the songs on Buh quickly relay, to my mind, some bright and colorful images with very dark shades sewn in. I picture Gidget grinding on Arthur Fonzarelli while the shadowy character in the white robe and cloak directs dancing animals and reanimated surfers from the earlier Beach Boys albums. Might you be so kind as to elaborate on what’s happening with all the implied characters and hyper-dimensional personalities that have found their way into the album?
D: Can you offer some examples?
M: Totally… I feel like these songs are dreams you have, or that you cause. I think that there are many characters and viewpoints expressing themselves in the songs… sometimes many in a single song. Is that true? How do you visualize these characters? I tend to see images and shapes of music… maybe you could express another way the music on Buh appears in your mind.
D: Hmmmmmmmmm. Next question. No, wait. I’ll answer it. There are some “tears of a clown” elements in there, i suppose. Many of the lyrics deal with nightmarish subject matter but discussed in the form of joyous resignation and acceptance. If you look at the all the most troubled, turbulent, violent societies, they often produce the happiest, most light hearted music. Then on the other hand, you have the most functional countries in the world, and all they’re known for are black metal.
I have been accused of writing nonsense lyrics. I don’t. I think of lyrics as movies. Good movies aren’t about one thing. They have subplots and characters who can’t agree on what’s happening. Since I only have 3 or 4 minutes to tell the story, rather than 90, it may seem a bit hard to keep up, but I promise you, it’s worth it. (Get a B or better on the quiz and you’ll be awarded a handsome certificate.) Watermelon Iodine is actually from the point of view of one character, but the character is pitching a film to a producer. The plot of the film is very simple (There’ an equal amount of women and men, they’re all talking at the same time, A nuclear disaster occurs, and then everyone in the world has a giant orgy right before they die.), but the narrator takes the entire song to explain. Horror Stories For Whores is from the point of view of someone who’s died and is now a ghost. Ta Da! Is about all the houses on my block rolled into one, so that one may be extra confusing for people still on chapter one of “How to write good lyrics”. My poor old parrot is a love song for a woman who killed herself, but instead of me saying I miss her, I let the parrot do the talking. I mean, that’s what they’re there for, right? . Everything’s A-Okay! is really about being committed to a life of ecstasy no matter how horrible things get. Okay, I’m getting annoyed with myself now. Time to shut the fuck up. The thing is, even after that self important little monologue, I’m left with a nagging suspicion that I still haven’t answered your question.
M: I am totally convinced that you have more than answered that question!
M: Why do you do Rock & Roll? Why not be an astronaut? Or work in the postal service? Or as an actor?
D: Ahhh, acting, the tried and true financial safety net. And if that doesn’t put food on the table, I’ve got my trusty poetry. Believe me, I’ve tried to quit more times than I can count. But every time I think I’ve put it behind me for a life of sanity (in which case I’d be played by Michael Douglas), I suddenly remember, “Oh yeah, my so called drive to make music is just some horrible kind of nervous condition. I don’t actually have a choice in the matter. Dag nabbit.” All that being said, I just acted in Allison Anders and Kurt Voss’ newest film. Actually, it’s a documentary about a failed astronaut who becomes a mail man (aka, me) so I’m technically not acting, even though a lot of the flashback scenes are obviously dramatizations, and Cecil Jr., the chimp in the dramatizations, is actually the son of Cecil Sr., the chimp that I trained with at NASA. So that’s kinda neat.
M: To finally meet the ‘alien’ and then to become the alien thru a kind of concrescence reminds me of The Dump, the 6th song on Buh. I’ve wondered if our collective obsession with the ‘other’ has any relationship to alien love. Emerging at minute 1:27 is a kind of hypnotic/alien/telepathic set of questions. Who are you asking and why?
D: It was a good way to come up with a whole new verse without having to write a whole new set of lyrics, but It does serve a conceptual purpose as well. Since in verse 2 I suddenly seem to be doubting the sincerity of someone else’s proclamations of true love, even though in verse 1 I was making an identical proclamation, you could say it pokes a bit of fun at the subjective nature of the feeling of being “in love”. But that fun poking is overshadowed by the overwhelming degree and many instances of owning the feeling myself in the rest of the song.
M: My daughter (almost 5) and I drive around listening to Buh all of the time! My current favorite songs are Ta Da!, Natural Disaster (min 2:39 delivers a fantastic ending), The Dump & Horror Stories For Whores. Which 4 songs will I love next?
D: I’m ecstactic that your daughter likes the record! “Almost 5” is actually my favorite name for a girl. Which four songs does she prefer? Perhaps therein lies your answer? Barring that I’ll say, “Everything’s A-Okay!, My Poor Old Parrot, Watermelon Iodine and I don’t Understand Anything.”
M: I think that she mostly listens to the four I rush to when on a quick trip, so It’s hard to say. I am, however, looking forward to becoming evermore zapped by the next four.
M: It appears as though you have been in (or are in) dozens of bands. After all this energetic output do you feel as though you may be making a positive impact on the Zombies? Is there hope?
D: The root words of Zombie and Versus allow for some meanings of our band name that have been painfully under explored by media pundits. Is there hope? I don’t know, over 99 percent of every species that’s appeared on earth has gone extinct. So I guess the fact that the number isn’t 100% means that there is, indeed, hope for humanity after all. Who knows, perhaps Almost 5 will find the cure for all humanities ills. Just make sure, Max, that you balance out her home schooling with plenty of tractor pulls, tent revivals and Tea party town hall meetings.
M: For my final question, I would like you to tell the folks what you would like us to know about the band. Where did you pick up all those wonderful musicians? How do you guys make such a great live show. I love the live show!
D: Thanks Max. I guess we just try to make music that we’d want to dance and sing along to even if we weren’t performing it. Then we dance and sing along to it. In front of others. On a piece of floor that’s often a little bit higher than the floor in the rest of the building. Sometimes we have lights shining on us so that people will have further clue as to which part of the room to direct their gaze. Last but not least, we amplify every sound we make so that it can be heard.
I wish I could say I found my band mates on”Craigslist” or “Guitar Center” or “Musicians’ Isntitute” or “The Penny Saver”, but unfortunately, we were all friends and collaborators long before this band. Actually, I am just going to go ahead and say that we met at guitar center. We all went to buy the last remaining commemorative 50th anniversary diamond plated Harley Davidson strat at the exact same moment. Of course, a terrible row ensued, but then, as Trevor (13) and Brice (14) launched into the intro to Enter Sand Man, we all saw past our differences and began to nurture an atmosphere of tolerance – a real cultural melting pot! I mean Gabe’s an Irishman (the worst!), Jeff, the red headed jewish guy is actually a quarter Mexican, Matt wears prescription glasses, I’ve always had a high hair line, and Jada and Laena are both female, for crying out loud! If we can pull THAT off then the rest of the world’s so called “problems” will be a cake walk. So to re answer your question, Yes! There is definitely hope. It’s just gonna take a little elbow grease, if not moxie.