The Stevenson Ranch Davidians - On The Bright Side Of The Force

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The13th AÑO: 4





[ Interview With Dwayne Seagraves from The Stevenson Ranch Davidians by Marina Cimerilli. ]


With the launch of their new material and in advance of it, the band Stevenson Ranch Davidians (a.k.a the Davidians) recently released two singles, whose videoclips are already on the web: the indomitable “Wack Magic”, a dense and stiff psychedelic slap, and “Holy Life”, which could be seen as the opposite, a life celebration with a Dream-pop pulse and sweet perfume of the most experimental The Byrd´s era. That is to say both They leave the rod very high respect to what is coming. With two albums on the street and a new one coming soon via Picture In My Ear Records (an independent label based in Minneapolis), the question with this guys from California has been always spinning around the figure of Dwayne Seagraves, motor power of the project and also singer, songwriter and producer of the album. In line with the innovation spirit that characterizes this stage of the band, he chose to enlarge the brotherhood and one of the guests is nothing less than Rob Campanella, current member of Brian Jonestown Massacre. In 2006 the english label Northern Star Records included the Davidians in the compiled “Psychedelica Volume One”, some kind of contemporary version of the legendary Nuggets & Pebbles, who contribute to make visible the exponents of the new psychodelia, which included bands such as The Black Angels, Electric Prunes and The Telescopes. And that’s why, in the musical universe of S.R.D., in addition to linking them with the sound of people like James, The Verve, Mazzy Star or Spiritualized, they also have very muddy boots with the 60s Californian psychedelia. “Amerikana”, which will be officially released on June 9th, is the first work of the band since 2009 and Is accompanied not only by the aforementioned renovation of campus, but also by a re-addressing around the philosophy that permeates the songs, and both the cover art and the hypnotic videos created by Jacob Kedzierski are a true reflection of this new powerful message. The project is now at its most mature point, and in this context we talked with Dwayne Seagraves, commander of this highly committed psychedelic journey, to tell us in his own words. . It´s been almost 8 years since the band released connected to the music and the audience. It sounds “Life And Death”. What happened in Dwayne Sea- and feels better than ever right now and I'm really graves´ life during this period? happy about that. Oh not a whole lot really. I did a lot of gardening, learned how to grow food, worked, travelled and just lived life. After listening to “Amerikana”´s new tracks (specially “Wack Magick”), it feels like something more This new stage finds the band with a renewed li- intense is about to come. ¿How does the rest of the ne-up. Tell us a little more about this, and about new album sound like, and how it differs from the banmembers. d´s previous recordings? Well I knew that if I was going to start playing Well to be honest, Wack Magick is probably the live again, it would have to be with a new group of most "intense" song on the record. It was the very people. It just had to be different in order to move first of these new songs that I wrote and recorded forward. Jessica Latiolait is still on bass. Rob Cam- and it just came screaming out of me one day dupanella has been a longtime friend/supporter of the ring a very strange and pivotal period in my life. The band and I really have to credit him for this current rest of the record is pretty eclectic, at least compalineup coming together. When he came in to play red to my past work. It's all rooted in Gospel, Blues, guitar he brought his brother, Andy Campanella in Country, Folk, Soul and Rock and Roll with a littto play drums and he also brought Misha Bullock le Psychedelia sprinkled on top. It's different from in to play rhythm guitar. I really wanted to free my- our previous recordings in that there is just more self up from having to play the guitar all the time so confidence and energy behind what we're doing this that I could focus more on singing and feeling more time.


60´s Californian psychedelia seems to be more present than ever; who are your musical referents, or favorites, from that period? I love all music from the 60's. It just came out of such an amazing period of social and cultural upheaval, partially fueled by certain mind altering molecules of course, and it was happening at a time when the absolute best sounding recording technology was being used . Of course I love The Beatles. Of course I love the Stones. Of course I love Bob Dylan. The Doors are probably my favorite California band. Love is another favorite of mine. Both bands were just so unique in the midst of all the poppier, goofy shit that was going on around them in L.A. at the time. Oh The Byrds of course. Notorious Byrd Brothers is one of the greatest records of all time. The Bee Gees' first two or three records completely blew me away. So beautiful. So perfect, and way better vocal harmonies than The Beatles or The Beach Boys if you ask me. Early Pink Floyd was my first real introduction to Psychedelic music. I actually heard that stuff before I even knew who Pink Floyd was because I was a pretty sheltered kid. I somehow came across a biography about the band and immediately made a point to go find Saucerful of Secrets and Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Of course I eventually figured out that this was the same band I'd heard every single day on classic rock radio but that stuff never had the same affect. Another huge influence was Lee Hazlewood. I don't even remember the first time I heard him or where I was at the time but this was much later in life and I have never been more obsessed with anyone else's records. The best six bucks I ever spent was on the first disc of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Chronicle compilation. I also love Leonard Cohen. The next best 6 bucks I ever spent was on his greatest hits. The one with the yellowish cover of him looking into a mirror. I also love a lot of the black soul and white country music from that period. You say that “Amerikana” stands up for individual empowerment, and also states how important it is to preserve freedom of spirit. This is also shown through “Holy Life” video, which celebrates union and

evokes a return to the origins. Could you tell us what inspired or motivated you to work with this concepts in the record? Yeah. Well I'm the type of person who prefers to confront unpleasant truths while most people seem to prefer to block them out, ignore, or suppress them, and the truth that I see is that the general human population is under attack in this country and around the world. I understand that this might be news to a lot of people, but believe me, there is an increasing number of people realizing this every single day. Our minds, our bodies, our food, our health, our children, our money, our culture, our planet, our futures are all under relentless attack by the global power elite and I really feel like we are in a very crucial time where we have the ability to really fight back and to win. We have the tools to do it and a lot of us know who we are fighting. Of course the enemies of humanity know this as well and are pushing back more than ever so there is a very real life battle of good vs. evil that is happening and that is basically what this record is about. The beautiful album cover, besides looking like the perfect environment for a SRD concert, also reflects a change in the band´s aesthetic/artistic direction. Tell us a little bit more about the cover and what it represents. It's perfect. I'm so happy with it. I just spent about a day searching through old public domain images and paintings online. I knew I wanted to incorporate the pyramid image somehow and when I came across this painting with these guys pointing at something, I knew right away it was going to work. To me, the painting is such a great representation of freedom and beauty, which I then juxtaposed with this big black ominous, oppressive pyramid and the all seeing eye, which is a symbol that the enemies of humanity love to use. It's on our one dollar bill here in the U.S. and a prominent symbol in Freemasonry. The pyramid represents centralized power, top down hierarchical control and the eye is said to be the "Eye of Providence" which I suppose is their way of convincing themselves, or us that they're doing their "great work" under the watchful eye of some

higher power. It's just a bunch of elitist nonsense. So there you have it. That's more than you ever wanted to know about the album art. In connection with that landscape on the cover: what kind of environment do you choose to compose your songs, if you have some preference? I definitely feel at home when I'm out in nature so that's a very conducive environment where I can be contemplative and open enough to let a song come in, or come out. I haven't figured out which way that works yet. Probably both. The actual composition of a song though happens almost entirely in my head, and usually while I'm driving, or gardening, or laying in bed before I go to sleep. For those of us who didn´t have the opportunity -yet- to enjoy you guys playing live: what´s a SRD concert like? As I'm writing this we have only played one show with the new lineup so it's hard to say but I know it's an authentic experience, and it's one in which it's very important for me to be able to communicate and connect with people in person, face to face. The internet, social media, and the recordings are all great tools for communication but it's so impersonal and it's so easy to overthink things, and there's also so much nuance that gets lost in those formats. I just think that real time forms of communication are far more effective and so in that sense, and at the

risk of sounding grandiose, I feel like our shows will actually be spiritual experiences. I know they will be for me. I'm not talking about some supernatural or mystical thing here but I'm referring to the human spirit and the ability for art and music to really move people in ways that resonate with that. That's what I think our shows will be like. At least that's what I hope our shows will be like. As composer/producer and central force of the project, what´s your work philosophy regarding the band, records, shows, etc., into the independent circuit? My philosophy in regards to the music and the promotion and propagation of the ideas within the music is just simply to do everything within our means to get them into as many people's ears as possible. I was never interested in doing that with our previous releases. I'm proud of all that stuff but I wasn't as confident with it as I am with this new stuff so we're just going for it and we're gonna see what we can make happen this time around. To conclude: soon you´re starting a several-weeks tour through West Coast. Do you plan to visit South America on another occasion? No. Unfortunately we don't have plans to do that just yet but I'd love to. I think we need to get some more fans down there first. Maybe a few of them are reading this interview now! Thank you.



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