Wednesday, 13th December 2017. 3:48:24pm ET
Interviews Experimental, IDM, Glitch Interview- Brandon Strader

Grave Concerns: Hey Brandon, it’s nice to meet you…how are you?

Hey hey, I’m doing pretty well. I’ve been attending college, and I’m actually responding to these questions during a break between classes.

Grave Concerns: You’re a very busy fellow with your music; please tell us about “Rainwound” and “In Staid Grace”. What makes each of those bands unique and enjoyable for you to be apart of?

Rainwound is what I would really love to spend my life on. It’s the first “band” project that I started on, and I’m really hoping that I can keep it going as long as I live. I won’t be releasing spoken word albums under the name when I’m 80, but I do plan to keep whipping up that glorious prog that I love so much! I wrote my first song in Rainwound, and also recorded them, so it was a very touching experience for me. It is really what made me decide to spend my life working with music. There’s no better feeling than hearing your creation come to life, and playing it!  With Rainwound, I really have an area to experiment and do what I want. I already know what style I’m going to go for with the third album! The second one is written, and a demo of it is recorded, but the lyrics and re-recordings are still underway.

In Staid Grace, on the other hand, is my “heavier” side-project. I originally named this project Satanic Dirge, but I quickly grew to dislike that name. I wrote my first black metal song with this band, called “Venom” (http://www.instaidgrace.com/music/trib_venom.mp3 - download). At that time, I was really influenced by Dimmu Borgir, which is pretty obvious. Each song basically displays a different influence on me, like “Stages of Rapture” was influenced by Anaal Nathrakh, and “Aerial View” was influenced by My Dying Bride. I think “Epitaph” was influenced by Katatonia, “Chaos” (http://www.instaidgrace.com/music/trib_chaos.mp3 - download) was influenced by Sigh, and so on… Although I didn’t rip these bands off in the least, I was simply influenced by them and created my own music that fell into that genre or featured similar elements!

Grave Concerns: What do you hope listeners will be able to identify your music with?

I’m really hoping to create a splash in the metal scene to say the least. I think people will be able to recognize the way I sound, and the songwriting style that I have. It’s really something I was born with and it’s unique, and I hope people can accept it and enjoy it. With Rainwound, I’ve only written concept albums, so people will be able to follow along with the story in the songs and imagine their own imagery while they listen. I haven’t really supplied too much imagery with the CDs, as I believe that puts a stem on peoples’ imaginations.

As far as In Staid Grace goes, the first CD was very epic but it required a certain kind of listener to be able to appreciate the different genres and movements in almost every track. Some people said that it was not organized, and I really don’t know what to say to that. They don’t really conform to what you would typically expect, but I do believe there was a great flow on that CD. The next CD that will probably be done in 2008, Revelations, has a much better consistency between tracks. I can assure you that there will be even more experimentation than before. I guess you could call it organized disorganization. I’m just having fun with it, really. I guess that’s what I want people to realize on the larger scale. It’s just a lot of fun. Sure, music is a passion, but they shouldn’t always take it so seriously. I believe if you look at black metal from a distance, you’ll find the society and the lifestyles of those involved to be pretty damn funny!

Grave Concerns: How did you come up with your band names? I especially like “Rainwound”…there’s such a play on words with that one…gentle, calming, but hurtful.

Exactly! That’s the idea behind the name in a nutshell, and I’m glad some people are able to figure it out. I really had the idea of mankind in mind when I was thinking of the name in 2005. There’s the Biblical creation of Adam and Eve made from the dust of the ground. The way I see the word Rainwound is like cleansing mankind in a way. The rain arrives and cleanses mankind and their environment of the dirt of the day. You could call the dirt sin, or whatever you can imagine.  

In Staid Grace will probably be much harder to explain. Like I mentioned before, the band used to be called Satanic Dirge. What I basically did, was tried to create as many anagrams of the phrase as possible. I ended up discovering “In Staid Grace”, and I named one of the songs on the new CD after that. When I finally got fed up with the old name, I actually named the band after that song. It’s really weird if you think about it, as songs are usually named after bands. It’s the other way around in this case!  In Staid Grace, by a literal definition, means something that is performed in a state of dignified expression. It’s really a cool name, and I like it a lot. The name Satanic Dirge was a lot less dignified to say the least, and I do think the new name matches a lot more appropriately.

Grave Concerns: So what can you tell us about your part on the album “Subject to Thoughts”, an album that you perform vocals and guitar on, and one that your friend Mark, from Transcend with Time has written the lyrics and additional music for?

From Sunrise to Sunset was my debut with Subject to Thoughts. The band is really Mark’s brainchild. He wrote all of the music and the lyrics, and he had the music recorded and sent it to me to provide the vocals and guitar solos. He included guide vocals that basically showed the timing for each part, but to be honest, I only really used them to know when to start singing. I really just did my own thing on the recording session for the vocals. I didn’t even use the melodies that he had… I was a bit scared at what he would think when I sent the songs back with vocals on them, but he seemed to be very happy with the results!

I usually recorded the guitar solos after doing vocals on a song so that I would know where it was safe to do them. I got a new Dunlop wah pedal for Christmas that I used (and abused!) on From Sunrise to Sunset. It was a good learning experience for me with that, and it was a lot of fun. In a way, using the wah pedal shifts your focus half way between actually footing the pedal, and playing the guitar. It was fun to try to balance those two aspects together.

After we finished From Sunrise to Sunset, we decided to make a free online-only song for people to download. This song is called Love Forever. The major difference on this one is that I wrote the lyrics!  I really think the song has my best vocal performance to date, and some of the most touching lyrics I’ve written… but I may just do even better with the new Rainwound CD that should be done next year! Subject To Thoughts is a great band for me to swim around in the sound and try out and refine my skills.  

Grave Concerns: What are your favorite songs on  “Rainwound”, “In Staid Grace” and “Subject to Thoughts”?

First off, I’d like to say that I really love all of the songs that I’m involved in, but since I have to choose… I’ll list some and the reasons why.

Rainwound

The Task – because it was the first real song I ever wrote
Rainwound – because I couldn’t believe what I had created when I was done!

In Staid Grace

Chaos – this song was really a mashup of all my skills and influences at the time.
Aerial View – It’s the crushing doom track from the first CD. I’m proud of it!
Lifestream – I know this song isn’t done yet, but I have high hopes for it…

Subject To Thoughts

Staring Into The Sky – It’s like this song was meant for me to sing!
Closer To Salvation – I did some really great vocals on this one, nice harmonies!
Love Forever – Of course this is a favorite…  It’s a great song!

Grave Concerns: How do you find the time to musically balance it all?

I don’t.  I can tell you with honesty, if it weren’t for attending college, I could have had everything done and been mixing and mastering it by now! The new Rainwound and In Staid Grace CDs have been shelved for far too long because I am too busy. I tend to wait until the last minute with stuff and then do it all at once without stopping. Same goes for schoolwork and writing reviews for www.maelstrom.nu. You’d be surprised that I’m so busy with school, that some classes are actually overpowering others in my schedule. It’s a sick game indeed. I usually only get the chance to listen to music while I am driving on the way to, and from, school. So I really don’t find the time, but if I’ve got a little break between classes or whatever, I may run home real quick and record some vocals! It’s a big process that is basically performed over many weeks. A project management professional would probably slap me silly.  

Grave Concerns: You recently put up a Youtube Channel link on your MySpace page having to do with bands you’ve filmed back in 2005 …that’s very cool. You’re also in the process of filming more bands?

Well, I would really love to tape as many bands as I could see, but that isn’t always possible. The show was a very small local show with some really cool bands. Admission was $5 and there was no security whatsoever. It was just a very small, local show. That’s how I was able to record that footage with no problem. I can’t film anything anymore because my camcorder has some strange internal damage that keeps it from working properly. I can play back tapes I have already recorded, but I can’t record anything new or even go into recording mode, or it goes crazy and spits out the tapes!

At the moment, I’m sticking with a digital camera and a voice recorder. I’m going to be covering Behemoth, Gojira, Beneath the Massacre, and Job for a Cowboy on November 9th (Friday) at Mr Smalls Theater up in Pittsburgh. I’m expecting an awesome show, and I will surely take a lot of pictures. That Youtube channel will probably be out of service for a good while. I might also put up some more personal things, like kitten footage. It’s really just a channel for me to upload whatever videos I want that I made.

Grave Concerns: Would you at some point like to move in the direction of video director? Do you have any bands in mind that may be up for the challenge?

That would actually be an awesome thing to do. I’ve recorded with a camcorder on my own, and I’m sure directing a real movie is a lot more difficult than that. I would really love to give it a try someday, however, after I’ve got some experience and training. If I had good examples of my work and low prices, I’m sure a lot of local bands would be interested. Heck, Mark would be interested! If it weren’t for my camcorder being broken, I would probably make a nature video to play Subject to Thoughts songs over!

Grave Concerns: Have you ridden a mechanical bull? How about horseback riding? I’ve gone horseback riding---loved it! I’d like to give the mechanical bull a spin. (:

Hah… Well, I’ve never ridden a mechanical bull, or even a real bull. I would really rather not have a set of horns in my rear! I think I sat on a horse once when I was a kid, but naw…haven’t really been the animal-riding type. I have trouble staying on a bicycle, so I’m sure riding a horse would be a lot harder!

Grave Concerns: What do you feel are the strengths and the weaknesses of “Rainwound” and “In Staid Grace”? And how will you go about keeping those strengths alive, while reaching for improvements?

I hope you don’t mind if I lump the bands together for this question. The weaknesses I’ve always had with the music is that the production wasn’t good enough. Believe it or not, but a lot of people decide whether they like something depending on the quality of the production. I mixed the music as good as I could, and I thought it sounded very strong when it needed to, and just right for the clean passages. I realize that the music is much quieter than your average big-budget CD, and you have to turn the volume knob up… but is it really that hard to do that? I’m adjusting the volume and equalizer in my Jeep all the time. Every CD I listen to has a different style of production and volume and it needs to be adjusted.

I personally think that the mixing and equalization that I did on the CDs was pretty good. Of course I’m going to keep trying to improve my skills with that and try to make the new CDs sound as good as possible. I’ve picked up a lot of new gear lately, including new microphones, a new amp head and cab, an interface, cables, and all kinds of goodies. I spent my whole life savings on this stuff just so I could try to make the music sound better with these new CDs. If I’m successful, I’ll be able to send the CDs out to labels and zines and get it reviewed. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a good label at some point that will help me put the CDs out.

Grave Concerns: Write whatever comes to your mind after reading the following:
1.Steam rose from… the airship
2.Blue ink dripped… from the broken pen
3.This is what I noticed… when I thought to myself
4.Now is my time to… party, or fight!
5.Specks of light… caress my form

Grave Concerns: I see that you draw…hey man, pretty cool stuff you’ve created! I really like it. Tell us more about how this other artistic passion became…and where would you like to see this lead?

I’ve always doodled since I was a kid. I think a lot of people did! Even to this day, I always thought using coloring books was a lot of fun. During my first semester at college, I took an art class. It was college drawing, and we basically worked with black and white. I had pencil, charcoal, and ink. I think I do the best with charcoal since it can be smudged and I usually make much larger pictures with it.

There’s always a good application for drawing skills. I’m taking Interactive Digital Media as a major, and I’m working with Photoshop right now. I think we may even use those drawing tablets at some point. I always had a much steadier hand on paper than if I tried to draw with a mouse, so I don’t even see an end to developing this skill. Plus, it’s a great skill to have for designing artwork, and fliers.

Grave Concerns: I’m giving you 13 letters to choose from, in any order; you only have to use 6 of them (you can use more if you want, but not less than 6) and you have to make up a phrase describing one of your characters you drew coming to life. But only with these letters...DSGKPUAEMBCTR.

Duck Team… and I ran out of vowels for the third word. J

Grave Concerns: OK…what’s up with your blog entitled “The Final Blog”…set in the future, not too distant either…Saturday, December 11, 2010? Hey, I’m all for creative expression dark or not…so, what’s the deal, my friend?

It’s not really intended to be dark expression… but I guess it is a pretty bleak topic. I believe that there’s not much time left in the world, so I basically poured my heart out to all of my friends and family in that blog. I began writing more blogs after that one and it was getting lost, so I set the date for the future. December 11th, 2010 is actually the latest date available on MySpace. I would have much preferred to set it to December 23rd, 2012. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but that is where the Mayan calendar ends and they predicted the end of the world.  I don’t believe in voodoo and other nonsense, but they’ve been right on things in the past. Nobody really knows what the ancient Mayans had going for them at the time. They may have actually spoken to God to get that date. Nobody knows. But I guess we’ll see. It’s only about 4 years away now.

Grave Concerns: Favorite flavor of ice cream? I have a bunch, but I do like to swirl my around until I have what looks like a lump of soft serve in my bowl.

Chocolate! My all time favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate. Apart from that, I could enjoy pretty much anything. Ever hear of Superman ice cream? Moose tracks is pretty great as well. I remember having some of that “ice cream of the future” that was a bunch of tiny balls of ice cream that stuck to your tongue. That was both fun and delicious.

Grave Concerns: Being a member of MySpace, how has it helped, or hindered your musical endeavors? And which countries do you feel have embraced your music the most?

I’d have to say that MySpace has been a great tool… most people probably don’t even visit the official websites, and the MySpace page gives me a great chance to keep in touch with the listeners, and the statistics… stuff like that. It’s also pretty easy to promote the band on there, though I’m not sure how many of the thousands of people actually listen to the music. Probably 100 or less? It can be a big waste of time sometimes, but if it weren’t for MySpace, I probably wouldn’t have met my “#1 Fans” and such. I’d have to say that overall, the affect has been more positive than negative. It’s tough to really promote the bands in my area. There aren’t a lot of live shows, and this is a really small, quiet town. I’m always trying to figure out new ways to get people interested or aware of my music!  I will probably try to print up stickers, or at least fancy fliers to hand out, at some point.

Grave Concerns: You’ve been asked to create a new word defining your style of music. What is that word?

Lifulous.

Grave Concerns: As a musician, you know how difficult it is to get ones music out and heard. If you were to put together your own line-up of bands or artists you’d like to open for you, who would they be? And if you were able to open for one band, whom would you choose?

Oh, oh yes, I do know how hard it is, oh yes…. Indeed! Well, I really don’t see bands opening for Rainwound any time soon… That would probably be like 30 or 40 years in the future. By that time, there will be more generations of bands and music will evolve…. Hmmm… but let’s just say Rainwound magically got a headlining spot within 5 years? ;)

I’d say it would be incredible to have Kaipa, The Flower Kings, and IQ open for Rainwound. That would be one incredible night of prog. Heck, I’d love to see all those bands in one place myself. If Rainwound were to open for a band, it would be cool to open for The Flower Kings, or Novembers Doom, Porcupine Tree, Opeth… I know a few of those are the “typical” answer that would be expected, but it would probably be a good chance to get a foothold in their fan base! Opening for Kaipa would probably be pretty incredible as well.  There are so many bands to choose from, really. If I got to choose a whole huge list, Wintersun would be on there, and Nevermore, etc…

Grave Concerns: Have you ever stuck black olives on your fingers and ate then off? It’s so much fun! (:

I used to do that when I was a kid. After I started growing up, my fingers got too large to fit olives on. I still like black olives though, they’re very scrumptious.

Grave Concerns: When do you find you’re most creative with your singing and music?

With singing, I tend to be the best right before bedtime. I’ve had the whole day to warm up, and my throat is totally prepared. The only problem is, people are sleeping by then and I get tired very fast and ready for bed. Strange how that works, isn’t it? If I get up super early and sing in the car or whatever, I can get warmed up well enough to sing during the day.

I still have no idea about the best time for songwriting. I really just shrugged it off as being what I felt at the time… I mean, I can’t just sit down and go “I’m going to write a big epic piece now!”  If I try to force it, it never works. I will usually be playing guitar, and I’ll play a riff, then a connecting riff, some more riffs, and I’ll actually think of most of the material for a song at the time. A lot of stuff just gets forgotten because I can’t remember it later on. The stuff that you hear, however, is the stuff that was good enough for me to remember. That really makes me happy… It’s exactly what I want it to be, I guess! Different moods and environments do produce different results. Also, having echo or reverb effects could bring about their own unique flavors for a song.

Grave Concerns: If you were able to put on a concert for charity, which one/s would you be supporting, and which artists would you like to headline?

If I were organizing this concert, it would probably be a charity that I create myself. I don’t really think you can trust charity organizations these days. A lot of them only donate a few cents of the dollars donated. I would probably collect the donations, split it up into thirds, and send one third to different organizations. I could send a third to cancer research, a third to Parkinson’s / Alzheimer’s research, and the last bit could go to finding alternative fuels or whatever. There are a lot of possibilities and great places that you could throw a few bucks at.

Here’s where the surprising part comes in: Metal and prog rock don’t make money. I’d get the most popular rap, hip hop, and rock artists in the mainstream to headline the show. It may sound like selling out, but that’s exactly what you want to do when it comes to charitable events. Avril Lavigne could do a 50 Cent cover, and Eminem and Dr. Dre could reunite and make a new song that will turn into a billion-dollar radio single.

The sad thing is, a lot of these people are practically rolling in money… If you could get them to perform non-profit and donate all of the earned money to charity, it would be a good event.

Grave Concerns: As a musician, how does the music in movies affect you? And if you were asked to compose a song for a soundtrack, which genera would that be in? Now let me take that question even further---actually backward; if you were to go back to the past, with your current music in hand, and were asked that same question, would any of your songs stand out as a good fit? If so, which song and movie would it have been?

The music in movies can make or break a movie. A good example would be a recent movie that came out called “The Invisible”. I believe this movie had the perfect collection of songs for the soundtrack, it was just spotless. I really enjoyed the movie because the acting was good and the soundtrack conveyed the right feelings. If I was asked to compose a song, it would either be a song for the ending credits (which could be any series of genres depending on the movie) or some kind of mystery traveling theme, like through the forest or whatever.

Someone searching for answers… I could probably make a good song to go over that sequence. I really don’t know about the second part. There were a lot of great movies in the past, but their soundtracks were so great that I really wouldn’t touch them. I really had to think hard about this one, and I can’t really give a solid answer on this. Maybe portions of “Chaos” would have worked well in the movie ‘Hellboy’! Perhaps somewhere in ‘Little Nicky’ would be pretty funny.

Grave Concerns: Anything else you care to share with us about yourself and your music?

Well, I can assure you guys; it IS going to happen! As soon as I figure out how to record using the new equipment and I get the final piece of hardware that I need, we’ll be in business.

I’m also making stuff for an acoustic project of my own under my own name. I have one song prepared for that at the moment, but I’ve got ideas for a few more. That’s going to happen too! It used to be so much easier and less complicated when I just recorded everything direct input. Now I’ve got gear all over the place and recording is like entering a hyperbolic time chamber and nothing can be moved or the sound will change!

Anyone who is interested in knowing more about me, or who would like to be friends can just contact me or add me on MySpace. It’s http://www.myspace.com/oinkness, and there’s a lot of contact information, biographies, and free mp3 downloads on the official websites, which I believe are listed below! The CDs are also available for ordering!

Grave Concerns: Brandon, it’s been a pleasure being able to know more about you and your music. We here at Grave Concerns wish you well in all your music and other artistic endeavors. Keep in touch! Cheers.

Yeah, thanks a bunch to you guys too! I will try to keep in touch, for sure. We may have to do this again someday!

Grave Concerns: For more information on “Brandon Strader” check out
www.rainwound.com, www.instaidgrace.com, myspace.com/rainwound, myspace.com/instaidgrace, and myspace.com/oinkness.


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