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Concept records have long been an interesting subject of dissection in music since LPs like The Who’s Tommy started to stretch the limits of traditional “singles” albums. In 2017, just about anything is possible in this realm, but can you craft something truly transportive?
In the case of the NYC-based sci-fi punk group Dalton Deschain & the Traveling Show, their narratives and sounds present boundless territories to explore with companion Chapbooks to expand even further. Currently, the band is the middle of a three EP arch with their latest, Catherine, premiering in advance of its release here today.
There’s plenty to unpackage with Catherine, so we sent over some interview questions to Dalton Deschain & the Traveling Show to give it all to us in their own words. Check it all out below, pre-order Catherine here and catch Dalton Deschain & the Traveling Show at the Knitting Factory on July 16th.
Hi, Dalton! Congrats on your new EP. Can you tell us a little more on who you are and how you first started the project?
We’re what we call a “pulp-punk” band from New York City. Our style varies pretty wildly from song to song, but it all sort of has its root in punk music. Our songs all tell one big sci-fi/horror story that I dreamt up years ago. Literally dreamt up, like, I had this awful nightmare and the next day started writing songs about it. It’s snowballed out of control since then, and now we’ve started writing short story books to accompany our music releases, and we have a comic book in the works as well.
What’s your songwriting process like? Who are some of your biggest influences?
My songwriting always starts with me finding the right intersection between the part of the story I want to tell, and what subject in my own life I want to write about. I don’t want us to be one of those concept bands with impenetrable lyrics that don’t mean anything unless you’ve read forty pages of internet theories. Each song tells some sort of universal story that’s just filtered through the lens of these characters. For example, in the song “Approximate Girl” on the new EP, I use the story of Catherine to talk about ambition and heartbreak. If you’re invested in the story aspect of it, you’ll learn a lot about the character, but if not, you still just get an emotional breakup song.
As far as influences go, David Bowie is number one. Danny Elfman. Stephen King. Alkaline Trio. I think we’re basically the perfect cross-section of those four, haha.
What are some of the larger themes at play on the EP? What sort of headspace where you in when writing it?
I talked about “Approximate Girl” above, but the lead single, “Tin Laurels,” was definitely written just as Donald Trump was starting to pick up steam as the Republican nominee. Yep, a musician wrote a song about Donald Trump. We’re not sick of those yet, are we? I like to think it’s artfully veiled, anyway. It’s a song about how when things get desperate, it’s easy to put your trust and your energy into people who present themselves as saviors. It’s also easy to give up, but there are always people out there like you who are willing to fight alongside you.
Any dream collaborators or acts you would like to work with?
Right now I do all of our recording engineering, mixing, production, and mastering, so I’d love to work with a good producer and take some of the pressure off of myself, haha. I especially love John Congleton’s work, and would LOVE to record an album with him. We also have a lot of circus/cabaret influences from bands like World/Inferno Friendship Society and the Dresden Dolls, and I’d love to play a show with those bands.
Any new artists/venues/purveyors of the arts in your local scenes you could turn our readers onto?
MAUDE GUN. They are an amazing feminist witchcraft sacred ritual folk-rock band that puts on the best show you’ve ever seen in your life. Based out of NYC, just released an album this year.
Our other band members make music too! Jo Kroger’s band is called Caves & Clouds and they just put out a new record, and our bass player performs under the name David Warpaint.
Where can we follow you and any shows coming up?
Pretty sure I’m the only Dalton Deschain on the internet, so a quick google will bring us up usually. We’re on Facebook at facebook.com/daltondeschainmusic, you can listen to us at daltondeschain.bandcamp.com, our website is daltondeschain.com, and we’re on Twitter/Instagram @daltondeschain.
Our big Catherine release show is THIS SUNDAY at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn at 7:30, featuring Kat Quinn, St. Lenox, and the Fem Doms. This October we’ll be having our big annual Devil’s Night show too, and it’s looking to be reeeeeeeeally fucking wild this year.
Any parting thoughts? Open platform!
Shoutout to Coney Island, best place in the world. Went there this past weekend, saw a freakshow, sat on the beach, rode some rides. As a fan of circus sideshows, Coney Island’s history is fascinating to me. Did you know that many advanced treatments for premature babies were developed at a sideshow exhibit on Coney Island? Dr. Martin Couney, look him up! He would charge admission to view the premature babies in glass incubators, and use the money to finance his research. Coney Island is a wild, wild place, man.