Talking To Trioscapes' Dan Briggs

Dan Briggs is used to pushing the envelope. His main band, Between The Buried And Me, is full of twists and turns that throw convention to the wind. Naturally, his side project would not be an exercise in restraint. Trioscapes is as progressive as anything he has ever done, eschewing normal instrumentation and structure to put together an album that needs to be heard to be understood. He was kind enough to answer some questions on the nature of his music, how he approaches creativity, and what the future holds.
Where did your interest in doing a jazz project come from? Is this something you've always wanted to do?
I've always been a fan of fusion music, and I have a bit of a background in jazz from when I was in highschool, but I never set out to do a "jazz" group. We don't consider what we're doing jazz, the fact that there's a saxophone in the mix is the only reason people pull the jazz card. What you're hearing are three dudes experiementing with the amount of sound, and the types of sounds, that can be made with a trio.
How did this project come together? Was this something the three of you had always talked about, or did one of you convince the other two?
I contacted Walter and Matt about doing the Mahavishnu Orchestra song "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters". I didn't know what exactly would come of it, but that sparked something between us all.
Metal fans can be extremely territorial. Were you worried about a backlash from Between The Buried And Me's fans?
No…I lastly think of BTBAM as a metal band. Our fans know that's a small bit of our overall makeup. I'd hope the main thing would be our musicality and the fun we have pushing ourselves in our technical ability and in our compositional sense. Those are things that translate to what I'm doing with Trioscapes as well.
Are there any aspects, either to the music or your playing, that you're going to take from Trioscapes and infuse into Between The Buried And Me? Or, do you feel like this is an extension of something you were already doing
Yeah, everything I do is experimental in some sense, I'm always pushing myself to try new things. The musicians I love never repeated themselves and surrounding myself with new musicians helps me to constantly be branching out into new territories.
Do you see any connection between progressive, technical metal and jazz?
You would have no progressive metal without groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra. This connection has been around forever. Go listen to Candiria and Cynic…
Was it a difficult adjustment to go from a metal band and suddenly find yourself working in a group without guitars?
No, there was never a moment where I wished there was a guitar. I purposefully only wrote on bass and piano for this group. It was liberating to try something new.
Heavy metal is very much guitar-centric. Given your experience on this project, do you think it would be possible to create a metal band without guitar that would be taken seriously? How would you do it?
My instrumentation would be tuba, xylaphone, sitar, and kazoo. Things should always be weird.
As a musician, is it more enjoyable to play in a band with more room for the bass to stand out, or is it just a difference experience?
I got to cover both sides of the bass spectrum with this group, being the bassist and just grooving out a line for a whole verse or solo section, and then in turn actually taking over a solo section. There's also alot of parts where in BTBAM I would maybe try and write a reduction line over a crazy melody, but in Trioscapes I'm playing it in unison to really make it stand out more.
Do the limitations of the trio affect the way you write, or your creativity in general?
We have never felt limitations. It's produced all kinds of freedom and fun for trying new things.
Is there a sense of freedom that comes along with a new project, when you don't have an established history to live up to?
Yes, this project is all about freedom and experimenting and not having any pre-concieved notions about what the sound should be. All though really, that's true for any group I'm a part of.
What does the future hold for Trioscapes, Between The Buried And Me, and any yet unexplored creative desires?
Our Trioscapes full length comes out on May 8th, right now I'm getting ready for our rehearsals for our cd release shows and playing the record over and over again. And in two weeks BTBAM will be in the studio recording our latest full length. This is a big music year, I'm super excited.
Do you think Trioscapes can change some metal fans' opinions on jazz? Is that something you thought of while making the record?
I'm just glad we're able to talk about our influence as much as we can. It's mind blowing to me that there are some people out there that aren't so familiar with Frank Zappa's catalog, so if hearing us and wondering what bits of his writing influenced us and leads to people checking out some new music, I back it. I would hope every project I do is opening people's minds to new music.

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