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Trevor Dunn (Fantomas)

Interview with Trevor Dunn from Fantomas
by Katrina Cannon at 22 May 2005, 8:45 PM

Finally, after 6 years of listening to them, not only did I get to see them live but I got the awesome opportunity to interview with one of the musical geniuses of Fantomas, Trevor Dunn (bass).  And even though he played in two bands while on this tour, he took some time out of his busy schedule and record shopping to speak with me. When I arrived for the interview, Trevor was off shopping at some local vintage record stores, picking up some new music, but who can blame him, that was a cool store. I must also thank him and Monica Seide (Fantomas' public relations representative), because while in New Orleans attending the Fantomas, my car was broken into and the video camera I used to record the interview with Trevor was stolen. Therefore, the interview was lost forever. I contacted Monica and told her what happened, she contacted Trevor and he was kind enough to do the interview again over the phone. So much love and thanks to Trevor and Monica.

How are things and the tour going?

Good, it’s in the early stages. I think it’s like the fourth or fifth show. It’s going good so far. I’m playing in 2 bands on this tour, so I’m not sure how I’m gonna hold up, it’s a lot of work. But it’s a lot of fun, I can’t complain, there’s nothing else I’d rather do. The only downfall is that it’s a lot of driving. A lot of times we’ll drive for a few hours after a show, stop and get a hotel room, then get up real early and drive some more, so there’s not really time to get out and go find something good to eat.

How’s your record collection coming?

It’s going good. I got some new stuff. I’m always picking up new stuff at different cities, it never ends with me. I’m actually starting to run out of room in my apartment \[Laughs].

The original Fantomas was a character from a pre-WWI French thriller by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain and described as the Lord of Terror, the Genius of Evil, the arch-criminal anti-hero. Is this in any way related to the discovery of your band name?

It’s his fault \[pointing to Mike Patton as he walks in the door with both middle fingers waving]. When Mike first came up with it, he was going back and forth between the names Fantomas and Diabolic. The original Fantomas started as a novel and it kind of branched out from there. People started making movies and comic books based on this character. And Diabolic is sort of a similar character, but we ultimately decided on Fantomas.

Fantomas is comprised of musicians from all areas of the music spectrum. How did it come to be this particular diverse lineup?

Well, Mike and I have been playing music together since junior high. And he and I had talked about putting together a Metal band. We sort of missed playing Metal. We weren’t sure who else should be in the band and basically Mike kind of went through his Metal record collection and thought of who we would want to play with and he just kind of shot for the stars and both Buzz \[Osbourne, guitar] and Dave \[Lombardo, drums] were happy to do it.

Suspended Animation was released on April 5th. How did the recording go?

We recorded it at the same time we did Delirium Cordia. It was all one big recording session which actually was like 2 years ago now. We learned all the material for both records and went into the studio and recorded it all, it was a pretty long session. And then basically Mike went in and edited it the way he had planned it. It was basically his vision to do these two records, so he knew how it was going to be laid out, so after we recorded he spent time editing and mixing it.

What inspired the idea to base the concept of the album around the month of April?

I’m not exactly sure \[Laughs]. That was Mike’s concept. I think it coincided with the record just happening to come out in April, so he kind of went with the April Fool’s concept. And from there the Japanese artist Nara, sent him like 30 different pictures and he didn’t want to have to choose, he didn’t want to have to pick out a few of them so he decided to use them all. The number 30 just fit into the calendar days. So there was a lot of chance element involved, which is always a good thing I think.

Does Mike write all the parts to the music or do you all have artistic freedom?

He writes everything. There is a little bit of room for editing and changing parts once we start learning the music. Like there might be some stuff that he’s written that is impossible cause, his writing process is tied in with recording so he’ll record these demos at home and send us the demos, then we’ll basically learn the stuff. But since it’s him recording, sometimes he’ll do stuff that either we’re not hearing or that’s impossible to play. We’ll adjust it if we have to but basically he writes everything.

You’re also playing with The Trio Convulsant, which is a different style of music than Fantomas. Is it difficult to play in two bands with such a drastic difference while on the same tour?

A little bit, mostly because I’m playing an upright bass in The Trio and that’s the hardest thing for me because they’re two totally different instruments. A lot of people don’t realize that even though they’re both basses and they’re both ultimately tuned the same. there’s still a major physical difference. It was a little hard but I usually had time between sets to just kind of relax and warm up on my electric bass.  It was a little hard, but I can’t complain. I’m playing music for a living. \[Laughs]

How did you come to form The Trio Convulsant?

I wrote some music several years ago and I actually put out a record with a different lineup when I was in San Francisco and this new record was basically just me wanting to continue that. Ches \[Smith, Drums] and Mary \[Halvorson, guitar] are two musicians that I’ve played with for the last 5 or 6 years and I felt that they would bring to it what I was hearing which they definitely did.

Any plans for a live DVD for either band?

No, there’s not. We’re not a big video oriented band, I suppose if there were some good live footage, which would make sense, we would use that, but there aren’t any plans for one.

What are some of your musical influences?

Oh man, they’re all over the place. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of 20th century classical music, some Mexican folk music, anything I can get my hands on basically, I wouldn’t narrow it down to anything specific.

What are Fantomas’ and The Trio’s plans for after the tour?

There aren’t any plans for The Trio right now. Fantomas is planning on going to China this year and possible Australia and if we’re lucky maybe a couple places in South America too, so that’s all being thought out right now, so more touring.

Why did you guys decide to stop doing Mr. Bungle?

It just kind of actually died naturally. It’s kind of like an injured cat that kind of crawled into the bushes and died really slowly. It wasn’t really an abrupt decision, we did our last tour and everyone sort of went off in their own directions, physically and musically. It just kind of teetered out from there. I think it was the right thing to do.  There were a lot of things about that band that were difficult. It was a hard band to tour with and it was a hard band to organize and get together. It was a lot of people with a lot of ideas, so you know.

 Well, I’m definitely going to miss it.

Oh yeah, there are things I’ll miss about it too, but we’ve moved on.

Any last Words?

Um, not really, nothing I can think of. \[Laughs]


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