All questions answered by Dylan Paul Ware.
Senem: Hi Dylan. It’s great to have you again here at LOMM. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your band?
I grew up in New Zealand. The Infinity Chamber has evolved conceptually over the years, it began as a teenage fantasy mirror-cupboard designed for quality time with girlfriends, then years later, upon a whim, it was the chosen title for my third album, released 2016. This particular album carried my hitherto ramblin’ traveler songs from the first two solo albums into the realm of the rock band, and correspondingly, shortly thereafter I formed a four-man band with three Istanbul friends. That came together like magic, a chance encounter at a watering-hole in Taksim with an old friend resulted in the decision to form a band, not 20 minutes later we were serendipitously approached by a dude who introduced himself and said he’d found and dug my music and that he was a drummer, and with that, and the addition another friend at the time – who was a fine lead guitarist – we had the first incarnation of The Infinity Chamber band. We rehearsed hard, and got solidly slick and tight. Unusually for this part of the world we had a policy of only playing original songs, no covers. Obviously this presented us with certain challenges, performing good but more or less unknown songs in English in a Turkish-speaking country accustomed to total over-saturation with rock cover-bands… However we never had any trouble getting gigs and were on an upward trajectory, but two of the guys in the band were pretty relentlessly negative, and that can only endure for so long. We were just in the process of knuckling down to record a fourth album, which was going to be a killer, when a heap of bad luck hit – the guitarist split, the economy tanked, we tried for quite a time to find a guitarist who was up to the job, without success, our drummer was struck down with MS-related paralysis, and then the pandemic shut down exterior life.
We still have a band, it’s in sleeping mode for now. In the meantime, I am at the controls.
Senem: Oh, sorry about your drummer. Another musician in Turkey had been diagnosed with MS disease. He is a vocalist and still performing though. It’s trickier in your case as he is a drummer. Anyways, I wish him the best.
Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?
No worries. I have a lot of hobbies. Being stuck at home gave me oodles of time to potter around in my garden, brew beer, bake, look after my birds, play with the cat, and the guitar. It’s not an especially costly way to live, I’m pretty eco-efficient.
LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
As soon as the lock-downs began, I was like “Right, art time!”, I think it was the second weekend that I made the stop-motion video-clip for “Matthew” – that immediately got picked up by a film-festival in Australia – then a silly little horror film. I couldn’t sleep one night, so at about 4am I gave up trying, and decided to make a 15 second horror film. After the first shot it became clear that working within this time-constriction wasn’t going to be possible, so I endevoured to make it a one-minute film. By about 7am I was ready to shoot the last scene, but I needed something horrid, I scoured the house but came up empty-handed, I decided to wait till the shops opened and to buy a kelle (a sheep’s head). I waited around till 9am and went and picked one up. Walking home, carrying a severed head in a plastic shopping-bag, I came across a man lying in the street, he’d just collapsed and died. His face was deep purple, eyes open, a policeman had arrived and was taking a photo. It was a surreal scene. I went home and finished my film, wondering if I’d really needed to buy the head. I also acted in someone else’s short film, playing a bad mafia kind of guy in a grey suit and a pink shirt, and then set about making the ambitious and somewhat epic video-clip for “Willow” – with Adil Alpakin as the director of photography. We’d previously worked together on the clip for “The Lonely Gnome”. Willow is half live-action, half stop-motion. That was a lot of work, a lot of organization, and a lot of fun. After that, and all the publicity that surrounded it, I wondered what to do next. That’s when the idea for this new album, Reflections of The Infinity Chamber came up.
LOMM: Tell us about your genre, what does it means to you, why did you choose this genre?
Alt-rock, dark indie-folk, & folk-rock music. It is what it is, whatever the tags are don’t mean anything to me, it just happens to be music along these lines. I am an acoustic guitar man. A traveler, my songs are written up trees, in trains, and lying on my quiet bed, mostly. I love finger-picking folk songs, early thrash metal, and psychedelic rock. I love the macabre and the divine. Our influences and passions filter through into what we do, this is what I do, and I do it happily.
LOMM: Great. How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
There were a few covers of my songs floating around, and then a musician mate in England, Simon Dwight, who has a song on the album, suggested collecting them into a compilation album, which I thought sounded like an interesting project. I asked a couple of other musicians in various locations over the world if they’d like to contribute something. The brief was simple – any song you like, do it in any way you want, take any liberties you want, and we’ll see what happens. There were a few difficulties, a couple of guys stuffed around endlessly, wasted my time, and never produced anything, and two of the other musicians involved independently came down with Covid – one of them quite seriously – but both recovered ok. The copyright process was a little more byzantine, it being a compilation album of various artists, but what actually happened was that I got a bunch of my own songs back radically re-interpreted, re-arranged, and performed with such passion, subtlety and beauty that I was quite legitimately astounded.
LOMM: Are you happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Yes, I am. It’s a fine album of good songs, recorded in 10 markedly different styles, beautifully mastered by the wonderful James Onder of Steady Fingers fame (a brilliant guitarist and song-maker in his own right), and one that comes together seamlessly as a single coherent work.
LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
It’s a bit early to say. There’s a lot of white noise, there’s a lot of clamour, over 60,000 new songs go up onto Spotify every day, big labels are spending $20,000 PER SONG just on bribing social media influencers to shill their product. There are a lot of musicians now, more than ever, many of them great, and not really enough pricked ears. Combine this with the fact that most people tend to passively select from what they find on their table, and what comes to their table is quite craftily manipulated by big corporations, the independent makers of music do well to hold their expectations low. The streaming industry is becoming increasingly regulated by genre-based playlisting, and curators who are terrified of losing followers by risking startling them with anything that they haven’t been conditioned to expect to hear. Spotify is owned, at least jointly, by certain big music labels, and it actively suppresses independent playlists that might compete with their “interests”. It’s not a healthy state of affairs. Music-makers are alive and kicking, but the charts are orchestrated to be full of pointless shit, while any good music that actually sees the light of earbuds is selected from across such a large pool it’s increasingly difficult to get a foothold to start any kind of avalanche. The album as a medium for music discovery has largely given way to streamed singles, and this comes at the expense of the deeper cuts. Essentially, if a song doesn’t operate like an advertising jingle and hook a curator in its first 20 seconds, and if you don’t have the fame to coat-tail it in on, forget about it breaking. Still, I’m pretty happy with our play-counts. A really positive response from those who’ve heard it!
LOMM: Cool. I guess you have given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
Yes, we used to gig in Taksim and Kadikoy. And yes, we all miss doing that, they were a lot of fun. Wild times.
LOMM: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
I want to get a new album recorded, and get back to gigging. That means sorting out a reliable band of competent players, and a relaxation of current restrictions!
LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
I write all The Infinity Chamber songs. I compose on an acoustic guitar, the music comes upon me along with the general lyrical melody and gist, then I spend quite a while extracting that lyrical gist with what faithful eloquence I feel is needed. TIC lyrics are integral. Then my band and I fill in the gaps, the lead guitarist does his thing; the bass-lines are generally written by either me or him, and I leave the drums largely up to the drummer, it’s not my forte.
LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Anything I hear. It all goes in. It all comes out in one way or another. I listen to all kinds of stuff, a lot of unknown groups. A lot of old groups. I like the thinkers, the philosopher poets, and the channellers of magic.
LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Studio. Probably my favourite place on earth.
LOMM: That’s surprising. Ok what first got you into music?
My father was a radio rock journalist, he interviewed Chuck Berry. We had a huge record collection. David Gilmore gazing out at me from the cover of Ummagumma feels as familiar to me as the sight of my own face in a mirror. I was a big fan of Sabbath’s Iron Man, Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, and Wing’s Band on the Run when I was three years old. We always had music, as far back as I can remember, and I was blessed by my parents’ good taste. When each of the children in my family was born, my father gave my mother a record. My birth album is Led Zeppelin III, and it is engraved with a beautiful dedication. Two weeks after I was born, Led Zeppelin came to New Zealand. I was babysat in a house next to the arena. I started playing the guitar when I was 11, but didn’t really start writing songs until I was 17. I had a handful of lessons over the years, but I’m largely self-taught. I think it was when I’d written The Black Moon Architect that I knew this is what I was born to do. That was a song in which I wanted to “invent” every chord – it has 15 chords, 10 of them are “non-standard” – it’s a strange one, lyrically complex, philosophically substantial, and that’s what I like to create, that’s what rings my bell.
LOMM: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Making films, or perhaps writing a novel.
LOMM: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
LOMM: Ahahah I hear you 😊 What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Definitely the music. As a musician, you’re faced with three choices – create what the people like, make the people like what you create, or create as Thoth commands regardless of the people. I’m in the latter group, but one does hold out a certain amount of hope for being noticed.
LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Well, that would come down to the recording of particular songs in a way that turns me on. The Delicate Art of Reflection and Nothing are two, Sand Imaginings, another. We nailed them. The cinematic experience of The Lonely Gnome with its clip is definitely a favourite of mine.
LOMM: Who would you like to collaborate with?
LOMM: Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.
Dire Straits’ debut album, NIN’s The Downward Spiral, The Beatle’s Abbey Road, CCR’s Bayou Country, ACDC’s Powerage, Simon & Garfunkle’s The Sounds of Silence, Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series #4 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert 1966 Disk: 1. Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother, Led Zep IV, Bert & John, Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs, enough?
LOMM: Quite. What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?
60% vinyl, 35% CDs, 5% dust. It’s in New Zealand, I am not. These days it’s all 0’s & 1’s.
LOMM: Indeed it is. You can invite 5 people to a dinner party, from the future, the past, rock stars, a movie characters, you name it. Who are you having dinner with?
Bob Dylan, Oscar Wilde, John Lennon, Doug Stanhope, Roger Waters… it’ll be a rough party. 😉
LOMM: What is the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
A piece of her own skull which had been taken out after a motorcycle accident. I chewed on it. It was an interesting sensation.
LOMM: Alright 😊Anything else you think your fans should know?
Yes, by all means take the time to check out Reflections of The Infinity Chamber. It’s a genuinely interesting album of very talented international musicians laying down some lovely songs. Don’t wait for corporate approval, any shares, listens, purchases, kind words go a long way in this world.
LOMM: Thank you for taking the time.
Links to Reflections of The Infinity Chamber: