Conversation with a Literate Vampire Named Dredd
Local journalists descended on the Confetti club during the later part of October, Interview with a Vampire had recently opened in local theaters, and rumor had it that Confetti was the place to find a live specimen. Somebody like Dredd , the vocalist of The Midnight Dreary. Dredd has the refinement required of all vampires. Long black hair, a pale face and permanently implanted fangs are the striking features. Seldom if ever is Dredd seen wearing anything except black and white clothing. The appearance is deceiving. He is not a fearsome creature of the night. He speaks softly and his knowledge of literature and books in general is astounding. Always look for the vampire if you're at a loss for a book title.
Sitting over coffee, I had the opportunity to talk with Dredd about his band and the underground Salt Lake City goth community. The Midnight Dreary formed in October of 1992. Dredd and cofounder Toni who plays bass, recruited a drummer named Jeff. Filling out the band is October on guitars. The Midnight Dreary have never been able to keep a keyboard player. They are currently in search of one.
The Midnight Dreary can be found occasionally on the stage at Confetti. They recently began holding a monthly "Project Underground" in the basement of Club DV8. When asked what life was like for a Salt Lake Goth band Dredd said, "active." By his estimation, the Goth underground in Salt Lake has close to 500 enthusiasts. Every large city in the United States has a significant Goth underground. Dredd called San Francisco the "new Goth capital." The Midnight Dreary have been invited to play in San Francisco on several occasions and they hope to travel there in the near future.
Dredd explains that Goth music is more popular in Europe than it is in the United Sates -- in fact, he believes it is more popular overseas now than it ever was during the late '70s - early '80s -- the time period usually thought of as the heyday of Goth.
The Midnight Dreary draw inspiration more from the ideas behind Goth music than other Goth bands. Dredd cited the Sex Gang Children and Current 93 as two of his musical influences. A much larger influence is the decadent movement in literature during the 19th Century. Dredd claims the writings of Oscar Wilde and French novelist Joris Karl Huysmans as influences. The novel Malador is also a large influence on his life and music.
The members of The Midnight Dreary are striving to turn their lives into works of art. The concept was a little difficult for Dredd to put into words. His appearance is clearly a work of art. He designs clothing and costumes as a hobby. For this man, costumes are not for parties or Halloween. They are a part of his everyday apparel. Capes, boots, jewelry, gloves, blouses, etc. make up his wardrobe. He related a story of walking through his neighborhood with friends past a certain house. Each time they passed the house the man inside would appear on his porch and begin screaming, "Freaks, freaks, you're freaks." Dredd shrugs, "Who is the freak, him sitting in his house, peeking out the window, waiting for us to come by so he could scream, or us?"
Dredd also works at writing, photography and graphic design. He plans to begin incorporating greater theatricality into the band's live show. The Midnight Dreary stage is covered with velvet and satin. Ideally, the lighting comes from candles. Dredd says, "I prefer candlelight." Bones and skulls surround the stage. Slides of graves, cemeteries and decadent 19th Century art are used. "We try to create an environment that transcends the idea of playing in a club -- create more of an atmosphere." The band's goal is to make the live show a total experience by using literature and video art to accompany the music. "We want to make the live experience more theater than the standard rock performance."
Dredd used the example of theatrical rockers like Skinny Puppy and Alice Cooper to clarify his point. He says most acts simply don't take advantage of the visual opportunities of live performance.
The Midnight Dreary self-released a tape on All Hallows Eve. The song "A Silent Wall" begins and ends with soundbites from the film From Beyond. I asked Dredd about the quote. "The song is about a specific person. When you have overwhelming emotions consuming you, a silent wall is what you build up to protect yourself -- giving in to personal madness."
The tape Tragedies, is available at Galaxina, Inc., Media Play in Taylorsville and other outlets selling local music. The Midnight Dreary plan to record again in December and release a CD early next year. They are without a doubt one of the more fascinating bands currently on the Salt Lake club scene. Pick up their tape and call DV8 to ask about the next "Project Underground" night and The Midnight Dreary's appearance.