Madus are one of those rare bands that seamlessly sink their hooks deep into your brain upon first listen such as on their new EP All The Way which you can listen to now on Spotify or Soundcloud (Also check out our review of the EP right here: http://www.brokenarrowmagazine.com/madus-all-the-way). Here at Broken Arrow Magazine we had the privilege of asking Vocalist, Guitarist & Pianist Dugan Cruz a few questions, unfortunately they are a world away from our office in the UK, so we connected with them via email to get some insight on their inspirations, and what’s next for the Californian quartet.
Broken Arrow: How long have you guys been playing together? When and how did you meet?
Dugan: The four of us have only been playing together a little over a year, but Sam, Kirby and myself have been making music since 2010. Sam and I met in the summer of 2009 through a site called BandMix, and shortly after we met Kirby as hired guns for a singer-songwriter named Justin Chase. We’ve gone through… about 3 different bassists before finding the gospel of Lenin Barahona. I am definitely no expert on human chemistry, but everything feels real balanced now. Everyone’s got great nuances that help us succeed more as a unit.
Broken Arrow: Even on the first listen to your new EP, I hear a really diverse range of guitar sounds/ At times I hear Thin Lizzy-esque licks and other times there’s that thick, huge QOTSA Fuzz. Care to discuss some of your influences as far as the guitars are concerned?
Dugan: Ah man, yeah. Guitar is such a versatile instrument as far as tone and delivery are concerned. It kinda sounds like you’ve got a two-part question, so I’ll give you a two-part answer.
As for tone; We must have played about 8-10 different guitars on the recordings. On top of that, we played out of at least 6-7 different amps, and used a lot of different pedals in the chain depending on the song, and even the particular part of the song we were recording. So you’ve got sounds as lush, cool, and creamy as the verse rhythm guitar of ‘You Could Never Feel‘ with 3 tracks of a Strat. One using an H9, another using an old-school roland tape echo, and another with something I can’t even remember. Then you’ve got your ‘kick in the nuts’ guitar sound of Eyes that’s thick, fuzzy and dry as hell to make everything sound really tight. Pretty sure I used a Traynor amp for my parts, and Kirbs played out of all kinds of stuff.
Now the second part of the question sounds like it’s asking more about delivery and the actual parts themselves. Like the actual notes and stuff. As for that, you definitely hit the mark by mentioning QOTSA. For whatever reason it took me a while to get into that band, but I must have listened to their entire catalogue for all of 2013 and 2014. It definitely had an impact on me, and thus the band. Those guys really know how to paint very specific pictures with very specific pallets.
Broken Arrow: What are some of the lyrical themes you explore in All The Way?
Dugan: All The Way can be chalked up to me being an observational douche-bag. I am not usually someone to run into things head first… Well not anymore anyway… So, this song is about an array of specific memories and gripes I’ve had, and I suppose still DO have, but I did my best to keep the lyrics relatively vague to let the listeners imprint their own memories and feelings on the music. To be a little more specific: I explored my resentment towards people that alter their personality and manipulate others in order to get what they want. I’d rather not explain any more than that. I still want the opportunity to hear what other people get from the song rather than telling them what they SHOULD get.
Broken Arrow: How do your live shows differ from when you were starting out, compared to the way you perform live now?
Dugan: Hah. Well, we’re doing our best to not suck anymore. When we were first starting out I had never played out of a tube amp. I had only ever played a Strat, and I knew NOTHING about tone, dynamics, where certain instruments should physically be on a stage or any of that. I didn’t start playing guitar until I was seventeen, and I didn’t start singing or writing songs until I was nineteen. My Dad’s a musician so I definitely developed some melophobia. Not in a cool Cage The Elephant way either. To answer your question, we’re ALWAYS working on specific ways to make our live shows better. We love putting on a production. Our dream is to exclusively have a budget for that too. We had a lot of fun at our EP release show with fun lighting effects and bubble machines and musical interludes to open up the show. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to see a band kill it without any bells and whistles, but we wanna be able to put on a SHOW. We don’t just want to play our music at shows, we want to be able to perform our music at shows.
Broken Arrow: Here’s a hypothetical: You are approached to tour North America with any 1 band of your choice, for 6 months, dead or alive. Who do you choose and why?
Dugan: Queen. Every now and again I go back and watch their live-aid performance from ’85 at Wembley and it’s one of the most inspiring things of all time. Each one of those guys brought so much to the allure of that band. Just thinking about Freddie Mercury commanding that stage gives me chills. It’d be pretty rad to tour around with Led Zeppelin just for all their cool esoteric enigmas too.
Broken Arrow: What bands or artists are you listening to at the moment?
Dugan: Right now I am listening to a bunch of music from this video game Final Fantasy VII. Pretty sure my nerd is showing right now, but that music just does things to me. Aside from that, my regular rotation has consisted of Sound and Color by Alabama Shakes, each of the new Tame Impala singles, Drones by Muse, and the Physical World by Death From Above 1979. Hah. I am actually pretty proud of that being the soundtrack to my life right now!
Broken Arrow: Have free online streaming services helped or hindered you as a band?
Dugan: Helped. The more avenues your music has to get in front of people the better. There’s definitely a deafening amount of noise out there these days, and I think it’s now par for the course to watch something mediocre get hyped beyond belief and then fail to deliver. But then, that’s not anything new. Good music, or, good art rather always stands the test of time.
Broken Arrow: Do you think that a large online presence is important for fans to find you and for critics to find your music to write about?
Dugan: Yes. Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone is inherently wired to think or work that way. To always have their gears turning to think of some witty new way to gain fans and traction with the digital community. But then, that’s why whatever act you’re into is usually SO much more than just the artist or band. Shout out to all the behind the scenes people! Thanks for helping goofy weirdos maintain their careers as entertainers.
Broken Arrow: Are you guys looking to sign to any independent or major record labels?
Dugan: Yes, but not right this second. If we were creating a new game or technology service, I’d say we’re still in beta, or alpha testing. We’ve got a cool thing going on though. Signing to any label, agency, or management company is so circumstantial too. There’s so much you have to take into account aside from the roster and how much of a percentage someone is taking. Anyway… Yes. Yes is the answer to that question.
Broken Arrow: Finally, what’s next in store for MADUS and when can fans expect to hear more new music from you guys?
Dugan: Well we’ve got some acoustic shows in Portland and San Diego in July and then nothing major until August when we shoot out to Arizona for a super fun weekend. Traveling around to gig is half the reason I wanted to be in a band. Aside from the gigs and other business stuff to grind on, we’re most excited to be writing again. We’ve had so many riffs, chord progressions, melodies and psuedo-poems lying around waiting to be turned into songs. We just haven’t had the time or appropriate climate to be working on them. The projected goal is to have at least 10-15 things to go to the studio with by the fall, but we’ll see. For any other releases, videos, content, and tour dates though, PLEASE check out our Facebook page and other social media outlets. And hey, thanks so much for having us on Broken Arrow! It’s been a pleasure getting to chat with you.