We spoke with Brook Dalton about seeing the universe objectively, his predilection toward folksy turns of phrase, why artists quit creative paths and his subconscious relationship with the ten dimensions.
I feel like personal realities or perceptions are subjective. Nobody should be so closed-off as to tell other people that their methods of interpretation are incorrect.
We asked Brook to list eight dimensions and tell us about them.
This is the vast area beyond our measured, palpable, empirical knowledge that lies past the scientifically-proven realms of deep space. Using the earth as the central focal point, there is limited mileage that our probes and satellites can cover. With some amount of certainty, we can formulate what physical planes are found beyond the pure data, but nothing is certain. This first dimension is filled with guesswork while continually recognizing that we will always have a finite understanding of the space that is out of our reach.
Between the major spatial dimensions, there are interstitial zones that are made up of disparate components from the two realms that they serve to separate. The outer Liminal Zone is kind of like a DMZ, but it’s filled with fringe elements of known and unknowable space crud.
This dimension covers tactile materials which can be studied and considered factual. It is the known and the questionable. This is the area that most relates to us in our daily lives. However, it also encompasses distant galactic findings that offer truths of their own.
I realize that elements aren’t dimensions, but fire stands out as something beyond simple categorization, so I’m including it. It has no weight, it isn’t palpable or gaseous, but it overtakes physical substance and converts it into fuel before making it disappear. I guess I consider it to be dimensional because it can be seen as a symbolic portal, of sorts. It appears, removes matter, and disappears in an instance. Recently, my home came close to burning in the Thomas Fire that is sweeping through California, so I’ve been thinking about the power of conflagrations more than I ever have before.
This represents the relatively small space between our individual selves and anything perceived to be outside of our contained bodies.
Our individual physical bodies and psychological structures. The dimensional qualities encompass the organic components and their correlation to each other, as well as our governing thought patterns, including dreams. In actuality, this entry represents 7.6 billion individual dimensions. I don’t have the time or space to list all of them.
This realm encapsulates the tiniest imaginable building blocks of our knowable existence. We’re forced to acknowledge and cooperate with the unseen ingredients that make up every physical item that we can envision. It constitutes the microscopic end of the dimensional spectrum.
Much like Dimension One, this is the expanse of unknown elements beyond our current capabilities to understand, but located in the sub-atomic sphere. It’s basically the Microverse from the Fantastic Four comic books.
It would seem from being friends with you on social media that you enjoy folksy sayings just as much as I do. Can you make a quick list of some of your favorite aphorisms and turns of phrase? In which situations are they applicable?
I guess I don’t really give it much forethought, but you’re right, I do use plenty of aphorisms/epigrams fairly regularly. It’s not uncommon for me to throw out terms like: “This side of the Ozarks,” “Fair to middlin’,” “I hear you humming,” “You can’t swing a cat without hitting,” and “Since Hector was a pup.” I only use that last one because Vin Scully would say it occasionally. I also reply to questions with “natch” a lot, but that’s strictly because I read way too many Archie comics. “Natch” only seems to resonate with older folks, so I tend to use it more when I’m talking to someone that’s closer to my parents’ age.
Somehow, it feels as if most of the quips I like have a Southern slant to them. I’m from California, but my mom was born in Texas and I have family roots in Kentucky. I wonder if there are some sort of genealogical apparitions of regional dialect that have discovered a way to haunt my vocabulary. Probably not.
When we talk about aphorism, my mind naturally wanders to superstitions and rituals. Do you follow any superstitions? From there, what do you think about popular Western ways of thinking that have zero evidence, including horoscopes? Are you a science-minded guy or do you think reality is a subjective thing?
Honestly, I feel the exact same way about the connection between diction and superstition. I actually think about it quite a bit. I like to tell myself that I’m not superstitious — although it’s probably not true — but I’m most definitely ritualistic.
For example, another aphorism I mutter is “Rabbit, rabbit.” But I only say it as my first words on the first day of each month. It’s an old British gesture that’s supposed to bring you good luck for the coming month. Of course, I don’t believe that it influences any sort of cosmic guidelines that allow my luck to flourish, but I do think that if I forgot to say it, I would feel “off” because it’s been a personal ritual for so long. It carries a conditioned reaction. Also, only a couple of people know this about me, but I also quietly exclaim the word, “Bird!” once a day, as soon as I see the first bird after I wake up. It’s weird and I have no idea why I do it. Sometimes I have to whisper it because I’ll be next to someone when that first bird comes into view and I don’t want to have to explain what I’m doing.
It could be that there are some fluid correlations between ideas surrounding superstition, light OCD tendencies, fear of consequence (breaking the ritual) and their ties to language that have planted themselves in my psyche. I was an English major in school, so I place a hefty amount of substance on the power of words and linguistic speech acts.
Having admitted this, you might think that I hold some belief in things like horoscopes and zodiac signs, but I don’t. Those structures are interesting and help a lot of people to gain insight about themselves, but my birth date has little to do with my temperament or disposition. I’m an open-minded realist. I believe in palpable, if/then-based, scientific method-proven functions, but nothing is more essential to me than having an active imagination. The need to be creative or artistic can be the most therapeutic and communal drives. I feel like personal realities or perceptions are subjective. Nobody should be so closed-off as to tell other people that their methods of interpretation are incorrect. Maybe if I spent some time and learned more about horoscopes, they would make more sense to me.
Too many artists get so fed up with the bureaucracy and the financial side of that world that they end up quitting or pursuing different creative paths.
Now, on to The Spires. I really love that you guys favor back-to-basics rock and roll in a very heartfelt way without monkeying around with the formula. Can you describe your favored drum setup in as much technical detail as possible, regardless if you’re talking to a layman?
Thanks so much, man! I really love being in The Spires and I’m excited about the newest batch of songs we’re working on. We’re actually mixing the new album now, so it should be out early next year. Over time, I’ve tweaked my drum kit here and there, but I’ve really settled into the configuration that I’ve been playing for the last few years.
— 9 x 12″ rack tom
— 16 x 16″ floor tom
— 5.5 x 14″ snare
— 18×22″ kick
— 19″ Zildjian K dark crash
— 22″ Paiste Rude ride
— 14″ Zildjian K hi-hat cymbals
— DWCP5000AD3 pedal
— DWCP9701 cymbal stand
— DWCP5500TD hi-hat stand
— Prototype DWCP3900 pneumatic tom/cymbal stand
— DWCP9101 low throne
I prefer North American rock maple veneer for the drums. The shells have reinforcement rings and the plies incorporate a standard horizontal lay-up configuration. My kit has a natural satin oil finish, rather than a lacquer or wrap, because it allows the drums to resonate a bit more and I really like the way that they record in the studio.
I use suspended mounting systems because I personally believe that a drum shell shouldn’t have a large hole drilled into it to accommodate a piece of hardware. It can negatively affect the physics of the soundwaves travelling through the chamber. I also prefer 1/2″ mounts — as opposed to 10.5mm — for the tom arms and legs because they are as sturdy as I need them to be.
I’ve been using Remo two-ply coated heads because they provide a nice punchy tone and they tend to last longer than single-ply heads. I also love the DW MAG throw-off system with the 3P butt-plate. It really opens up the tonal options for snare drums. I’ve worked at DW Drums for 16 years now, so I continually get to geek out on gear. It’s comparable to being a car fanatic that gets to work at Rolls-Royce.
One time, I was on tour with some young Australian musicians who hadn’t been in the US very much. One interesting thing they pointed out on a highway drive was how many public flags we’ve got. Apparently, you don’t see Australian flags on buildings there. It got me meditating on the nature of colonialism and patriotism. When you look at a flag, what comes to mind?
One thing that I consistently appreciate about the symbolism of our flag is that it can mean so many different things to so many different people, whether the connotations are positive or negative. At the very least, we have that whereas too many countries don’t. I grew up in the punk rock and metal communities, and my cultural sources for information and inspiration conditioned me to doubt the ‘team mentality’ that blind patriotism can bring about.
Unfortunately, the flag can be used as a tool for division, corruption, and jingoistic intent. It can make people feel like they’ve joined some kind of gang which harbors a hegemonic “us/them” outlook. Most of us realize that and get upset by it, but I’m sure that there are plenty of people that hoist it because, on some small level, they’re afraid of seeming like they aren’t supportive or proud of the flock’s disposition. On the flip side, I also realize and regard the levels of opportunity that it can represent.
Can you please grab the nearest book in your proximity and read the very first phrase you see? Can you apply this to your own memories or experiences in any way?
I’m currently reading an advanced copy of Keith Rosson’s upcoming novel Smoke City. The phrase I opened to reads, “Vale didn’t know shit about bull markets or hyperinflation or collectors hoarding and flipping paintings when he headed to Los Angeles the summer after high school.”
Yeah, I can totally relate. For many years, I’ve run an art gallery out of my home called The 86 Gallery. I’m lucky enough to have befriended a large group of artists that I wholeheartedly respect. In my conversations with them, it didn’t take long to see that most of them had encountered negative experiences with gallery owners, dealers, or buyers at some point.
Too many artists get so fed up with the bureaucracy and the financial side of that world that they end up quitting or pursuing different creative paths. Galleries can get possessive over people and flippers tend to dehumanize the talent that makes the whole realm possible in the first place. I knew that I didn’t want to be part of that aspect of things, so I made an initial decision to run a permanent gallery where the pieces aren’t for sale. My relationships with the contributing artists have consistently been positive because the re-sale factor is removed.
When I remember the significant things in my personal history, I usually recall some of the fun things that my community of friends have made possible.
Please describe the opening 10 seconds of your favorite piece of music in the world, without telling me what that piece is. How does it make you feel to hear it?
I’d have to approach this by honing in on my favorite band, my favorite album by that band, and plucking out the song I consider to be the best track on that record. Okay, it starts with a fairly bright arpeggio twelve-string guitar part for the intro. At one point, you can hear a couple voices making some sort of exchange that was probably one of those ‘Hey, the microphones picked us up when we were talking to each other but let’s keep it on the recording’ moments that can happen in the studio. After a short pause and a guitar strum, the drums, bass, and second guitar come in together to take the song in a different direction.
When I was younger, I thought the recording was perfect. When I listen to it now, it seems a little too “big” sounding and the drums feel too gated. There’s definitely a sense memory attached to it. This was a punk band that had morphed into a solid rock band over the course of a few years. My tastes were also evolving during that time, so it makes me thankful that I was able to witness other people delving into new possibilities. To me, it represents the positive aspects of change — which happens to be the exact opposite message of the song’s lyrics.
Sometimes, I feel like modern culture is an elongated scream about how we should be positive, celebrating and having fun constantly. Beer billboards, social media adages, brunch… what do you think about the role this all plays with the way things are going for our civilization?
I feel like a healthy fulcrum is achievable. Pessimists view hedonists as ignorant, while Epicureans try to sway away from the bitterness of life. Personally, I find a real value in providing a fun environment for my community of friends and family. I host a handful of annual events through the 86 house that are designed to be creative and, hopefully, filled with good times. It’s important to me.
I don’t ever view them as a distraction for whatever the political shit-storm du jour happens to be. It’s necessary to be aware of the cultural, social, and global problems that are hitting us every day, and that can be really depressing. But, we can also strive to be well-rounded. Our outstanding memories ping from peaks and valleys. When I remember the significant things in my personal history, I usually recall some of the fun things that my community of friends have made possible, and I’m pretty proud of that.
Can you describe what’s in your fridge at this very moment?
r Leftover butternut squash tortellini
r Pepper Plant hot sauce
r Frozen hashbrowns
r Vegetarian enchiladas
r Cranberry juice
r Container of hummingbird food
I spend a lot of time with the hummingbirds around my house. Also, I need to go shopping.
Finally, what do you think of the concept of revenge? Do you think it’s ever justified, and have you ever entertained the thought of taking revenge on someone, regardless of whether you’d ever follow through with that?
It’s interesting that you bring this up now. For my adult life, I’ve always tried to remain as level-headed as I can be. For many years, I leaned towards a sort of “selected stoicism” as a futile effort to not allow people’s negativity to influence my actions or reactions. I appreciate the power of raw emotion, but I never wanted to allow someone’s bullshit to manipulate my personal thought process.
However, I’ve always slightly admired revenge from a distance. For instance, I genuinely feel that Shellac’s song “Prayer to God” is a healthy display of truth and honesty. It’s a beautiful song. I’m a peaceful person, really, but I will say that about a year ago, I was shown the unfortunate side of someone that I had been very close to for many years and it made me reassess my views a bit. This guy completely exposed himself to be an unbelievably selfish, harmful, and thieving liar — a real piece of work.
For the first time in decades, I found myself wishing someone harm, even if it only served to teach him a lesson. Some people continually screw over their friends because nobody has ever put them in their place. They take advantage of people because they have no fear of consequence. I remember having a vivid dream where I was beating the hell out of him, and when I woke up I didn’t feel any weirdness about it at all. Not one iota of regret. It made perfect sense to my unconscious mind that this bastard needed to be taken to the tool shed. Maybe it was therapeutic in some form.
No, I would never follow through with something like that but it is much harder for me to argue that revenge is never justified after that experience. It’s a strange thing to admit, and I definitely would have had a different answer for you a year ago.
Curated by: Morgan Enos
Conducted by: Email
Published: January 31, 2018
Total questions: 8 + 9
Word count: 2864
Reading time: Nine minutes
applesauce, atom, Australia, Brook Dalton, configuration, corporeal, correlation, cranberry, dimension, drummer, drums, DW Drums, enchilada, Fantastic Four, hegemony, hummingbird, infernal, Keith Rosson, lacquer, memory, Microverse, OCD, oil, proximity, rabbit, revenge, satin, selection, Shellac, squash, Steve Albini, stoicism, superstition, Sydney, The 86 Gallery, The Spires, Thomas Fire, tortellini, view, Zildjian
About the curator
Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.
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