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If you haven’t heard of Boud Deun by now, then you owe it to you yourself to pick up one of their two CDs (their latest release on Cuneiform should be available by the time you read this), or better yet, catch one of their spirited live shows. Their smokin’ hot performance at Progscape ‘96 left everyone in attendance speechless and stunned. Exposé caught up with the band immediately after their set, just before they headed back to Warrenton, Virginia, which is the town they call home.

by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-02-01

  • R: Rocky Cancelose - drums
  • G: Greg Hiser - violin
  • M: Matt Eiland - bass
  • S: Shawn Persinger - guitar

How did you guys get your name?

G: We made it up...

R: ...And it means "very good..."

M: Definitely positive.

S: It's a really really boring story, I'll email it to you.

Boud Deun - Astronomy Made Simple coverYou guys just signed with Cuneiform recently. How did that all come about?

S: He [Steve Feigenbaum] came out to a show and he liked us.

R: Actually he came out to about thirty shows...

S: Every show he came to, one more person... [showed up in the audience]

G: Like the first show we played the he came to, like he was the audience, [the attendance] was pitiful!

M: I dunno, it was still very good, we played at this place called the Andalusian Dog in DC, and he came out to see us and there wasn't a lot of people there, and I loved it because after we played... there were people there watching but they weren't clapping, it was like they needed to smoke a cigarette after they watched us! It was so funny, and I remember Shawn was sitting there and saying, "Man, I just wish they would put on some music or something."

R: It was like a library, or like here at Progscape 96 — the crowd goes "yeah" [A few claps]... and then there's nothing.

G: So... back to Cuneiform, he just kept coming to see us, and then a couple months ago he said, "Hey, I got a spot open, I like what you do, do you want to do something?"

S: That's really all there was to it. There was a couple things, Matt was really into Chainsaw Jazz, so we knew of Cuneiform because of that.

Do you have new material ready to record?

G: Yeah, three albums worth of music...

Have you started recording yet?

G: We'll start in mid July, in about three weeks.

S: I've read your interviews in Exposé‚ and I've seen sometimes you'll ask a question, and then the person answers the question and then goes on about something else — so I'm just about to do that now. We have a lot of material, sometimes we'll play for about three hours, three sets. Like I was telling Pascal (from Miriodor), the longer we play, the less we get paid! We can play for 45 minutes and make a couple hundred bucks, but if we play for three hours, we'll make fifty... (Laughs all around) We'll be doing the Beatles thing... Shea Stadium... twenty minutes... outta there.

Boud Deun posterHow long have you been together?

G: Two and a half years now.

S: We had a little break, Rock went to the drummers collective in New York, from January until April, so for three months we actually only had one show in New York City, but we were still together, so...

R: ...But we were so far apart...

S: Yeah, we needed practice.

Do you guys gig a lot?

G: Yeah...

M: But you never get enough though...

S: I think last year we played 48 shows, something like that... like, tonight is our 115th show, ever. 115 shows in two and a half years.

That's pretty good... really impressive. Probably playing a lot more than any of the other guys here.

S: Yeah, I think so.

G: But not as much as the Eccentrics!

M: There's these bands we always... they play like thirty shows a month.

G: There's some other local bands we like to rag on too.

Trap - Beyond the Status Quo coverWhat's the deal with you guys and Gary Parra?

S: Basically he ordered the CD because he saw when you guys reviewed it, and just said, "Hey, I've got some shows coming up," and asked if the three of us [Matt, Greg, Shawn] were interested in playing these shows as Trap.

Have you heard his stuff?

S: Yeah, he sent us the Trap tape.

How do you feel about this show [Progscape], I think you guys got the biggest standing O today...

S: We didn't know, they closed the curtain on us...

Yeah, that's regrettable. I was hoping you guys could come out and play one more!

S: Yeah, I wanted to play one more. I even wanted to get another string.

M: It's alright though, I understand, when you're putting on a big thing like this it's really hard to keep it all organized.

S: Did you guys see that I broke my string?

G: Yeah, I saw it, you still played, I thought it was great...

S: It was wicked out of tune on "She's so Heavy."

G: [amid everyone talking at once] ...But you still managed to play the melody even though you didn't have a top string, I thought... right on!

S: Did you guys get lost on...

M: Yes!

S: Well yeah, I think everybody was lost on that one, but on "Jupiter"... the noise...

G: I didn't get lost. I think sometimes the music seems like a runaway freight train, but we all seem to come out of it at the same time.

Boud Deun liveS: Tonight's show, for us, it was really good and it was fun, but if we're under more controlled circumstances where we can do two sets and there's not four other bands playing, it's a little more even and [flows a little better], whereas tonight we had to...

G: ...Instead of building up a little...

S: If I had a criticism with our show I'd say, "Man, they were good, but all the songs really..." [gestures franticly] ...and I love that, it's like going to a punk-rock show, I mean you can drive through, but it is nice to have a dynamic. We play a lot of different clubs, we play everything from... like, there's a place in Fairfax where everybody's fourteen to sixteen years old — and that's how we play there, bashing it out, and they love it. And then sometimes...

G: ...We play more mellow...

S: Like in Baltimore, at Of Sound Mind, we'll...

R: ...And it's great for the show, because it's not always the same thing, they don't know what to expect. That's what keeps it fun and interesting.

S: We played a festival down in North Carolina which was all like hippie bands, like Grateful Dead type, you know, so we could do a little more extended jams, stretch the songs out and do whatever we want with them.

Did you sell a lot of CDs here this weekend?

S: Yeah, we're just about out of them right now, still have some tapes, though. We did pretty well. That's why the new one has to come out soon!

How many did you press altogether?

R: Two thousand, a thousand tapes and a thousand CDs.

G: And now they're all gone...

S: No, we do have tapes, and we do have a few CDs left, but not too many.

Boud Deun - Fiction and Several Days coverAbout the disc, it's called Fiction and Several Days. Some have speculated that it was made from two demo tapes, one called Fiction and another called Several Days. Is there any truth to that or can we put the rumor to rest here?

G: That's Shawn's twisted idea...

S: Does it sound like a demo tape? (Laughs)

G: It is... he mixed it... it's all his. (More laughs)

S: No, that's not true, and actually we had a review in this magazine — I mean, I don't mind a review if they can back up what they're criticizing, but this review was just ignorant, with mis-spellings, there was a great quote: "These were obviously formerly trained musicians..." not formally, but formerly, and it said "...Side one is 'Fiction' and side two is 'Several Days,' but I couldn't tell the difference."

R: And the worst part is, he listened to it on the CD... he flipped it over...

S: Yeah, exactly!

M: That's why it sounded so bad!

S: You know, I had a dream the other night, you know how "Boud Deun" is the last song, and there's a splice there, so there's kind of ten tracks on the CD, but "Boud Deun" is really just track nine? I had a dream that on the reel-to-reel there was a No Means No song, and the disk makers printed it on our album, so there was this hidden track by another band... and I thought, "Oh god, that's the most popular song on it and it's not even ours!"

G: That's a good dream, but where did Fiction and Several Days come from?

S: Just a sense of poetry — it sounds good. And not to spoil it, but months after the album came out I'm [thinking] Fiction and Several Days Starless and Bible Black... that was totally an unconscious thing, but after...

G: Now you've done it, I always thought it was like a Crimson ripoff...

S: He's never even heard King Crimson...

G: I have, too... Starless and Bible BlackFiction and Several Days.

M: You see, I'm just the bass player, I told them all not to print that, and then...

Fiction and Several Days, the songS: That's not true. We had a song called "Fiction and Several Days" which we usually always open with, something to warm up with, like two chord but this awesome melody...

R: It's about forty minutes long... we get really warmed up on it...

G: It's our first set.

S: ...But we didn't do it tonight. Good song. Good tune. Larry Coryell inspired melody...

So you're all musically trained?

S: We used to be!

M: Formerly!

S: He [Rocky] learned at the local... what was your union?

R: I can't remember now, it was so long ago...

S: He's not allowed to say, we're gonna find his body and his cement shoes...

R: I think everyone did a lot of studying on their own and did a lot of studying in school. I've been with a lot of basement bands, boy, you can really go places...

S: Jimmy's basement, Rocky's basement...

R: I've done a lot of recording, and studio work. This is probably the first thing I've done that's gotten me out and around... mileage...

S: But we're thinking about kicking him out because he can't keep a quarter on the wall... Greg?

G: Well, I started out as an iron worker, but I switched to the violin, I thought it was easier. I started playing somewhere after the fourth grade. It's been twenty years, and look how relatively... not that far...

S: Greg's only been listening to rock and roll for the past... what?

G: ...Week...

S: Well, not rock and roll but...

Boud Deun posterG: Rock and roll was OK, but I was never into fusion or any kind of jazz until around '88 or so... I come from a total classical background, they never teach you how to improvise, dammit! It's on the page! But I rebelled.

S: Matt? Matt's still a student!

M: I've been playing... I played a bunch of instruments since I was six years old, I played piano, played sax, played drums...

S: He hawked his sax when he was fourteen to pick up chicks...

M: Yep!

S: That's what the bio says.

M: Exactly, that's when I started playing the bass...

S: How many chicks did you pick up because you played the bass?

M: Well... you know, I don't know...

R: You would've done a lot better with the sax...

M: Well, when you play the sax you're a real good kisser, but nobody's gonna kiss you cuz you always have splinters...

S: Did you see that episode of Seinfeld with the saxophone?

M: Now are you cutting in?

S: Did you see that story? I'll tell you later, it's a great episode.

M: When I started playing bass I played in hardcore bands, punk bands, then I met a real cool guy who turned me on to fusion when I was seventeen or eighteen, and I knew I really wanted to get into it. I just wanted to be the best bass player I could possibly be. I went to school, I went to Shenandoah music conservatory.

S: ...Quit...

M: Quit, then went back.

S: Couldn't find a job to pay back his loan, so he said what the f.. I'll re-enroll.

M: Figured I'd stay in and milk it for all it was worth. Most of the time I just liked to do a lot of reading on my own, and I think ninety percent of all learning is listening. If you think about it, if you hear something good, you really want to learn it.

S: I just bought a Mel Bay book, and here I am (laughs)... No, I went to Musicians Institute in Los Angeles for a year, like two university semesters, got out, got into a band, learned a lot after I got out of school because I went to school. School was really good, but it was really tough because it was a straight year, the last semester was like, "This sucks, I want to go home."

M: I want to leave...

S: It was, it was really awful. The first semester is like: This sucks, I'm no good, what am I doing here? Second semester — like hey, this is cool, third you're cruising, and the fourth is like: This sucks I want to go home. Played in some punk bands when I got back from school, and Rocky and I actually played in a basement band for about six months... There's still a couple of tunes that we still do, "Making Circles" on the CD is one that Rock and I had been playing, Brian Heck is the co-author on that song, he was the bass player in that band. It wasn't going anywhere, we didn't have a goal, we didn't know what we were doing. That broke up, and I said fuck this, I don't want to sit in the basement and play... Actually, the day after, Brian called me and says, "We're quitting the band," and I never returned Rocky's phone call. I went out and bought a synth, a guitar synth, and just sat in the basement and wrote a whole bunch of songs, then got Greg to learn them, then I found Matt...

M: (Laughs) I answered an ad...

Boud Deun promo photoS: Then we're searching around for a drummer, and it's like — I know this guy, and I've played with him, and he quit the band and I never called him back... Then I called Rocky and I said, "Hey Rocky, I've got these two guys that are playing and they're really good," and we got together, it was like this is cool, this is happening, we had a band practice, and we had a show like three days later.

You have regular day jobs, though, right?

S: Everybody's teaching now. Greg works at Chile's now too. Actually... wait a second... I'm an architect, and...

R: I perform surgery...

S: Actually, we all teach at the same music store...

G: Not me, I teach at a different music store!

M: And I work at a different one too. I teach at that one but I teach at another one too.

S: But as any learned musician knows, teaching music doesn't really have anything to do with playing music, or very little most of the time, depending on your students.

M: Yeah, really, when I'm teaching I probably only pick up my instrument maybe five minutes out of the lesson.

[Some talk about various guitar instruction videos]

M: Now you see where his influences come from, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai...

S: I like Steve Vai, good player, on Alien Love Secrets there's that one rhythm guitar track... It's insane, and a little long, but...

Boud Deun (artist's rendering)How about the rest of you?

G: Do we like Steve Vai? Sure... I listen to everything now...

S: [to Greg] Yeah, what's the last CD you bought?

G: I dunno, I'm poor, I don't have any money to buy CDs... I've got a record player...

M: You know, it's funny, but like — and this is a bad thing about most CDs, for example Tribal Tech. The first song on Illicit is great, and then it just goes downhill, I mean I love the band and I love that song, but if you have a good song like that and then the rest of it doesn't add up to the first song...

S: I would prefer you to take ten years to make a record to make all the songs good...

Do you have anything else you want to say?

R: Thanks for showing up!

S: Yeah, thanks!

G: What did you think of the show?

Great. I was holding on to the edge of my seat the whole time.

S: Yeah, they were a little fast, we played them faster than usual...

G: We're into tempos...

R: ...As long as they're fast!

Yeah, I thought you might have sped them up a little...

All: We did!

G: What's really bad is when we play coffee houses, because Rock and I really like pounding expressos, then try and keep your tempos down!


Filed under: Interviews, Issue 11

Related artist(s): Gary Parra, Trap, Boud Deun, Shawn Persinger (Prester John)

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