By: Rob Cavuoto
Tangents is the proverbial Indie needle in a haystack, and have created something so smart and crafted something so beautiful in their new record One Little Light Year that it is bound to make fans of any genre of music pay attention. Tangents’ sound is reminiscent of early Muse and Copeland, yet still has the distinctive qualities to separate itself from the pack. The band is the culmination of guitarist/vocalist Dave Witham and drummer Derek Kerswill of Unearth fame. I had a chance to meet up with both Dave and Derek and discuss the band and cashing in on the cougar demographics.
Rob: Tell me a little about the band’s origins?
Dave Witham: I had a bunch of demo stuff that I was working on that I wanted to finish. I decided to call up Derek to ask for some advice on if he knew any “proper” studios that I could record at that were semi-cheap. We spoke, and I sent him some of the demo stuff. He listened to it and called me back all excited saying that he wanted to drum on it and that he had some ideas on where we could record. That’s pretty much it… it just sort of took on a life of its own from that point forward.
Derek Kerswill: Yeah, I had some production ideas that I wanted to work on and a few song ideas that were too “light” for any of my other bands. I truly fell in love with the stuff immediately and knew that we could collaborate and make a great record.
Rob: How do you define your music and how do you want it to be classified?
Dave Witham: It’s hard to quantify that type of think. It just our stuff. I don’t think about it when I write, I just do. It’s rock, it’s pop, it’s semi-indie, it’s semi-arena rock, and it’s dark, but somewhat uplifting at times, maybe. I just want people to dig it as much as we do.
Derek Kerswill: For some reason, when the two of us come together, there’s a definite “thing” that’s just there and understood, musically. We’ve never stepped on each other’s toes, and the ideas we have are always for the best of the songs. We are very in tune with each other and what our vision is for Tangents. We both dabble in a lot of different musical areas, but it’s very defined what falls along the proverbial line with us.
Rob: Where do you get your inspiration from when writing songs?
Dave Witham: Just an idea that hits you musically. I probably make up about 40 pieces of songs in my head per day. Little melodies that I hum or have stuck in the back of my mind. There’s so many that just pop in and out, it’s hard to keep track. It’s the song ideas that grow past that point of mental inception or stick around with you for a few days that are the good ones. I will also say, it’s a cool thing sometimes to turn a song on that you have never heard, turn it on for like 20 or 30 seconds and then make your own idea out of what you heard. Sometimes some really interesting stuff can grow out of that. Especially when you can’t even recognize where you got the idea from in the first place.
Derek Kerswill: Life experience or being inspired by a movie or someone else’s music is normally the three things that get my motivation going for writing. I can’t pick up a guitar and write a song. I mean, it’s always easy to re-write, re-arrange, add parts, etc on the spot, but, the foundation of a song for me usually just appears from out of nowhere.
Rob: Tell us about the songwriting process for the band? Did each member contribute to the writing of the release?
Dave Witham: A lot of the stuff were demos I had done. Some were 99% of the way finished and some were just a rough verse and chorus idea that Derek and I would flesh out. For instance, “The Pieces Fall” was almost entirely done when Derek first heard, drum ideas included. Some others, “Fall Asleep Again” comes to mind, were just a rough verse/chorus and we grew the song from there. Derek had the idea of going back and forth from the first part of the verse to the second part with the two different drum feels, that completely makes the verses awesome in that song. “Missing” we wrote together from beginning to end. We even both worked on the lyrics. Derek would write lyrics, then I would edit, he would write more and I would re-edit, it ended up working well.
Derek Kerswill: It was a pretty unique experience, but so effortless. Dave had a bunch of songs demoed, and I had a lot of production and arrangement ideas, so when we got together to go over them, before we knew it, a few more songs were written and we had TOO many songs for a record. I was on the road for a lot of the time he was tracking stuff after I had finished the drums, so he would feed me mp3′s and I’d send revisions back to him and we just kept doing that until the record was finished. His wife (Lori) did the artwork for us and I think it really lends to the vibe of the record. She’s an amazing designer.
Rob: What do you want fans to take away from your music?
Dave Witham: Just something that they dig, something that sticks with them for more that 2 or 3 listens.
Derek Kerswill: Well, they obviously have been taking away the music because we haven’t sold many copies. No, but for real, it’s a very personal record, but Dave and I were very clear that we wanted to keep things open to interpretation so that people could get what they wanted from the songs. Every track has a meaning and came from a specific place and/or idea, but we want people to interpret that the way they want to so that it’s personal for them.
Rob: Who do you hope this CD speaks to and what do you want them to take away from it?
Derek Kerswill: I think it’s an extremely diverse record that could appeal to a lot of different people. But, it’s always awesome when really hot mom’s are into a band. Seems like bands that speak to the MILF and/or cougar demographic always make shitloads of cash.
Rob: What has the highlight been for you in launching your band?
Derek Kerswill: Just the fact that anyone cares about the stuff. Dave and I completely did this on our own with the help of a few close friends, but 95% of it came from us and it was amazing getting that first copy of the record and just knowing that it would see the light of day.
Rob: Any favorite song on the CD?
Derek Kerswill: “Missing” is definitely very near and dear to me and I think it’s Dave and I working together at our best, but “Homecoming” and “Hyde” and “Fall Asleep Again” and “Blind Spots” and that other one. I like those too.
Rob: How did you come up with your name?
Derek Kerswill: Oh man! I friggin’ loathe coming up with band names and the two of us were super picky, so it took awhile, but he just sent it over one day and there were no real bands called Tangents, so we were sold immediately. I love one-word band names, but years and years of bands have taken all the good ones. [Laughing]
Rob: When can we expect to see you guys on tour?
Derek Kerswill: Who knows. I have a serious idea for a planetarium tour. Who’s ever done that? It’ll be “Welcome Home (Planetarium) Tour 2012.” Or, once teleportation becomes a reality, you can expect to see us touring quite often.