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Home For The Holidays

music dredgLos Altos alt-rockers, Dredg, to play sophomore record for family of fans

The holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry with the ones you know and love; a time to reunite with friends and family who have spent the rest of the year apart—busy with their jobs, their day-to-day household obligations and working on new material for another major-label record and supporting international tour.

Though you might presume so, Los Altos alt-rock outfit Dredg isn’t all that different from their followers. Like most of us, as the New Year draws nigh, we want to be close to hearth and home.

On Dec. 21, the boys from just over the hill will perform their second full-length album, 2002’s El Cielo, from start to finish at The Catalyst. The show is a celebration, according to Dredg frontman Gavin Hayes—both of the album’s 10-year anniversary and for the local fans that have been dedicated to the band since they first formed in the mid-‘90s.

“It’s very comfy,” Hayes says of Santa Cruz and The Catalyst, where the band played some of its first big shows. Playing at the Pacific Avenue haunt literally feels like playing at home. “We pretty much know everyone there.”

And it’s no coincidence that the guys have chosen to perform El Cielo. The album—inspired by a Salvador Dali painting and more prominently by the phenomenon known as “sleep paralysis”—was the group’s breakout LP. Less aggressive and more melodic than its predecessor, Leitmotif, the record was Dredg’s first release after signing with Interscope Records, and it served as a compelling introduction to many fans.

Thanks to Interscope’s support and the timing of it all (Hayes notes that the record industry was much stronger back in 2002), Dredg was free to fully indulge every musical impulse during the El Cielo sessions.

“It was amazing,” Hayes says, recalling the process, which lasted six weeks—beginning at the Skywalker Ranch Studios in Marin and concluding at a secluded barn in rural Massachusetts.

The result was a lush, cinematic album, replete with songs like “It Only Took A Day” and “With The Canyon Behind Her,” both of which merged ethereal textures with driving intensity. Then there were the dreamy interludes, like “Brushstroke: An Elephant In The Delta Waves”—with its indigenous chanting and dulcimer accompaniment—that stitched the record together.

While these kinds of transitory tracks often get passed over on tour—or else played back through a sampler as guitars are tuned and beer is sipped—Hayes promises that even the in-between numbers from El Cielo will be performed live.

How the band will arrange everything is still up in the air, according to Hayes. The last time Dredg performed El Cielo in its entirety at The Catalyst, they pulled out all the stops. A man dressed in full opera garb came out to accompany “Brushstroke: A Walk In The Park,” and additional players were brought out to bang drums for “Brushstroke: An Elephant In The Delta Waves.”

This time around, Hayes says friends from Oakland symphonic metal band Judgment Day will provide accompaniment for certain songs and that the band will do its best to recreate El Cielo on stage.

It’s only appropriate. After all, an album as ambitious and conceptual as El Cielo is meant to be heard from start to finish.

“I loved records that made me dive into them,” he says. “It makes me proud that people view things we’ve done that way. It’s cool that people are investing their time and energy into figuring it out and molding it into something that’s meaningful to them.”


Dredg plays at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21 at The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $19/adv, $24/door. For more info, call 423-1338.

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