Dust To Dust: Rob Traynor Speaks To UM


Not blessed, or merciful
Apr 11, 2001
Sarf Lundin, Innit

Rob Traynor is, by his own admission, 'an angry person'. As the main nucleus of up-and-coming band Dust To Dust, Rob's darkly-tinted songs speak about such diverse subjects as drug addiction and lack of faith. The band's debut album, a heavy but catchy take on metal fused with synth and keyboard elements, is soon to be spinning in all self-respecting rock fan's CD players from the 24th of July. Rob was kind enough to take some time out from being angry to give Ultimate Metal this interview via email, in which he speaks about the difficulty in finding keyboard players in rock, Meshuggah and punching MTV stars. UM would like to thank Mark Morton from Chipster PR for making this interview possible.

Ultimate Metal: First of all, how would you describe Dust To Dust's style?

Rob Traynor: Dark and heavy. Musically and lyrically. Dust to Dust has a different flavor and feel from a lot of the "current" stuff out there right now. We maintain a new school feel and heaviness with a little "dark new wave" ambience. Thus the keyboards, which give us, what I feel is, a very distinct sound. We don't use keyboards like other bands do. The keyboards come across as very "organic" as opposed to a mechanical or quantized feel. We use a lot of old analogue sounds. Sounds you would find on old Gary Numan tunes for example. A retro synth feel. The songs are based primarily on melody. And I don't rap!

UM: What bands would you say most influenced you as a musician?

RT: I worshipped many great bands growing up. Sabbath, Floyd, and Rush all the way up to Slayer, Metallica and Maiden to newer school stuff like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden to present day stuff like Vast and Meshuggah! I'm influenced by everything and anything. I loved a lot of new wave, which inspired a lot of the keyboards in the tunes. If I like it, it influences me. Every great band has something that is special about their sound, and that's what most influences me.

UM: Are there any bands you're listening to above others at the moment?

RT: I've actually been listening to a lot of Meshuggah lately. I know my music sounds nothing like Meshuggah, but I dig what they are doing. There is something special about the way they create that style of Metal and it shines through. It helps me push extra weight at the gym! I've also been listening to Dave Navarro's album and new Fear Factory is real cool to. On the flip side my ears have been buried in Esthero and Soulstice lately. I love that music.

UM: What do you think of nu-metal, and would you say that Dust To Dust come under that label?

RT: I think a lot of Nu Metal is great, but its getting played. Too much belching and artificial angst. Way too much rap. People just aint keeping it real. I feel the music is starting to loose its sincerity, and that's ultra important to this form of music. Too many bandwagon acts are jumping up trying to cash in on a used up sound. Innovation not imitation, that's what it should be all about. You've got to write from the heart, I see too many bands surfacing that all sound alike. When I sat down to write this album I set out to write the type of songs that I would like to hear. I didn't try to cop a sound. I didn't ask myself "what kind of stuff should I write to land a record deal?" Actually I didn't think a record label would have looked at my material twice. I would like to think my music was recognized because of those reasons. So does Dust to Dust come under the Nu Metal label you ask? If nu metal is what's fresh, new, sincere and different sounding than most stuff out there today, then I would say yes, Dust to Dust is Nu Metal. If being considered Nu Metal is sounding like all the rap ridden artificial angst bands, then I say no, Dust to Dust is NOT Nu Metal.

UM: The impression I get from the bio I received from Sanctuary Records upon reviewing the album is that Dust To Dust is something of a one-man project with back-up musicians. How far do the other band members contribute to the song-writing aspect of Dust To Dust?

RT: I wrote all the songs the album. The album is a collection of some of the songs I had written over the past three years. The songs I have chosen for this album were chosen because I felt they worked best together as a collection. On the original demos of the songs I played all the instruments (except drums, I used a drum machine). I guess that pretty much classifies me as a singer songwriter. I have a small home studio and I always enjoyed recording. I had written about three quarters of this album when interest appeared from people in the music industry. Before I knew it I had a manager shopping my songs and label interest. When it came time to showcase I had no band so I went about getting the best musicians I could find. I formed the band basically. Although the other guys may have not written the material, they contribute as musicians. No two people play alike. Steve, Stu, and James are great musicians and they give life to the music with their own style and abilities. I don't view this as "me and a back up band." This is a band that came together because these guys really liked what I was doing musically and they believe in the music, otherwise I don't think they would be playing with me.

UM: How were the other band members recruited?

RT: First there was Stuart Berenson (guitars). Stu and me had played in a band together years back before I decided to bail out of this horrible industry. We have been friends since I was about three years old. When the shit started going down with industry interest, I immediately called him up. He was available and into the gig so we went about getting a drummer. Steve Tobin (drums) came up to New York from South Carolina looking to find a band. He took a job at a local music store where he heard my demo being played. He was digging the music and asked who the band was. When he found out I was looking for a drummer he got my number and called me. The three of us got together and things just clicked. The hardest thing was finding a keyboardist. Seems like keyboards are a dirty word when it comes to rock bands. Finally we found someone but things ultimately didn't work out with him because he didn't want to tour. James Craig (keyboards) came about through a twist of fate. James was the bass player for a band called Boiler Room. James and I have been the best of friends for many years. Early on I helped James and his brother form Boiler room by recording and writing some of their early tunes with them. James and I are both bass players that is why we were never in a band together and I was in another band at the time. James is the one who handed my demo off to the manager (Larry Mazer) who shopped and got me industry interest. Unfortunately things didn't work out for Boiler Room and they were dropped from Tommy boy records. At the same time my keyboardist was leaving the band. James jumped at the opportunity and quickly took to the keys. He had taken lessons early on so playing the keys came easy to him, he's a great all around musician. So now I'm in a band with my best buds!

UM: A lot of the lyrics in Dust To Dust's songs are quite depressing or angry in nature. 'Potters field' and 'If I Was God' in particular seem to be quite melancholy songs. Is there a specific story behind either of these songs?

RT: I'm not trying to break any new ground lyrically. I write about life experience and what I see going on around me. I write about what I feel powerless to do anything about. It's therapy for me. I write from the viewpoint of a lower middle class male living in today's urban America. I think anyone can identify with my lyrics; I'm not trying to go over people's heads. The songs are not happy tunes. I'm not the jolliest of guys. The plastic corporate punk bands can keep the "party songs," and the Back street gay boys can keep their "phony cash in on little girls with a ballad" love jingles. My songs are written out of emotion, and anger and depression are quite strong. "Potters field" was written after I saw a dead, frozen, young homeless guy being carted away in the dead of winter. He was off to Potters field where they bury unknown unclaimed people, the John and Jane Does. What a waste, like a bag of garbage. It all struck me as very sad. So I wrote about it. The song is about the faceless forgotten people who live and die in the streets. "If I was God" is about questioning ones belief in God. Basically if there is a God why is shit the way it is in this world? I'm Agnostic. And the song is definitely an Agnostic view on things.

UM: Would you say that there is an overall message that you are trying to project through Dust To Dust's music?

RT: The message is honesty. Honesty within the lyrics, and honesty within the music. The message is KEEP IT REAL. In a world where so much isn't. Sometimes honesty comes in the form of dark depressing lyrics. Sometimes honesty comes in the form of music that isn't the flavor of the week.

UM: On a slightly sillier note - if you could punch any celebrity at the moment, who would it be?

RT: Anyone on MTV! Man or woman! I would love to bitch slap anyone from that show "bands on the run!" Where the fuck did they dig up those losers?

UM: Thanks very much for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the Ultimate Metal readership?

RT: Thanks for actually taking the time to read this interview!

So there you have it. Honesty, anger, depression and bitchslapping. Dust To Dust's self titled debut album is available on Sanctuary Records from July the 24th.