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INTERVIEW: Universal Dice

How would you classify your music?

Gerry Dantone answering all questions:  Hopefully we’re classified as “good” music, but if you want a category, we are an indie classic rock band in the style of the Beatles, the Who, from the 60s to, more recently, bands like Green Day and the Killers and plenty of great bands in between.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

Influences are not going to be our contemporaries – our contemporaries were influenced by the same musicians that we were influenced by. If we had to pick 5 it would be The Beatles, the Who, Pink Floyd, Squeeze, Paul Simon. These are the giants on whose shoulders we stand.  Our contemporaries would be bands like Green Day, Muse and the Killers and they might name similar bands as their influences.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

I do have a goal that I am trying to accomplish with music (as we all should have in life generally) – to make things better. I hope my music is edifying – that you can learn something from it or it will make you think more deeply about something important in life.  On our 4 CDs we have dealt with the big topics, life and death, meaning and purpose – really!  How are we to live?  What is love?  These are the underlying topics that we all should care about.

Our first CD (My Name Is Thomas…) dealt with faith and reason; the second album (mostly True Stories) was about religion and philosophy; the third album (Out of Many, One) was about political and social issues; and the current album (birth, love, hate, death) is a love story rock opera from birth to death of two people.  I want my music to mean something and matter.  I do not want to waste my time on just making “product.”

How’s the music scene in your locale?

On Long Island, NY, cover bands and tribute bands do very well. Original music, not so good.  Original music is tougher than ever to market because there is almost no money to be made with digital sales/royalties and there is a glut of music waiting to be heard because it has become so easy to record even in your own home on an IPad.  At this point you need to tour, tour and tour some more to get noticed and to make a living.  You have to have no other responsibilities so you can go on the road and become a known entity.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

It is hard to say which concert has been the best; McCartney, the Who, Muse, the Killers, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen and many others I’ve seen have knocked it out of the park. There are just too many to name!  I practically cried when Procul Harem played “Salty Dog” in concert. It was unbelievable.  I definitely favor bands that sound really good in concert as opposed to concerts that are more like a party or event.  I’m into the music.

What I’ve enjoyed most about playing live is having people hear the tunes for the first time and be impressed.  I also love the way it sounds when we’ve played the songs with a good sound system and played them well.

Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

I think “Your Son” and “Honestly” approach what I wish I could do on every tune.  I sang both well and in both I wrote songs that have not been written before – they’re pretty original and avoid cliché if you look at them closely.  They are both full of self-doubt, uncertainty and are melancholy even though they sound melodic and classic.  “Honestly” is a love song where the singer says he doesn’t know what love is.  That is an honest statement.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?

I really don’t know. Evolution is a slow process so sometimes you cannot perceive the actual changes.  I think I have a little more confidence in my guitar playing after seeing what I was able to do on the last CD.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

Paul McCartney seems like a good guy to meet, as is Bruce Springsteen or Lady GaGa.  There are plenty of great musicians that seem like really good people.  That’s the kind of person I’d like to meet.

What’s next for you?

If I could do one thing that would be to stage the rock opera, “birth, love, hate, death” in a live setting with actors and actresses in a playhouse with the band and have it taped with really good sound!  Otherwise, I am already working on another album of songs!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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