I first met Dominic online about seven years ago when he was still in the band Pesticide. Pesticide was a Industrial rock act that seemed to draw it’s influence from bands like Faith No More and Mushroomhead. I was running a fan site that introduced new music and I stumbled across them and became “friends” with Dom after inquiring about the band. Unfortunately, soon after I discovered them, Pesticide disbanded. Dom and I stayed on as online friends and I followed him as he launched his new band, under[base], which is more of a return to 90’s alternative electronic rock in the vein of acts like Stabbing Westward and Gravity Kills. Since it’s inception, under[base] has released one full length album, “A Lifetime for One Moment”, in 2011 (which you can steam in it’s entirety on their website) and they are currently working on album number two.
Along with his musical duties in under[base], Dom also is a graphic/comic artist that has released a comic, “No Salvation” for the group Society 1; and “Metalheads”, an upcoming comic written by Ray Van Horn Jr. from blabbermouth.net. Dom was also one of the first musicians that supported me with a quote and has been helping me try and promote Don’t Let the Music Stop from time to time. I am always amazed by the amount of projects he has going on at any one time and I wanted to get some time with Dom to see if I could find out more about what is going on with under[base] and get his thoughts on music, art, and finding inspiration.
Thanks for talking with me. I know you have a lot on your plate with under[base], Stealth Comics, and everything else. First we will focus on your music. Can you tell us a bit about under[base] and why people should check out the band?
First at all – its amazing that we’re already in touch for such a long time. The years are flying by like minutes! The story behind under[base] is a bit complicated: When we were doing Pesticide we went off like a rocket (for DIY standards). We were playing big stages together with big names and when we were doing a show in our hometown the locations were packed with people. This was far more than we expected and far more than most bands from here will ever reach. But as fast as this thing took off – it crashed down to the ground again. One day I was not able to attend rehearsal because I had to work on an nearby island. I called one of my band mates to ask which date the next rehearsal is scheduled for. He told me that they (the other band members) decided to cancel Pesticide and that its over. (There is a bigger Story behind this but this would go beyond the scope of the interview.) – And I just thought “All this work, all the contacts and fans and friends we made and all the money we put into this thing – and they tell me its over?? NO WAY!” I think it was the same evening that I was sitting on my desktop and decided to do a new band asap. The first songs we (me and my former band mate and co founder ‘Neverman’) listed for under[base] were actually written for Pesticide but were declined by the other band members. So we had a first 4 Track-demo together very quickly and were able to spread the word about that we are ‘still alive’ and not everyone of us gave up. Social media was a huge help in these days. I designed the sound of under[base] for people who are in their late 30’s – 50’s today. Particularly for everyone who witnessed the era of 90’s industrial- and alternative rock and enjoyed it. So if you feel alienated by today’s Rock music and crave for the sounds of the good ol days of youth – you might feel alright home in the under[base]
When you founded under[base] you decided to go with a 90’s style industrial rock. I also know you have said many times that you want to “bring back the 90’s”. Why do you think that you are so attracted to this particular style and why do you think it needs to make a comeback?
Oh I have a fine example for this – Before ‘A lifetime for one moment’ was released we showcased the album to an open audience. We rented a stage for this night and played the complete album. First at all I was intrigued how many people came to our show who were past their 30’s. After the show a guy was telling my bass guitar player that we do exactly the music he used to listen to when he was in his 20;s. When he told me about it I knew that I reached my goal by finding the right audience for our music. I don’t think a real comeback of this 90’s style thing is ever possible since the industry is almost dead and just focusing on the big acts but I just want to make sure that it does not disappear completely. I was a teenager/early tween in the 90’s and these were ultimately the days of my youth. These days have seen my first wild party, my first binge, my first love, my first band, my first own apartment and my first real job. Doing the music I do reconnects me to this time. Jeff Scheel of ‘Gravity Kills’ was hitting me up on Facebook once and he told me that the really likes my work and that he is delighted that there are still bands of this kind out there. This was an incredible encouragement.
You have recently released a lyric video for “It’s Me” and have teased about an upcoming video for “Right Now”. What else is in the works for under[base] currently?
Oh there is still lots of work to do! Some of the songs of our next album DRUGSTORE are already five years old. We tried to release the whole thing two years ago but we failed due to the lack of money and we had immense problems in the band. Right after we toured with ‘Hanzel und Gretyl’ from NYC it began to go straight downwards again. But thanks to my incredible stubbornness the band is still alive. Beside finishing the video which is meant to be a kind of teaser for a crowdfunding campaign we need to launch soon we are finishing the album songs month for month. The goal is to be able to release the album THIS FALL!
With under[base] being mostly DIY, I have no idea how you find time to do other projects. But you always seem to be doing something. What else you have on the plans for this year besides some new music?
Oh I’m always doing some creative work – I have to. It will shred me apart some day but at least I can say that I ‘lived for the art’. Actually I don’t know what I am: Am I a musician who loves to make drawings and comics or am I a pencil artist who releases music from time to time? Who knows? When I was determined to do the artwork for Matt Zane’s ‘NO SALVATION’ I also met Ray Van Horne Jr. who did the script. It took me a complete year to finish this job but right after it was done we decided to team up again and work on a project called ‘METALHEADS’ which Ray envisioned a while ago and we both want to bring to life now. I am not sure if I will be able to finish the work on it this year now the work on under[base] has increased again but I will do my best – and it’s going to be hella cool!!!
All images courtesy of Stealth Comics
Speaking of other projects, how are things going with Stealth Comics? It looks as if some celebrities in music and TV have taken notice of some of your works lately.
Yeah, its funny. I made a drawing of the actor Robin Lord Taylor once – just for fun and fortune – he discovered it on Twitter and retweeted it and my mailbox almost exploded shortly after. This already happened a few times. Some of the folks I draw are really cool and repost it on their Facebook- or Twitter pages and tell the people about me then. Coal Chamber even posted a link to my Stealth-comics page which is really cool and not very common these days. People begin to recognize my style and I’m very proud of it. Stealth Comics started as a platform for my various artworks but will be transformed into a real small comic label very soon. The METALHEADS comic Ray and I are doing will be released under this flag.
When I first approached you to see if you would like to help out with Don’t Let the Music Stop you were very enthusiastic and gave me an amazing quote about how music helps you see the beauty in life. First off, thank you for your support, especially when this project first started. It has meant the world to me. What are your thoughts on how music can help those who are having trouble seeing that there is still beauty in the world?
When you get hurt physically you need a ‘healing hand’ to comfort you. Music is a hand that can comfort your soul when its hurt. It can give you encouragement, it can show you that other people have similar problems like you so you feel understood and not completely alone, it can give you a soundtrack to every situation in your life or just sound beautiful and make you dream. Sometimes life is so exhausting. We are running and running from one meeting to another, running to pay our bills, running to buy stuff we don’t need, running to get the all things done the world around us expects us to do. The reward is that you are allowed to collapse on your couch in the evening and get a little rest til you have to get up and start the race again. After a while you may question your place and real purpose in the world. Music is the island in that rough sea where you can lay your head down to rest. When you realize that its actually like a web drawn through our world it makes it a place that is a little better indeed.
What music has inspired you personally?
Oh I listen to a wide range of different genres and styles but I always was a huuuge fan of Filter and the Stone Temple Pilots. Filter’s ‘The Amalgamut’ and STP’s ‘Purple’ are two albums I can listen to from the first to the last song without feeling the need to skip a song – and it never gets boring. When I don’t listen to 90’s alternative rock in general I also like 80’s Rock music – Mr.Mister’s ‘Kyrie’ is one of my all-time faves, 70s Soul – ‘O-o-h Child’ by the Five Stairsteps is fantastic! I recommend everyone to look for old Soultrain videos on YouTube – last but not least the music of my good friend Charlie Roberts’ project ‘Seive’ has a special place in my heart. But this is just the peak of the stuff I love to listen to.
What is the one thing you would say to someone who is dealing with mental illness or going through a rough time?
I wouldn’t say anything and just listen to what he/she has to tell.
Lastly, I am putting together a playlist of music that is hand picked by musicians I have worked with. Could you give me a song or two that needs to be added to the playlist.
Stone temple Pilots – Interstate Love song
Thanks Dom for taking the time to answer some questions, it has been a pleasure.
Thank you so much Randy!!!
Make sure you follow Dominic, under[base], and Stealth Comics using your favorite social media site:
Photo courtesy of Ric Mdot Photography