Joe Tomino on Dub Trio: "Playing live is what we do best"
Before the release of the third full length by Dub Trio, namely “Another Sound Is Dying” (2008) – a thrilling mix of various rock genres, from aggressiveness to melancholia, with dub reggae – I had a small conversation with Joe Tomino. Our dialogue was based on facts related to the disc in question and on the reasons why Joe felt to urge to work with certain musicians like Mike Patton and others and to create this special kind of music.
V: Hey Joe, how you are?
Joe Tomino: I am doing well, thank you.
V: I think you have been playing with many musicians from different styles over the years. Why did you make this band and what made you play that certain type of music with DP Holmes & Stu Brooks and continue with them?
Joe Tomino: I didn’t necessarily “make” this band. We started this band as a side project, sort of an outlet to just play some no pressure gigs around NYC... Although I’ve always wanted to play in a dub band. The fact that this band continues to grow is exciting. It keeps things fresh and it challenges me. Also, I am lucky to be in a band with two very unique voices in music today. Everyone in this band comes with their own sound.
V: I’ve listened to a new song from the new record and I like it very much. I can’t wait to hear the whole record. I am pretty sure you’ll say that this is the best record you ever wrote. Why is that?
Joe Tomino: Actually, the best record I’ve ever wrote hasn’t been written yet. You have to give yourself room to grow. Every record I’ve ever done has been a culmination of every record I’ve ever done. This record is GREAT, but it’s just another picture in time. I think it’s the most diverse Dub Trio record to date though.
V: Did you choose to collaborate with the same people you worked for “New Heavy”?
Joe Tomino: Yeah, we’ve recorded all our records with engineer/producer Joel Hamilton. Joel is a very talented guy. He also has a plethora of outboard gear in his studio, Studio G. Joel just understands what we are trying to do with our music and dials in the sounds we want. It's a very organic process working with him.
V: Is it that you always start writing a song with a riff or do you get some of your drumming ideas to begin writing?
Joe Tomino: I guess we start 90% of the songs with riffs. Anyone can bring in a riff. I usually write mine on the bass. Then, once we get into the rehearsal studio everyone contributes their own parts and we come up with forms and different ideas collectively.
V: I think I read somewhere that on the new disc “Another Sound Is Dying”, Mike Patton will execute again some vocals for you. What’s the name of this song and what makes it different from “Not Alone”?
Joe Tomino: Yeah, we recorded a song, “No Flag” with Mike Patton. This record was released on his label, Ipecac. Also, we’ve been playing with his band, Peeping Tom that it just made sense to work with him again. Our musical relationship is really natural and there is no stress. It was a very easy process, with great results. Mike is a very talented guy.
V: Do you think that there are people who buy your CD only because Mike Patton is singing on a track?
Joe Tomino: Of course, but hopefully they end up liking the band’s track without vocals and then we’ve made a new fan.
V: As an instrumental band, you definitely don't get your videos on TV channels. How do you try to promote yourselves?
Joe Tomino: Touring… We try to get out there and tour as much as possible. It’s hard being an instrumental band, but we’ve been lucky so far. We’ve had a lot of great opportunities. I sometimes feel like being an instrumental band helps us rather than hurts us in some ways.
V: Do you see the collaboration with Mike Patton as a way to make promotion?
Joe Tomino: No, not at all. When we first worked with Mike we had a list of people we wanted to collaborate with. We choose whose was right for the track we wrote, it had nothing to do with trying to use someone’s name to sell records.
V: Is it difficult to express yourselves live as a trio?
Joe Tomino: No, playing live is what we do best. That is how this band was conceived. We don’t make records that we’re not going to be able to reproduce live on stage.
V: Do you have any accompaniment?
Joe Tomino: No accompaniment. We don’t use any loops of beats or anything like that. We do have samples, but those are mainly for noises and miscellaneous sounds.
V: How was touring with The Fugees?
Joe Tomino: Touring with The Fugees was a good experience. It was my first arena tour. It was a lot of work. I got the call for the gig four days before we left for tour. So it took a lot of work to work up the material and get ready to play two hour sets every night. You have to be ready for anything with those guys. Crazy!
V: Do you have a “normal” job?
Joe Tomino: This is my “normal” job. I do other things for hobbies when I’m not playing music, like fooling around with video or cooking. Making music is the only thing I do to make a living. It’s been that way since I was seventeen. I am really fortunate for the opportunities I’ve had in my career.
V: Have you ever tried to play drums in a certain band and it didn’t work out?
Joe Tomino: Yeah, I’ve had gigs that I’ve done for a while and for one reason or another they didn’t work out. You have to learn to be O.K. with that kind of things. You can’t be everything everybody wants you to be all the time. You just have to do what you think it’s right for the music and hopefully it makes everyone happy. There is a difference in being someone to hire (sideman) and a leader/co-leader of a band.
V: Please name five records that you’re listening to lately.
Björk – “Volta”
Konono N°1 – “Congotronics”
Radiohead – “In Rainbows”
Joe Henry – “Civilians”
The Bad Plus – “Prog”
V: What soon-to-be-released records do you wish to listen to?
Joe Tomino: The Mars Volta, Meshuggah, Aloke!
V: What hot plans do you have for 2008?
Joe Tomino: I want to put out a solo drum record sometime this year. I want to take my wife to Europe this year. I hope to go to Japan with Dub Trio for the first time.
V: What do you know and think about my place of origin Romania?
Joe Tomino: Isn’t that where Dracula is from? No, really though, I would love to go to Bucharest!