Here is an interview I did from the 2006 archives with Jeff Diehm, Peter Gorritz and Rick Joyce of the band The Last Dance.
Interview with: THE LAST DANCE
Babble & Beat - The Last Dance formed over 15 years ago. They have secured a large following and their fanbase is growing rapidly. They have made 5 regular, full-length releases, as well as 20 special remix, multi media, ep, and compilation cds.
Your most recent release, ‘Once Beautiful’, is a-m-a-z-i-n-g! Honestly, I have played it at least 40 times in the last couple of weeks. I didn’t think you could top ‘Whispers in Rage’, which was absolutely phenomenal as well.
What was your inspiration for the title track, ‘Once Beautiful’?
Rick - Wow. Thank you for your kind words! Okay to answer, the inspiration came from a few places for ‘Once Beautiful’ the song. First off musically, it came from an idea of Jeff’s that he wrote electronically and then passed to me to listen to. At first listen I brushed it off and moved on to other songs… but one night late I decided to give it another listen and heard it completely different, hearing possibilities that I could do with it, and then used it as a foundation for writing the music of what you hear on the album… minus the bass guitar, that was all Peter’s addition. Lyrically the song came to me inspired by two different situations happening in my life. One personally and one within a dear friend of mine, which were both in ways related. Basically it came from feelings of not being good enough, self doubt, feeling like your creativity and voice have left… ironically, it turned out to be a pretty cool song proving such feelings wrong. Funny how things go that way sometime.
Babble & Beat - Your ‘Once Beautiful’ video was directed by Sandy Collora (set/prop designer for The Crow, concept artist for Predator 2, creature designer for Men In Black, director/writer for Batman: Dead End, …). This is an amazing piece of work to watch – and it’s a perfect match to its music and lyrics.
How can you top a Sandy Collora video? Please tell me about your experiences making that video with him.
Jeff - It was a pretty amazing experience. We really had no idea what to expect, and only a rough idea what the story was. We showed up to find a huge crew that really knew what they were doing, with all sorts of people running around taking care of things. It really was something to watch! I almost felt like we were minor characters in our own video, even though we got most the screen time. Sandy and his crew did a fantastic job, and I hope we can do another one of these days.
Peter - It was great fun. Being a bit of an outdoors lover, I really enjoyed running around covered in flaky white body paint in the desert. We had never done a video before, so the whole experience was pretty unique and Sandy made it fun for us. He is definitely a character.
Rick - Yes, it was amazing to do the video and work with Sandy, who is so great really! In fact, I would call him inspiring. The video experience was a new one for us and yes, I think we were definitely spoiled. Sandy is an artist himself, obviously, and his interpretation of our song put into film was awesome. On set we were the amateurs definitely, with himself and crew all knowing what they were doing after months of prep for the filming. Yet, we were treated really well, like stars!! Ha-ha… Sandy said he was definitely a bit worried what I personally would think of the video once it was edited and all finished… and at the screening party in his studio, where we watched it for the first time, he told me that when he noticed the tear in my eye he knew he succeeded. Wow. Truly an amazing artist and such a pleasure to work with!
Babble & Beat - I was impressed with your website traffic. As of 5/12/06 your official site (www.thelastdance.com) has had 280,394 visitors! Your Official MySpace site (www.myspace.com/thelastdance) has had over 34,150 profile views and you have accumulated over 5,540 MySpace friends.
What do you think of that and are the numbers increasing at a much faster pace since the release of ‘Once Beautiful’?
Jeff - I think I used to pay attention to that sort of thing more before, but I don’t really pay attention any more. The band continues to gain fans and whatever popularity comes with it, and that’s always a good thing.
Rick - Wow, okay honestly, I really do not pay too much attention to those numbers. So, I am not really sure if they went up at a faster pace since ‘Once Beautiful’ came out but I am sure that it helped definitely. The combination of our label’s promotional effort, the video Sandy did for us, and the amazing way information travels so quickly online now between people (like on Myspace) it does seem that word is spreading and more and more people are visiting our sites… yes. That is great!! The Last World is growing!
Babble & Beat - You have done many studio collaborations with other respected musicians over the years. Rachel McDonnell of Cruxshadows, Mera Roberts of Mercurine, Marsha Skidmore, and Tina Root from Switchblade Symphony, to name a few. Tina returns this time on the track, ‘Wish Me Closer’. It’s one of my very favorite TLD songs!
What unfulfilled ‘dream’ collaborations do each of you have?
Jeff – Julianne Regan from All About Eve. I don’t really have any huge-star dream collaborations, because it just seems like it’s too much hassle. The people who have been kind enough to work with us have usually done it for nothing except the chance to use their talents. They hear something good in the rough tracks we give them, and they make the parts come alive. It’s an honor to work beside them.
Peter - There are lots of people I would like to collaborate with, though of the people I know, I would really like to jam around with Byron and Mera of Mercurine and Steven from Ego Likeness. I was jamming in more of a straight rock project with one of our drummers Stevyn Grey a while back and wouldn’t mind doing that again one day.
Rick - Honestly, I do love working with other people and experiencing their creative flavors within music, definitely!! Working with all of the people you mentioned as well as others who have appeared on our albums has been truly a rewarding experience. Hmm… for unfulfilled dream collaborators?? Usually when in pre production I will hear something that is open to someone’s style and then we will pursue that person. So yeah, that is normally how I think and work… but I do think it would be really fun to have Andy from Bella Morte appear with Jeff singing something, on a record that is. That would great! Oh, and I am personally hoping for a future album where we could have Russ Miller do drums on a track. Having a Grammy award winning drummer/producer on our album would not hurt… and he is really, really good.
Babble & Beat - You have also done many great tributes and covers. Some include: ‘Oops, I Did It Again’ by Britney Spears, ‘Cities In Dust’ by Siouxsie & The Banshees, ‘Deliverance’ by the Mission, and ‘Dead Man’s Party’ by Oingo Boingo.
Have you ever gotten feedback from an original artist you’ve covered? Any particular songs you hope to cover in the future?
Rick - Honestly, we have never heard back from another artist that we have covered, whether good or bad. I know Jeff had conversations with Wayne from The Mission UK when he lived in town and would go to our local nightclub, but I am unsure if they ever discussed our cover of ‘Deliverance’. I would say the closest we got was that I got a copy of ‘Dead Man’s Party’ to a friend of mine, Ian, who played with Oingo Boingo when they were first starting and toured as a stage guitarist with them later on. However, I have not seen him since I gave him a copy of it. As for other cover songs? Well, those ideas just seem to happen when they do for us really. We do not plan them. Just last month we ended up doing a cover of The Cure‘s, ‘A Forest’ at a local show because it was a Robert Smith’s birthday theme for the club and they asked us to do something special.
Jeff - I don’t know that anyone we have ever covered has heard our version. If they have, I’ve never heard about it. We covered Bella Morte’s version of Berlin‘s ‘Metro’, and the next time we saw them they had a live drummer. Covering songs is always a strange mixture of challenge, honor (sometimes), and fear that we’ll screw it up!
Babble & Beat - I read somewhere that you recorded ‘Fairytales’ in a small church in California.
What did you take from that versus being in a studio? Any plans to record in another atmospheric place?
Jeff - I grew up in church, so it’s a familiar place for me. Sonically, it’s a great room. I’ll record vocals with only one headphone so I can hear the natural acoustics of the room at work. Drums and guitar sound amazing because they just take over the place. There’s always the benefit of a free place to record, thanks to the fine staff and congregation who allow us to come in and use the building.
Rick - Actually, we have recorded practically everything for TLD from ‘Fairytales’ through ‘Once Beautiful’ in that same church, called Bethany. It is a great atmosphere, very low stress, great sounding room and basically they have all the equipment we need to track our albums… and because I am the main sound engineer there they let us use it for free. The mixing, and some of the vocal recordings, we have done in our own personal studio here in The Last House. So in fact, the last time TLD was in a ‘big’ studio was during the tracking of ‘Tragedy’ in 1994/1995. So yeah, basically what I take from recording there instead of a studio is the fact that we are not on a time schedule (paying by the hour) but rather on our own schedule that we set for ourselves… and that allows creativity to happen while recording, which I think is very important. Some of the parts or ideas in our songs are not written until we are actually recording them… something we could never do or afford in a pro studio. Also, because Peter and I are engineer / producer type people we have the luxury of recording and producing everything ourselves with no added stress of some engineer, who is getting paid not enough and does not care about your music, running the show. Overall, it is really great for us. We can spend one day recording guitars for 5 songs, and then 2 days for just one small cello part if we need to. Most importantly, because of the atmosphere and no-stress vibe, we have fun, laugh, enjoy the experience, can be more creative and experiment with ideas, and really make our music our own.
Peter - It’s been so long since I have stepped into an actual recording studio. I don’t really like them much, though it would be nice to have a home studio that had some of the acoustical properties of a pro studio. I think I like a bit of both worlds. A nice big room with a nice ambience and acoustics and in a comfortable living space would be ideal. Like the living room in Sting‘s castle! That would be pretty cool.
Babble & Beat - Yes, I have seen that room on TV. It’s unreal.
What cds do each of you find yourselves listening to lately? What do you like about those cds/artists?
Jeff - I am in the middle of doing vocals for a few projects right now. It’s only guest vocals on a song or two, but together with writing music tends to take up most my time. I listened to the Birthday Massacre for the first time a few weeks ago and thought they were great.
Rick - Lately I have not been listening to much music to be honest! Between running the business of TLD and planning our 2006 year of shows and travels and releases and such, along with being Mr. Mom (watching over my two kids), I do not find much time… but music that I love and will have on in the background sometimes will include soundtracks from Cirque du Soleil, music from some of my friends bands (that they have asked me to listen to and say what I think), sometimes Marsha Skidmore’s music (sang on ‘Once Beautiful’, she has an awesome voice), and then occasionally some of the traditional old-school, where-I-came-from music like The Cure, Mission, Sisters of Mercy, etc…
Peter- I’ve been too busy working on a film soundtrack to listen to anything and the damn ipod is on the fritz right now! (grrr) When I do listen to music though, it’s a pretty mixed bag, mostly rock, blues, some jazz and atmospheric music. Not really too much stuff in the goth genre. I hear so much goth and industrial in all the places we play, I don’t really care to listen much to it at home.
Babble & Beat - One thing I noticed, time and time again during research for this interview, was the enormous amount of praise given to you guys in regards to your live performances. Some examples, JUST from amazon.com are:
Baltimore Fan, 2003: “They put on a very fulfilling, no bs performance. The lead singer, Jeff, wouldn’t let anyone sit down (took their stools from underneath them), and the guitar guy, Rick, had crazy fake dreadlocks with fiber optic lights in ‘em,”
Music Fan, 2003: “Finally had the chance to see these guys and they were amazing. They are also the nicest guys I’ve ever met.”
Name Withheld, 2003: “The Last Dance is awesome live and the band members are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I can’t wait ‘til my next TLD show!”
Goth Mom, 2005: “I was totally blown away after we saw them (TLD) live at the Key Club in Hollywood. They sound so solid live and the lead singer has one of the best voices I have ever heard. They do not disappoint live.”
This is a great time to mention that you’ve won a few South Carolina Gothic Awards. Not surprisingly, one being for ‘Best Performance’.
What are some of your favorite venues to play?
Jeff - Some great venues are not good shows. Some of the best audiences have been in the worst kind of venues. These days, I like anything with a pool table and a clean couch in the back room for a little nap.
Rick - You know that really depends, mostly on the city and the people there. It can be much more fun to play in a small crap club and on a small stage to a bunch of people who love you being there (and really respond well), than a big stage in a pro venue where people are not so friendly. If that makes sense. That said, favorite venues would be Transilvania Live in Milan, The Whitby Gothic Weekend Event in Whitby, UK, Shampoo in Philadelphia, Masquerade in Atlanta, GA (no longer there), and Bar Sinister here in Hollywood …to name a few. Cities I love to play in would have to include Bochum, Germany, Colchester, UK, and Mt. Vernon, Iowa – yep!!
Peter - I like big stages because I like to move around a lot. I have enjoyed most of the festivals we’ve played and really loved the Hard Club in Porto, Portugal. Transilvania Live in Milan, Italy is a favorite, Whitby,… there a quite a few I can’t think of at the moment.
Babble & Beat - A TLD movie is in the works. LifeLine Entertainment has been filming you guys for awhile now, behind the scenes and at your shows.
How did this come about? What has it been like, having a film crew at your side?
Rick - Well, it came about because the Director for Lifeline’s Films, Rocky Costanzo, has been a friend of ours for years – since we first played a show for one of his earlier film release / screening parties. He approached us with his business partners with the idea of following TLD around for a year and doing a film, and we agreed. It was definitely odd and a bit strange at times to have the camera rolling. During the recording of the album I did not pay much attention to it as I was busy lots. I barely noticed when cameras were on stage, as I tend to play in my own world. Outside of that, in the tour van, hotel rooms, walking around cities, sound checks, at our house parties, etc., it was more noticeable and yeah, takes some getting used to. I tend to not like so much personal attention ironically, and I did manage to avoid the personal interview that I think everyone else did!! Each time I was asked to do it I came up with a “why I could not at that time” excuse… but one memory I do have is walking off stage while in Nashville, after so many things went wrong with the show and venting to Jeff about it. I was definitely not happy and the camera was totally in my face and Rocky told me he was waiting for me to push it out of the way, because yeah, I was not in the best of moods… but I remember seeing it, and even while pissed off, thinking okay he is filming this, I should push the camera away… but whatever, maybe it will be funny later. So yeah, in retrospect I am happy he caught some of that behind the scenes stuff.
Peter - It’s weird for a bit and then you kind of forget about them being there. It was fun in some ways and also uncomfortable as well. It might sound weird for a performer to say, but I don’t really like being under that kind of scrutiny. When I’m not onstage, I don’t really like being photographed, filmed or being around tons of people.
Are you working on your next release? If so, what can you tell us about it?
Rick - Actually no… and yes… we are not yet working towards a new album. We are using 2006 to play many events across Europe and the US and work with Lifeline, with regards to the movie release, etc. However, we are doing a re-release of our album ‘Now and Forever’, that we self released in 2002 but was never widely available. Our label Dancing Ferret Discs is going to re-release it, which actually will be its first release here in the US and with that we are doing a couple things to spice it up a bit. We’re adding an unreleased track from ‘Reflections of Rage’, something from ‘Once Beautiful’, and we have recorded the version of ‘Do You Believe in Angels’, that we have been playing live for years and years, to replace the all-electro version of that song that originally was on ‘Now and Forever’. Also, we have given the original artwork over to our graphic artist, Shawn Garber (‘Whispers in Rage’ to Present…) to rework it for this new / re–release.
Juicy Tidbits Section
This is where we ask personal questions for the fans. Yeah, they’re stupid questions. We like reading the answers though!
Babble & Beat – What brand of cologne do you wear?
Jeff - I don’t wear it.
Rick - No cologne for me.
Peter - I don’t, really. I have a couple of colognes that I will wear once in a while to go out with my girlfriend, but I don’t know what they are. I just use a body spray/deodorant I found in England. My friend Jamie calls it “Bath in a Can”. Excellent for being on tour, because sometimes the bath in the can is all I get for a day or 2, unfortunately!
Babble & Beat – What are some of your favorite tv shows (past &/or present)?
Jeff - X-Files, Law & Order, & South Park.
Rick - Currently all about Alias and Smallville. Past, hmm.. that would be X-Files, Roswell, La Femme Nikita, and of course Star Trek.
Peter - I am a Law & Order and History Channel junkie. Anything about World War 2 I will stop and watch, especially documentaries. I also watch CNN and Fox news a lot. I also like the Sopranos. I was a huge Welcome Back Kotter, Good Times, and Sanford & Son fan as a kid. I like Star Trek too, but I only really enjoy the cheesy ’60s version. Shatner and Nimoy rock! Have you ever heard their records? Hilarious! So bad, they’re great.
Babble & Beat - I have actually heard a song of Nimoy’s and an album of Shatner’s. You are absolutely right. They are so horrible that they’re fantastic.
What musician or celebrity would make you completely star-struck when meeting?
Jeff - A little local Orange County band from when I was growing up, Undercover. They did a sort of reunion show and I acted like a total geek around them. My girlfriend said it was strange to see me acting like some of the people who meet me! Other than that, I don’t think it’s much of a big deal. It was strange drinking with Wayne Hussey, but he has a way of making you feel immediately comfortable.
Babble & Beat - Wow. Having a drink with Wayne Hussey… that would be one example for me!
Rick - Star Struck? Hmmm. Probably none. Okay, well maybe Bono from U2 but really I got over idolizing famous people a long time ago and instead have developed a respect for many artists, celebrities, sports people, etc., as it is not an easy life to make your dream into your career, and those who have done it are definitely something special.
Peter - I am a live soundman as well as a musician. I have worked with some big names from time to time. I don’t really get star-struck around celebrities; the closest I got to real awe was BB King because he is a living legend, a musical hero of mine and a really sweet person. He is the benchmark for me. I don’t care how famous someone is, or how important they are or think they are. I worked with BB King and he was great to work with, so in my book, no one has the right to act like a prima donna to me.
Babble & Beat - One of the many things I respect and love about you guys is your openness to fans from all different walks of life. You’re a hard band to categorize but you have a goth look and a huge goth fan base. However, you have also captured the hearts of many who don’t feel they fit into that scene, or any particular scene for that matter. You have touched so many on an emotional level through your lyrics, music, and performances. In return, you don’t care how your fans dress, who else they listen to, etc. You just seem to genuinely appreciate them all.
Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to interview you! It means a lot to me and I am sure it’ll help our new online magazine get off to a great start. I look forward to what TLD future brings!