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Almost A Dirty Dozen with DUSTIN TREINEN from THE MAN FROM ALPHABET – October 2021

| 12 October 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Picking up and re-imagining a piece of iconic punk rock or horror is always a bold move, but THE MAN FROM ALPHABET has served up a delicious scoop of both with their tight cover and hilariously nostalgic music video of legendary American punk rockers THE DICKIES’ 1988 “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”! Originally premiered on BLOODY-DISGUSTING, the music video for “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” was directed and edited by Nina Hirten with production services provided by OH JUST PEACHY STUDIOS.” We get bassist Dustin to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

In the audio recording itself we didn’t use any sampling or keyboards. Everything is guitar, bass, drums, and vocals – with the exception of one vocal line where the backing vocals say “killer klowns” in the verses, we used an authentic vocoder from the 70s. John (guitar) and I (bass) both like our Digitech Whammy pedals so some of the more bizarre sounds from that or John’s whammy bar. There are several Easter eggs in the music video! The ways in which the band members are offed are pretty obvious direct references to the movie and the third chorus where the Klowns have taken over the instruments is a reference to the original music video. The other obvious nugget is John (guitar) wearing a Dickies shirt. Here are some of the less obvious ones though:

  • The stacks of pizza boxes at the slumber party doubled as set decoration and a nod to the scene from the movie where pizza is delivered to a woman, but Shorty pops out of the pizza box with a raygun
  • Kyle (drummer) is wearing the same red flannel shirt as Farmer Green. They are both the first characters to be blasted with the raygun and turned into cotton candy cocoons
  • Patrick (singer) is wearing black pants and a blue denim jacket to represent Officer Mooney because they are both turned into ventriloquist dummies. The black cowboy hat is to give him a sheriff vibe but is also a nod to the top hat that Leonard (Dickies vocalist) is wearing in their video
  • Dustin (bass) is wearing a t-shirt with an image from a scene from the movie UHF in which the Chiodo brothers (creators of Killer Klowns) animated.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My first influence was Van Halen when I was two years old. I used to ask my parents to play it when I could barely talk. I’d ask them to “play buppy”, which was me attempting to say, “play Jump.” Around age six I was introduced to Weird Al by my Aunt Judy and that was the first artist I really became enamored with. I bought every cassette tape of his I could find and I’m still a mega-fan to this day. I started playing keyboard and piano shortly after that, but once I discovered Nirvana, Metallica, and Primus when I was about 13 or 14, I wanted to start playing rock music and got my first bass after I finished 8th grade. I spent my entire summer before high school playing bass in my room and started playing in bands as soon as I could.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Discovering Nirvana’s Nevermind and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” specifically was a huge one for me. It felt effortlessly powerful and cool. That album really solidified my love for aggressive and heavy music, which then lead me to Metallica and opened the door of heavy metal even further for me. I had always liked what I had heard from metal, but this was the first time I’d had a band to follow. For my playing style specifically though, it was Primus. I discovered them when the Brown Album came out and of course, I went through their back catalog. I loved how bizarre and unique Les Claypool’s playing was. There really was nothing like it. While I’m well aware that my playing pales in comparison to the almighty Les Claypool, he inspired me to think outside of the box as a metal player. You’ll hear a fair amount of slapping, strumming, and finger tapping in my band Paria, which is uncommon for metal bass players. As for a live show, it was my first rock concert in 1997 when I saw Smashing Pumpkins on the Mellon Collie tour. That album is still one of my favorites of all time. It just seemed like the coolest thing in the world to me to be playing loud awesome rock music to an arena full of people banging their heads and singing along.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Dave Grohl. He’s been in three of my favorite bands (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, & Them Crooked Vulture), but it’s not just that. I admire the kind person he is, the fun attitude he has, the way he never forgets where he came from as a punk rocker, and his genuine love for music. He’s a guy who is truly in it because he loves to do it. So not only do I think we could write awesome music together, but I also think we’d have an absolute blast doing it.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

It’s a very generic LA answer, but I enjoy hiking and just being outside in general. There’s something invigorating about being out in the sun and opening up my lungs during a hike that feels wonderful. My nerdier answer is that I love games like escape rooms, pinball, and video games. They all seem to keep my attention better than anything else. It’s nice to have my ADHD at bay sometimes!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

For this song / project specifically, I’d say it’s a rock song with metal influence, which comes out in our tones and some of our riffs and accents but has tastefully clean vocals.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

With The Man From Alphabet we’ve literally had just two times where all four of us were in the same room! The first time was shooting the music video and the second time was going out to Barcade the next day to celebrate! If I were to base my answer just off of previous hangs, I’d probably be doing the cooking, John would definitely be getting the beers, Kyle or John would definitely be the first to grab the acoustic guitar, and Kyle would be the first to start singing.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Meeting Dave Grohl was by far the most starstruck I have ever been and probably ever will be. When I first moved to LA in 2012, I saw this Facebook ad that said, “Foo Fighters featuring special guest Barack Obama.” I assumed it was a scam and literally had never clicked a FB ad before, but this was so enticing I hovered my mouse over it to see what the url was and it was to Barack Obama’s official website, so I was curious enough to click it and discover that Foo Fighters were playing an Obama fundraiser in a backyard in Bel Air. I realized this might be the best chance I’d ever have to meet Dave Grohl, so I ponied up $500 and went. I saw Dave Grohl just hanging amongst the crowd, ran up to him, and totally lost my cool. I fanboyed out so unbelievably hard. He was unbelievably gracious and cool about it though.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

One of the best parts of being a musician is getting to collaborate on creative projects with so many different people. When you really click with another musician, it’s as if you speak the same non-verbal language. Creating with people and even just playing music together is a really bonding experience to me. I have made most of my friends because of music one way or another. Also though, one of the most gratifying things is to see other people connecting to and enjoying something you created. If I couldn’t be a musician anymore, I’d like to voice cartoon characters!

10. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

After my band Paria released our second full length album, The Barnacle Cordious, three of the four of us wanted to tour, but since one member didn’t want to, we didn’t, and I feel that the decision not to tour hindered a lot of potential reach for that album. We worked hard on it for five years and I’m really proud of it so I think had we pushed harder, it would have gone much further.

11. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would go back to the recording sessions for Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon-Collie & the Infinite Sadness. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time and seeing them on that tour was life-changing for me. I feel that the album hits just about every range of emotion from somber beauty to explosive anger and everything in between and does it so tastefully. They released a 5-disc deluxe version of the album with 92 tracks on it and nearly all of them are worth listening to. To write that many good songs for one album is nothing short of brilliant. It’s astounding to sit and think about how inspired they must have been feeling at that moment in time.

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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