STEVE LENTZ OF DRIVEN TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
ABOUT TAKING CARE OF YOUR OWN BUSINESS
AND WHY PROGRESSIVE SOUNDS BETTER THAN PROG
The 3-minute song is standard in the world of popular music. Itís
hardly enough time for the music to take you anywhere. The guys from DRIVEN
have figured that out and have served up a homespun recording of some of the
most adventurous prog-rock since YES.
The production may amaze you but itís their sense of song craft that proves to be the bands winning formula. JASON GARBACZ, STEVE LENTZ and BRAD MARTENS are driven by a need to make the world of rock a little more interesting than itís been in the past few years and with their CD WRECKAGE, they prove that itís possible.
Recently I spoke with guitarist STEVE LENTZ over the phone. Fighting a cold he went into detail about the bands future plans and his love of bands like RUSH, KANSAS and everything seventies.
Hereís how it went.
How did DRIVEN begin?
Iíve known BRAD and JASON since the early nineties. They were playing in a band and they bugged me to do something with them for a while and by 1997, we decided to do our own stuff after having been in a cover band. It came to a point where we wanted to make our own music. So BRAD built a studio, we started recording and released our first CD in 1998 and another one in 2000 and now weíve finished our third CD weíll be releasing it soon.
Itís amazing to me that you guys are a prog-rock band. Do you feel like that makes you stand out? Is it an advantage or a disadvantage?
You know, we just wanted to make music that we liked to listen to. Being a progressive rock band wasnít something that we wanted to make a big deal out of. There arenít a lot of prog bands around so itís tough. Iím trying to get BRAD and JASON to be a little more commercial for the next CD that we record.
A lot of people donít seem to appreciate what goes into being a self-managed band. What are the things you like about and what are the things you donít like about it?
Whatís good about it is that you do what you want to do and thereís a lot of freedom. Iíve had agents when I was in cover bands and from that experience Iíve learned how to take care of the management end of things, so Iím helping to guide these guys. We want to stand by the music that we believe in and Iím trying to find as many outlets for our music as possible. We donít want to compromise and when youíre under management there are so many compromises you have to make.
It amazes me the kinds of sounds that you were ale to lay down. Back in the seventies, a recording like this wouldíve been this mammoth undertaking. Now it seems like all you need is a computer. Explain the recording process to me.
BRAD lays down the keyboard tracks and I lay down all the tracks for rhythm guitar and lead guitar. With the studio that BRAD has built we have like 64 tracks that we could use and vocals are the last thing to be recorded. If you wanna know about all the engineering stuff that goes on in the studio youíd have to ask BRAD.
How well do you guys get along as band? Obviously well Iíd think.
Yeah. Weíve been doing this for a while. BRAD and JASON were just of high school and I was just getting out of college. I was in a band that was playing out a lot and they would call me to see how everything is going. They wanted to hook up with me so we joined a cover band until that dissolved and I went on to another band for a year. After a while I came back and said ďletís just start recording.Ē
WRECKAGE was released in 2000. So much of the world has changed since then and now youíre about to release MINOR MIRRORS. What are you hoping to say with this one?
Thatís a tough one! Thereís one song I wrote about going to war. Right now Iím working on the artwork for the cover. I think the music is stronger and Iím just hoping that people will listen to it and like it.
Youíve gotten a lot of attention via the internet. I hate sounding like 1995 but how has the internet helped?
In Wisconsin, we are pretty far way the mainstream music scene. I ended up going to a few conferences and these A&R guys would say that the music wasnít commercial enough. So I went back to the band and told BRAD and JASON about what was said and told them that I was going to throw it out on the internet and find people who would like it and so far its been really good. Our music is on all these download sites like I-Tunes and with distributors like CDBABY.COM. In going to these music workshops, you learn that itís good thing to be independent now because of the internet.
Do you guys tour at all or do local live shows? Is it possible to reproduce the music live with just the three of you?
You know, I get asked that a lot. Right now Iím in another cover band and thatís keeping me busy and it satisfies my need to just get out there and play. When the third CD gets released, weíre gonna start playing around again.
What kind of music scene are you guys surrounded by? Iíve lived in the Midwest before but I was too young to know about the music outside of what was on the jukebox. I was only six.
Where did you live?
Yeah thatís barren land up there.
I lived with my grandparents for a year.
You had to entertain yourself a lot didnít you?
Yeah I ha to shoot something. Youíre in the civilized world compared to where I was.
Weíve all got families now so weíre stuck here. The music scene up here has got some hard stuff. There arenít that many prog-rock bands. I prefer to call what we do progressive rock.
Me to. It sounds better than PROG. Sounds like GWAR or something. Are there any songs in your catalogue that stand out for you?
There are two from the next CD that I really like. One of them is called MOMENT and the other one is called HELLíS PLAYGROUND. MOMENT was recorded in a local theater with an acoustic guitar and the theaterís grand piano. We laid down the rhythms for it and itís just this real mellow song. DEVILíS PLAYGROUND is about sending troops off to war and it ends with this really nice instrumental.
So the songwriting is a collaborative effort?
Most of the time. BRAD and I write the lyrics and come up with the vocals and melody lines. Usually the lyrics that BRAD writes are for JASON to sing. I usually sing my own songs.
What do you want a person to walk away with after hearing your music?
Iíd like for them to enjoy it and appreciate the melodies, the progressions and Iíd like for the music to touch them somehow.
What artists influenced you growing up?
A lot of the seventies bands were an influence. There were also bands like RUSH, YES and KANSAS. There was so much music in every song with those bands and their albums on a whole were written so well. They never let one song go to hell.
Who are you listening to these days?
I like COLDPLAY. TOOL was a good band and I love OZZIE and I always buying stuff from the seventies. Iím a big fan of rock thatís got quirks in it.