CHASE THE SUMMITDRIVEN has just released their first album in seven years and one can't help but think that seven years is a long time to take between two albums, especially for an indie band hailing from Wisconsin, but DRIVEN is different. There is no emo/alt-rock here. A progressive rock sound is what takes center stage here, in the vein of YES or EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER with songs that go beyond six minutes. It's safe to say that one shouldn't expect DRIVEN to knock this formula in favor of something more commercial. The release of the latest CD MINOR MIRRORS is proof of this. Prog rock may be considered passe but as they did on the album WRECKAGE (2000)they make it work with tracks such as HELL's PLAYGROUND and THE LAST IMAGINING.
ROCKWIRED GETS RE-ACQUAINTED
WITH STEVE LENTZ OF DRIVEN
WRITTEN BY BRIAN LUSH
STEVE LENTZ of DRIVEN spoke with ROCKWIRED over the phone. Here is how it went.
It's been seven years since your last release. Why so long?
It's been a while. It doesn't seem like it's been that long. BRAD and JASON got married and built a couple of houses and we remixed the WRECKAGE CD around that time to and re-released it in 2004. BRAD was also building a studio while we were recording this CD. It also took a while to get the financing for the CD together. It took us about six or seven months to get the official release going.There's a lot of music on that CD and it just takes a while to get it right. At the moment were working on some other material for an upcoming CD. We've got tapes and tapes of us jamming together and coming up with ideas. I think there will be a little more music on the next one.
I wonder who will be President when you release that one!
I don;t know what takes us so long. I guess we're a little slow up here in Wisconsin. We always took our time and we never have any deadlines which is probably not a good thing in a way. I guess that's the only excuse I can give you. BRAD was kind of getting antsy and going nuts over there because he was doing a lot of the mixing and always finding something for us to do over. But now we've got our own studio so maybe we can move a little faster.
What do you think is different with this one as opposed to WRECKAGE?
I think the lyrics are a little more intense and a little more personal. There are some songs that I hope that some people can connect with. A lot of things have changed since the first time we released WRECKAGE. There's a lot of stuff going on right now. If you wanna write music now there's a lot of stuff to write about.
The last time I spoke with you it sounded like DRIVEN was more of a studio endeavor as opposed to a live band endeavor. Is that still the same.
I've been trying to get some gigs lined up here but it's tough to get work if you're an original band. I was in a cover band but I had this CD release and I thought I'd do the college radio route so I sent CDs to all of the Midwest college radio stations. I just finished up with that this week so I'm hoping that they catch on. I sent them both CDs. so far I haven't heard anything from them. I don't know if they're going to play it or not. It's really easy to get a job up here if you're in a cover band.
A wedding singer.
I've done that too. The bars want to sell drinks and when you come in with an original band, it's tough. The easiest way to get in would be to hook up with another band but lately I've been hitting the internet with this new CD. The songs are on all of the download sites and we've got CDBABY and couple of new distributors.
Since my DRIVEN CD collection has expanded, I've noticed that your CDs have this concept album feel to them. There aren't any concept albums these days anymore.
It seems like they just throw stuff together.
And put BRITNEY's picture on it.
I guess it sells. I don't know. I should send you our first CD just for shits and giggles.
Who was President then?
Like I said, we're slow up here. Didn't you live up this way?
Worse. I lived in South Dakota for a year. I was only six it wasn't by choice.
I guess when you're that young you don't think about how fast time is going anyways.
You don't but you know that you've got to do something and when you're around nothing it's hard to do something expect pick up a gun and try to shoot at nothing.
Kind of hard to do anything illegal I guess.
Back to the concept album thing. Your albums seem to have that sort of vibe going for them. What's the message behind this album?
There are these three songs on this album. One of them is called the LAST IMAGINING. It about people are getting shut down because they can't use their imaginations. There are things on that CD about nature and the world heating up right now. For the War in Iraq we wrote a song called HELL'S PLAYGROUND and songs like MOMENT and OLD FRIEND are songs about friendship really.
I remember you talking about HELL'S PLAYGROUND in the last interview that you did.
Yeah. I guess the themes run from the natural world to friendships I guess. I don't know what we're going to put together the next time but I think I'm going to try to get more heavier with next CD but we'll have to see. It'll come. Maybe in a couple of years.
A couple of year is reasonable. Seven, we're getting a little out of hand. Has the creative process changed since the last time we spoke? How did these songs come together?
The melodies and the lyrics are basically done by BRAD and I with JASON coming up with basslines. It's pretty much the same way that the WRECKAGE CD came about. So I guess you could say that there is a system to it. I tried to get BRAD over here but he's up north now. I was gonna have him hook up with us. He could've given you the more engineering part of it.
Where are you in Wisconsin?Middle? Southern?
Pretty much in the middle.
The world is going to hell if it's 80 degrees in Wisconsin!
It's been getting pretty warm . I'm also an artist and I do snow sculptures up here in the winter time.
Your not doing it this year.
This year, they had to bring snow in for it from the ski mountains. These festivals are big events up here.
MINOR MIRRORS is an interesting title. What does it mean?
I had a lyric in one of the songs called MINOR MIRACLES but it wasn't fitting very well so BRAD suggested changing the line MINOR MIRRORS. I guess if you wanted to attach any kind of meaning to it, it would be like every time you look into the mirror, something changes and you learn something. Every time you do that it's a minor thing. Is that philosophical enough for you?
That would pretty much be the meaning behind it. The line comes from the song OLD FRIEND and in that song I was remember things from my childhood and the friends I had and how we would wonder about things like life and universe.
It makes sense. The last time I interviewed you guys, I made this big stink about you guys being PROG ROCK (See the interview PROG HEAVEN). Do you feel that being labeled a progressive rock band with six minute songs holds you back in terms of getting the music out there?
It doesn't make it easier. I've talked to deejays before and they tell me that radio programmers don't like long songs. They hate them. I've also had people in the industry ask me to edit down the songs to four and a half minutes at the max to get radio play. That's something we're going to have to think about the next time. I don't know why our songs end up that way. The last song we wrote, I thought it was 3 minutes but it ended up being over five minutes long. It didn't seem that way when we played it.
What do you guys look like now?
That was a joke. All I've got to go on is the picture that I used the last time.
I've got the grey hair and glasses going on now. I don't have the wheelchair yet.
All of the guys in DRIVEN have families now?
JASON just had a baby girl. I've got five boys.
Whoa! I didn't know it was that many! I expected just a boy and a girl.
If we had to go on tour, we'd have to get some kind of sponsorship, cause those two guys already have pretty good paying jobs. They've both built homes now and they have those to pay for.
I think DRIVEN is a good recording project anyway. I'm not sure how you could bring ti to the stage of some clapped out dive in the Midwest. Who does the artwork for your albums?
I did most of them. I did this one (MINOR MIRRORS).
Explain the cover if you can. Cause I don't think I could explain it if I did it.
I was trying to think of an idea for it and-
I though it was cocaine on a mirror. Hence the title MINOR MIRRORS
I thought someone would think of that.
Great minds think alike!
There was this mirror lying around and I thought I'd put these three rocks on there to represent us. It didn't come out as clear as I wanted it to.
What in your opinion makes a good album?
I think people should put more effort into ever song. Sometimes I think there are too many people writing an album.When people do their own thing, I think they put more emotion into it.