Dave Lauzon is the guitarist from the Canadian trio Nero. An improviser with a full sound‚ he captures an ambient essence by layering effects‚ and provides intensity with climactic‚ narrative guitar passages. With Nero's rhythm section providing heavy‚ pulsating grooves‚ Lauzon's guitar stylings provide for powerful improvisation on rock riff variations‚ washes of sound‚ and a new-found musical territory. Nero (n) - a very pleasant musical experience.
I had the opportunity to speak with Dave in late May. Be sure to check out their new studio release Zedonk‚ and of course‚ go see them live.
The conversation began with Dave just getting home from work.
Mike McKinley: So you just got home from work‚ huh?
Dave Lauzon: (laughs) Yes‚ work! We tour all the time and everyday we're at home we try to work so we can...
MM: (laughs) So you can go back on the road?
DL: Yeah‚ totally. Make some money so we can go back out and lose it all (laughter). That's the unfortunate part of it all. We decided in early 2002 that we were going to do this full time‚ and we would do these 2-3 month-long tours - you know‚ just mammoth tours. We could still do it‚ but it was the ultimate in poverty living - it was so mentally stressful. So we decided to tour a little smarter‚ and work a little bit when we can so we don't burn out and go crazy.
MM: Yeah‚ that's understandable.
DL: Do you play at all?
MM: Yeah‚ a little bit of guitar. I loved music so much that I was drawn to start playing. I got into so much improvisational music that I came to the conclusion that if I'm feeling this music so much‚ I should try playing too. So I started kind of late; I think I was about twenty.
DL: Our bass player‚ Chris (Buote) hardly listened to music until he was eighteen. When he was nineteen he started playing bass. So to some people might be late‚ but I feel like it's never too late to start playing music.
MM: I always try to encourage people to start playing. If you're feeling the music‚ then you should certainly try to pick up an instrument and go with it.
DL: It's all a matter of work‚ you know? If you're willing to work at it‚ you can play it. There's some sort of mystique around it sometimes‚ but everybody can play; so if you like it you should definitely pick up and go with it. Do you play with a band?
MM: No‚ I don't. About a year after I picked up the guitar I began jamming with some friends and it was just insane. I was in college and had this big house‚ and I had a friend who played drums and we would just get loud and crazy‚ and party...
DL: (laughs) I had a few houses like that.
MM: And that was great. At that time I was really getting into music and the ideas involved in improvisational music and the musical communication process - it was just this world of discovery. It was really‚ really cool to be technically limited but still have that understanding that if you're in tune and really listening‚ something really special can happen. I had a lot of those experiences just jamming with friends.
DL: Yeah‚ where some magic happens.
MM: Yeah.
DL: That's the difference between people who improvise and those who are trained to play classical music: that idea that you can just be free and just go and great stuff can happen. A lot of crap can happen too‚ but some great stuff will happen. The classical approach is like‚ "I need a sheet of music in front of me or else I can't play." Our manager Todd used to teach a course here at Carlton University‚ an improvisation course. He would get all of the classical musicians in the course‚ and he would say something like‚ "Just make a little sound here‚" and the reaction would be like‚ "What do you mean? Where are the sheets? You just want me to play?" (laughter) They were scared to death by it. But when you release yourself to that way of thinking and that way of playing‚ there's stuff that can happen that you couldn't possibly dream of scripting if you wanted to.
MM: I think that's one of the most fascinating parts of it: the idea that at any moment you can click and make music that's never been heard before and never even thought of - just spontaneously. That's the thing that keeps it fresh and interesting.
DL: I couldn't imagine going out and playing the same set every night and knowing that everything is going to go exactly the same. I guess the attraction to that would be that you could master it and perfect it‚ but that would get pretty boring after playing 150 shows in a year. I think you'd lose your mind. (laughs)