2003.03 Interview with Dan Berube from Union Made / EyeInside
An Interview with Dan Berube from Union Made / EyeInside.
© 2003 Voivod.net. All rights reserved.
It is part of Voivod history: Back around 1998, after a long hiatus, Voivod’s former vocalist, Snake decided to go back into the music biz and put together a band: Union Made, way before the Voivod reunion was even in the horizon.
I had the chance to talk to Dan Berube, Union Made’s guitar player and songwriter about his days in Union Made and about his band, EyeInside and their new CD release “Come To Me…”
Please visit EyeInside’s website and listen to some sample songs there.
Hi Dan, could you give the fans some background on Union Made: who formed it? Was the band created before Snake joined? How did the guys in Union Made hook up with Snake?
As far as I know, Snake started the whole thing. After his absence from the scene for a couple of years, he wanted to jump back into music, and Union Made is what came out of it. He started writing songs with a few friends, and eventually set out to form a working band. When I joined the band, Union Made was almost a complete unit. They were looking for a second guitar player, and I was working in a music store with two of the guys in the band, Guillaume Ozoux (guitar) and Peter Jackson (drums). I overheard a conversation between the two, and immediately offered my services. I was a huge Voivod fan, and when I heard that these guys were playing with Snake, I couldn’t pass it up. When we all first got together, it was really cool, they showed me a couple of songs that Snake had written on his own and it felt really good, both for me and for them. We all clicked right away.
What was it like working with Snake?
Shortly after I joined the band, Snake and I became the main songwriters so we got a chance to really get to know each other. We had a lot of laughs, wrote some great songs, spent a lot of time demo-ing those songs…I had never before worked with someone who was so into what he was doing. He just loved it, man! He was also very encouraging with me, and brought out the best in my playing and my writing, which in turn gave me a lot of confidence in what I did and how I did it.
Lon Levin (Snake’s friend) released a Union Made vinyl Demo / EP that was for sale on Ebay for a while, Did the band ever record any other material that remains unreleased?
Yes, we had 3 songs on the vinyl, and we have another 6 songs that we demoed in my apartment on my Tascam 8-track…and we had 1 or 2 more songs we wrote but never recorded. We played all those songs in our live set, and they rocked!!!
Did Union Made end because Snake re-joined Voivod?
Union Made was put on the back-burner after our drummer left to play on a cruise ship for a few months (which became over 18 months). Things just stalled after that, but I was already hard at work on EyeInside. which I had started as a means to satisfy my heavier side. The stuff that we played in U.M. was more “punkish” in nature. That’s Snake’s influence right there.
How many Union Made members made it to EyeInside?
Just me. I was in both bands for a while, sharing the same rehersal space, and alternating practice days. One day writing with Union Made, the other writing with EyeInside…it all got so confusing!!
So who formed EyeInside? did it precede Union Made?
I started EyeInside with two other guys who aren’t in the band anymore. I came up with the name, so when the guys left I kept it and kept the thing going.
EyeInside started at the tail end of Union Made’s life…like I mentioned before, it was to satisfy my craving to play more metal, which Union Made wasn’t doing. About six months after this embryonic form of EyeInside started, Union Made’s drummer left to play on a cruise ship, and things just fell apart after that.
When Union Made’s drummer left to work on a cruise, did you think about having your (drummer) friend in EyeInside join Union Made?
Nah, I didn’t want to mix the two together, plus Peter was an important part of the band, and after he left, it just wasn’t the same band without him. So people’s motivations went somewhere else, like me with EyeInside, and eventually Snake with Voivod.
Do you know what the rest of the Union Made guys are doing?
I’ve unfortunately lost touch with everybody else in the band exept Snake, we really grew to be good friends, which I am truly grateful for. He is as impressive a person as he is a rock star.
Is the musical direction in EyeInside completely different than Union Made?
For the most part, yes; but in the Union Made songs I had a hand in writing you can hear some of me in there, and that eventually evolved into my songwriting for EyeInside. Where Union Made had, as I mentionned earlier, more of a punk attitude, EyeInside is a lot heavier. And Union Made had Snake singing, which you can’t beat. The guy is truly an original!
Is Snake really into punk?
I meant more in terms of attitude; he never liked anything that sounded too “commercial”, and to me that’s more punk than what you hear on the radio nowadays. Plus, you can’t deny there’s a certain punk vibe in Voivod’s music also.
I noticed that Union Made sounds very different from Voivod, what sound were you guys aiming for back then?
Stuff just came out naturally; Voivod is Voivod, and they are the only ones who will ever sound like that. We just wanted to have fun, nothing too complicated, more rock’n roll than metal, you know?
How many shows did Union Made play?
Not that many, maybe a dozen, but the most memorable one for me was opening up for Testament. That was cool! The whole VIP treatment with catering and all that, there were even showers backstage, which we don’t see very often in little clubs! It was a lot of fun, and the guys in Testament were really cool with us.
When Union Made was gigging with Snake, did he ever mentioned he wanted to go back to Voivod?
No. He would remember those days fondly, but it was never going to happen in his mind. Then slowly things changed, Union Made faded away, and he started doing guest spots in Voivod shows (it happened once or twice), Eric left, yadda yadda…the last time I spoke to him he was really psyched about this new adventure he was getting into. No regrets about the past, and looking forward to the future.
Let’s talk about the new EyeInside album “Come to Me…”.
The album is self-released correct? Have you guys been picked up by a record co. yet, or are you going the independent way?
We are independent by default at the moment, but it doesn’t keep us from getting things done, and it’s very gratifying when you accomplish something yourself. We’re already getting some radio airplay and press coverage, nothing big, but things are starting to happen. Our main selling point is our live shows, that’s how we get our music heard and get people excited about the band. So far things are going great, and they can only get better!
The album sounds really good considering it is self-financed. Was it produced by the band? if not who is the producer?
Well, thank you! It was produced by Glen Robinson, who also produced Voivod’s Nothingface album, so we were in good hands. I first met Glen when he was working with Snake on vocal tracks for Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s solo album. Snake had invited me to come along, since we had spent so much time together working on the vocal tracks of Union Made songs, he trusted my opinion, and he wanted me there in case he needed it. I was impressed with the way Glen worked, how fast he was. When it came time for us to record “Come To Me…”, he was the first person I called. Even though we didn’t have a big amount of money, he was willing to put in the time and effort to make it happen, and we had a blast!
That is awesome, I love Glenn Robinson’s work. I think he did an amazing job in Nothingface. It must have been great working with him!
Is Glen’s studio in NYC (Glen’s Den as listed on the album credits) a big place?
Glen’s Den is actually that: Glen’s living room! It was a little joke we had going. So if you’ve ever been in an apartment in Manhattan, you know how tight these places can be…It was quite the experience, recording and sleeping in the same room!
Glen is a sweetheart, he’s got amazing experience and talent, and he’s very good at encouraging you to do better. He’s very laid back, which makes for a very easy atmosphere to work in. It was great of him to give us this opportunity to record an album that would give us a chance to make something out of it, you know? I definitely recommend him to anyone!!
How long did you spend recording “Come to Me..”?
We spent two days in a studio in Vermont to record the bass and drums, and I went down to New York City to finish the guitar and vocal tracks over four days. So a grand total of 6 days to record, and then we spent 3 days mixing it. Time is on our side, indeed! After it was all over, I could hardly remember any of it, time flew so fast. But we were ready, we had done our homework, and things ran very smoothly.
Was the recording split between home-studios and a big studio?
Actually, yes. We needed the big studio to record the drums, just because of the amount of room you need to set up, but the guitars and vocals were recorded in Glen’s apartment. It really helped us in terms of saving money, ’cause the clock isn’t ticking at hundreds of dollars an hour…We still had great gear to work with, so the great gear combined with the right engineer/producer, we couldn’t go wrong.
The guitars sound really heavy, tell me what kind of equipment did you use (guitars, amps, pre-amps, etc), how did you mike the cabinets?
My regular rig consists of a Peavey 5150 head and cab, but because of the recording conditions, we had to use a Pod Pro through a Lexicon FX unit and tube compressor to record the guitar tracks. It’s recorded direct, but Glen really knows how to get the best sound out of his gear. The guitars I used were my own Paul Reed Smith CE24, and Glen’s Les Paul Standard. The combination of those two guitars is phenomenal!! After certain takes Glen and I would jump up yelling ” TOO FUCKING METAL!!!” hehehe. Good times…
I love my PRS. That guitar is the best instrument I have ever played, it’s got such a huge sound…I can’t wait for the endorsement deals to come in!!!
Tell us, did you do all the lead vocals on the record ?
Yes I did, lead vocals and all the backing vocals. Because of the short period of time we had to spend on the vocals, Pro Tools really helped out: if we had a great take, but it went a little out of tune somewhere, and we know the performance is the best it can be, a little teaking on the computer goes a long way to save time.
-I am really impressed, considering you handle both vocal and guitar duties. What are your influences as a singer?
I get influenced by everything I hear. I draw inspiration from singers who move me. People like Layne Staley, James Hetfield, David Gilmour, as you can see, it’s not all metal! Growing up, when I first got into playing music, I’d be way into the metal stuff, all the screaming, but I’d blow my voice after only a couple of songs, so I got to know how to work with my voice, and make it work with the music we make. It’s more melodic than yelling, but it pairs up nicely with the heavy music we play. But I do tend to raunch it up more when we play live, with the adrenaline kicking in and the audience screaming back at you, I just can’t help it!
Do you plan to work with Glen in the future?
No plans yet, just because we’re still working on promoting this album, but when it comes time to record the second one we’ll definitely keep that option open. He gave us a chance that no one else could, and we’ll never forget that.
Are there any tips about recording a high quality debut album that you would like to share with the readers and other musicians out there?
Nowadays, computer-based recoding like Pro-Tools (which is what we used) can really minimize the recording costs, so you can make a great sounding album with little money. But you still need someone behind the keyboard who knows what he’s doing. So when scouting for perspective people to work with, ask for demos or stuff they’ve worked on, it should give you a good idea if you’ll get the sound you want. But mostly, even more important than great engineers and recording platforms: be prepared. That is the key to any recording session: know you stuff before you walk into the studio. Then you’ll save time and money. There’s never enough of both, so you don’t want to waste it.
EyeInside could be described as contemporary metal, what groups influenced the group the most when creating the album?
My background is very metal, when I was growing up I listened to Metallica, Anthrax, Voivod, bands like that, and along with Pink Floyd, that really shaped my musical style. Alice In Chains also influenced me in terms of vocal harmonies, and to me that stuff is very important; when you can get a super heavy riff and layer it with great vocal melody and harmony, you can’t go wrong.
What are your favorite songs off the record?
Well, I don’t really have any favorites, but there are a few that are closer to my heart…”Come To Me” was the song that started the whole thing, the first song written by EyeInside, which is one of the reasons it’s the name of the album. And the last one written was “Torn”, to me it’s a glimpse of what the future has in store for us musically, but we’ll have to wait and see, I guess. Live, I love playing “Don’t Bother” and “Time Is On My Side”, those two usually get a great response from the audience…but then they all do!
How often do you gig locally?
We are starting to get more and more gigs out of town…it seems that the clubs in the outskirts of Montreal are easier to approach, but even here it’s starting to pick up, too. However many gigs we play, though, it’s never enough! We really live for the stage! It’s incredible the high you get from performing in from of people you don’t know and getting a great response from the songs you are playing…nothing in the world can beat it.
Do you guys play any Union Made songs live?
No, it’s a different band, and without Snake it wouldn’t be the same, anyway. It would be like playing covers of songs I wrote!
Have you thought about having Snake do guest vocals in your next record?
Umm, no…but now that you mention it..
How did the current members in EyeInside get together?
Long story short: I knew Sylver (drums) from when we were kids, we actually started out playing music together. We both moved to Montreal, though separately, and hooked up after Eyeinside had gone through its third or fourth drummer (I’m very hard on drummers, it seems!). The band had already been around for about a year, at that point. We recorded the album with a different bass player who quit right before the sessions, but had the decency to help us out when it came time to record (I’m very hard on bass players too, apparently!). A couple of months went by and Steve Knight (bass) came into the picture when he called me up to return a book he had borrowed a few years (!) before, when we had been working together on a project that we never completed. So it has been full circle for me with these two guys, from playing together, drifting apart, and getting back together and creating this huge entity we like to call EyeInside.
-I noticed the co-writers of some of your songs are not band members.. who are they?
Previous band members. People who were there to help shape the sound of EyeInside, but couldn’t stick around for the long run; whatever the reasons were, it was all for the greater good. It took a while, but we’ve finally got the right combination of people working together, now. We’re a trio, we work well together, it sounds huge live, and that’s all that matters. Time to kick some ass!!!!
Wait, there are four members listed on the CD liner, let me guess.. “Seph” was he ever a part of the band?
For about two seconds…he’s in the pictures on the album, but he doesn’t play on it. We had been a trio for a year and a half, and when it came time to release the album, we figured we might as well get a second guitar player to thicken up the sound live. “Seph” came as a recommendation, but he wasn’t pulling it off. He, unfortunately for us, was around long enough for us to take pictures together and do the artwork for the album, then we played a show a few days after it came out and it was pretty clear things weren’t going to work out. So we parted ways, and we’ve discovered (again) that we actually sound better as a trio! When we make another pressing of this one, we’ll redo the artwork and get rid of him once and for all, because now everybody assumes there’s four guys in the band, which isn’t the case.
What are your future plans and is the direction of the band? Do you see yourself going into a heavier direction?
There is so much for us to accomplish, we’re looking for people to help us out, in terms of representation, distribution, etc. We’ll soon start attacking the radio stations, we’ll be featured on the Montreal station CHOM 97.7 FM’s “Made In Canada” this Sunday night, March 23rd, so that should be some serious exposure, since it is also simulcast on the web (chom.com). Keep booking shows, to get heard and get better, all that kind of stuff…we want to go international with this, but we know we’ve got to start small, but we are starting to need help, as I mentionned. Interviews like this to help get the band heard and talked about are definitely most important. So Thanks!
In terms of direction, only time will tell. We’ve been coming up with riffs lately that are just blowing my mind, they are so heavy! So it is quite possible we’ll be heading that way. But as long as we keep true to ourselves and make ourselves happy, as long as we remain honest with what we do, as long as we have fun doing it, how could we go wrong?
Tell me more about each of the sampler songs in your site
I chose three songs that would best decribe the band, and at the same time appeal to Voivod fans. You’ve got “Come To Me”, the album’s title track, with its crunching guitar riffs and wide open chorus; you’ve got “Torn”, with its dissonant chords in the verse and pre-chorus, and great harmonized vocals; then you’ve got “Don’t Bother”, a groove-infested balls-to-the-wall high-energy rocker: always a huge hit live! Without going into details, the lyrics are all about people that have crossed my path in life, usually with negative results…writing about it is a sort of catharsis, a letting go of sorts. So as a warning to anyone: don’t fuck with me, or you’ll end up in one of my songs!!!!
Thanks Dan for being so patient and taking the time to answer my endless stream of questions. Do you have any parting words for Voivod fans?
Thank YOU, it’s been my pleasure. As a fan of Voivod, I’m very excited about the new line-up taking shape, and hope this one will last a long time. I can’t wait to see them live again (for the first time…?) and hear some old stuff along with the killer new tracks. It feels like history being made, doesn’t it?
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you will check out EyeInside and let us know your thoughts. We are all fans of music, that is what brings us together, and in this day and age that is more important than ever.
See you all very soon!!
Tags: Union Made