Randy Radic contributed to this interview.
Opium Denn is a bit of a mystery. Initially, I thought it was a band composed of three or four or five members. I was wrong. Opium Denn is one person. In any event, when it comes right down to it, it doesn't matter. What matters is the music. And Opium Denn's surreal progressive rock is excellent music.
'Demarkation' is the first of a planned trilogy of concept albums by Opium Denn. Thirty-seven minutes in length, it relates the account of a life from the moment of parturition to death and, remarkably, its resuscitation or resurrection. Eventually, 'Demarkation' will be accompanied by nine sequential videos, one video for each song on the album. In other words, 'Demarkation' is part one of a very ambitious musical mission - almost a mission from God.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Opium Denn and discuss music, life and guitars. To say that Opium Denn has a unique perspective on life is an understatement. You'll see what I mean when you read the interview below.
What is your musical background?
I am a composite of many styles. I find something sacred in all idioms of music. And all expressions of life via art touch Opium Denn.
What kind of guitar do you play? And why?
Opium Denn plays a Stratocaster. Opium Denn finds that it is very expressive for this music, especially for bright arpeggios. It is also relatively light in comparison to others, which is an attractive feature for future live situations.
In the various venues you've performed at so far, which was your favorite? Why?
Opium Denn, really hasn't played live yet because there must be "enough" material to perform. Each record is meant to be played in its entirety. When the 2nd album is released, there will be enough material to justify the expense of a venue setup for Opium Denn. Opium Denn will be doing a couple live sessions that will be filmed at the AI SongStage, which is an incredible creative studio designed for live performance.
The band's name, Opium Denn, carries a multitude of connotations and implications. What's the story behind the name and why it was selected?
Firstly, Opium Denn is an individual entity and is not a band. It is plural because it represents the multiple personalities within each person facing the aggregate of human conditions. The name Opium Denn describes a feeling....the feeling that life is often a confused and chaotic adventure like some type of weird trip... The music is about the search to make sense of it all...and find meaning... The music connects us with our "feelings" which are the true primary drivers of how we live... In addition, though Opium Denn is not a proponent of the abuse of drugs as such use will destroy protoplasm-based entities, Opium Denn does recognize that when people use such substances, they are attempting to feel better, even perhaps be closer to God, or find meaning by removing some of the barriers of normal concrete left-brain hemisphere function.
There's a lot of mystery about Opium Denn; information either doesn't exist or is hard to come by. What's up with that? Are you trying to focus attention on the music rather than the musicians? Or is it just a PR gimmick?
Opium Denn doesn't do gimmicks. With Opium Denn, one has to disassociate a bit from contemporary music business thinking. Art with the goal of inspiration is the purpose. If one stands back and observes much of the prevailing music, it is filled with not so slightly camouflaged egotism by embryonic stars in a gourmet-celebrity culture. People are cued to live vicarious lives and are made, even programmed, to feel guilty or lacking if they do not have lavish superabundance. Opium Denn is based on the depth of experience...and experience takes time...and great experience takes courage, where there is genuine risk of loss in order to gain something of true value...namely, self.
In my review of 'Demarkation', I described your musical style as progressive rock. How would you describe it?
Opium Denn thinks that you described 'Demarkation' correctly. It is a story...a true concept album and not a bunch of songs that are thrown together. The next 2 albums will be much more progressive than 'Demarkation,' especially 'Oh Cezar.'
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
From people on the subways...farmers in the fields...CEOs in boardrooms...children in any country Opium Denn visits... The sound of nature...the sound of silence, which is the sound of God... I am an observer of all my consciousness understands at this point...
What is your songwriting process? Does the music come first and then the lyrics?
The truth is that Opium Denn's music comes from a place of compassion. Most of it has come while listening to health-science technologies that slow or speed up the firing of neurons in the brain. These technologies include Hemi-Sync, SAM (Spatial Angular Modulation) or HEV. When the songs are constructed, these technologies were listened to either in the early evening or early in the morning. Usually the music comes accompanied by a theme or direction. Vocal sounds usually come with the music... Then the vocal sounds are translated into lyrics. In these altered states of consciousness thoughts are very fluid and easy. The most difficult part of this process is being able to come out of the state and remember what you experienced in order to record or write it down.
'Demarkation' is part one of a planned trilogy of albums revolving around a central narrative or theme. Where on earth did you come up with such an ambitious idea? What was the spark?
All came from the synapse altering technologies. Opium Denn has found that if the non-verbal directions are acted upon, good things happen. For example, in the material world, following these promptings, with extreme humility, has produced millions of dollars in assets as it impacted millions of people's lives in many fields of the endeavors of Opium Denn. We truly live in a strange, perfect world...
I'm a sucker for good drumming. Who played the drums on 'Demarkation'? And which drummers influenced his/her style of play?
Opiun Denn cannot disclose, at least at this time, the drummer on this work. All are top players. And a great drummer is absolutely key. It is the foundation of the feel of any rock music....so special attention is given to the drums. In the drums is the excitement of the music! Drums are power...
Was 'Demarkation' well-received by the critics? By listeners?
Most critics are generally favorable about the record. However, as expected, many miss the point or see it as any other music production. Opium Denn is not seeking wide-spread acceptance or acclaim. In fact, most promotional efforts have not even happened yet. It is only known that 3 albums are to be recorded and released. Their power will become increasing self-apparent over time. However, already many people really like it and are using it to "let go" in order to realize "self" on a deeper level. If one person in 10,000,000 is worth the effort of this trilogy.
Will you be touring in the near future? If so, where?
No touring until the 2nd album is complete. Europe will be the place of one of the first formal tours. Opium Denn is an expensive production and the venues have to be conducive to the music.
It's presumptuous to ask at this point, but when might listeners expect the second album of the trilogy? Are you back in the studio now?
The 2nd album, 'Oh Cezar," is being recorded now. Its release will be in a year or so, unless Life determines another time. 'Oh Cezar' will explore the pursuit of material success in this world. It will offer a fairly clear path for those that want to amass a lot of money and influence as well as be enjoyable to listen to at the same time. This path is inherently somewhat difficult or everyone would be doing it. 'Oh Cezar' is an artistic record that faces the dense matter this world and speaks to how to take the intangible (ideas) and translated that energy into concrete reality or what Opium Denn refers to as C1 consciousness. The final installment of Opium Denn will remain concealed until it is released. However, it is designed to take the listener as far as a human being can go in their advancement given the properties and constraints of protoplasm.