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Dios – Interview with Joel Morales

First, let me start by saying if you’ve never heard the track “Starting Five” by Dios, then take a second to listen now:

Yup, pretty damn catchy. You’re probably thinking they’re the beachy, sunny, poppy band you’ve been searching for your whole life. Like they say in places where weather is unpredictable – if you like it now, wait a second and then get back to me. Dios are about as unpredictable as earthquakes. And here to help shed some light on this situation is leader and main song writer Joel Morales.

Dios recently released a new album aptly titled We Are Dios. The album, like their past albums, take a heavy dose of psychedelia and mix it in with pop freshness. For fans of bands like Super Fury Animals, this is right up your alley. However, I will say that while I love Dios for their ability to take risks and make music for the love of making music, their albums have a tendency to lose form in and out of the album. If there’s a theme here with We Are Dios it’s mostly about other worldly dimensions and not being afraid of dying. Not the brightest of subjects but I think after you read this interview with Joel you’ll have a better understanding for where his inspiration comes from.

Download “Ojay” from We Are Dios

Purchase We Are Dios

Stream the whole album while you read:

Square – The Dios equation highlighted in the bio for this album says –

Dios do not sing about cars, surfing, and/or high school + Dios sing about ridiculousness, illicit substances, and going crazy. Conclusion = dios resemble the Beach Boys of Smile, not “Fun, Fun, Fun”.

Do you find yourselves closely related when it comes to Brian Wilson with respect to how you write your songs?

Joel – I’ve been inspired by Brian’s willingness to experiment and still have a damn good song. He writes great songs that he arranges either straightforward or whacked out, but the main melody, chord progressions and harmonies are beautiful by themselves. I try to keep in mind that I need to love the song as a simple song and then do whatever I want with it, not be afraid to experiment with the instrumentation and arrangement of it, a part of the song writing/recording process that’s really fun for me.

Square – What other artists do you closely relate to or at least feel inspired by to play music?

Joel – There’s a basic principle I respect, admire, and ultimately become inspired by when it comes to making music. It’s to write a good song, or melody, and do something interesting with it. It doesn’t have to be a multi-layered extravaganza, but it has to seem like a genuine representation to you as a songwriter. So anybody out there that takes chances and writes memorable melodies, experiments, does something interesting with it all really inspire me. For me the list include The Beatles, Beach Boys, Os Mutantes, Fiery Furnaces, Deerhoof, Karp, Duster, Faust and countless others that I can say inspired me to explore.

Square – When did you decide that you were ready to head back into the studio? Did you have a bunch of songs already put together or were you hit with a sudden compulsion to write a bunch based on a current mindset the band was in

Joel – I’m always “in the studio”. I sleep there. I have all my recording equipment in my bedroom now. I don’t write or record things because I have to put 12 songs together for a record, I’m constantly recording and as a matter of fact I want to go do it right now cause my roommates are all gone. Anyways I do 3-5 songs a month just because, I’ll record them and re-record them just to see where it all goes. So when it’s album time I just put some songs together and see what works. I kind of write “singles” and not full albums. I mean it’s about a song at a time. There’s no theme necessarily. My little dream is to release a 7″ single with a b-side every two months then at the end of the year throw those 12 songs on a full length album as a collection for that year. “We are Dios 2010”. Someday maybe…

Square – When you write songs, what usually comes first, the lyrics or the melodies?

Joel – I do both at the same time, I mean I just play the acoustic and sing along and see what tumbles out. I’m not a huge word guy, I focus more on the music, and so I usually trust my mouth to use words that tend to fit with the phrasing of the song, words that SOUND good while singing them.

Square – What’s behind the way some of the song titles are spelled out such as “Don B Efrey Du Die”?

Joel – I hate naming songs, like I said I’m not much for words, so I just name a song something basic that refers to a predominant lyric. That’s obviously pretty boring so I phonetically spelled stuff with a Spanglish twist or whatever so it would look a little more interesting. I didn’t really care all that much.

Square – What were some new effects that you introduced in the recording of this album?

Joel – Um effects, not much really. I got my hands on a tape echo, which really colors things nicely on vocals and other stuff. I discovered these soft synths that are basically pseudo analog synthesizer plugins on my computer for stuff like moogs, yamaha cs-80’s, oberheims, korgs, roland synths etc. those were neat to mess around with. And I got this “abbey road keyboards” re-fill for Reason that’s pretty rad, good piano sounds.

Square – What was it like growing up in South Bay during the early 90s?

Joel – It was like boys in the hood-lite.

Square – How much of your childhood experiences are reflected in your songs?

Joel – They’re not. Don’t know why, they just aint.

Square – There’s a heavy theme throughout the album that discusses dying and going into other dimensions. Where does this come from? Do you read a lot of philosophy and if so, what are your favorite books and philosophers?

Joel – I used to wanna like philosophy, especially when you take a class here or there and you find these famous thinkers dissertating things you’ve thought about, but I’m just not patient enough for books. I like looking up shit on Youtube, it’s fast and easy, and short. so with suggestions from friends I look stuff up and watch a lecture or a quick video on something. I’ve seen those themes a lot on this record too, maybe its cause I was watching the 10th dimension stuff, and Jodorowosky movies, who knows. My friends send me some weird shit on you tube. I have read “the way of the intercepting fist” though.

Square – What I notice about this and previous albums is how you are able to create this perfect pop melody that’s fairly straightforward, almost to a point where your casual music listener would say, “hey, I could listen to these guys”. Then the very next song the psychedelic button gets pushed. Is this done on purpose? Do you enjoy drawing people in to your music and then hitting them over the head with a hammer?

Joel – Ha that’s funny, I don’t do it on purpose to fuck with people, its just how I make music. Like I said earlier I just try whatever comes to mind on any particular song and run with it. It could be simple, or abstract or both. I’ve recorded so many different versions of the same song they can be very different from one another. But no, I don’t try to confuse or turn people off. I just try to make myself happy with the end result of each individual song.

Square – Is commercial success at all something Dios thinks about and strives for? Or are you just making music because it’s an outlet that helps keep you from going insane?

Joel – It’s fun. That’s the only reason I keep doing it. It’s a creative outlet I really enjoy. Who knows, if I learned how to landscape and I had my own pad to do some cool shit with, then that would probably be what I’d focus on. it would be nice to make an income with art so I could continue to do it without having to do something for money I don’t love. Either way, I’ll always do it as far as I still love to do it.

Square – When you’re not touring or making music, what is Dios doing for a living?

Joel – JP (bass) gets a weekly 40 dollar allowance and goes to school, Ed (keys) delivers sandwiches for 2 hours a day, Pat (drums) sometimes works for his brothers production company (and sometimes gets us one day jobs), and I (guitar, sing and write songs) sit back and hope for an ASCAP check here or there and fill in for some dude who goes to the bank for rich people. (long story)

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