Interview With Martin Bianchini (Secret Band/Dance Gavin Dance)

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Martin Bianchini is the man behind the scenes. Possibly unbeknownst to the general public, he’s provided some of your favorite guitar parts on the last two DGD albums. He is also one half of the insane mastermind that goes into the guitar sequences of underground favorites, Secret Band.
I recently got a chance to speak with Martin and ask him a few questions.

Nick: What is on your playlist right now?

Martin B: “I’ve been listening to Aborted’s new album Retrogore a lot. That one really quenched my metal thirst. I also really like the new tunes from BORNS, Jared James, Dark Sermon, and Intronaut. The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza is always an awesome band to go back to.” 

N: What musicians provide inspiration for you?

MB: “Nobody really. There’s musicians who I really respect. Like Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes from Animals As Leaders, Guthrie Govan, Josh Travis from TTDTDE/Glass Cloud/ and now Emmure, and  Josh Martin from Little Tybee. But I don’t feel like what I write is really inspired by them. I’m usually inspired to write something by some sort of feeling or mood I want to express. It can come from listening to music. Other times it can be from movies, personal stuff or just random thoughts.”   

N: What gear do you use?

MB: “I like to use different guitars for different projects. For Dance Gavin Dance and Secret Band I like to use my modified Fender Strat or my Ernie Ball John Petrucci guitar. For the more metal stuff I like to use my LTD M-1000. For my amp I use a Randall RM 100. Super awesome amp with a modular pre amp section. Unfortunately they don’t make them anymore. Depending on what I’m doing I’ll use an older Mesa 2×12 cab or an Orange 4×12 cab. I’ve been bouncing back and forth with effects. I have a TC Electronic G-Major 2. I can change the presets and my amp channel switching via a midi foot controller. I also use a pedal board with various pedals from TC Electronic, Boss, Seymour Duncan and Way Huge. Nothing too crazy. There’s so much more that I want though. The hunger for gear is real.” 

N: How did you initially link up with DGD and end up recording on Acceptance Speech and Instant Gratification?

MB: “Well, I’ve known the dudes for a while. Willy and I were in a band years ago. After that band ended I started a new band with my best friend and that’s how I met Matt (Mingus). I met Jonster when he was playing guitar for the pre Dance Gavin Dance band Farewell Unknown. So we’ve been buddies for a while. The whole Acceptance Speech thing wasn’t intentional…I don’t think. Wilson asked if I wanted to help write a heavy song for Secret Band. The first song we worked on was “Carbon Copy”. He wanted to work on another song for Secret Band but it had more of a DGD jingle to it. And that’s how “The Jiggler” came about. With Instant Gratification, Wilson wanted to have a kind of heavier DGD song. The first song Matt and I worked on was “Shark Dad”. After that song was done we ended up writing “Lost”. After that Wilson asked if I wanted to write second guitar for “Death of the Strawberry”. I’m not sure if the plan was for me to be on more than one song. It just kind of worked out that way.” 

N: Are there any other records you’ve worked on that people might not know about?

MB: “There are few things. My old band, The Antioch Synopsis, released an EP and full length. You can find them on Bandcamp. It’s definitely heavier jamage. I was also in another metal band called Burn. Heal. Scar. I think you can find that music on Bandcamp as well. I have a little writing and recording project with some other friends. It’s more of fun rock tunes. Nothing has really been released from that.” 

N: What was the process that led to you joining Secret Band?

MB: “The dudes knew that I had been doing heavier music for a while, and I guess they wanted to take Secret Band in that direction. After writing “Carbon Copy” and “The Jiggler” Wilson just asked if I wanted to join Secret Band. And how could I say no to someone as lovable as Willy? That was pretty much it.” 

N: It seems like the approach to Secret Band is pretty much “anything goes”. How is it working with those guys and can you describe the writing and recording process?

MB: “The whole idea for Secret Band was for them to further the heavier side of DGD. So that’s what we’ve been doing. I’m really into aggressive, intense, tech-y music. So it’s worked out really well for all of us. And it’ll probably only get crazier and heavier. 

I had to adjust a few things from the ways I was used to writing music. I had written and arranged a lot of the music, with respect to the other members and the parts they wrote and recorded, for The Antioch Synopsis full length. That included second guitar, leads, bass, and drums. It was all written on my laptop. Hours and hours of staring at my laptop. I was honestly really burnt out from doing it that way. I’m happy with how it turned out but I wouldn’t really want to do that again. Especially with something that has other members involved. It’s more interesting to hear what each member has to bring. I was still in that mode when writing started for the Secret Band full length. And with DGD, a lot of the songs start with Willy. They’ll jam on the tune and work on ideas. So I felt like I should join that method. It was actually really refreshing to work on and hash shit out with people. The funnest part for me is bringing something to the table that is drastically different from what they’re used to writing to and seeing what they do with it. The recording process isn’t anything crazy. We demo the songs out for scratch tracks. Matt goes in, pulls it out, and lays it down. After that they’ll start the recording drums. Jordan will cook some beefy bass lines. Wilson and I will lay our guitar parts down in one take multiple times. And then Jonster will glaze the cake and then do his vocals. Pretty standard stuff.”

N: I’ve heard rumors of a new Secret Band album this year. Are those true?
If so, where in the recording process are you?

MB: “Well we started writing new music before the dudes went out for the 10 Year Anniversary Tour. There’s about 6 or 7 songs that are pretty much done musically. But with the 10 Year Anniversary Tour, Tree City Sessions, Sianvar, other side projects and the new DGD album, it kind of got put on hold. So no recording yet. But we’ll get there.” 

N: What goals do you have for your career?

MB: “That’s a good question. Honestly, I’m just a working dude who also gets to write music with his friends. I really do enjoy my involvement with DGD. I’d like to do more music with them and other musicians. I just want to keep having fun and stay creative. And if something comes from it that would be great. I’m having fun with what I’m doing right now.”

N: Do you have any upcoming projects?

MB: “Besides the new DGD album and Secret Band, I’m working on a thrash metal EP with some friends of mine from an older band and we’re looking to record  sometime in the future. I have a bunch of my own stuff that I’d like to actually put out. Some of it is heavy music, some of it is dark and atmospheric, and some of it is just weird stuff. I’m also looking into doing other things. Painting, working on screenplays, other things besides music. I’m just trying to keep the creative juices flowing.”

Check out some of Martin’s work in both Dance Gavin Dance and Secret Band below: