On Thursday, Dangerous Muse’s video for “I Want It All” made its television premiere on NewNowNext PopLab. Members Mike Furey and Tom Napack chatted with me about their upcoming album, "Take Control", their musical and sartorial influences and raiding Lady Gaga’s basement.
How would you guys describe your stage style?
Furey: There is a vision in my mind about the over-arching idea of the story I am telling. It has been becoming more and more of a reality. With each show comes a new expression, a new aspect of the story is revealed. Above all else, the key to any good performance is to center yourself and give all of your spirit to your audience. If you give yourself, really give of yourself, they will give back.
Tom: Live, we definitely have a bit more edge in all the songs. A lot of that has to do with how we have the show set up and the most important unique element is the use of guitar and bass amps for all the synthesizers.
Who are your influences musically and fashion-wise?
Furey: I am most influenced by my friends and the situations we get ourselves into. The things that we want and strangely enough the things that we already have.
Tom: Musically, I go through phases in which I obsess over specific artists for a year or so. Recently, I've been all about Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry. However, most musical influences come from what I listened to growing up, The Who, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, and Peter Gabriel. Smashing Pumpkins was the band that taught me about song writing and Nine Inch Nails was the band that taught me about electronics, production, and the infinite possibilities of music production. I wear Docs, tight pants and eyeliner every day. I really like vinyl, leather, and all things S&M.
What are things you look for when choosing outfits for performances and music videos?
Furey: The styling always reflects the concept. For instance, the music video for "I Want It All" was inspired by Dante's Purgatorio. Certain looks were loosely based on his ironic punishments for sinful behavior. In one scene, my hands are bound and I gaze at the ground in recognition of and repentance for my pride just as those who are guilty of the same sin do in his text. In another set up, I wear a headpiece that covers my eyes which represents my eyes being stitched shut. Similarly, Tom wears giant blinders as he gropes through the mist. Dante writes about people who cast an envious eye on others being punished in the afterlife by being purged of their sight and their hearts. "The eyelids of these shades had been sewn shut/with iron threads, like falcons newly caught,/ whose eyes we stitch to tame their restlessness." The styling is contemporary but at the same time it is rooted in classical literature with history in mind.
How did you come about the pieces for I Want It All?
Tom: They were stolen in a heist from Lady Gaga's basement studio apartment.
You guys wrote on your Twitter that Franc Fernandez, who is now infamous for the meat dress he created for Lady GaGa at this year’s VMAS, designed the pieces in I Want It All. Why did you go for such an avant garde designer?
Furey: Franc is our friend. He's got beautiful brains and deadly execution. It's not about being avant-garde in giant quotes. That's a heavy word. It's just about being fresh.
What is it about designs by Franc Fernandez and Thierry Mugler that make them ideal for performers today?
Furey: To say that certain designers are "ideal for performers of today" presupposes the notion that performers choose designers on a trend-basis. Just because certain fashion designers are popular does not mean that they are appropriate for all performers. It is absolutely crucial that the designer and the artist have a creative relationship and that the styling is the product of that intimate understanding and vision — an extention of the essence of the artist, facilitated by the fashion/art installation.
There seems to be a move away from the traditional boy and girl next-door look to the boy and girl in outer space. We¹re seeing artists such as you, Adam Lambert, and Lady Gaga redefining stage wear. Do you think that the mainstream audience is more open to avant-garde stage wear today? If so, why?
Furey: People want a show. Hell, I want a show. We need entertainment more than ever and at the same time we are suffering by our ever-shortening attention spans. I used to think that my goal was to make my fantasy become a reality. What I have recently learned is that I just want my fantasy to have sex with yours. Fuck reality.
Tom: I think it has less to do with mainstream audiences being more accepting and more to do with the current artists being more willing to take risks.
Would you say that glam is making a comeback? If so, why?
Furey: Yes. But the look is not enough. It's the intention that backs it up. I would rather be genuine and simple than glam and inauthentic. Glam to me means doing whatever you fucking want to do. That's it.
Tom: Well the futuristic visual has a definite glam root. Artists like David Bowie and Roxy Music, at times, had a looks that would be in line with today's avant garde. But I'm not convinced the new "futurism" in fashion is a resurgence of glam. It's more connected to the technological mindset of today. Every element of life is computerized and digitalized. This is fashion responding and reacting to that. It's the glorification of the shiny, cutting edge machine and at other times the obsolete, dirty relic. Musically though I HAVE been feeling the glam pull. I just discovered T.Rex's "Electric Warrior", which is a classic album. I've also been seeking out all the Roxy Music albums I had previously missed.
What can we expect from the new album, "Take Control"?
Furey: High contrasts, pure emotion, hidden meaning, evolution.