Bob Bralove and Tom Constanten: Dose Hermanos’ Acoustic Batique
”Behind The Mask”: how did you make that weirdness? You had to talk about that beforehand: “Let’s get strange.”
BB: The only thing we said to each other was, “Let’s play the insides.”
You got under the hood.
TC: It’s been a long time since I had the conscious thought, “I think I’ll get strange now.” (laughter)
BB: It’s kind of natural at this point. (laughter)
“Ziegfeld Of The Tenderloin” has this neat little tug of war between the minor-keyed foundation and the major-keyed melody that keeps sticking its snout in over top … but they never clash. It’s a neat yin-yang.
TC: You know Marcel Duchamp’s painting “Nude Descending A Staircase”?
TC: “Ziegfeld” is unfocused in the same manner as that painting. As you said, it’s polymodal; it can go anywhere at any time.
BB: I think we get to a place for us where any note is possible against any note. Our ears have been opened up by the likes of Stockhausen and Cage and all that great music that happened in the ‘50s and ‘60s – not only rock ‘n’ roll, but everything thing else that was happening, too.
So at that point, you realize that everything is color – it all depends on what you do with it.
And that’s where I think we are two of the few people who live that in the performing world. It’s there – it’s part of what we do.
I enjoyed letting myself get caught up in the hectic vibe of “Beep Beep”; like you’re on a rolling freeway – going and cooking and rolling. But in amongst all that’s going on, somebody had to land the beast. I’m not hearing a definite cue or –
BB: Was there a cue? I don’t think …
Maybe the better question is: out of a very chaotic setting comes the most graceful of landings – how did you get there?
TC: Most of our things are like that. In fact, I’m not sure how it happens.
BB: The truth is, it surprises me every time. (laughter)
That’s cool to hear.
BB: It’s true: it surprises me that it happens. It surprises me that it does it with this elegances …but it does. And I just know that we will end things together; I know that we will find natural endings and resolutions and climaxes and arcs to the music.
We’re both composers so we’re thinking compositionally as we’re improvising. We’re creating the structure at the same time that we’re creating melodies and the notes and the ideas. I think that has something to do with it – the fact that we both understand those dynamics.
But even so, it seems like a rare power.
TC: It’s the Ouija board effect: where each person thinks the other person is moving it with their hands? Sometimes, as Bob just said, we know how the music works; we just let it find its own momentum and we go along for the ride – it just works every time.
BB: I think the big lesson for me – the psychedelic lesson, of course, which was the foundation of our connection in the early days – is, “Get out of the way.” (laughter) That’s the lesson that the psychedelics keep teaching you, over and over: “There’s something going on here; if you stand out of the way, you can be part of it.” (laughs)
I’d say “Waltz Of The Autumn Moon” is a good example of that. There’s a tension that manifests itself early on, and I think a lot of people would’ve been compelled to wrestle it into submission: “I have to resolve this.” But you guys don’t; you don’t worry about it – you just let it be … and the song is all that much more beautiful because of it.
TC: I was living in Italy as a student of Luciano Berio years ago and there were a couple of Fellini movies that came out around that time. I got into composer Nino Rota, who did the music … and there’s a lot of Rota in “Waltz Of The Autumn Moon”.
It’s like telling a story: “Something strange is going to happen – but relax … you’ll be okay.” (laughter)
“Appalachian Summer”; “Smoke Rings Of My Mind”; “Orphans Of The Storm” … I can see folks falling in love to these songs, thinking they’re some classic melodies from the past. It’s cool that they didn’t exist a heartbeat before you began playing them.
TC: Right! (laughs)
BB: Well, thank you. I’m glad you feel that way about it.
TC: Maybe someday we could do a Dark Side Of The Moon sort of thing and find some classic movie that the tunes will fit. (laughter)
Oh, man … what would it be? We should have folks weigh in on that with their ideas.
BB: Yes! A YouTube competition. (laughter)
“Shadow Of The Invisible Man” is the perfect closer – was it the last piece you recorded?
BB: Hmmm … I can’t remember, can you, Tom?
TC: I can’t either. I do remember we had some meetings about the sequencing … I think it might have been one we did early on, because it’s a piece we’ve actually done over the years. We’re comfortable with it and we wanted to establish our presence in the studio. So, it might have been recorded early on.
BB: Of course, now I’m remembering it the opposite way, but that’s okay. (laughter)
BB: I’m remembering it as, “We’ve done this one before, so let’s do it at the end when we’re tired” – but who knows what it was? (laughter)
I wouldn’t want it any other way.
BB: It’s the Dose Hermanos way! (laughter)
What folks need to know is, if they come out to the shows, they can witness the two of you doing this … but don’t be shouting out requests, as what’s happening is happening right now.
TC: We don’t do requests, but feel free to name what you just heard.
Yes – it’s the opposite of a request!
BB: A postquest, perhaps. (laughter)
TC: Remember: there are no Grateful Dead “Dark Star”s that are exactly the same.
BB: And I have to say that my experience with the Grateful Dead audience is that they know what live is and they’re into that: the live moment. We’re lucky to have that audience; people who appreciate that.
We actually do take requests: they’re requests from the audience that are structured in such a way that we make up a title from their suggestions – and then have to play it.
What was it, Tom? The hippopotamus song …
TC: “The Canadian Hippopotamus Polka”.
Oh, sure – of course. (laughter)
TC: See – you had an image right away, right?
Heck, I had that on 8-track.
TC: Right! (laughter)
BB: It was the song I fell in love to, actually. (laughter) It was playing in the background. (laughter)
How about the year ahead – are you planning some shows?
BB: Yes, we are. The best way to stay in touch with what we’re doing is through Facebook – we now have a new Dose Hemanos page. You can also get in touch with us through our websites – TomConstanten.com or BobBralove.com.
On Tom’s site, you can also get a listing of Dose Base – all the shows we’ve done and the setlists. There are some interesting names there.
Oh, I bet. Just reading the names would be a trip.
TC: It is! (laughter)
Well, all right. I want to thank you both so much for taking the time to talk today – and for all the great mind-opening music over the years. Keep the trip going.
TC: Thank you.
BB: It’s wonderful to talk to somebody who’s so into the music, Brian.
I had the easy part – it’s a great recording.
BB: Well, we’re proud of the way it came out. Thank you.
Brian Robbins watches Fellini movies and eats popcorn over at www.brian-robbins.com.