Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts: Brian Paone Interview, Part One
Recently, I got a chance to read and review a book entitled Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts, the debut book for Massachusetts native Brian Paone, a lifelong music fan, and lead singer of several bands, including Drop Kick Jesus. The memoir recounts his friendship with the late David Reilly, lead singer of the techno-rock band, God Lives Underwater, who tragically passed away in 2005. For my complete review of the book, click here.
I got to talk with the author about this and other projects he’s involved in. I will post the interview in two parts.
Brian Paone Interview, Part One:
All of your memories and experiences in your book are in such vivid detail. Did you keep a journal back then, or do you just have a really good memory?
I did not keep a journal. To be honest, I never imagined in a millions years I would ever write a book like that. In fact, the idea of writing the book in the first place didn’t even occur to me until five months after David died. I had been writing short stories, pretty much since the 7th grade—I even took creative writing in high school and as electives in college for my degree—but I had never attempted, or even desired, to write a full length 90K word book yet (although I had probably written well over 90K words in my short stories combined through the years). The problem was that I had so much grief about David’s death, that I didn’t know where to put it. I didn’t know where to put the emotions of his death and how it was affecting me. My roommate at the time suggested writing down my memories as a way to revisit what we had gone through together. I talked to my fiancé at the time (now my wife) about possibly writing a book about David’s band. More of a traditional biography than what the book eventually turned out to become. She encouraged me tremendously with sitting down and diving head first into writing something that would be much more than just a story. I decided that I should write it more as a memoir, or as a novel would read where the story itself is more important than the actual players. I knew that David still had thousands of fans all over the world, but I wanted to write something where the reader didn’t even need to know who David was to understand and enjoy the book. I mean, I’ve had reviewers state that this could have been a fictional story with a fictional band, and it would have been just as effective. So when I decided to commit it writing my first honest to God book, I knew that I was going to need some help remembering the tiny little details of those early days hanging out with David. I contacted most of the people that are in the book and we spent hours pooling our memories together so I would get all the details right. After I finished each chapter, I would email it off to the people who were also there during those specific times and ask if their memory remembered those times the same way. A few time I would get a reply from either Mike or Dann saying, “No, I remember that night and this part didn’t happen at the bar, it happened in the club.” And I would go, “Oh yeah, that’s right!” So it really was the work and help of a collective group of people to help me nail down those earlier days and all the minute details of conversations and places. But I think I was so in awe of David at the beginning too, that most of our time together stuck out so vividly because they were so important to me.
You have always been into a vast amount of bands, encompassing many genres. Why do you think God Lives Underwater stood out above all the rest?
God Lives Underwater encompasses everything I love about rock music and electronic music smooshed together. Sure there are many industrial-rock bands out there like Nine Inch Nails. But God Lives Underwater had this ability to write songs with so much melody and chorus hooks that it felt like they found a way to summon the pop side of bands like Electric Light Orchestra and The Beach Boys, and mash it together with the electronic integrity of artists like Depeche Mode and David Bowie, and sprinkle just enough distortion and alternative-rock guitars that sounded like Radiohead or The Smashing Pumpkins. Their songs are just like the perfect storm for me: pop-y, rock-y, and techno-y. So God Lives Underwater is the epitome of liking a band that encompasses many genres.
You have been in quite a few bands yourself. Did you you ever ask David for musical advice? Did you ever try to write songs together?
We never tried to write together. My band’s music was a little too harsh and abrasive for his taste. He supported me 100%, but I have always been in more metal bands that sound closer to Deftones or Ministry, where David preferred to listen to artists like Spiritualized, Cat Stevens, and Elbow. David was always giving me musical advice, whether I asked for it or not.
You created a website in memory of David as well. Tell me about it.
Well, the book originally came out in 2007. Then the publishing company I was on folded in 2012 and all their authors became homeless and their whole catalog went off the market. While searching for a new publishing company to re-release the book, I decided it was a good time to revise some of the stuff in the book that I was never really 100% happy with. So I hired editor Dan Ezra Golden (who happened to be a huge fan of David’s music and had read the book originally). We worked for about 10 months re-editing the book while I shopped publishing companies. This also allowed me to add an Epilogue into the book which wasn’t originally part of the 2007 release. I found a new publishing company and the book was released as a second edition in 2014. I realized that after David died, God Lives Underwater and David’s personal website was just left by the wayside. No one was keeping it updated and eventually they both expired and was taken down. I felt it was a disservice to David and to the rest of the guys in his band that the only information or website on this amazing band was a WiKi page. So I got permission from David’s sister to build and launch an official website that was both dedicated to God Lives Underwater and David’s solo albums. It was launched in April, 2014 just before the book was re-released. The website has every single God Lives Underwater song and music video and interview, plus every song David recorded as a solo artist after God Lives Underwater broke up in 2001. I use the Metrics app to gauge traffic to the website on a weekly basis, and the site has consistently never dropped below 100 visitors every single week. So obviously people are still searching out God Lives Underwater and David’s music. I have also received many emails from fans from all over the world thanking me for finally putting together a central “mecca” of David’s work all on one site. I actually had a fan from Russia, who also bought my book by finding out about it through the website, ask if he could Skype with me in person. I agreed and we talked on the phone for half an hour. A complete stranger from Russia! The site is www.DavidReillyGLU.com for anyone interested in checking it out.
I will post Part 2 of my interview with Brian Paone this weekend. Make sure you check back, to find out what he’s been up to lately!