Reagan, "Disconnect" was an extremely well received album
back in 1999 and the singles off that album are still
making waves. Were you surprised at the fan response and
Yes, definitely but even so, as far as writing songs, I
knew we had better in us. So (pause) I guess, my response
had more to do with the motivation to continue on to the
next release. I felt more of a direction towards the end
of recording Disconnect and it seemed like it was seeping
through for the first time. Something more genuine, more
real. The listener response to Disconnect was generous and
very uplifting, so my focus was to roll with that feeling
and explore it further. From day one I'd been stealing
methods, limiting myself to imitation, and just learning
the relationship between melody and response. I spent very
little time evolving. It just wasn't time and I wasn't
there yet. Still, we ended up with a couple of new tracks,
which I felt were the first real songs for us - "Lose in
Wanting" and "Danger is The Shame". They were written at
the last minute of recording and are the best moments on
Disconnect for me.
"Iris" formed in 1993 as "Forgiving
Iris" with Matt Morris. Why did it take you six years for
your debut album? Where did the name "Forgiving Iris" come
from and tell us about "Iris" pre "Disconnect" years.
We were really just writing songs for ourselves in the
beginning. I don't think anyone ever even suggested
releasing an album. When good live opportunities came
around we'd move on those. That was success to us at the
time. For the first two or three years we were just having
a good time opening shows for other bands who we wanted to
hang around with (laughs). That was our thing - get the
best live opportunities possible. In '94 we somehow ended
up as one of the five bands for the KRBE 104.1 Halloween
Block Party in Houston, which included Freedom Williams
(formerly of C&C Music Factory), Miranda and Lucas who
each had a hit at the time, and Channel 69. KRBE was very
supportive of electronic music in the mid 90's and being
an actual part of their lineup seemed like a validation.
Fortunately that led to more KRBE sponsored events in
Houston, including a side stage performance for the Duran
Duran/Waterlillies concert at the Woodlands Pavilion. I
don't like including that show in the list, cause it looks
like it's saying we some affiliation with the Duran Duran
show. It was a side stage but still, to us, it was another
"yes" from KRBE, for a show that really mattered to them.
So that's where some of the time went. No talk of signing
to a label or anything. We knew if we played shows with
other bands who used electronics - especially at events
sponsored by one of the few electronic-friendly stations
around, we would surely be seen by people who might get
into what we were doing.
Somewhere around there we wrote" Annie, Would I Lie to
You?" and that ended up on a couple of compilations -
Control-Alt-Delete's Cat Compilation and Electronic Fields
in Europe. From those two releases we started receiving
some excellent feedback so Matt put up a website and
compiled our best material for those who wanted it. Todd
Durrant stepped in a few months later, asked if we'd like
to release our demo as a full length on A Different Drum
Records and after a few added songs we had Disconnect.
"Forgiving Iris" - a few years back I would have
reluctantly given a synopsis on its meaning but I'm more
resistant now. Not trying to be mysterious or anything but
I don't want to bore you either.
Matt Morris is no longer a member of the band. What
prompted his departure?
Actually Matt is still very close with the band and
everything we're doing. He's like the phantom third member
and will be with us on stage at each performance. I read
somewhere that Matt left because he and I couldn't get
along. That's not true at all, as we're very close
friends. Every band has moments where the individuals feel
they can't deal with the situation anymore and want out,
but Matt's decision had more to do with changing
priorities. He just wasn't thrilled about going back into
the studio for album 2. There was a time when we had
differences on the band's musical direction, an argument
that never seems to go away. Still, I think he'd made his
mind up and that involved more than this issue.
Andrew Sega of "Alpha Conspiracy" has now become a member
of "Iris". How did you guys meet and how did the new
collaboration come about?
Actually Matt introduced us and it just fell into place.
It was one of those moments when the timing was right and
it seemed like something we should explore. I was working
with Matthew McGregor, a studio engineer here in Dallas,
on what would have been the next Iris release when Matt
turned me on to Andrew's work. I heard "Winter" and
thought, o.k. this guy's totally hitting the ball out of
the park but he's coming out of left field at the same
time. It wasn't until we all met up in Austin and went out
one night that it fell into place. I remember we'd gone
out to a club called Texture there in Austin and once we
all got back to the car, Andrew gave us the Forward
Rewinding LP. When I heard "Last Collection" there was no
delay in my response. I turned around and looked at him
like "you m*therf*cker". I knew right away. That track is
beyond belief. I hate that I didn't write it and I'll
never forgive him for that.
Any further plans for "Alpha Conspiracy" Andrew?
There's one more proper full-length in the grand AC plan.
It's going to be called "Aura" and we'll be trying to get
it out within the next six months or so. I'm going to push
it a bit more towards the IDM-pop vein (think: Postal
Service / Plaid / Max Tundra / Prefuse 73). I'm also
signed up for a bunch of remix work for a while, so
that'll take up a fair chunk of time. After that, I'll
likely start some new side-projects - can you ever have
"Awakening" has just been released here in early 2003. How
do you feel the album has been received so far? Was it
intimidating knowing how anxious your fans were for the
follow-up to "Disconnect"?
The comments and reviews have been incredible. Especially
when you consider how this album's sound leans a bit more
towards the tempo and feel of an alternative album. I
don't think we really felt pressure because of Disconnect
though. I mean, you pour yourself into something and don't
let it go until it's as close as you're going to get to
where you want before losing your sanity. When that point
is reached, you're happy with the end result and
ultimately that satisfies. It has to. I can say, however,
that I was nervous until I saw the first reports coming
in. After that I knew it would be o.k. If we got off to a
good start, we'd have a good foundation to grow from and
that's exactly how it's gone down. But, yeah, I was
nervous simply because weren't making a dance album and I
wondered if our core listener base would understand. It
seems like they're well beyond understanding, as
everything we've seen suggests they truly get something
new from Awakening that matters to them. We've seen this
expressed a lot here at EGN and elsewhere. So, thank you.
Tell us about your creative process. How did you build
Reagan lives in Dallas, and I live in Austin (about three
hours away), so that presented a bit of a logistical
challenge. The process we adopted in the end was pretty
straightforward: Reagan would send me a demo he'd written,
and then we'd record quick-and-dirty vocals on top. Then,
I'd go and recreate the underlying tracks, keeping the
basic song structure the same. I'd send him MP3's of the
tracks as they would take shape, and when we felt it was
the right time, we'd record final vocals over the new
backing tracks. Then, there was a final pass where we'd
add vocal effects, shimmers, and sparkles, and finally
call it finished. From start to finish, the record took
about 14 months. It wasn't always a perfect process,
especially when outside commitments would rear their ugly
heads - but in the end we got the record done and it's a
What were your main creative influences for the album?
What can fans who have yet to purchase "Awakening" expect?
Maybe it's best if they go in without any expectations and
just let it come to them as they hear it. It's a constant
fight to dig out of those pigeonholes and get someone to
enjoy the music for whatever it is to them. It's simply
traditional songwriting in a mix of IDM/alt rock
influenced electronic arrangements. It's Alpha Conspiracy
meets Iris. As far as influence, the single most
influential writer for me over these past few years has
been Glen Phillips. I'm a changed writer as a result of
Toad The Wet Sprocket's music and there's now a more
balanced blend of ingredients that go into the songs. It
may have gone unnoticed, but I think it's one of the key
differences, as far as the songs, that listeners have
received so well. Also, Andrew is a prolific collector of
new music and I've been introduced to a slew of new bands
which he's taken a liking to.
What are your favorite tracks off the new album?
I like different songs for different reasons. "Whatever",
because I like the raw edge of the chorus when it's played
really loud. "When I'm Not Around" is one I'm very proud
of. For me, it's hard to spend so much energy writing
songs, having them realized in this style, and not feel
close to them all.
"Awakening" was released on your own label, "Diffusion
Records". How did this come about? Are you shopping for a
larger label deal of any kind or just plan to go it alone?
Diffusion is a label that I had run for a while, before I
was involved in Iris. We wanted to try to keep artistic
control of the new record, and didn't really need a
production advance or anything that a mid-sized label
could offer, so we decided to go it ourselves. I don't
think we're actively "shopping" the record around, but on
the other hand we wouldn't be opposed to signing with
someone bigger. For now, we'll see how far we can get on
our own. Many labels won't even talk to you if you're not
going to spend most of your time touring - and that's just
not a productive mentality to us. I'd rather be making
records than trawling through every tiny venue in the
country trying to build some sort of "buzz". There's a big
difference between playing shows for fun, and playing
shows because you're in desperate need of the money.
You had the opportunity to play the "SXSW" music festival
back on March 14th, a large nationally promoted event.
What was that like and what was the reaction to "Iris"?
It was totally a last-minute thing - we ended up filling
in a 4 PM slot, with about 5 days advance notice. SXSW is
an insanely large festival... at any given hour there's
probably 50+ bands playing at the same time, all over the
city. Nevertheless, it was fun, and a good way to start
preparing for some of the bigger shows we have coming up.
Many fans are anxious to take in an "Iris" show. Any plans
for a US or European tour in support of "Awakening"?
If things continue to go well with this release then I
would think it's only a matter of time before we perform
in Europe. We'll certainly be hitting some of the major
U.S. cities beginning in May and that will hopefully
continue through the summer. I guess we're not really a
touring band. Live performances are the best times but
unless we signed with a label with the clout and intent to
promote us to more of a mainstream level, it's hard to
imagine devoting the time it takes to tour for any
extended period. We'd have to be living from
band-generated income. In that case, I think we'd tour
forever because there's a great time to be had. Andrew is
currently working on some really cool additives to enhance
our live show as well. I really feel the shows now being
arranged will be the beginning of our best performances
Tell us a little bit about Reagan Jones and Andrew Sega.
What do you enjoy when outside the studio?
I usually have about 5 side projects in the works at any
time, so usually it's music, more music, and even more
music. Oh, and well there's always hanging out at bars
drinking snobby beers and arguing about music. And when
that's done, there's always some time to go and buy CD's.
Did I mention how much fun it is to make beats? Sometimes,
though, Reagan will call me and tear me away from the
studio, usually it's things like: "You should come over, I
figured out a great way to make crème brulee" or "Hey, uh,
I got arrested down in Tijuana and I need you to drive
down here and help me out before the Mexicans throw me in
I very much enjoy sneaking into events, getting backstage,
just doing whatever it takes to outsmart security and
Clear Channel reps at whatever the occasion is. Like the
sport of Supercross, which if I had enough talent is where
I'd be devoting all my time. I was in Houston this past
Saturday and posed as a writer for a fictitious magazine
doing a story on the race. There was a moment when I knew
either I was going to be arrested or I was walking out of
that office with a pass around my neck. Just getting to
the office, which was located deep within the underbelly
of the Reliant Stadium, took more than an hour. At any
moment I could have been caught and when I was there
giving my story, it was a complete rush! And it worked. I
was out on the track with Ricky Carmichael and all the
stars. Point is, I can't abide standing in lines or not
having access to spaces. If you're "not allowed", then the
way I feel is I'll just allow myself. For some reason this
has become a real enjoyment. It's definitely the
challenge. That's the only reason I'm in the band -to have
all access at the club.
A message to your fans in closing?
Thank you first and foremost. If we didn't have this kind
of support, there wouldn't be much of a future to speak
Just as a side note, the hardest part of being in an
electronic pop band is justifying your legitimacy to those
outside this circle. When talking with music lovers who
know little about song-based electronic outside of Depeche
Mode and New Order, I spend less energy comparing or
trying to give them some kind of reference and more energy
recommending someone's music based on what it does for me,
how I react to it, and what its effects are. There are
many doors that should be open but aren't due to
limitations placed on music because it sounds like this or
that. To me, that is what is illegitimate and
unjustifiable. I heard Rick Savage from Def Leppard once
say that there are two kinds of people who listen to
music. The first are those who listen while trying to
figure out what it compares with. The second are those who
listen to it for what it is. When it's all said and done,
they're just songs. Whether you're Bob Dylan, Hank
Williams, John Lennon, Beck, Ben Gibbard, or Vince Clark,
they're just songs. To afford any one writer or band more
credibility because of anything besides the quality of
their work is just chaotic nonsense. We're living in this
world where there is so much emphasis placed on equality
and acceptance. Yet in music, the same people who chant
all that stuff refuse to give it back. Unacceptable.
People may say, yeah but it's just music. Well, music may
be someone's life. It's what they do.
Anyway, everyone take care. We definitely hope to make it
to your city very soon. Once again, a huge thanks to all
who have been so supportive.
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