A tale of two bands in one...
Interview with Scattered Pages
By Ronnie

This is the tale of two bands in one in the Houston, Texas area. Or actually two separate entities with ¾'s commonality. Confused yet? Well, what I'm trying to describe is the link between the band called Scattered Pages and the band called Deadwood Forest. You see, ¾'s of the members play in each band. One band is progressive-psychedelic rock, whilst the other has more mainstream pop leanings. The fact that there are separate songwriters and lead singers for each band helps the distinction. But, once you listen to their individual CD's, you know that these bands are different as 'night and day'. While Deadwood Forest was formed first and sort of morphed into Scattered Pages, it doesn't mean that Deadwood Forest is defunct. In fact both bands have future plans. I talked to the band(s) to clarify some of the confusion I had…

Right: Scattered Pages

E.C.: Although ¾'s of the members are the same for both bands, you couldn't find more of a difference in approach and delivery. What brought this change about? How exactly did Deadwood Forest evolve into Scattered Pages?

Kurt: You're absolutely right when you say that the Scattered Pages material is vastly different from Deadwood Forests' recordings up to now (I simply use the 3/4ths Deadwood approach as a selling point for folks who ask about what Deadwood Forest is doing now). However, I still regard this as a valid selling point because although Brandon's compositions are quite different, the approach we take towards the arrangement and production of the songs is very much the same. We are committed to dynamic and concise arrangements (admittedly sometimes to excess) and Jon Brion-like production, you know, rhythmically busy with lots of Mellotron and strings. (Deadwood didn't have the luxury of strings in recording "Mellodramatic" but definitely would have used them if given the opportunity). --- Ryan, Mitch, Brandon, Andy and myself have all known each other since short pants (we are all now 25 except Mitch who's 24) and we have always had a great amount of mutual respect and admiration for each other as musicians. So the change from Deadwood Forest to the Scattered Pages was pretty seamless and simple. Mitch moved to Las Vegas to take care of his Grandfather around the same time that Ryan, Andy and myself moved back to Houston. Brandon had been living there for a few years and had developed a slew of great songs so we decided to begin this project in order to bring Brandon's songs to their full potential as live arrangements and as recordings. We've been working towards this goal since Jan. 2002, and we're pleased about our prospects. In fact it may turn out that the Scattered Pages will be the best framework for us all to most equally contribute towards a single band.

E.C.: Actually, let me take a step back and talk about Deadwood Forest first. Is the band officially defunct, or will it ever be revived? What was the driving force behind this band and its attitude? I'm trying to get the different mindset for each band. What did the name 'Deadwood Forest' mean and what images were you trying to conjure? Also, Mitch Mignano left and Brandon Hancock entered. What brought about the change in membership for the bands?

Kurt: Deadwood Forest will most certainly work again. Mitch and Ryan have already written more than enough material on their own to make a formidable record. It may take numerous heated arguments and a few months with us all in the same city, but it'll happen, we're just not rushing it. Mitch is still finishing school and the rest of us are committed to bringing the Scattered Pages to fruition. We're all still close so working together again won't be too difficult. --- The name, Deadwood Forest, really isn't all that pertinent to the drive or attitude of the band at any one time. It was just a name that we agreed on when we were 14. Ironically, Deadwood Forest was the name we gave to part of Brandon's parents' property that we used for partying during middle and high school. Only later did I appreciate our name for something more (I think Ryan thought this from the get go>). We grew up in Baytown, TX (a very blue collar, inartistic, uninspiring and unscenic community {we secretly still love it}) so we somewhat pretentiously saw our music as something beautiful coming out of a cultural wasteland. And I'm still cool with that.

Right: Deadwood Forest

E.C.: Also, there was a change in songwriting for the band. While Ryan Guidry contributed heavily to the songs on the Deadwood Forest CD, he didn't write anything for Scattered Pages. Why the change?

Kurt: Ryan decided early on in the process to keep his material separate from Brandon's. Ryan helped Brandon arrange and perform his songs at coffee houses in '99 and '00 while the rest of us still lived in Austin. It wasn't until the band officially formed in '02 that we thought about making the material more collaborative. We're working towards that, but it will take more time for us to know the kind of material we need to write to fit this particular group. Ryan's material up to now is terrific and unique as is Andy's (I've got some too), but we have to make sure that we're all in the same production when we make records and perform live as 'the Scattered Pages'. We want variety in our sound but we don't wish to become a variety show. Brandon's material sets the stage for our band and we all genuinely love it, so we'll work from this and see where it leads us.

E.C.: I imagine that Brandon is the lead singer now? Did that just come about because he is the primary songwriter now?

Kurt: That's pretty much it, it's definitely not because he's got the best voice (just kidding)! {Take that last phrase out of context and I'll fucking kill you! Ha, ha}--- No, in all seriousness, Brandon sings his songs and almost all our songs are his, so he is the lead singer. Incidentally, people have taken really well to him as a front man and I think he's responded exceedingly well to the challenge. It won't change his personality, but he might get laid more.

E.C.: This is more of a question for Brandon. The songs definitely have a more 'commercial' feel. Now I mean that in a good way, not the throwaway type commercial stuff. I find your songs have a solid, melodic quality that is uniquely appealing in a contemporary way. How do you approach songwriting and what artists influenced you?

Brandon: I approach songwriting thusly: first I establish a melody, from which I render a phrase or verse, the remaining lyrical content I create around that phrase or verse. I understand many songwriters prefer the words-first method. I do not. I like having a mood about which to write, and more-often-than-not the music provides this for me. I have been influenced by recording artists, performance artists, many visual artists and a handful of late nineteenth century authors, oh, and one playwright.

E.C.: What is the live schedule of the band? Any possible visits to either the east coast or the west coast?

Kurt: We've been performing weekly around Houston for about 18 months. We'll be playing a few shows in Austin during August and September, and we're putting together an east coast tour for late Fall and early Winter centered around three or four gigs in New York. Any ideas about a possible venue for us in Georgia? We'd love to stop by, say late October?

E.C.: "Meet the Americant" just came out in 2003. When can we expect a new CD? Will there be more varied songwriting contributions on the next CD?

Kurt: We've already preliminarily released a new e.p. entitled "A Band of One's Own." It's five songs that fit together quite nicely if I say so myself. We'll probably release two more half-records before we take on another full-length album. We've still got numerous unrecorded songs that we've been playing live, so we've got some work to do in the studio before we can move ahead to something truly 'new'. And there will be more varied song contributions on the upcoming full-length, but not if it's at the expense of a unified direction in style.

E.C.: How would you describe the goals of Scattered Pages?

Kurt: We want to make pretty songs and have folks pay us to listen to them.

Click here to visit the official Deadwood Forest website
Click here to visit the official Scattered Pages website