- Photo by Heather Mull
- "Like a gang behind me": Dan Koshute (right front) with Dazzletine
"The early '70s is a magical time for me," says Dan Koshute, though he's too young to remember the era himself. "During the rest of the century, for good reasons in some decades, there was a loss of cool."
Koshute, the fiery singer, songwriter and leader of the larger-than-life local rock outfit Dazzletine, is talking his way through his band's sonic ambitions at a local bar unusually crowded on a Wednesday night. When it comes to '70s glam rock, the 23-year-old Mount Lebanon native can't help but use wild hand gestures, waving his fingers above the empty beer bottles spread across the table like detonated land mines.
"There's something there when you listen to T. Rex's ‘The Slider' or you see [footage of] Queen, or [footage of] Gary Glitter," he goes on. "They're there to make a spectacle of things. It's done in a way that's supposed to be fun, and everyone is invited."
For Koshute and Dazzletine, that idea of spectacle is an obvious starting point for digesting the debut EP Heart, Mind, Bodies, a seven-track piece of incendiary glam-rock glory released this fall. Dazzletine spun out of Koshute's vibrant solo work to become a project much bigger, louder and substantial than he initially imagined. A seven-year Pittsburgh scene veteran, Koshute has been playing in different projects around the city since his early high school days. He put together, released and toured behind two solo albums: the dynamic prog-folk of The Meager and the Mighty, in 2007, and the searing Kiss Line, in 2009.
Both albums were marked by the immediacy of Koshute's intricate, caterwauling guitar work; larger-than-life, Robert Plant-style vocals; flashes of conceptual grandeur; and professional polish. When Koshute wrote and recorded music, it always managed to sound like anything but a bedroom rock project. He began working on a follow-up to Kiss Line in early 2010 with the help of good friend, bassist and de facto music engineer Darren Diederich. Then, Koshute slowly recognized his desire to move back toward a full-band unit, something he hadn't done since high school.
"I realized where I was going artistically, the ideas I had, and where I was personally that I no longer wanted that solo-artist thing linked to my personal life and my name," says Koshute. "I needed to not only have a band, like a gang behind me, but also I needed to have a mask."
The recording process for what would become Dazzletine's debut release took place in Diederich's room over the course of the next year. It steadily evolved into a massive experiment for the two friends as they attempted to establish a new sound -- big enough to be suitable for a live, full-band spectacle, but also significantly removed from Koshute's solo work.
After scrapping what was the equivalent of an album's worth of material, they came up with the glittering, stomping glam-rock gem "Skin Period." It ended up providing the blueprint for how the new project should sound, and became the closing track and lead single for the Heart, Mind, Bodies EP.
"After ‘Skin Period,' our strategy was set; we had the map for the album," Diederich says. "It's got these fiery guitar solos, this marching-band sound, multiple over-tracked drums … when we got that sound right [on subsequent songs], we called it ‘dialing in the army.'"
"We knew ‘Skin Period' would be that spearhead single for the album," says Koshute. "Darren and I wanted to make a record that sounded like Los Angeles, that sounded like a million bucks, and then we could say, ‘Oh yeah, we did this ourselves in Darren's bedroom."
The tracks that followed and ended up on the final product managed to crank up Koshute's penchant for epic songwriting, guitar pyrotechnics and vocal heroics to unprecedented levels. The one-two punch of "Plumage" and "Thus My Panther" play like early Slade singles on steroids. The anthemic (and percussion-less) "Holy Mothers" piles layers of syrupy guitars on top of Koshute as he howls in the track's climactic finish: "What's the word for punishment / in your tongue / Say it for me loud and clear / because it sounds / so heavenly."
These are songs poised to easily translate into the monstrous live show that Koshute has always envisioned for his music, but they play just as loud coming through a pair of cheap headphones or speakers.
"[We want a sound] that has this intensity, bombast on the brink of terror," Koshute says with his eyes wide, moving his right hand slowly upward at a 45-degree angle. "Jubilation on the verge of fear … we wanted to do that ourselves. I wanted to outdo myself in every way possible on this record."
With the release of Heart, Mind, Bodies, Dazzletine makes no qualms about courting coveted boutique indie labels like True Panther Sounds and Underwater Peoples, as well as the major labels (what Koshute called "the top echelon"), for the group's planned debut full-length. To fulfill Dazzletine's complete vision, the band needs to move out of the bedroom.
"We squeezed every last drop of sound out of our current recording set-up," admits Koshute. "To do what we want for the next album, we need to be backed by a label."
DAZZLETINE CD RELEASE with SLEEPY V, THE WHISKEY HOLLER, IKE. 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 12. Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $5. All ages. 412-361-2262 or www.garfieldartworks.com