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The Secret Chiefs 3 create the most astonishing soundtracks to epic movies never filmed. The brainchild of Mr. Bungle's Trey Spruance, SC3 features the guitarist/vocalist and his longtime bandmates Trevor Dunn, Danny Heifitz and Bar McKinnon, along with many other renowned musicians.
Spruance plugs the various musicians into a framework he created that's essentially a series of bands within a band. Each focuses on merging ideas and sounds not meant to be combined, such as traditional Hindu music and house beats, or metal and surf-rock guitars.
The results, while not the most easily digestible, tickle the senses in ways never imagined. Bolstered by live performances that make Pink Floyd shows seem boring by comparison, it's a metaphysical symphony. During a rare opportunity to correspond with Spruance, we tried to gain some insight into his heady, enigmatic band.
Westword: How did the Secret Chiefs 3 come about?
Trey Spruance: SC3 was initially supposed to be a kind of one-off thing. I was mucking around with all the different "band" ideas I'm using now.
I essentially dreamed all these bands up first, composed music for them and then just sat on them as "archetypal bands." When I did the first SC3 album in '96, it was kind of just a generic way to do all of the bands at once. I just ran with that idea without telling anyone what the deal was -- seemed too crazy, even for me.
The list of contributors throughout the history of SC3 is impressive. Any plans to work with them in the future?
You're right that we are literally blessed with talent...I thank my lucky stars that people can get their schedules together and commit to doing things with this band. Let me tell you, that's not easy. Availability does factor into who goes on what tour; but with the multiple-bandmember framework, we can really capitalize on people's strong points. For this tour in March, the lineup will be Ishraqiyun (seven-piece neo-Pythagorean electro-folk unit) with UR (suprasensory surf), both bands being caught in a holy war between a heaviness/death-metal vibe of the material (Shades of Holy Vehm) and the theophanic visions coming from the archetypal world (lights filtered through Forms). Should be fun.