Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Romantics pay the price for falling. This doesn't even have to be about love, this falling, this head over heels consummation. It doesn't have to be about people or ideals. It can be a swift tumble for a certain lick of prose or a dramatic production of a children's tale, the feel of a note from old friends or the company of loved ones that strikes up the tumult of a spirit, giving one over to a life drenched in persimmon-tinged sunset tones that finds ways of radiating. Dylan Metrano, the man behind the ever-morphing collective he calls Tiger Saw, is quilted out of somberness. It's been brought on by the many words and much music that has been introduced to him in ever manner and in every corner conceivable. It's been encouraged to activate a sort of romanticism that doesn't question the difficulties of simple pleasures or gratifying social undertakings, but there's a consensus woven into the system of the search for them that respects that there are times when you'll suffer for them and these times are the ones that you'll remember so vividly to make note of them later.
They'd make good verse and they'd help to form the composite of your cares, the romantic discernments between the way things are and the way you know them to be (read: the way they should be). Metrano can't be boiled down or placed into a box. His romanticism is a wandering kind that doesn't necessarily waver, but it grows, it strides and it keeps almost exclusively to itself when it's been tuned down. It flashes itself, not reluctantly, but protectively in places, and then it slinks back into the shadows quicker than the start of an echo. Even Metrano's friends see mystery in his ways. Casey Dienel, who occasionally plays piano and keyboards in Tiger Saw, tells that without Metrano's persistence, she would have never recorded any of her songs – the fear too crippling and the purpose unseen. She basically compares Metrano's likeability to someplace near the universality of coffee. Most everyone finds something in a coffee bean that's easy on the stomach and as it is with the soft work of Tiger Saw, songs that meet the ear with an unfussy sales pitch, biding their time until you take them in – perhaps unknowingly – like a stray kitten found out on your doorstop during a rainy evening. They've been known to curl up with you – his songs have – and they stay with you, gathering compassion.
"Dylan's helped a lot of people out. He took me on my first tour. He gave me friends and a community, and introduced me to Djim Reynolds, who later would record my record with me. I hadn't ever really felt confident enough to record my songs, but Dylan was insistent that I do so," Dienel said of Metrano. "'Why would I record my songs?' I asked him once, when I was up in Newburyport around the last day of summer. We were walking around in this old state park together, and he said 'Because you have to make a record, Casey.' Before Dylan, I hadn't ever thought of myself that way. I hadn't ever pictured myself with a discography, or on tour, or any of that. Dylan said it as though it was something completely obvious to him, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. I had my songs, and now all I needed to do was share them. If he hadn't said that, it might even be fair to assume that I might not have awoken to the idea of making records. I think everyone, at the start of something important, has to have some sort of outside hand to shove them at first. Someone who propels them to take their daydreams seriously. For me, and many other people, that person was Dylan."
The delicate songs that Metrano creates carry the same pace and the same charming aloofness as an oscillating ceiling fan, set on the lowest possible level, rotating perpetually, displacing stuffiness with a refreshing piece of mechanical wind. They're best when they're plumped up by the different hands and participants, as if he believes it takes a village to raise a tune. He starts writing and a potluck ensues. It's like an old fashioned barn-raising when he gets to the recording and touring process, instilling his albums and the performances of them to insist upon a community feel that lifts the skeletons from unassuming technicalities to surprising offerings of latent robustness. They have tiny dimples and every once in while the wetness from a teardrop collects inside, then that dimple's contorted from a grin, the tear spilling out and drying itself on its way down the cheek. The songs that Metrano, also a playwright and actor who adapts Haruki Murakami short stories and comic books into stage productions and was once Peter Pan in "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens," writes come encoded with a stringent rule insisting that from sadness can come happiness and the opposite. In Metrano's romantic world, it's almost unthinkable to have one without the other so he parties with them both without favoritism.
*The Daytrotter interview:*
*Rate your contentment right now, on a scale of 1-to-10, and then analyze it. What do you base your contentment on?*
Dylan Metrano: That's kind of a loaded question. I am very content in a basic way- I am healthy, have good friends and family, have nice things, and I keep busy. I pretty much get to live the life I want to live, and I try not to take any of those things for granted. That's about all I can say about that right now.
*Are you ever home? I mean, honestly, it's as if you're always out bouncing between cities.*
DM: I am home now. I spent about eight months on the road this year. I've toured more and more each year since I started this band. But I think I am going to slow down a bit, do less shows, but try to make them each more special. It should be about quality, not quantity. It does feel good to be home. New England is very beautiful.
*Do you get lonely on the road? Do you get lonlier at home?*
DM: I don't usually get lonely on the road, because I am spending each day with friends. I always travel with one or more people, and every city finds us with friends old and new. It's a little overwhelming, really. If I am in a relationship when I am travelling, I can miss my girlfriend, but I always stay in close touch. Newburyport has always been a great and supportive community, so it's nice to come back to that. Several friends have moved away recently, though, so it's a little quieter around here. I wouldn't qualify my feeling as loneliness, rather restlessness. But I keep busy. I am working on two art show projects right now, and writing a play.
*You're very quiet, it seems, when you're not singing. Are you an introvert by nature? Is that your one release?*
DM: I am a quiet person, around people I don't know well, but I think that that goes away once you get to know me a bit. I like to laugh a lot.
*Can you see yourself doing this forever? What would stop you?*
DM: No way. I often wonder when the appropriate time to hang it up would be. I feel like most bands that are around for a long time lose something along the way, and rarely get it back. I think the amorphous nature of Tiger Saw has contributed to its longevity. The band is constantly changing its players and its sound. It's almost as if it were different bands all the time. I was an actor for years before I ever played music, and when I was doing that, I felt like it was my future, and I was very committed to it. Then I realized that I wasn't feeling satisfied with that, and switched gears, and started playing music. I feel like that could easily happen in the next couple years again. I am interested in writing for film. Taking pictures. Planting a garden, Being domestic. I'll just do it as long as it feels right. Stopping or slowing down won't be hard.
*You're always playing, recording, touring with the lovliest girls -- Helena from Cake On Cake, Casey Dienel (one of my all-time favorite people). How do you manage such a thing? Is it the kavorka (a "Seinfeld" reference for the geeks)? It's got to be pleasant driving around with these sweet, talented women, yes?*
DM: I'm just lucky to know a lot of lovely girls. Everyone that plays with Tiger Saw is a friend. There are some lovely boys, too. Of course it's pleasant driving around with the girls.
*How is your cult following coming along? How have you seen the growth in your fan base?*
DM: I don't know. There are more people at the shows now then there was a year or two ago. I don't really know how to gauge such a thing. Occasionally someone will say something nice about our songs, our shows, or how we make them feel, and that's really nice. We're not rock stars or anything.
*Are you in Michigan now (Johnnie seemed to think you were) or are you still living in Mass.?*
DM: I was in Michigan for one month, but I just got back to Massachusetts. Ypsilanti, MI is a pretty cool town. There's a lot of music and puppets there. Check out "Annie Palmer", " Canada":http://www.thecanadianfront.com, "Chris Bathgate": http://www.myspace.com/chrisbathgate, "Mason Proper":http://www.masonproper.com/, "Patrick Elkins": http://www.canopic.net/chewyourown. Great scene...
*What are you pre-occupied with at the moment?*
DM: I love my NetFlix. I love watching TV series on DVD. I am way into "America's Next Top Model," "Project Runway," "Lost," "24," "Heroes," SNL, etc... I have been getting into Fela Kuti lately, I like Motown and soul music. I'm reading Blink and the new Chuck Klosterman book. And the new Haruki Murakami book of short stories. And Devil in the White City. I'm thinking about auditioning for the VH1 World Series of Pop Culture game show.
*What's it take for a song to strike right into your heart and your guts? Which have done that recently?*
DM: I can't explain what it is. "To Know Him is to Love Him" by the Teddy Bears. "Willie" by Cat Power. "Owl" by the Hotel Alexis. Stuff by Tara Jane ONeil, a couple songs of that last John Legend record. The Blow's "Baybay"... Songs I will play over and over and over…I have to add Jolie Holland's "Mexican Blue" to this list. That song has slayed me this year.
*Isn't Casey's "Better In Manhattan" one of those?*
DM: That's a sexy song.
*Would you compare yourself more to a cloud, a rain drop or a breeze? Please explain.*
DM: More like a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396, Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor...
*And lastly, what are you working on right now? I know how prolific you are.*
DM: We're finishing up the new Tiger Saw album, Tigers on Fire, hopefully for a winter release. I want to work on some new songs which are more rhythm-oriented. I'm writing a play, and putting on these art shows, as I mentioned before. But mostly I am trying to spend time with my friends and family after being away so long. There's always new stuff coming up though.