Here is our interview:
D. A. Adams: How old were you when you first got involved with music? Can you remember what the original allure was?
Andy Deane: Well, if you want to go all the way back to me doing a shitty job of applying make-up to try and look like my favorite guy in KISS, Gene Simmons, I’ll say five or six. My mom sang all the time when I was a kid as did the rest of the family on her side. So, I was just surrounded by it from the time I understood what music was. Singing was natural to me, something I assumed everyone did.
DA: Can you describe your creative process for music?
Andy: A melody will jump into my head for no reason at all at the oddest times. Like, an idea for a ballad will strike me while I’m walking down the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. I don’t know why the hell it happens, but I guess I’m glad it does. Once I get back to my studio I often start by laying down some simple chords set to a loop and build on that foundation until I finish the song. I write most of my vocal melodies by singing nonsense in a stream of conscience fashion, then apply words to what I come up with.
DA: How was developing a solo project different from playing with your band?
Andy: Things happen a lot faster when I’m flying solo as The Rain Within. I write the song and add the vocals, record it as I go. As a band, we collaborate, so sometimes I’ll wait for Tony to write his guitar line before I solidify what I’m doing vocally. And the recording process requires a lot of coordinating schedules and such. There are advantages to both methods. I love being surprised by a new riff or drum beat one of the guys in Bella Morte will deliver, sometimes forcing me out of my comfort zone. I’ve probably added an octave to my range over the years because of it.
DA: You’ve stated that you started writing novels just to pass the time while touring with the band, but what made you choose writing as opposed to say photography or painting?
Andy: I never started painting because I suck at it. Really, I got to third grade and my talent as a visual artist slammed on the brakes and hasn’t budged. Even my stick figures look like refried dogshit. As for photography, I just never took an interest in it. Writing was, like music, something I’ve loved since I was young. I’ve been writing short stories for as long as I can remember, and my dad was called in to speak with the school guidance counselor in 1st, 9th and 12th grade due to their content. I tell you, teachers do not like hearing about humans being carved up, that’s for damn sure. My first novel, The Sticks, started as a short story and just kept growing as I’d kill time in the van traveling from city to city.
DA: Since music is typically a collaborative effort and writing is primarily a solitary endeavor (just the writing, not the editing and publishing), can you explain the difference in your creative process for writing your novels?
Andy: You know, writing a novel was the first artistic endeavor I ever undertook completely on my own, and I think the process is what got me wanting to record a solo album. But yeah, the two are very different. With writing, aside from my editor there’s no one I have to cooperate with on a tough decision. What comes out of my head goes onto paper and that’s the end of the discussion. Bella Morte doesn’t release a song until all the members are happy with it, so sometimes you’ll lose a battle about where a song should go or what chords should make up the chorus.
DA: What’s it like to juggle success in such vastly different media?
Andy: I would consider it much more of a struggle if I were only doing one or the other. My bands give me an outlet for my books and a group of fans who want to read it based on their interest in my music. It works the other way too. I don’t know that The Sticks would have sold so well was it not for word spreading so quickly through the Bella Morte fanbase. The fans read and liked it, and told their friends about it.
DA: Whether we’re discussing music, writing, or life in general, who are your biggest influences?
Andy: My dad has had the biggest influence on me. He’s a great guy, and the hardest worker I’ve ever known. He gave me a lot of freedom as a kid, let me choose my own path. Makes you wonder what the hell he was thinking. (grins)
DA: I can honestly say that you are one of the most friendly, most down to earth people I’ve met, yet at the same time, also one of the most vivacious and charismatic. How do you manage that balance?
Andy: It’s a unique concoction of exfoliating creams and crack cocaine. Ha! But really, I’m just myself. I’ve never tried to be anyone I’m not, and I don’t seem to have the ability to tone down my behavior for anything. I guess I just feel lucky. I’m not rich, but I’m getting paid to make music and write stories. That’s pretty damn awesome if you ask me, and I’m thankful as hell to the folks out there who’ve made it possible.
DA: What’s your most memorable moment from your career so far? How did that experience affect you?
Andy: Well, one time when the band was on tour in Salt Lake City we stopped in to Wendy’s for a bite to eat. One of the guys went to the bathroom, came out red-faced and laughing, told me I needed to go take a look. Long story short, what I saw in that bathroom will forever be branded on my memory. A severely obese man stood before, covered, literally, from head to toe in his own feces, wearing nothing but a pair of sneakers. This scene will absolutely appear in one of my upcoming novels. Absolutely. Ahem. Aside from that, stepping onto stage for the first time in Europe was a big deal, a true feeling of accomplishment. Holding a Bella Morte CD in my hand for the first time. Receiving my first printed copy of The Sticks. And then there are the bad times that are so meaningful in retrospect, like when our van broke down in the middle of the desert and we had to scramble to find a way out of a seemingly hopeless situation to get to the next show. It was scary, but we kept one another’s spirits up, and I don’t think we’ll ever stop laughing about it now that it’s behind us. It’s times like that that show you who your real friends are.
DA: What would you like your fans to know about you as a person?
Andy: That I’m a normal dude. That I’m approachable.
DA: Any parting thoughts?
Andy: Well, since we’re both Steelers fans, let’s hope for a 7th title this season! Also, I’ve got several releases coming out this year: Thunderstorm Books is releasing my novella The Third House this spring and my novel All the Darkness in the World in the fall. I’ve got a solo album under the name “The Rain Within” hitting stores this summer and a new Bella Morte album coming this fall. Everyone reading this needs all of these things. Desperately.
DA: How can your fans find you?
Andy: My website is AndyDeane.net, my twitter account can be found at twitter.com/Andy_Deane. Or they can do a search for me on Facebook. Also, I am often spotted at Taco Bell franchises around the country between noon and one, and five and six.