Christoph Paul of The Dionysus Effect
Interview by Andrew Daly
New York-based trio, The Dionysus Effect, was formed in a dark basement with a passion for writing songs that conjure up raw energy but are still catchy af with boundary-pushing hooks. Members Christoph Paul (lead vocals/bass), Sean Quinn Hanley (guitar/backup vocals), and Brett Petersen (drums) combine their diverse musical backgrounds and talents for a unique explosion of sound.
Their music is an enthralling hybrid of grunge rock, darkwave indie, alt-rock, and pop that forges a poetic expression filled with furious arena energy. The band blends several different eras of rock, but the term Cocaine Rock encapsulates the sound. With songs ranging from stories about a cuckold named Darryl going to rehab because of heroin addiction and a love that feels like joining a cult.
Encapsulating the influence the band has on many of their listeners, the name “The Dionysus Effect” is when the passion overtakes you, and you feel most alive with Dionysus’s energy. Dionysus was a Greek God who, in ancient times, brought about ecstasy, insanity, and ritual madness, mirroring when the band performs their live show and puts the audience in a trance—that is, The Dionysus Effect.
The Dionysus Effect is here to play rock music that captures the spiritual and sexual danger and excitement of being alive. From their forthcoming debut album, their next single, “Never Never,” is out now. Dig into this recent interview with Christoph Paul to learn more about the band, their process, and more.
What can you tell me about your latest music?
The band really digs this new one. My first two loves in music were ’60s Motown and ’90s alt-rock, and “Never Never” is a Motown melody with a heavy grungy riff. I like that it’s about giving in to desire even if that desire is toxic, which is something I sadly know too much about.
How have you progressed from “Never Never?”
I think with our first single, “Stars,” you see a dark wave pop song, finding hope even in the darkest experience of death, where Never Never is us being more gritty and bluesy and loud.
What does the current approach look like from a compositional standpoint?
I approach the bass like a rhythm guitarist and just like a riff that makes me want to sing. Once I have it down, I work on it with our drummer, Brett. My goal is to really get the blueprint down of the melody and the structure. When we feel good about it then we get Sean, and he brings it to life and paints the house, so to speak.
Are you more comfortable in the studio or live? Why?
In the end, I write songs to play them live. Once you feel tight and ready, they are way more fun to do live. It’s really about playing live. That’s when I feel most alive.
Some have said rock is dead. Where do you stand on that notion?
Nah, I think it’s a little dormant and needs new blood. My goal is always to create rock that is raw but also has hooks. I’m seeing there are other bands doing that, and people need to seek those bands out too. The mainstream is just not pushing rock right now for whatever reason.
What are a few things that you know now that would have been helpful during your earliest days?
Just approach music like a craft and not just by feel. There is a balance of having not just Dionysus’s energy but also Apollo in your corner.
What are some of the hardest things about making new music for a low attention span world?
I think knowing that even if you made something you’re really proud of and feel is high quality, there is no guarantee that people will even get to hear it and be able to see if they dig it or not. Visibility is really the struggle.
How has your overall approach evolved from your younger years? Do you have any cringe factor when listening to older work?
I approach music like I do my job as an editor, making sure there’s a craft and trying to already improve. I don’t cringe at my old stuff; it’s all a process.
What’s next in all lanes?
The debut album dropping on June 30th, a fun announcement in August, playing live shows in Upstate & NYC, and putting together our first tour in October.
Christoph Paul of The Dionysus Effect: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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