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by Keavin Wiggins

Critiquing music is usually an act of subjective analysis. You can write a lot of puffed up words exploring the brilliant use of a diminished progression here and multi-tracked layering there but in the end what it usually comes down to is if you like what you are listening to. I've always thought that a recording artist's greatest accomplishment is to get people to listen to what they normally wouldn't bother with. In other words, open musical doors for the listener. Tremolo has done that with me. I'll be honest, when I read about the U2 influence before even listening to the music I was a bit turned off. While I respect U2's musical accomplishments, I have never been a huge fan. On the other hand, I was intrigued that Tremolo planned to give half of the proceeds from this CD to the charity of their fans choice. So it was with a reluctant ear that I put Love is the Greatest Revenge in the CD player and pushed play. 

In any given year, I can count on one hand the number of albums that pull me in immediately on the first listen … and this year there have been fewer but Love is the Greatest Revenge by Tremolo did the trick. 

While I liked what I was hearing with the first couple of tracks, solid songwriting, nice hooks, great instrumentation, I began to fear that Tremolo mastermind Justin Dillon might suffer from Paul Rodgers disease (the tendency to repeat the same line over and over) but when track three, "Evil Twin," kicked in those fears faded away and Tremolo had made a new fan. And it only got better from there. The one thing I loved about this album from the first listen was its balance and diversity. The songs blend together well but also stand out uniquely on their own and I've always been a sucker for lyrics that make you wonder what the songwriter was thinking when they wrote them. 

However, Tremolo pissed me off…. Because I knew that writing a review for this CD would be a difficult task and I could never do it justice. So when the opportunity to speak with Justin Dillon came up, I jumped at it. Not only would it ease the burden of trying to review this album and never feeling I did it justice, but it would be an opportunity to explorer the songs deeper (find out what "Evil Twin" and "Room 139" are all about), and also find out some of the philosophy behind Tremolo, discover more about the Love > Revenge Fund, a learn a bit more about the man that wrote these songs. 

Like I said before, critiquing music is subjective, but it is my hope that after reading the following interview your interest is piqued enough to check out Tremolo and hopefully when you do, you'll get a buzz similar to one I got when I first heard this CD (and still get now when I listen to it). Because it is artists like Justin Dillon that are keeping the spirit of rock alive and growing with integrity while the business is doing it's best to kill it. As Justin says in the interview, "To call music simply entertainment is to call Shakespeare sketch dramatic comedy." So maybe Love is the Greatest Revenge and honest music will keep rock alive and well far into the future as long as there are bands like Tremolo and fans like you that believe in it. So with that let's talk to Justin and find out what Tremolo is all about. 

antiMusic: We'll start off with the most obvious question, where did the name Tremolo come from?

Justin Dillon: It's a musical effect. Most guitar players have a Tremolo stomp box. I was rehearsing one day looked down and there it was, my band name. I wish that story was more inspiring. 

antiMusic: What first inspired you to want to make music? 

Justin: I think I wanted to be in a band more than I wanted to make music. I was going to be happy just being a drummer or a guitar player. No one knew how to sing or write songs in my first band, so I stepped up to the mike and never backed off. Once I got to play something I came up with, I was hooked. I never learned anyone else's music; all I wanted to do was play my own.

antiMusic: Who are your biggest influences?

Justin: For an overall influence, U2. They really made me want to be in a band. It's amazing how they have remained an inspiration for so many for so long. For an influence today, I would have to say Tim Hogan, Tremolo's bass player. No one I know loves, respects, lives, breathes, smokes, emanates, inhabits music like that man.

antiMusic: When I listen to your music I get the sense that you want to put more into songwriting than a catchy melody or a hook. Where do you find inspiration when you write?

Justin: I like telling peoples stories that might not otherwise be told. When I get to listen to other people's stories, I feel like I am playing a character in their screenplay. I place myself inside their world and try to live it out. It's humbling because you find such inspiration when you try on someone else's shoes.

antiMusic: Can you tell us a little bit about the Love > Revenge Fund and how the idea came about? 

Justin: I am fascinated with Praxis. The idea that when we stretch ourselves to do good, our capacity to do good increases exponentially. As this record came together, I realized that the central theme was opposites. "Evil Twin," "Love is Revenge." I wanted to see if we could do something different, and not just sing about it. I felt like the most Rock and Roll thing to do was to give money back to people who buy the record, and let them decide what charity to spend it on. I am thrilled with the response. People in our country are experiencing this concept praxis right now. So many are extending themselves for our gulf neighbors, and are finding good feelings follow good deeds.

antiMusic: How did the deal with Flagship Recordings come about? 

Justin: I met the labels president, Marc Nathan, about three years ago. He has always been a fan of my music. He was going to bring it into MCA where he was a VP a few years back, but glad we didn't after the label's demise. He managed Tremolo for a while. When he got the chance to start the label, it was the obvious next step.

antiMusic: This question is totally out in left field but given your psychology degree I have to ask, why do you think music is so important to so many people? Not the casual buy the hit single folks, the ones that connect with it on a deeper level. 

Justin: Music is the words we want was to speak, but don't have the language for. It connects the eternal soul to the ever present. In one instant, a song can evoke a forgotten memory or even more amazing, the feelings associated with that memory. To call music simply entertainment is to call Shakespeare sketch dramatic comedy. 

antiMusic: Now we get to the Inside Track. I'm especially excited to do this one with you to learn more about the meaning behind the songs on Love is the Greatest Revenge. So if you can tell us a little bit about each song, whether it's the inspiration, a story about how it was written, etc. 

New Eyes For A New World
It's the albums overture. It asks the listener to imagine a different world...the world we currently live in, but with different eyes.

Can You Feel It Now
About a Rock Photographer I knew who was deaf. He used to show up at my shows, standing stage right, directly in front of the sub woofer speaker. He stood there so he could "feel" the music. Took the most amazing pictures of music he never heard. He is not with us anymore.

Evil Twin
My alter ego with a bigger ego...and appetite. It's like the little Elmer Fudd devil on one shoulder and the angel Elmer Fudd on the other. Which one will I listen to today? Sometimes I am who I was meant to be, and sometimes a poor cheap replica.

Waiting Room
Something we all do. Wait. The agony turns to ecstasy in an instant. It's painful and pleasing at the same time, because we know something good is coming. Life has a lot of waiting.

Promise Ring
Something that's easy to give, but hard to keep. That's when love shows its true self. Saying yes to one thing, and no to everything else. There is a beauty, I believe, that develops over time. A promise is just like Emmylou Harris. She just keeps getting more beautiful.

Room 139
The office number to my therapist that lives within. Sometimes running forward requires you to unpack some items out of your suitcase.

I Believe (Love Is Revenge) 
An homage to the most selfless act I have ever witnessed. Love instead of deserved revenge. I watched private act of grace and mercy that both inspired and humbled me.

Baby Blue
A desperate cry from one of the millions trapped in modern day slavery.

Down To Beautiful
Parting words for those we will see again. I feel like the words of this song mean more to me everyday. It's soul language. I understand some now, and will come to understand more later in life.

You Were Born For This
No one else will ever have the life you have right now. The greatest crime is a life not lived to its capacity. The greatest barrier to that is the lies stored up in our head. I wrote this when I thought about quitting playing music.

We Are The New Black
A world of opposites where coolest people are the ones we never hear about. It's a celebration for anyone who decides to live outside of the system in order the make the system better for the people. John Lennon had "Power To The People"..I agree with his sentiment here.

Wait Up For Me
A rising tennis star falls off the earth because no one was leaving the light of for her. A long tragic story that sits like a bedtime song that never got sung. I hope I get to meet this girl someday and play this for her.

antiMusic: Any personal favorites?

Justin: "Wait up for me". I feel like what was being said was being played. The music matches the words in a unique way. It's a very emotional song to perform. 

antiMusic: You had quite an impressive roster of musicians join in recording Love is the Greatest Revenge, can you tell us about who is on the record and how they became involved? 

Justin: There are so many. All are good friends and masters of their craft. Dino Meneghin (Liz Phair), Max Butler (Chuck Prophet), and Julian Coryal (Aimee Mann) played guitars. Dino and Max are good friends and play for Tremolo. I am just getting to know Julian, and his genius. Aaron Sterling (Liz Phair), Steve Bowman (Counting Crows), Lindsay Jamieson (Ben Folds) played drums. Aaron is a good friend and the future of drumming, period. Bowman has been a good friend for years and a neighbor. I have never actually met Lindsay, but I love his work. Tim Hogan did all the bass work and is currently playing with Anna Nalick (Breathe 2am). Tons of others who are equally talented. Seriously, I would fill up your article with stories about these cats.

antiMusic: Do you have any tour plans in the works? If so will the band feature the same musicians as the album? 

Justin: Yes and yes mos def. We are going to take this Buick out for a spin very soon

antiMusic: What do you hope people will take away from your music? 

Justin: Hope. Empathy. Partnership. An understanding that the greatest accomplishments usually don't make the papers or the history books. To play for the moment and not for the attention.

antiMusic: Finally what's next for Justin Dillon and Tremolo? 

Justin: Getting ready to go out and perform the songs for the world. Getting the songs out of my head and into my guitar and throat. And hopefully get better and better at all this.

Tremolo Links

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