Going by the name, the Brilliant Daydream sounds like a born-too-late band that specializes in hippie, trippy drug music from those silly psychedelic ‘60s that your parents can’t quite seem to remember.
And it’s true, the music is definitely moody and surreal, and the band’s many original lyrics have got lots of fancy adjectives.
But the reality of Brilliant Daydream is a little bit more complicated than that.
“We’re trying to do something different here that’ll make people shake their heads,” drummer Matt Gillespie, 18, said in a recent interview.
“Yeah, and that’s why we have the smallest audience in Ventura,” said his brother, singer-guitarist Shawn Gillespie, 23.
The Brilliant Daydream has been around for five years, has released two tapes with a third imminently threatened and can play for a long time.
They’ll get their next opportunity to do so Saturday night at the Bermuda Triangle in downtown Ventura. (That’s the place where you can sit at the bar and watch people play pool between you and the band. Frank Lloyd Wright apparently had nothing to do with the interior design.)
The Dreamers, despite their 93023 upbringing, all attended St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura. Shawn Gillespie and a friend named A. J. Burke started the band in 1986.
“I got really drunk and came up with the name,” Shawn Gillespie said. “And the story will always be the same. I won’t tell you I got the name from Shakespeare one time and from Sylvia Plath the next. We made the money to record our first tape by painting A. J.'s grandma’s house.”
Later, Burke left the group and bass player Todd Ledbetter, 27, joined.
“The lineup has been the same for the last two years or so,” Shawn Gillespie said. “Our last album, ‘Time Machine,’ is a conceptual album, kind of like Pink Floyd and very expensive. Our new one, ‘Pepper Tree Wood,’ was recorded for a quarter the cost and should be ready on tape and CD by February.”
“We can play a solid 2 1/2-hour set. We have three albums and enough stuff for two more,” Ledbetter said.
“And we do all originals. No covers. I want to emphasize that,” Shawn Gillespie said. “I mean, we could do some covers, but we don’t. They’d just sound cheesy, anyway.”
And with song titles such as “Flight to Neverland,” “Face of Eternity” and “A Blanket of Whispers,” no one will ever accuse this band of catering to the usual rock ‘n’ roll exhortations to excess. So what is the band’s music about?
“We play atmospheric rock,” Shawn Gillespie said.
“It’s about fairy tales and the fantasy aspect of things,” Ledbetter said.
“Our music is about ecstasy, Disneyland and sleep,” Matt Gillespie said.
“But,” added Shawn Gillespie, “we’re not Trekkies.”
They’re also not rich, not signed, not on MTV and not selling T-shirts. In fact, you could say these Dreamers are just that, since they all have day jobs. Ledbetter owns Wide Angle Video in Miramonte, where he employs Matt Gillespie. Shawn Gillespie works for Bayless Market in Ojai.
“Our dream is to establish ourselves and start our own trip,” Shawn Gillespie said. “We’re trying to promote ourselves and, hopefully, we’ll be approached by someone who doesn’t want to put us on MTV or make us pretty. We don’t really want to get signed and end up like Toad the Wet Sprocket.”
Santa Barbara’s Toad the Wet Sprocket, he said, has put three albums out with a major record company, but still doesn’t seem to have either fame or fortune.
Now, to the inescapable question from the fine print of the Rock Critic’s Handbook: Who, Brilliant Daydream, are your musical influences?
“I grew up with Genesis, then went back and listened to their older stuff. I also like Rush and the Eagles,” Ledbetter said.
“I like the Beatles, the Cure, plus I like Rush and Dead Can Dance,” Matt Gillespie said.
“I like Walt Disney and Rod Serling,” Shawn Gillespie said.
“Diversity,” Matt Gillespie said, “is our thing.”