Dan Audio - Interview
Published by Ben Bradford May 20th, 2009 in Interview.
Pop and soul band with an edge and an ambition, plus they're not afraid to take on U2.
The one thing that Dan Audio wants to proclaim is that, 'We're ready to take on U2 we're that confident, as for Kaiser Chiefs we haven't got time for them, so yeah if Edge or Bono is reading this then someone tell them we'll happily support them at Wembley Stadium and blow them off stage, if no one else takes anything from this interview we want them to read this.'
This is the statement from a man who is hungry for success after spending many years in many bands in and around in his hometown of Leeds and his band the self named Dan Audio is ready for it. The above statement of intent is a timely reminder that there's more to Leeds music scene Kaiser Chiefs, and fun but well intentioned pop music doesn't necessarily have to come in the form on bouncy indie such as The Pigeon Detectives. It can in fact come with reggae, rap, and more than a dashing of rock, and some soulful backing vocals courtesy of Bongo player and percussionist, and co-founder of the band Martin - who admits to a deep love of soul music whom he also takes samples from on the which we'll get to later - their eclectic and bouncy sound comes from their eclectic music collections which we will also get too later. There's also a political element to some of the messages in their songs particularly on 'Where's Your Pension Gone.' This new confident sound comes from the band taking a few months break, re-working the songs, and coming back rejuvenated recently at their comeback gig at the Hifi Club in Leeds.
Dan on stage has the presence of Ian Brown bringing the good time vibes, and he can sing as well as dance. So its no wonder he has an ever present ever friendly confidence as we chat. So as we sit down in the pub Dan with the ever present Reni style beanie hat introduces himself with a grin and says, 'That was our first gig, at the Hifi Club, its our first gig since October we kind of had a break, we started talking to a couple of labels and we had a think about our sound, and what we wanted to do, so yeah that was over the last few months or so whilst we've been away from the live scene, we also had a bass player line up change which came a bit out of the blue as well and we had to find a new bass player which took up about 6 weeks or so, he made his live debut at the gig at the Hifi club.'
Talking to co-founder of Dan Audio Martin about his role (an unusual role for most band but necessary for this band as bongo player - and suitably the bongo good time vibes of Black Grape is playing in the background on the juke box of the pub), Martin says 'I mean I got my first drum kit when I was 12, I got my Bongo's after DJing for so long which was around 2000, '98, '99, I was DJing at the Warehouse, and regularly at what was Stinky Pete's in the City Centre, it was at Sunday afternoon at Stinky Pete's that I met Dan.'
We then talk about the bands influences and as you might imagine, particularly for such an eclectic band there are quite a few, for Martin he's in to quite different stuff. Dan says, 'How long have you got, I mean main ones for me personally, because me and Martin write a lot of the tracks together, but I've loved all music since I were about 16, so the likes of Bob Marley, The Beatles, Oasis were a big one for me, but I'm also into stuff like Portishead, and Massive Attack, I was a big fan of Faithless, I love Hip-Hop like Dr Dre, Eminem, but U2 are probably one of my favourite bands of all time, plus a load of underground stuff.' But then Martin explains about the stuff that he's into, 'Yeah I'm into quite odd stuff well I wouldn't say odd, I was into Queen and Roxy Music, which is what my Mum listened to, but also stuff like Motown and Diana Ross and stuff like that, but first and foremost I love dance music and house music.'
This explains the amount of soul that is in Dan Audio's music as mentioned earlier in the article. Dan says 'Yeah its good with Martin's vocals as well, we're both really good vocalists, but Martins voice has got like a higher range, and we can layer his and my voice and get some really good harmonies out of him, so it helps having 2 really good vocalists in the band as well.'
This is something that the audience that will appreciate, as the good singers gets them into Dan Audio's songs more.
The conversation turns to where the guys in the band live, with Dan living in and around Leeds all of his life is currently living in an area known as Armley, and then the conversation turns to them growing up and first getting into music and the music scene in Leeds. 'When we were growing up we ended up mixing with people that influenced us when we were around 16 a guy that we know got signed to Sony, he's called LSK, he was in a band called Bedlam, then he was LSK, and now he sings and works with Faithless now, but he got signed when we were all 16, so we got to see sort of what it was like to have a record deal, and go to gigs, and go too rehearsals, growing up in a place like Pudsey was great because there was a lot of people around doing music. That's ultimately what influenced us.'
We then briefly get on to the subject of Dan's previous bands. 'I've been in quite a few, the first one was Capital State which was about 6 years ago or something, then I was in a band called Dog City, then a band called Karma Loca, then I was in Breaking The Illusion for about 6 months and now there's this one Dan Audio.'
We then talk about whether the bands sound has changed since they took some time off, Dan says 'No not really, because we got talking to a couple of labels we decided as a band we got to that point where you think right if there's a chance that you're songs might be on the radio its natural to try and think about writing more of a radio friendly song, so we did a bunch of demo's and the first that we did that were good they were a bit watered down so we all decided we were gonna stick with what we were doing, so the sound hasn't really changed, I mean the sound is a mishmash of all different styles and all different music that we're into as a band really.'
Dan then explains a bit about some of the deals that the band were offered and some of the advice that's been given. Dan Audio says, 'We had a few offers from some of these internet and online companies, but we didn't do that one, however we got speaking to this guy from EMI whose like really high up there in publishing he said he was interested in it and to just keep on sending the stuff. From all of this it made us think about what we wanna do as a band and we experimented but we came to the conclusion to keep on doing what we've been doing, that's got us to where we're getting and where we are. Because what we do it is different but I don't think that's anything to be afraid of so we're just gonna go for it, there's rock in there, there's hip-hop, there's rap there's a bit of everything.'
Dan then talks about the variety of bands that they've been playing with, and he's confident about the bands widespread appeal to people. 'We've done gigs with thrash metal bands and all sorts and they love what we're doing, and the Hip-Hop heads they love it as well, but I'd say we're pop in the sense that its got a big appeal to it, but we're pop with an edge.'
We then talk about their most recent song 'Where's Ya Pension Gone'- a song that's definitely in tune with the times and the credit crunch era particularly, which got a big reaction at their recent Hifi Club show.
'I have different ways of writing songs, sometimes I sit there a tape radio conversations ('Where's Ya Pension Gone' features samples of News broadcasts from the radio), and discussions from Radio 5 Live and whatever, the morning in question was the Royal Bank of Scotland making the biggest losses in financial history, it was quite a historic moment so I tried to write a song about it, it was the first thing that came to mind really and put a bit of a tune together, I mean by the time we get to that age there's not going to be any pensions left at this rate, which is something I was concerned about and wanted to express. But I mean it's a fun song and we wanna release it as a single at some point. Its also about how this situation has occurred and where has the money gone, how have they lost that money, some of its been spent on the war, some of its been squandered by bankers, so the song goes beyond just being about Royal Bank of Scotland, so there's some quite serious things in the song, it comes across as a fun, jokey kind of song but there are some serious issues that it covers. It's just a way to spark a discussion. We like to put in a few scenarios in our song, like listening to Eminem where you've got your scenarios and situations before, and it gives your songs a bit more life and a bit more character, and can sometimes help to paint a better picture, and we've put a sketch on 'Where's Ya Pension Gone', and also we've done a song called 'Ketamine Party'.'
Continuing Dan then explains when they started the band they tried different ways of approaching the bands live show. 'Me and Martin started the band with just playing the beats on a backing track, and with me just playing the guitar when it was just the two of us, then we got a couple of dancers in for about a year or so which went down well, but we've been gigging now as us 4 guys in a band now with bass, drums, Martin on Percussion and bongos, and electric guitar, for nearly a year now, and we've kind of come a long way in a short time because we've got interest from various studios and labels.'
Martin then says, 'I like the whole process, we're learning all the time, and having a live band definitely benefits us and makes the live experience a whole lot better.' Dan then chips in, 'It makes it a lot less like a boy band, and we love playing live without a shadow of a doubt, its our strongest point, like we played at the Indigo2 in London a while back to about 3000 people, and if you can get people really buzzin' and having a good time then its worth all the times when you can't find a bass player, or you get dropped from a gig that you were looking forward too.'
Dan Audio it seems started the other way round and focusing on gigging outside of Leeds and in London first before coming back and focusing on the local scene.
'Yeah we've only just started focusing on Leeds funnily enough, we've done it the wrong way round probably, we started straight away by going down to London, and we've played some really great venues, we've played at YoYo's at Notting Hill, a club night that Mark Ronson and Lily Allen have played at, and The Hill in Brixton, and more recently we decided to do some gigs in Leeds now, I mean its good because its given us a the chance to see, you know everyone talks about the north south divide especially in Hip-Hop maybe not so much in Indie or whatever, but we were going down to the Hip-Hop scene and seeing whether they were going to get with electric guitars and stuff but every single place that we played in London absolutely loved it, and I can only think that's because we made them believe in what we were doing. Since we did our first gig this year in March in Leeds, we thought right we're gonna make a bit more of an impact on the local scene, last year was more about just getting the band together, and seeing how the songs worked, and then people were loving it and now we've got a fair few gigs coming up in May and June in Leeds.' Martin says, 'Yeah also to try and get a bit more of a fanbase together and support it a lot more.'
As the interview goes on Dan explains his belief in his band and with the music that they're making as within the band he feels more confident, and there's a genuinely humbling pride, rather than bravado, in this next statement, and it feels almost as good as his bands music. 'Personally being in this band I'm at a point now where I'm really confident and I believe in what we're doing more than ever, you go through stages of thinking oh....because obviously what we're doing is different its not been done before, I mean people have been mixing up different genres forever, but the way we're doing it its not been done before. Sometimes its easy to pick one style similar to another band, you see all these bands and they all sound slightly like so and so and slightly like this, and they might get a record deal or they'll get dropped because they're trying to be somebody else. So there's a certain amount of fear of going for it not giving a shit what the industry thinks, and trying to write good songs in your own style takes a lot of guts. For us in the last few months we've got to the point where I really do believe that we've got to something special, and its come through hard work and dedication, and being able to get some good songs together.'
By: Ben Bradford.
Read more: http://www.myspace.com/danaudio/blog#ixzz0vSvQb3Qd