Danny Danzi: Welcomes You To Danziland.
Danny Danzi has proven to be one of the more popular personalities on the melodic rock scene and in this interview provides some interesting and honest insights into the making of his new solo album DaniLand and surviving the last 4 years.
Mr Danzi! Here we go with that interview that's long overdue!
Mr. McNeice! You know, we've never done an interview, have we? Long overdue for sure....then again, what the hell could you have possibly asked me anyway? "Danny, will it come out this year?" Hahahahaha!
Congratulations on the new album mate - long overdue (which we will get to) - but well worth the wait!
Ah thanks man, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I know you're not easy to please, and neither are the AOR fans. We did the best we could though....and I like to think it was worth the wait too. We'll see how the others feel. *prays* :)
What are your personal feelings now that it's all said and done and about to be unleashed on the world?!!
Bless me Father for I have sinned, it's been 5 years since my last album release and my fans are pissed! Hahaha, well man, I'm relieved for one. This whole thing was like a monkey off my back to be honest, and it shouldn't have felt that way. And I thought I was in bad shape with SLIT?! I'm a mess now, but recharging my batteries a little at a time now. I also think the time is now for some killer guitar music with hooks to come back, and what better way to do it than with my album? :) It's a fun album to jam along to, yet very serious in lyrical content and the songwriting speaks high volumes I think. I just hope people like it as much as we do. If they don't, I know I gave it my all and covered all the bases to the best of my ability. We'll see.
It's been quite a journey - let's go back and try and cover everything that has happened!
Aww man, do we have to? Just what I wanna do, re-live this mess again. Hahahaha...just kiddin'! I know it goes with the territory. :)
Now, your debut album comes out and it's gets a great reception from fans and the media. It's time to start on a follow up.
What was the first move you made and when did work on DanziLand start?
Well, I had a few song ideas Andy and I had messed with when we finished SLIT. He and I sat down and talked about doing the album just us two at one point, but then we felt it would be best if we hired some other players that could do a better job than both of us. Once I got a band together that could write with me, I knew it would sound more band oriented than just me adding most of the input. I do pretty good on my own, but pretty good wasn't going to cut it this time. I owed the fans that much for making them wait so long, and I do apologize for that once again. So the first move was to really get a solid line-up, and after a year and a half (maybe longer) we had that part etched in stone.
Now, I believe it might be a little hard for me to chronicle the difficulties you faced in question form - maybe Danny you could take us through some of the issues to do with writing and recording the original demos?
I wrote most of the music and the melodies, and the other guys would either help tweak what I did, or take the tunes in different directions. Andy and I wrote the words for the first 6 songs I believe, and we were out of juice. So much was going on at that time, inspiration lyrically wasn't quite there. We had quite a few issues. We didn't know that Z wanted us after a few rumors we heard, we had Marquee threatening to drop us (or so we were told) I had to let a few band members go, one quit on me that was an asset to the line-up, and a keyboard player was nowhere to be found.
When we got Phil in the band playing keys, (Phil on keys baby) he also was an awesome lyricist and helped to write the rest of the album. Just in time too because Andy and I were at a stand still. Once the band was in place, we started recording here in DanziLand. The demo we finished was so good, Z was seriously thinking of releasing it as it was. We only managed to record about 5 songs though, because we were constantly being pressured to deliver the album. So we went into the REAL studio and started tracking. We hated it, so we started again and hated it some more. Hahahaha!
I then went back over all the songs as thorough as I could, and the guys went over them with me. At rehearsals we'd just record the music to see if that was at least ok. I'd sing over them later and make sure I was digging the vibe. This went on until Z told us we HAD to give them something or Marquee was for sure going to drop us in Japan. I always wondered why Marquee was so desperate for this album (or so we were told) since they didn't pay me a dime to start....strange isn't it? ;)
We got quoted a killer price from the studio we were going to record in. So killer, there was no way it could be done for that amount after the studio got sold and another owner took over. His first words to me were "are you nuts?" From there we just kept tracking until I had to start paying for things out of my own pocket because the budget I was originally promised, never showed up. Must have gotten lost in the mail. Some of it did of course show up, which was the original quoted price, but I signed a document that promised me quite a lot more, so this definitely became a problem. Once I was out of bread, the studio put me on credit and that too started to get way out of hand. We finally just had to put the project on hold.
Ok, so things are starting to turn sour
.at what stage did you come to the conclusion that you would have to move record labels?
When I heard rumors that I was on my way out, that planted a bad seed with me and the guys. We understood that we were at fault for not delivering the goods in a timely fashion, but this was all discussed within Z and myself numerous times. Mark was very patient, and really should have let us go. He's not fully at fault here, we were too. BUT, I can't help it if I don't have a working unit and I have a family business that takes higher priority that prohibits me from doing the whole thing myself. Sure, I could have probably used the UK band to bail me out here, but that still would have put everything on me and I didn't have the time nor the desire to go that route.
When things got real hot, and Mark couldn't buy us anymore time, and demands were put on us, I asked a few questions regarding the demands, as well as issues with SLIT that were still unanswered. How could I embark on another endeavor if there were things that needed to be answered regarding SLIT? Hell, my parents had an ugly son, not a dumbass. ;)
As things progressed with the recording of the album (to which I was now paying for out of my own pocket) I ran into a few important people that were willing to really do something for me. Of course when they heard "under contract" they wouldn't touch me unless a release form was presented.
I spoke with Mark, and told him about this, and he agreed to let me go. He told me he would issue a release form, and I'd be on my way. Well, the form never showed up when promised. The deal was toast, and those guys were no longer interested for as you know, in this business, it's the right place, at the right time. Finally this form shows up and has all this shit in it that pretty much makes the label look like God, and me a piece of shit violating my freedom of speech rights. It also threatened some bogus denomination of money if I discussed any label activities, as well as me owing them money.
Needless to say, I didn't sign the thing, and I don't owe anyone shit. Easy for them to say I owe money when I fronted that fucking label from day one and didn't get reimbursed for years....not to mention finance charges on my credit cards, flights, and other goodies that either were forgotten, or taken care of at a later date....much later.
Yeah, Z was good to me. I admit it. They gave me my start, allowed me to tour, promoted the hell out of me, and Mark was a great friend. I just don't know what happened to them. Hell, Mark even loaned me money for some personal issues I had going on. All well and good, I thanked the guy, he bailed me out, but the rest of my promised budget never showed up. Sales from SLIT were still taking place somewhere, but he wasn't getting the money he said, and neither was I. Yet I was signing CD jackets from all over the world.
Someone was making the money, yet I hadn't seen a dime in a long time. I was with that label for a long time, I have 3 statements from them total. That's no way to do business, and I wasn't going to do another album in that type of situation. What the hell was I supposed to do, join the "fight Z records artists"? That ain't my bag man, and I mean no disrespect to the other guys. They have their fight, and I'll keep to myself and speak about it when the question gets asked knowing Z is out of my life for good. Besides, they can't sue me for shit, and I can't sue them for shit.....the price of shit doesn't get much these days, so we're all screwed ain't we? Chalk it up as experience I say.
Ok, so moving on
what was the next step you took?
I needed a label, as I couldn't do this on my own anymore. As I sat with my band pondering the next move, and really scared about losing the Japan deal, (you know how hard it is to get a deal there if you don't have a decent name) I thought about mailing them and asking if we could work something out. But who to talk to? I never had any contact with them, Mark set that deal up, not me. Well, we broke our meeting, and went home. When I got home, low and behold, I had an email from someone that was someone from the Japanese scene telling me to contact them to discuss a deal. I was astonished, since this was the topic of conversation that night. "How to approach Japan to see if we could save this deal."
Talks went well, and they signed me a week later. They immediately fronted me money, and DanziLand was up and running once again. We also needed a Euro label to help us out a bit. I mailed N&T, Frontiers and Lion, neither of which ever replied to me. Maybe they weren't interested, or maybe they think I suck...who knows. The only reason I even wanted to release this album was to give the fans what they wanted. I didn't want to release with an AOR label because, at this time, you couldn't blame me for having cold feet after what I went through. Marquee spoke highly of MTM, but I remembered I didn't have a very pleasant time with them when I was shopping my last deal.
Magnus was there at the time of my first album shopping, and the dude just never got back to me for some reason, yet showed interest in SLIT. So I figured "here we go again", but I found out he was gone. I dealt with Mario, and the guy was killer in the way he handled me. He then passed me on to Sebastian (who is my new hero now by the way) and I ran poor Sebastian ragged with so many questions, it must have seemed like a never ending interview to him. The guy not only responded quickly and informatively, he typed books back to me explaining everything in detail. That meant a lot to me, and definitely gained credibility.
We signed a deal, they paid as promised on time and proper, and bailed me out some more. I gave MTM a date to when they would have the album, it was shipped 2 days before the due date. Marquee paid for the entire recording on time, and as promised. The end result, they received the album on time 2 days ahead of schedule.
At what stage did you get close to completing work on the tracks and can you detail that stage in the process?
You know Andrew, there was really never a time to where I got close to completion. You're never done this stuff until your deadline is up. There is always something to do better, there is always a change you can make, a new sound to introduce, a new melody....it just never ends man. I wasn't done until the due date came up to where I HAD to be. But the process was....I played guitar to a click track. I'd do this on every song. Timmaay would lay the drums down after I was done, or sometimes right along with me and we both used the click as timing. Wayne would add the bass in when the drums were tight since he needed to feed off of Tim. Once the core of the music was done, I'd go in and sing the lead vocals, and work on the lead guitars at my studio in DanziLand. I'd export the tracks as wave files, and bring them to DSR (Davis Sound Recording) to have them brought into the mix and synced up.
While I was doing my thing, Wayne and I were also creating keyboard parts for the stuff our new keyboard player Phil didn't get a chance to do on our own time. Wayne was also adding in bass as we finished another rhythm backing for each tune. Once all that was done, I went in and sang all the backing vocal tracks and found out I had to re-write just about all of them. Hahahaha! After that, we mixed them, listened, made changes, and sent the stuff to Digital Domain in Florida to be mastered by guru Bob Katz.
You are you're own one man band at times - how did you come to learn and play so many instruments?
Ah man, God was good to me. That's the only thing I can really say. He gave me the tools, I learned how to use them. In most bands, there is always a member missing. Yet, the instrument YOU play, can have 300 others that can do it. When I played drums, we always needed a guitarist. When I played guitar, we always needed a singer. So I just tried everything I could to see how I'd fair. In all actuality, I'm not very proficient at anything, but I can pull things off and fake quite well. Don't get me wrong, if I sat with something for long enough, I'd master it....there just isn't that kind of time...and you know me with "time"....hahaha!
You may have already touched on this - but you have a band involved on this album rather than doing everything yourself. How did you team up with these guys and how about the frustrations of coming to finalize the line-up?
I actually wound up doing quite a few things by myself anyway. Not by choice of course, but they had to be done. The band had rehearsed this stuff for quite a long time. They wrote just about every song with me, so though I may have had to wear a few more hats than I wanted to, they wrote the stuff, I just played it. When the recording of the album stopped, and band rehearsals stopped, the guys focused more on their own lives and careers that didn't involve music. When they got too busy to hook up with us, I had to take up the slack and do the parts.
Back up vocals was something I wasn't ready for. I thought the band would be singing them, but our schedules conflicted and I wound up doing them. Andy had some guitar issues, got busy at work, and was swamped...so I played all the rhythm parts because we were running out of time. Phil wrote a few board parts and played a few, but for the songs that didn't yet have keys, we had to create something and he didn't have the time for it. So Wayne and I created the ones we needed. We got our buddy Luke to play the piano on Time Passes by because none of us could make love to a piano like he could, and Phil was pretty busy. So though we all took part in the writing and arranging of EVERY song and some of the performing, Wayne, Tim and myself did most of the work.
I've known these guys for quite a long time. Andy has been with me for years as a writing partner, and he and I worked in 2 versions of Passion. Phil is one of my best friends from my old neighborhood, and was always a solid player. He and I lost touch for a few years, and one day hooked up again. I asked him to join the band, and he was in. Wayne and I met when SLIT was mastered, and I really dug his bass playing, so I asked him to play in the band one day. Tim I knew from my cover band days, and he contacted us after he read an ad we were looking for a drummer....thanks to Karen! (our very own Rogue on the boards)
And will this band stay with you for the future?
I'd like to hope so, but it seems as though a few of them have incredible careers moving at full force right now, so I don't know for sure. They know that if they take some time off, they will always have a place to come back to. Great guys they are.....so we'll see. No matter what, this project will still keep moving.
Let's talk about the songs included on DanziLand. Where did you draw on inspiration to write them?
It just comes to us. Like the song "Just a Matter of Time", I hear stuff in my head and that's what that song is about. I hear full orchestrations, vocal harmonies, guitar riffs, drum grooves....it all just comes out of nowhere. The other guys have this happen to them too. Or, we'll use real life situations. DanziLand is completely real life. Nothing fiction on here at all. So it's a bit serious for us, as we've lived it.
I noticed several co-writers involved - do you work or feel better teaming with someone, or do you prefer to write alone?
I hate writing music alone unless I'm working on instrumentals. My strong point is definitely working with others, as I am first and foremost, a team player. Writing alone makes things a bit one-dimensional I think. Sure, sometimes it's cool to go that route, but I think I did enough of that on SLIT. As you can hear, this blows that out of the water...so I think it's proof team work has it's advantages. :)
Tell us about co-producer Wayne Davis? What did he bring to the party and how did he help you put the album together?
Man, Wayne was my rock in times of crisis. Words can't express what he's done for this project, and I mean that with every ounce of my being when I say it. Let's just put it this way, and I shit you not...if the guy would have charged me a normal rate and been an ass about it, this album would have EASILY went over the 60k mark. Yeah, that's how much time we have invested into it...and I may be a little low there. Wayne was my mentor through all of this. He's not only a brilliant musician, but he's an awesome engineer and producer. He's the one that listens beyond what even I would listen for. He's the one that would say I'm doing something wrong to where I would fight him about it only to realize...he was right. He was the one that said "less is more" or "don't do that". :)
The guy put his life on hold, and turned paying customers away for me. He edited his heart out, and spent countless hours helping to create the Danzi sound with me. Imagine being in a studio with an engineer, and not having a worry. Imagine throwing a weird idea at the guy, to where we both say "no, that ain't gonna work" and he says..."wait" and in under 5 mins says "you mean like this?" Imagine complete security, devotion and tender loving care going into every element of every song you play. He also took the burden off of me in not having to engineer this monster on my own. That helped immensely to not be looking at it from his side of the fence! Not only that, but he is a much better engineer than I am, and this album needed that. I did learn quite a bit from him though, so you never know when or if I may strike solo. :) And lastly, go into all this knowing that this friggin' album will not leave his studio until HE is as happy with it as you are. Now....THAT, is dedication. Not to mention he helped to create the keyboard parts Phil and I couldn't get to, and Wayne played some incredible bass all over this album. You rock Wayno, thanks dude!
Any tracks written/recorded that didn't make the album? I think I know the answer to this - NO!
Actually, written...yes...recorded, semi. Hahaha! There was one track that was semi completed that was promised to you Sir. But we simply ran out of time, and Wayne needed to do some editing for a few major acts...and they pay big bucks for that. The tune that didn't make the album probably wouldn't have fit on there anyway. It's a very different approach for us, yet one of the best tunes we've ever written. It will surface eventually, I promise you that. But Wayne gave us all the time he could spare, and like I said before, the other guys got pretty busy in their lives. I was dead and pretty beat up from this entire endeavor, so there was no way I could do it and keep the same album quality as DanziLand.
You've been tucked away in a studio for far too long - when are some folks going to get to see you live again?!!
That depends on sales to be honest. I'm sure I can book a few gigs around here, but for the most part original music is tough to sell to the clubs here unless you can guarantee a decent crowd. It's also no longer fun to play for free, or next to free. Sure we love to play and will play anywhere, anytime, any place, but it would be nice to have our expenses covered and a few $$$ in our pockets. It's not like we're just starting out, ya know? We don't ask for much, just enough to pay the light and sound guys, expenses if we have to travel far and a few $$$ for the band. We hope sales go well in Europe so we can get back there. It would be nice to even support a decent act so we can show what we're made of and blow the roof off the place. We shall see. ;)
Danny, you make yourself freely available to fans online - via chatroom's, message boards, mailing lists and your own website.
What are the advantages of this - what do you enjoy the most out of the interaction.
I love it man! I can't get enough! When I was up and coming, there wasn't anyone I could turn to and ask advice. I'm quite knowledgeable in a few areas, and I love spending time with my friends and fans. Besides, you can never have too many friends. As long as time permits, I'll continue to stay this way. Some people think I'm this real famous person because I have an album out. Or they'll type my name in a search engine, and see that they'll be reading about me for the next 3 weeks. Hahahaha!!! It's somewhat intimidating to them, but they find out in under 10 seconds of a personal mail with me....that I'm just like they are and not so high and mighty at all. That's what I'm about man. Just being human. Without the fans, I'm nobody. Hell, even with the fans, there are still millions that don't know who I am. So you treat the ones you have as the only ones you have. Show them some love, they did buy your album.
I've always hated that whole "mystique" thing rockstars use. They're too good to reply to an email or too good to get involved with net chats or other things. Why? Too good for us? You worked a shit job too at one time, and it's because of the fans you can have that big house and drive that nice car, remember that. I'm not a social person outdoors. I work too much in my family business and in my studio to give a rats ass about what goes on in the world of death, drugs, disease and politicians. So I'll write about it and stay out of the element in the privacy of my own home while I hang out on the net and thank my fans.
Sue me for being a kiss ass....err...wait, a very thankful kiss ass. When I get done doing the things I do in life, the net is part of my social life and I'm content with that. It takes a few seconds to tell someone that has mailed you praising your work "hello and thank you". This usually ends up turning into a second mail, and you talk some more. You then make a friend from another part of the world. How can you beat that? This is such a small click. We're all lucky if we sell 5,000-10,000 albums. These select few people that support us definitely deserve a thank you, and they'll always get one from me even if it takes a bit of time....I always respond.
Are there any disadvantages?
None that I can see other than a few jealous people you meet from time to time. But this happens beyond the net as well.
What about your brother - sorry, your evil twin - Johnny Lima. You two always have a lot to say to each other - have you swapped CDs yet?
Brother? I hate that mutha....hahahaha! Yeah, Johnny and me traded quite some time ago. He's got an incredible CD out this time that is STILL in my car in the rotation. He sent me an awesome mail praising mine, so I think he liked it. Johnny is a straight up guy....he tells it like it is, and doesn't bullshit you.
If it passed his test, I'm feeling good about it. He and I may even work on a project together. We've discussed it numerous times, I think it's on me now. I just need to re-charge the batteries a bit...as I'm still pretty whooped from DanziLand. I'll most likely write something with Johnny before I do another album. We've been talking about it for a long time, it's about time it materializes.
Now, tell us about the bloody marvellous CD artwork and cover....one of the best pictorial packages I have seen in a long time!
DanziLand is my home. Everything you can think of is here man. Full recording studio, guitars hanging off the wall, basses, drums, keyboards, mixing consoles, outboard gear, every video game and game system known to man, pool table, wet bar, wine from all over the world, basketball court, swimming pool, dirtbike, killer car...a lil something for everyone. :) My bud Tommy would come here and look around at all my stuff and say "welcome to DanziLand". So the name stuck.
I then got the notion to create a concept of a recording studio theme park. Kinda like Disneyland. I worked it out with 3 different artists. Two of which had to bow out for personal reasons, so Marquee Avalon brought in Eric. He and I tossed ideas around, and he came up with exactly what I had envisioned on his first sketch. The guy is brilliant! We tweaked a few things, and it turned into one of the best CD covers I've ever seen. The cost was well worth it, as I wanted to make the cover art as great as the music inside. I was hoping someone would see it and buy it just because it looked so incredible....not caring if I was any good or not. Hell, how can you walk away from a cover like that and not be curious? ;)
I know this is the last question you want to answer - but what next mate? How long will you make us wait for another album and do you have the energy to do it?!!
Hehehe, (that's a nervous laugh by the way) I really can't say man. As of now, I have enough material for about 5 albums or more. I just don't know when or if I'll get to it. This business is tough, and we make very little money for the time that gets invested into it. There comes a time when an artist has to evaluate his situation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's all about money, but realistically speaking, the time invested into this, wisely invested into something else, would truly make me a millionaire. When you see and hear what you've done, and look back on what you've made or gotten out of it, it falls way below what you're really worth. It actually hurts because you as an artist feel you've almost done it all in vane. For what? To luckily see $10,000 and have a bunch of pricks listing you on Kazaa?
I just wanna survive man, that's all. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm not in this to be a rockstar, or be rich and famous, I'd just like to make a good honest living from it, and unfortunately, I don't think that's possible for me without major promotion and support. That's not downing either label I am signed to, it's just the facts. No little no name guy like myself is making any AOR label rich, nor is that label doing the same for the artist. You have to be a name people know from the past, or have some famous member in your line-up to sell more albums than you normally would. OR, you need a label to throw all caution to the wind, believe in you and try to get you into the right public eye. I just don't see that happening, though I sure would love to.
Now is the time. We need some good rock n roll with killer guitars. Shit, there's an entire generation of people that aren't buying a damn thing because there is nowhere for them to turn to. And the industry wonders why it's losing money? Sounds like a no brainer to me. Older folks have money because they have jobs. They won't buy the crap that gets rammed down their throats because they come from a time when music was music and there was talent behind the music. It's beyond me how all the radio stations constantly play classic rock, yet you can't shop it to a label if you've been inspired by it. Don't the labels get it....not everyone wants to hear a manufactured trendy band, and most of the kids don't have money....so they steal the stuff from the net? Sickening I tell ya. But people will fight me to the death on that issue. They'll fight me alright, but no one will take a chance on what I'm saying. Just blow it off as "been done before" then be a good lil boy and go listen to your Wimp Trizcuit CD Mr. Record label man. Go figure.
How frustrating is it working within the framework of the AOR/Melodic scene?
See above. Hahahahaha! Very frustrating man. I wasn't out in the 80's, had nothing to do with it, and can't help that it had an impact on me. Yet, "I'm dated". I could easily say in a scenario (just a scenario here, I'm not stuck on myself) "Why, because I can play guitar better than the bands of today and when I solo, I solo because I'm decent at it? I can sing better than most of the singers in bands of today and my band can sing in harmony? Did I also mention that I could probably out-perform individual band members of today all by myself?" Does this sound like I have an ego? (sure it does, it's supposed to) Not really, just facts, or are they? Or, am I labeling and stereo-typing as I am stereo-typed for taking my skills a bit more seriously?
A good song is a good song and should be appreciated as such no matter what it sounds like. See my point now? Everything I just said above in my "ego rant" (said for argument purposes only) IS credible, yet it's all absolute bullshit and a matter of personal preference on both my side, and the person that could push me to the side as "dated". I'm not better than anyone else, I'm just as good and shouldn't be labeled as anything but good or bad. I'd rather hear my stuff is not to someone's liking over hearing "dated" or "done before". Tough scene, but the fans you DO gain, will stick around until you put out a crap album or you disappear.
Ok, should we continue to do our thing, or should we all pack it in and get real jobs?
I don't think it needs to be packed in, but I'd say never quit your day job as most will need it to survive. I'll let you know more about this after we see how DanziLand sells this time around.
Does online piracy and CDR trading have a personal impact on yourself as an artist or music fan?
God yes! It annoys the shit out of me! People just don't understand that little guys like us don't sell albums by seeing their names on a file sharing program. What happens when you fall short with sales because people can get it for free? That's right, you lose your deal. Fall short a few numbers on your artist licensing quota and see if you release another album. The bigger acts can absorb it a little better, (though it's still wrong, stealing IS stealing!) but little guys like myself can get dropped. Do you know what most projected sales are in this scene to keep your label happy? 3,000. Yeah, that's right, a measly 3,000. 50 file sharing monsters grab your entire disc, you didn't make the grade...later kid. My whole problem with this situation is, it violates my rights as an artist. What gives anyone the right to give my material away? When you bought my CD, you didn't buy the music, you bought a license.
All I wish for is control. Let me say which of my tunes can be available. I deserve that right since I sat here writing the tune and incorporated my real life into it. These songs are my children. I'd do a "file sharing only" EP dude. One just for the file sharing maniacs so they'd wanna hear the real disc. I got no problems with it as long as it's controlled. Audio Galaxy had the right idea, but it was implemented too late. I was reading something on their site about "if you are the artist and wish to have tunes removed, click here" and how you could get in touch with them. They got back to me in one day, and I made sure that only the songs I wanted would come up in their search engine. All others would be blocked. Sure all someone would have to do is change the name, but then no one would find the tune, would they? It needs control. Just like owning a gun. You know it's made for shooting, you know it's made for killing. Use it illegally, you're going to jail or paying a fine. You shouldn't be able to use these programs to do illegal things either.
What are your favorite artists and why?
Eddie Van Halen: He's the reason most of us wanted to play guitar. He's also the biggest innovator of all time, and has brought guitar to where it is today through his innovation. Sure several can out play him, but they'll never out-create him. Eddie is the true God of guitar to me.
Dann Huff: Dann has a fantastic voice, and plays like a maniac. His style and feel is unsurpassed. Very underrated, yet extremely deadly in all areas.
Steve Perry, Richard Marx, Peter Cetera, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandrose: Yeah I know, I'm gonna get bashed for putting these names in the same sentence. Hahaha! These singers are masters of vocal timbre, and controlled vibrato. They not only let you hear incredible singing, you can easily feel where they are coming from. They throw out quite a lot of emotion, and the vocal techniques they use, along with heart and soul, can't be topped by many.
The Beatles: What can I say? They're like Scotch. You either love them or hate them. To me, they were the beginning of rock music. The harmonies, the weirdness, the song writing, the orchestration, the arrangements, the lack of rules, the song content, the lyrics, the lack of musicianship...yeah, lack of. Could you picture fantastic players playing their stuff? I can't...the raw and rough edges made them so awesome! Take them out of the band, mediocre at best....bring them together with George Martin calling the shots...pure bliss!
Van Halen: Best live show/rock band of all time. Anyone ever seeing VH with Dave can attest....nothing topped a VH show with Dave in their prime. They were my reason to want to be an artist and play live.
Johnny Lima: Johnny is a lot like me. Very passionate, and lives his music as I do. The guy writes from the heart, and is one of the best live performers I've ever seen. Anyone seeing him at the Gods can attest. The man was a true rockstar and played like he was playing for 20,000 people. He's got a great voice, and is an awesome song writer. AND, he sounds as good live as he does on his albums. That says a lot. He gives his all in everything he does, and I'll forever admire the man as an artist and a great friend.
Dokken: I always thought this band should have been more popular. If I ever did an album as good as "Under Lock and Key" and didn't see huge success, I'd of thrown in the towel. They had a great look, great singer, excellent songs, tight back-ups and Lynch plays with more conviction than any player I know.
Led Zep: Gods of rock! Who could top them for what they did? I would have loved to see them play a bit better live, but their studio stuff will forever be appreciated and they will always be respected as "the full package" to me.
Lynyrd Skynyrd: I sooo loved these guys! Great guitar playing, killer hooks, southern rock at its best!
Boston: Killer tunes, great guitar playing, awesome production, harmonies, the list goes on and on.
Whitesnake: That "Still of the Night" album had a major impact on me. Great vocals, songs, guitar playing....Sykes and that vibrato...man oh man!!! Killer line-up...incredible live!
Chicago: One of my all time favorites! Moving jazzy tunes with killer vocals, arrangements and horns. My reason for playing trumpet and sax. I jammed to their stuff quite a bit on drums.
Billy Joel: Great song writer, singer, piano player. His best work was the earlier stuff for me. Anything after "52nd St" lost my interest unfortunately.
Elton John: Absolute brilliance...nuff said.
Simon and Garfunkel: Wound up grabbing some of their stuff off of my parents. Awesome harmonies and songwriting. They taught me how to harmonize.
The Carpenters: Karen had incredible melodies. Very memorable and tasty. A bit boring at times and one-dimensional, but melody was the key.
Yanni: Quite a few people hate this dude, and I can't see why. He takes me on a journey and really paints an inspirational picture. It's not stuff I can listen to day in and day out, but when you're in the mood to possibly create something new or need some inspiration, he's da man.
Gary Moore: Gotta love this blues man! Awesome voice, great tunes, emotional playing.
Eric Gales: My favorite blues cat of all time. Great songwriter, excellent blues phrasing and tone.
How do those artists influence what you deliver?
I'm one of those guys that takes what he wants from music. There's something to learn from all styles of music, and at times, it can be just one, or a few elements here and there. Was it a sound? A technique either vocally or instrumentally? Was it a writing formula? A melody? They all have given me those types of influences.
I think we have covered it all Danny!
Hahaha! But could you really deal with this interview being any longer? :-Þ
And if there's anything you want to add, please do so!
I think I typed me lil brains out as I believe I've been working on this for about 4 hours now. Hahahahaha!
So is there anything you would like to add in conclusion dude?
Support the scene and the artists you love, everyone. The way things are right now in the music biz, all support is needed and appreciated. Try to go to the live shows if possible, and please buy the CD of an artist you might have heard using a file sharing program. He'll thank you, I'll thank you, and the scene will remain alive. :) I appreciate all the support you all have give me past and present, and I really hope you enjoy the new album. Turn a few friends on to it and help spread the word if you dig it. This way I can come and play a live show near you and thank you in person.
Thanks again Danny for taking the time to type endlessly at me :)
You're quite welcome man, and type endlessly I did! How did you know I would? You're scaring me now man...you're too far away from me to know me that well. ;-) It was my pleasure Andrew, thanks so much for this opportunity....one of the best interviews I've ever done man! I can tell you really thought out these questions.....not too bad for a rookie eh? LOL!! Just kiddin mate!
Lastly - can you do a track by track comment for the songs on the DanziLand album?
Yeah, if I can remember what the hell they're all about. I shelved this thing on November 20th LOL!!!!
Welcome (Intro to DanziLand)
Andy Slostad at his best here. We wanted to leave the past, and enter the future which is...DanziLand. Andy and I came up with the concept, and his creative use of sound effects and editing made this incredible and an awesome opener. We got Brian "B. C." Christopher to do the voice of God, and he is a famous radio dude in the business. He does work all over the country, and quite a few of you will recognize his voice...as there is only one "B. C.".
This one is a bit about the band, the album, the songs, playing live.....everything we're about in one tune. Super fun to play!
I wrote this one some time ago about an ex I was positive I'd marry. Umm...boy was I wrong! Hahahahaha! I loved this song when I wrote it, and the enhanced band version really brought it over the top for me. A bit different than the version offered on all the samplers it has ever appeared on. Nice and melodic...and I get to show off a lil Steve Perry type vocals here.
Just A Matter Of Time
A song about how a song comes to me. I hear the voices in my head, and then it's up to me to extract them out. Each part of the song has to be picked apart. Instrument and vocal at a time. I hear them completed in full, and sometimes it's difficult to separate the parts. But it's just a matter of time before I get it all out and put it together....pun intended. :) Total rippin tune I think. Strange beginning, but then look out. I love this solo section and the riff in the chorus. The ending power jam rocks hard too!
Let It Go
Andy and I at our best here. 2 subject matters mixed together that land back on the right track lyrically. I re-did the beginning in this as the original was a bit less emotional. We picked up the tempo a bit to make it run a bit more smooth and not be so ballad slow. Great hook, killer back ups, and one of the most melodic solo's I've ever done. The ending acoustic guitar part was the icing on the cake. Very Extreme sounding vocals there, but oh soo sweet!
Only The Strong Will Survive
This one also appeared on a few samplers, but not the version on DanziLand. Changed the chorus parts and made it rock a little harder. Straight ahead rocker that speaks about the band and all we went through to put this line-up together.
Wild & Dangerous
I dig this riff big time. Originally, Ken Tamplin and I were going to try and use it together, but we both got busy and never pursued it. The song is basically about life and how "Wild and Dangerous" it can be. Nice acoustic verse into a flesh ripping pre-chorus, this one gets you moving. Another solo I absolutely love!
Time Passes By
This is all Andy Slostad here. He wrote it after a trip to NYC, I messed with the vocal melody to make it more "me", tweaked a few things with the guitars and we let it fly. Great tune....extremely emotional and one of the best ballads we've ever done. Another melodic solo here...one that can bring a tear to your eyes if you're a guitarist. :) Our buddy Luke plays piano on this...mmmm...such a great track!
Ever wonder about your destiny? That's what this one is about. Very "Save Us" like, and for a reason. People loved it, and I wanted them to feel that vibe once again. This is one of my personal favorites on the album. The hook rules, the instrumentation kills, and the low tuned guitars take no prisoners. The solo in this one took over a month to do. I wanted something special, yet scary....it scares me whenever I listen to it, so I guess I achieved what I was looking for. Nice lil tasty Wayne Davis bass solo on the fade-out.
Possibly my favorite on the album. Wayne and I put quite a lot of work into this tune. The beginning vocal parts alone took over 14 hours to create. The tune is basically about people that have done us wrong. I won't mention names...as it's pretty obvious. :) Definitely one of the best chorus's I've ever came up with. Everything about this tune is slick to my ears, and I even experimented with a slight "fusion" style in the solo section.
All Or Nothing
Andy came up with this riff on keyboards quite a while ago and it became the chorus. I messed with it and added in a verse and a pre-chorus. Tim and Wayne decided to bring the solo section down to make it scary and forced me to play something eerie and melodic. It's catchy, moves very well, is easy on the ears and has the scariest guitar playing on it that I've ever done. Tim used this tune as his entrance to his wedding reception....what a rush to hear this come on as I had no clue of this surprise. :)
What About Us
Most of the guys in the band aren't too down with this tune because it somewhat takes a political stand. It's really not meant to, but it's easy for people to read between the lines. I posted something about this tune a few months back, and people took me the wrong way. So I'll try again. I got the idea to do this song when the world trade center went down. I didn't want to release it because every artist was releasing tunes at that time, and I'm not down with that sort of thing. I wanted to let time pass a little before I gave up my version. No other motives, like a few others of course had.
The tune basically asks other countries that have been helped by the U.S. and have never lent a hand in return....to give us a hand. Now those of you in countries that have been pals with the US, don't get upset, this isn't directed at you. The song DOESN'T single anyone out, nor does it bash anyone. The tune basically says "we the people" shouldn't have to suffer for mistakes made by others and "give us a hand". Is it fair for us to pay for the debts of another man? I think not. Hate our president, take it up with him, don't bomb us for it. Some Americans are shit the same as we can say for every race, creed, religion and nationality. Bad seeds are everywhere, and we all know this. I don't hate entire races of people because of what a few bad seeds did, you shouldn't either. That's pretty much the subject matter.
Now back to the song. This is a very different tune for us. Timmaay our drummer plays acoustic throughout, since he came up with the original riff on guitar one night after rehearsal. He played it so well I said "you play it man, I'll join in for the pre-chorus's and fingerpicking section". It sounded so cool nice and airy like that, I decided an electric guitar solo would have killed it. So I played an acoustic solo.....my first ever in a tune. :) I really dig this song a lot, and could hear it being played anywhere on any radio station. Definitely one of the "hits" on the album for me.
That should do it Andrew. Thanks for everything man, awesome interview!