Friday, January 22, 2010
Hey, folks. Today we've got a swell new band to bend your ears around, and a short interview to whet your appetite.
The Fancy Dan Band are based out of San Francisco. Led by, well, Fancy Dan himself, the band makes the kind of loose-limbed dancefloor-style Country'n'Swing'n'Blues'n'Rock that's sorely needed in this day and age.
We got the opportunity to ask Dan a few questions about his music and vision. We'll let his own words speak for themselves.
A Big Rock Candy Mountain Interview With Fancy Dan
Big Rock Candy Mountain: Who are you? What's The Fancy Dan Band all about? Who's in the band?
Fancy Dan: I was born Dan Nordheim and decided that that wasn’t quite fancy enough for my tastes. After spending my whole life in the Midwest, I headed to California and started performing in San Francisco as a solo act. Eventually I met the right guys who joined me to become The Fancy Dan Band. The band includes Michael Loebs on lead guitar, Mark Underwood on bass, and Joe Gusich on drums.
BRCM: Are you a Country band, a Western Swing band, or a Country and Western band? Or are you something completely different?
FD: I consider us a rock & roll band more than anything, but there are definitely elements of country and western swing in there. There’s also some blues, gospel and soul somewhere in there too so I like to think of us as a band influenced by American music in many forms.
BRCM:Hank, Lefty, Merle, or Jimmie? Someone else?
FD: I’m definitely a Hank man myself since he was probably the first country singer I ever got into. When I first learned guitar as a teenager, my grandpa would always beg me to play Hank songs with him while he played piano. At that time I would have rather been playing Guns N’ Roses songs, but now I’m so grateful that my grandpa was persistent in teaching me those old songs. He also taught me Elvis and Johnny Cash songs too and it took me a few years until I really started appreciating all that wonderful music from that time.
BRCM: Is Country dead? Have the "majors" killed Country, or is it alive somewhere outside of Nashville?
FD: I think there will always be a place for country music whether it’s the slick major label stuff or the more underground raw stuff. It’s like any kind of music where sometimes it becomes watered-down and clichéd, but then it bounces back and starts taking chances and feeling vital again. I think the internet is great for country music since that means people can easily create music outside of the Nashville system and without being on a major label and still potentially find an audience. The problem is that there’s so much music to sort through these days, but I think people are always hungry for great music and will seek it out.
BRCM: You've got a good amount of religious references in your music and bio. And you grew up as the son of preacher. Does spirituality play a part in the band, on a day by day basis, or is it a means of musical expression, divorced from personal experience?
FD: I feel like I can’t escape the spirituality of music no matter how hard I try. I don’t consider us a religious band or anything, but spirituality is so engrained in me that it’s always going to come up in my songwriting. Since I grew up hearing so much music in church, I think I’m always looking for that gospel feeling even in secular songs. That’s how you know a song is working when you get that rush of joy that feels bigger than yourself. So the spirituality aspect of my music is personal to me, but I’m always hoping to get to the point where it becomes universal.
BRCM: You're based out of California. How does California fit within the Country template, what with all the "regional" line-drawing going on these days. Do you find audiences receptive? Have you been to Bakersfield?
FD: I’ve found most audiences in California to be very receptive to what we’re doing so far. In San Francisco there are not many bands that sound like us so that’s hopefully to our benefit. We haven’t played Bakersfield yet, but would love to get down there sometime soon. I’m curious to see how we’d go over with more of a country audience since we’re used to mostly playing for people our age who don’t necessarily listen to much country. We got to record in Nashville, but didn’t have the chance to play any shows around there so that’s something we’d love to try as well.
BRCM: What should one expect from a Fancy Dan live show? What dance steps should we practice before attending?
FD: There will be dancing at a Fancy Dan Band show, but no need to practice any steps beforehand! That’s pretty much our goal every time is to loosen the audience up enough to dance or clap or sing-a-long. If people aren’t participating in some way that means we’re not doing our job.
BRCM: How "fancy" are you? Do clothes make the man?
FD: Being fancy doesn’t always come easy so I think I’ll be working at it for a long time. It’s more of a state of mind than a particular style. Sometimes if I’m thinking too hard, I’ll say to myself, “keep it fancy,” or something like that to remember to let go. The other day I found myself saying that when I was bowling and trying way too hard. So being fancy applies to all areas of life!
BRCM: Sad songs. Do they really mean so much?
FD: There’s that Otis Redding song that goes, “I keep singing them sad sad songs cause sad songs is all I know.” That just kills me every time I hear it. I like extremes in music so when I hear a sad song I want it to be unbearably painful just like I want a happy song to be incredibly joyful and uplifting. That’s why I love country music so much since the sad songs just tear you to pieces. Life feels like that sometimes so sad songs need to capture that intense feeling.
BRCM: What's next for The Fancy Dan Band? Tour? Record?
FD: We did our first tour a few months ago and really enjoyed playing to new audiences so touring will definitely be a priority over the next year. We also just finished recording our second album in December. Instead of going all the way to Nashville like we did for our first record, Born Fancy, we got to record in our own neighborhood in San Francisco at Tiny Telephone, which made for a much more relaxed session. Born Fancy was in my mind for three years so when it finally came out several months ago, I felt like I was already ready for the next thing. This new one came together very quickly and has the band going in a little bit different direction so I’m curious to see how people will respond to it.
The Fancy Dan Band: By The Shore (mp3)
The Fancy Dan Band: So Long (mp3)
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