Interview with Dan Wallace

After reviewing Dan Wallace’s superb 2007 Culture of Self LP, I wanted to find out a bit more about him and generally have a sneaky peek around his soul!

AS: WHO would you most like to collaborate with?

DW: I would really enjoy collaborating with people whose role in the project is not necessarily musical because it pushes me to give musical form to non-musical ideas. For example, I would love to work closely with more filmmakers, especially of psychological horror/suspense and sci-fi type films. Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, and Darren Aronofsky come to mind. Speaking of Aronofsky, I thought his latest – The Fountain – would make for an interesting reworking as an opera. On the dark-comedy-with-lots-of-plot-twists side of things, I always thought it'd be fun to write a musical with Stephen Fry.

AS: WHERE do you most enjoy playing live?

DW: I find myself less and less interested in playing late-night shows in bars where people seem to be more interested in getting trashed than listening to music. I'd like to do more afternoon and early evening shows, especially on Sundays, because in my experience you get a wider variety of audience member who make it out for the sole purpose of hearing music. These sorts of shows can be put on in clubs as well as less-traditional settings. I also really enjoy doing in-studio sets on radio talk-shows. Also, there's a club I'd like to play in Los Angeles that is famous for its “hush” policy. Not that I think people shouldn't be allowed to talk, but I do know that it enables a lot of groups to player their softer songs that they'd otherwise have to skip or scream above the crowd. A lot of my material uses a wide dynamic range, and any opportunity to present it that way would be welcome.

AS: WHAT do you get up to when you're not playing?

DW: I spend most of my free time engaged in music, whether I'm actually doing it or thinking about it while engaged in other responsibilities. Otherwise I watch a lot of movies and TV series on DVD, and I read when I can. In my early to mid-20's I went out a lot to bars and parties and such, and spent a lot of time travelling, so I think I'm partly making up for lost time now. I was working on music during that time, but wasn't as serious about recording and getting it out there until later in my 20's. Now I'm getting interested in travelling again, and meeting new people. I'm planning to do some shows outside of my home-region and in Europe next summer.

AS: WHY? What's your biggest why question and has mystified you the longest?

DW: I seem to find myself most often mystified by the answerable questions as opposed to the unanswerable “why are we here?” type questions. Human behavior would top the list. For example, I'm constantly baffled by most people's disinterest – not inability, but disinterest – in thinking for themselves. Not that I think everyone should be an island unto themselves. In fact, I think it's impossible, nor would I want to be, completely unique (and the harder someone tries to be, the more stereotypical they become). What I'm mystified by is that most people don't seem to question their propensity to conform, much less attempt to transcend it; especially those who strive to be artists. Every action we take and however we choose to represent ourselves makes a statement. I am surprised at how few individual statements are being made at a given time.

I have to mention another thing that really makes me scratch my head. There is a common idea among people over 30 that all good music was made either while they were young, or before they were born (i.e., the music they soaked up during their formative years). Whenever I hear someone say “there's no good music being made anymore”, I want to point out that people have been saying that for countless generations. As I get older I have to remind myself of this fact as well. There are always new innovations on the horizon, and I want to be open to them.

Again, these things are explainable aspects of human nature and I understand how they come about. What I'm mystified by is just how many people seem to be complacent about their nature, even at the simplest level.

AS: WHEN you sneak your sniper rifle into a gig, you're aiming at?

DW: Heh heh, good question. The guy running sound at the last gig we played was a complete asshole. We didn't have time to set up, much less tune up, he didn't pay attention to the board during the show, and our set got cut short even though the band that went after us played twice their allotted time. A lot of people will be walking around half-deaf for years to come because of that pompous coke-head. It's people like him that make me not want to play night clubs. On the other hand, the engineer we got a month prior at the same venue was amazing, and we had our best show ever. A sniper gun that could shift time and space would come in handy so we could zap any bad engineers to replace them with a good one.

Thanks for your time Dan.

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