Photo by Sheva Kafai
Last December, Dan Croll and his band joined us for a couple crazy days up at Stratton Mountain. We’ve been fans of his since his album Sweet Disarray graced our ears in 2014, and his live performance knocked us completely off our feet. The harmonies and energy emitted from the stage were pure magic, and we all left feeling a little lighter, a little better.
You can check out the trailer for the series above, and stay tuned for the full release of Dan Croll’s sessions! In the meantime, read below and get even more excited for his sophomore album.
The harmonies you and your band create during a live set are absolutely incredible. How did you put together such a cohesive group?
First off, thank you very much! For me harmonies are a big part of the songs, live and on the recordings.
When it came to putting the band together I was looking for multi-instrumentalists, as whilst I was in the studio it was just me layering numerous sounds/instruments, but I was quickly finding myself not having enough hands to play it all live.
All of the guys are involved in other projects, and are very confident/talented singers in them, so it came easily and quickly to transfer them from the record to a live performance. With the live performance of the harmonies, there’s also the added bonus of hearing four different voices and their characteristics as opposed to just me layered four times.
How was the process of recording different this time around?
This album process was much tougher than the last record. I set myself the challenge to write and record it in a much shorter time scale, and also pushed myself to play every instrument on the record.
It was recorded with the brilliant Ben Allen (and brilliant team) in Atlanta GA, and I didn’t really account for the face melting weather, so rather than taking breaks whilst a friend tracked an instrument like on the first record, this was constant recording and tracking, I felt like I was constantly performing in a sauna for two months, it was physically draining.
The first record (Sweet Disarray) was a pretty relaxed process, from the recording to the songwriting. The songs were more of a collection of what I’d been writing over the previous four years, as I was learning more about music. This album was written over 5-6 months, which for me personally was a tight amount of time to construct songs, so I found myself writing at every moment I could (a lot of it on the road).
So yeah, very challenging, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The reason I do this solo-music is to see how far I can push myself.
What can fans expect to hear on the new release? One of Us was obviously a bit more of rocker, which we loved. Was that an intentional direction?
With the record being out this year, I really wanted to end 2015/start 2016 off with a bang, so I decided to put out ‘One of us’. It’s definitely one of the heaviest tracks on the album, and that’s what I wanted. I needed to put out a statement track that would grab peoples attention.
With the rest of the album, there’s a balance of slow, fast, heavy, and quiet. But I feel that similar to ‘One of us’ they all sonically pack a punch. That whole album recording process was filled with adrenaline due to the mental and physical pressure, so I feel that really shows with each track. There’s a lot of intent and passion in there.
Ben Allen (Producer) also brought some serious polished production to the table too, I feel looking back at the first album you could tell I was starting out. Thats not to discredit the team that worked on it. I actually think that was part of its charm. But with this one I feel there’s definitely more of a ‘sheen’ to it.
What sort of music were you listening to during the writing process?
All sorts, I think my personal music tastes are pretty broad and when it came to the record I put a lot of time in to making spotify playlists for each song. Curating references for each track is a big part of it for me. An example of a few were: Foals, Tame Impala, Future Islands, Kelis, Tune-yards, Action Bronson, Lianne La Havas, Hiatus Kaiyote, Ryuichi Sakamto, D’Angelo, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Queen, Timber-Timbre, Deerhoof, and Little Dragon.
Not to say that the album is going to sound like all of them at once, but more that I loved a bass tone, vocal effect, drum sound, etc of each one that I’d use to influence the track. At the end of the day, it was music that had either a lot of passion or a lot of fun in it.
What’s it like to release under your own label, Raquet Records? Is that something you’ll still be pursuing for this next album?
It was really fun. Thats the record label that I used to release my first ever single ‘From Nowhere’ on, and the whole feel of being independent was a great accomplishment for me. For this album, I’d rather skip the stress of that side of things and team up with someone who has got a lot of passion and get it a lot further than what I could do with it on my own. Its a discussion I’m having with a lot of labels right now, and I’m excited to see which one it will be!
Did you get a chance to ski while you were at Stratton? What’s your best memory of winter/snow?
Unfortunately not, we were pretty tight on time, and may have partied a bit too hard on the last night, meaning we were in no fit state to be attached to skis going down a steep slope with other human beings on it.
My best memory of snow was with my old band years ago who were based in Norway. They took me out snowboarding for the first time, and it was the funnest experience I’d ever had, albeit it ending up with me thinking I’d broken my leg after falling off the chairlift and falling backwards down the slope. It was a good laugh though.