Interview with Dan Aid: New Album, New Direction
If you have been around the Denver music scene for any length of time, you have probably seen one of Dan Aid‘s bands. I have photographed his most recent group, Wiredogs, on many occasions and was excited to hear his solo EP, The Quiet Place. It’s different from his punk rock roots. Moody. Mellow. Dare I say… pretty?
Very cool to see a different side of someone you would think, from a Wiredogs show, is a aggressive person. But he’s not. He’s very approachable. Humble. Dare I say… nice?
We met up last week during Rachael Yamagata‘s show at Larimer Lounge to chat.
Me: So, tell me a little about yourself. I mean, for people who haven’t had drinks with you.
Dan: I’ve been playing in bands for 11 years. Mostly punk and rock bands. I’ve interned at studios. I’ve produced records for other bands. I actually started out playing on acoustic guitar… my dad got me one for Christmas when I was eight years old.
Me: Was your dad a musician?
Dan: Yeah, he was always playing acoustic around the house as I was growing up. He actually had this red notebook where he had taken all his vinyl, all the old Dylan records and stuff like that, and he listened through, wrote down the lyrics and figured out the chord changes. So I would just flip through this book, and he taught me from there. I was singing and writing songs right from the beginning, right from that time.
Me: What made you go into a more singer-songwriter direction, as opposed to all these punk and rock bands you have been in?
Dan: I can actually pinpoint the exact moment. My pal Mark (the bass player from Wiredogs) had an extra ticket to Ryan Adams, who I had never listened to, at all. It was totally last minute, at the Buell. In my mind, at the time, singer-songwriters were nothing but douchebags with acoustic guitars… then I saw Ryan Adams and it changed how I looked at music. I mean, I know how to put on a rock show, but then I watched him – just one guy, on stage, with his guitar and a piano, for two hours? It was one the most incredible things I have ever seen. He allowed everything to be so intimate, and I thought to myself, I have no idea how to do that.
Me: How long ago was that?
Dan: About a year or so ago. I went out and bought my first real acoustic guitar and started writing. All the songs on The Quiet Place album are from this time, in the last six months to a year. And by the way, oddly enough, Rachael Yamagata (who we were seeing that night) appeared on Ryan Adams’ Cold Roses album.
Me: Give me the list of all the bands you have played in.
Me: Is Wiredogs done?
Dan: Wiredogs has had a big transitional year. We lost a couple members pretty quickly and just quite haven’t been able to solidify the core group again. So, it’s been good that I have had the solo stuff to work on because it’s allowed me to let Wiredogs breathe for a second. We did just do a new single with Andrew Berlin up at Blasting Room, that we will be submitting for Hometown.
Me: And Wiredogs is playing with Bunny Gang soon, right?
Dan: Yeah, I will be doing double duty at The Oriental on November 28th.
Me: How was recording this album different for you?
Dan: I worked with Andrew Berlin again, but we went to a different place, up to the Mountain House outside of Nederland. After we were finished and we were driving back down to Denver, I remember feeling this immense sense of relief – because I had actually tried to record the album two other times before! But it just hadn’t been feeling right. Andrew saw some videos I was posting on Facebook, and wanted to hear more. And also, I was finally able to work with Ian Short (Colorado violinist who has played in several Denver bands) for the very first time.
Me: How did that go?
Dan: It was really cool because I am a total over-planner and every time we would talk, Ian was like “No, man. It’s cool, I got it.” But he was right. We got into the studio and nailed it. It was this huge leap of faith all around. I had never worked with Ian. And I have never done anything acoustic. And Andrew had never recorded at this studio. But it all worked out. The moment we set up and started recording, it was awesome.
Me: I know you have been doing a bunch of acoustic shows.
Dan: Yeah, it’s been going really well. I’ve had several great opening gigs already, and on November 6th, I am opening for a band I love called Beach Slang at the Larimer Lounge. They are from Philadelphia and have a few EPs that have been my favorites of the year.
Me: So, what’s the future-plan?
Dan: I’m really excited about the variety of things I am working on right now. I’m excited about the acoustic music. I’m excited about the new Wiredogs single. And I’m definitely excited about Bunny Gang – I think this will be my first opportunity to do a decent amount of touring in the next year. All really great things. I feel very honored that my world is expanding, I meet people new people everywhere I go… at the rock climbing gym, at my day job with the Western States Art Federation, everywhere. I am looking forward to everything that 2016 is going to bring my way. It’s all very different than the past, but that’s an exciting place to be.
Congrats to Dan, and be sure to check out his upcoming shows as well as the new EP, The Quiet Place.