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One on One Interview with Dan Davidson

 One on One Interview with Dan Davidson
by Dan Locke
Dan Davidson photo by Melanie Swerdan

Unrated Dan: Tell me about your background. How did you get interested in Music? 
Dan Davidson: Well, when I was a kid my dad used to play me a song on his acoustic every night before bed. I remember hearing songs by Willie Nelson, James Taylor, The Beatles, The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers, Lyle Lovett, and Johnny Cash to name a few. I always thought it was really cool to hear his interpretation of these classic artists. I learned on that same guitar at 12 years old. Learning my favorite songs from the radio really opened my eyes to the fact that I could make songs sound great too! 

Unrated Dan: Did you play any instruments while growing up? 
Dan Davidson: I’ve played guitar since I was 12. I play bass (about as well as a guitar player can), I can get by on the drums (owned a few kits over the years), and I also took piano lessons. I recently bought a piano and am starting to learn again.

Unrated Dan: What was the first band you played with?
Dan Davidson: The band was called "Good 4 Nothing" - a punk band. Let’s just say it was not just a clever name… 

Unrated Dan: You found fame in the metal band Tupalo Honey. Tell us about your time with your band?
Dan Davidson: Well Tupelo Honey was far from a metal band actually, we were a rock band. It was a fantastic experience that really gave me a full appreciation for the music industry and the ability to learn everything from great songwriting, to performing, to management, to tour managing, etc. We had top 40 hits on the radio, top 10 iTunes albums, top 5 videos, and a wealth of touring experience (including opening shows for acts like Bon Jovi). I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world. It brought me to where I am now. 

Unrated Dan: You opened for bands like Bon Jovi, Default, Theory of a Deadman, Shinedown, Metric, Billy Talent, Three Days Grace, Hinder, Everclear, Headley, and Papa Roach. How was it open up for this band and how being exposed to the crowd of a rock band different from the country crowd?
Dan Davidson: It was fantastic getting to know a lot of those musicians and taking in the energy of rock and roll as one of my defining characteristics. Every show and every market was different so it was great to learn about what I needed to have in my tool kit depending on the crowd. Playing for country fans is absolutely the best. These people are a loyal and supportive bunch. The demographic is wide, people appreciate the musicianship, and they generally just came to have a good time. It’s not about being cool, or playing a part, it’s about connecting with other music lovers. 

Unrated Dan: How were you discovered as a country artist?
Dan Davidson: Well I had been toying with country for a few years towards the end of the rock band. I’d even been hired as a side man to play guitar for a few country acts. My producer and I had been talking about doing some songs for a while; then I went to see a friend of mine (another Canadian) open for FGL, and I really got to appreciate the scope of country fans and their passion. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I plunged in, recorded "Unkiss Her", signed a publishing deal, starting playing festivals, etc. It feels like I blinked and now I have one of the most popular songs in Canadian country music.

Unrated Dan: What can you tell me about your new record what is it going to be like?
Dan Davidson: The new EP is going to be full of high energy, fun, good-time sing along tunes. I do have the odd ballad and mid tempo tune - but it was my goal to capture the magic that "Found" established and exploit that. I try my best to connect with the audience with themes of love, happiness, and of course, beer. 

Unrated Dan: What is the release date for the record?
Dan Davidson: Well, I’ve always been more of a singles guy. I’m releasing the next single in Canada this month, then another in the new year. I’m hoping to have the EP available April 1, but in the meantime I just want to focus on really using my singles as the main way to get to the fans.

Unrated Dan: Did you have anyone special helping you get the record finished? 
Dan Davidson: My team and I are the true definition of indie DIY. It’s really just me, my producer (Jeff Dalziel), my promotions guy (Bill Miller), and my publisher (Red Brick Songs). Between the 4 of us, we have found a way to create and release music that can compete at a major label level. It’s pretty awesome, and something I’m damn proud of. On the creative side, I did have a couple special guests on the music. Brett Kissel's fiddle player Tyler Volrath (North American Fiddle Champion, CCMA Fiddle Player Of The Year, and nephew of the legendary Calvin Volrath) is on the tunes. I also have Pete Lesperence (The Stellas, Harem Scarem) on guitar. I also did a TONNE of co-writing with Clayton Bellamy of The Road Hammers (a great award winning, gold record selling Canadian country band). 

Unrated Dan: Why did you decide to do the song "Found" as the first single from the record? And was it really on a $500 budget?
Dan Davidson: My producer Jeff called me one day, and we were trying to figure out what a great follow up to my first single "Unkiss Her". He said, "Dude, you need to write a modern day “Thank God Im a Country Boy". So I paced my kitchen for a few hours just stomping and clapping under a few melodies. In a couple hours I had the chorus and pre chorus. A couple weeks later I called up Clayton Bellamy, who I have known forever but never made music with, and we set up a writing session. Clayton and I hit it off creatively and banged out 2 amazing tunes. One was "Found"! The video budget was actually more like $1000, but still…. that has got to be the cheapest video EVER to make it to the CMT Top 20!

Unrated Dan: Any plans to tour?
Dan Davidson: Of course! I just signed with a major booking agency here in Canada and already I have shared the stage with Jon Pardi, Gord Bamford, George Canyon, Brett Kissel, The Washboard Union, and many more! We are currently working on some one-off's this winter and firming up the festival circuit next summer. 

Unrated Dan: What is the Genre of your music?
Dan Davidson: Country. Nothing else I can call it! 

Unrated Dan: What is your feeling about Vinyl?
Dan Davidson: I was never a big fan, it always felt like so many extra steps to listen to music. I always thought it was so inconvenient, but recently I started appreciating the ritual of listening to vinyl. I put on a nice pot of coffee, and actually site and listen to the music. It’s not just background noise. I feel like putting on a record really makes you listen harder.

Unrated Dan: What are some of the some of the bands which Influenced your music?
Dan Davidson: I try to make sure I listen to absolutely as much music as I can so I stay balanced. The last thing I want to do is to start sounding too much like the music I love - I would hate for someone else's voice to become my own. Growing up I remember listening to a lot of eclectic music with my dad - The Eagles, Blue Rodeo, Lyle Lovett, Queen, Willie Nelson, The Beatles, etc. I’m sure those artists have made their mark on me as I began to form as a musician. As I grew up I also got into rock, punk, rap, metal, and pop. I ended up playing heavily in the rock scene (as you know) before finding my home in country! 

Unrated Dan: Where does you music come from?
Dan Davidson: A lot of people are very personal song writers, I find that I like to try and search out the themes that connect people and try to write stories and songs about those. I mean, the biggest and most obvious one is love. It seems simple and cliche, but finding a way to paint a picture that resonates with people is what it’s all about. I think that "Found" did so well because it was a simple concept - falling in love and making a drunken proposal. 

Unrated Dan: Who would you like to open up for you? Being alive or dead.
Dan Davidson: Man that's a tough one! I think I'd say Willie Nelson. I would just love to meet the guy and hear some great stories backstage!

Unrated Dan: What instruments do you use on tour vs. the ones you record with in the studio?
Dan Davidson: I try to keep the band as close the recording as possible. The current line up has a pedal steel, fiddle, 2 guitar players (3 if you include me), a bass player and a drummer. On the recordings I also have mandolin, dobro, and organ. I'm hoping to add a couple more players as the shows keep getting bigger! 

Unrated Dan: What is the biggest crowd you have played for?
Dan Davidson: I once opened for Bon Jovi in front of 17,000 people in my hometown. That was pretty wild!

Unrated Dan: What direction do you see your music heading in the next 2 years and what are the long term goals of your music?
Dan Davidson: I don't see my direction changing too much in the next 2 years, I’m really happy with the path I’m on. I'm hoping to release some more sensitive songs somewhere down the line, It’s fun to sing the odd ballad. I'd say my long term goals are a top 10 in North America, arena tours, and a bobble head in my likeness :) 

Unrated Dan: What fest would you like to play?
Dan Davidson: Stage Coach and Download Fest. 

Unrated Dan: Who would you like to open up for?
Dan Davidson: I got a chance to write with Eric Church's guitar player Driver Williams earlier this year. After that session I found myself becoming the biggest Eric Church fan. I'd love to tour in support of that band. 

Unrated Dan: Are you BMI or ASCAP?
Dan Davidson: SOCAN/BMI 

Unrated Dan: What is on you phone right now?
Dan Davidson: Dallas Smith, John Denver, Eric Church, Paramore, and Rage Against The Machine

Unrated Dan: Ipod or Android?
Dan Davidson: iPod. Everything I have is Apple, I’m all synched up! 

Unrated Dan: If you could pick any cartoon character who would it be and why?
Dan Davidson: Wile E Coyote! He's indestructable! 

Unrated Dan: What music do you listens to relax?
Dan Davidson: I love the "Indie Pop Chill Out" playlist on Spotify - thats a great one to put on in the background. 

Unrated Dan: Thank you Dan Davidson for coming by and answer our questions for your fans.  You can find Dan Davidson on line at the following places.


- More at UnRatedMagazine.com

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