Interview – Daniel Pearson
A while ago, we talked you about Daniel Pearson‘s album, Satellites (yes, we did), an album full of alt-country and Americana platitudes which include regret, blame and a spot of nostalgia for the ones who like to turn their heads around a few times. We managed to get ahold of Mr. Pearson for an email q & a, with the subjects of Americana, influences and interesting song titles as the issues to discuss.
1) What got you into Americana?
DP: I’ve been into American music all my life and have always gravitated towards it more than stuff from the UK. I think it’s due to two things – growing up in East Yorkshire there wasn’t really anything to identify with musically, so American bands seem to offer an escape from that. And secondly, my parents brought me up on Springsteen – they’re total fanatics! So it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to get into acts like Ryan Adams, Buffalo Tom, The Wallflowers when I was finding my own musical tastes.
2) It seems that the Americana scene in the UK is much bigger than one would expect. Why do you think is that?
DP: I think that geography doesn’t really come into it now when defining musical movements. With the net and social networks etc, there’s really no boundaries anymore and scenes pop up all over the place. There’s an authenticity to Americana and alt.country/folk music that’s missing from a lot of indie and rock songs and I think people are drawn to the honesty and tradition of the songs in those genres.
3) Tell us a bit more about Satellites. When did you decide you wanted an album instead of an EP?
DP: When I was first playing solo gigs and writing, I did a little experiment online where I released a freshly recorded, free new song every week for 6 months. I don’t know where the idea came from – I guess I wanted to see how I’d cope trying to document my life over that period. Some good stuff came out of that, like ‘Masquerade’, ‘Tracks’ and ‘Civilians’. There was also some not so good stuff I put out that some people will have on file somewhere! After the 6 months I’d written a big batch of songs, recorded them all acoustically and had given away thousands of free downloads – so I knew I had enough good songs for an album. I’d spent a lot of time over the years in bands releasing singles and EPs, and an album is much more of a statement where people can get the measure of you as a songwriter.
4) So…what is the sustain like sound at the beginning of ‘Waves in the sea’?
DP: It’s a really simple guitar riff that I slowed down and distorted, then we ran it backwards in the studio. I wanted that song to have a weird, haunting intro before the acoustic guitars come in and the effect sounds pretty cool.
5) ‘I’m swimming through the ashes of the bridges I’ve burned’. This song title defines so much about what Americana sounds like. Is this a song about regret or acceptance?
DP: That’s a song about accepting regret, realising things won’t change and trying to move on and be happy. I liked that image, the idea of someone swimming around in the ashes of a failed relationship. It sounds pretty macabre when I put it like that!
6) Let’s move into the usual questions. Any plans to release more stuff soon?
DP: I’ve got 10 new songs that I’m happy with ready for the second record. I’d like to have another 5 written at least, so I can record them all and choose the right ones for the album.
The plan is to record in June and July, and then aim for an autumn release. I’d like to get the second album out around a year after the release of Satellites. A lot of the bands I admire are prolific so I’m striving for that kind of approach. It’s sounding different – it will definitely be a more serious, stripped back record than Satellites.
7) What are your influences? You’ve mentioned Ryan Adams and Counting Crows quite a bit.
DP: Those two are a big influence for sure. Like a lot of singer-songwriters, I’m a huge Dylan fan – he’s a genius. The National is another band I love, I think they’re an exceptional band and I always get something new from their songs each time I listen. REM, Springsteen, Arcade Fire, Elliott Smith and The Hold Steady are all musicians I really admire.
8) Any particular favourite Ryan Adams song/album?
DP: Heartbreaker all the way for me. Gold a close second. Almost everything he does is fantastic – I have to say almost everything because of the death metal and weird DJ stuff he put out! That I can live without. He’s written so many great songs, I couldn’t pick just one.
9) You’ve mentioned you enjoy Counting Crows a lot on Twitter, what’s yer fave album/song?
DP: This is an odd choice, but I really like Hard Candy. Most fans prefer August and Everything After, but I really like the way they went for a pop sound on that record and it’s an album that sounds really vital to me. Again, they’re a great band and it’s hard to pick just one album or song – it depends on the mood I’m in! But I’m really into ‘Mrs Potter’s Lullaby’ at the moment – it sounds like it could just keep going and going, I love the roaming nature of it.
10) Reality TV has been pushing musicians doing cover versions (The voice, X-factor, etc.) There’s quite a negative reaction from musicians and blogs. What’s your take on this?
DP: Covers are for people who want to perform or be famous. It’s like an actor doing a really good De Niro impression – it might be good, but they’re still copying De Niro. That’s fine for some musicians or singers and they’re welcome to do it. TV talent shows work by appealing to what’s already familiar, and by appealing to the audiences’ need to like or dislike public figures. It’s not anything to do with creating music. I’ve always preferred to create something and in a cover, you’re hijacking someone else’s expression. If you’re happy to do that, go for it. Fame isn’t something I’m interested in. Success, yes, more of that would be great. But that’s a different thing to being famous. I wouldn’t want to be known for singing someone else’s song. What’s the point?
Words: Sam J. Valdés López