‘IF THE AUDIENCE CAN’T RELATE, THEN I HAVE FAILED....’ Dan Byron chats to Lu Cozma about his album ‘Forbidden Drama’ and the release of BYRON’S forthcoming, new album and single release.
I met Dan in a relaxed mood, chilling at a coffee house in Piata Romana, Bucharest, on a pleasant spring afternoon, sipping cappuccino and taking in the midday city atmosphere. Last time I saw him, he had just come off stage, buzzing from a hugely successful show at The Silver Church.
Certainly, it was one of those meetings where the weather and such an interesting interviewee, inspired hours of talking music, life, the universe, however the subject of his new album was very much on the agenda and he was keen to divulge.
What’s on his mind? What gets his thinking processes on hard drive? What are the issues that mean something to Dan Byron? By the end of the interview, I got to thinking that what he feels strongly about comes to life in song.
Exposed to music at an early age; the second child of 2 boys, exceptional parents who encouraged creativity; studying music at school, nearly marrying and living in Germany, even faking mental instability to escape Military Service were all subjects that could have made a story in themselves. But that’s for another time, maybe in his autobiography in years to come.
I asked Dan about writing, creating and performing original compositions and what’s his take on it all...
DB – The biggest pleasure I have is to create. And when I am at home, sitting on my chair, with my computer, with my keyboard, with my guitar and create something new and something exciting you know.... this is the pleasure.
LC – The album ‘Forbidden Drama’... what was the reason for the title?
DB – The first reason was it sounds well.
LC – Which is a good enough reason.
DB – Yeah. The 2nd reason is about things we don’t speak about. It’s about the reality of the world and all this corporate stuff, all these walls everyday that we build. 30 years after the album ‘The Wall’ (Pink Floyd), we’re still in the same shit or worse. During the writing of that album I met our manager, he thinks corporate. I met those corporate types. And the guitar player was a lawyer.
My kind of freedom and their kind of life gave birth to this album, from beginning to end. I start with corporate stuff and step by step going to my kind of stuff.
LC – Do you find as a writer you’re making a conscious decision or obligation to have some thought provoking content in your music?
DB – Many artists are talking about love. They are talking about love since the 50’s or one century before, but they don’t really talk about love actually, they only talk about love cos they know they can sell the album...
LC - Playing on sentimentality...?
DB – Yeah. For the next album, I tried hard, really hard, to write one song about love.
LC – Was it that much of an effort?
DB – It was a real, big effort. The first point; I don’t like to lie. If I make music, I have to be there and think. The second is I don’t want to talk about my private life, but I did... And I wrote a song about one love that I lost, it still obsessed me. Not because of the person. It was more about - I loved that love. I always remembered how it was.
LC – Nostalgia, you were kind of grieving over?
DB – Yeah, but that was the challenge. In that song the chorus is ‘There is one love we never forget, one love every day we try to recreate’. On ‘Forbidden Drama’ I included a little episode on (the song) ‘Faraway’. Faraway is about sex actually. It’s about the feelings you have but it’s not about love...
LC – Lust and a drive for lust...
DB – Yeah. When you have sex with somebody, you forget about your problems, your troubles, and you’re so far away from the world. And for this new album I was thinking man, I wrote something about sex before but not about love... The next album is about writing; the process, from beginning to end.
LC – The theme of the album and the songs ‘thread’ throughout will be about ‘writing’?
DB – I don’t like to have an album with greatest hits. If I write 20 songs and chose 10, it’s not good...
LC – You like to have continuum throughout?
DB – Yeah. There are many layers of the album. A primal layer when you first hear and then after deeper and deeper. For example; it’s exciting to write about writing because you can talk about all problems you have, you can talk about media, how you are treated by media, how you feel about all these chicks on the television showing their asses and being rich and you as a real artist writing about yourself, life and everything... and nobody cares about you.
LC – Celebrity is different from actual talent...
DB – Yeah, yeah.
LC – Do you find yourself writing social documentary in your music?
DB – This influence comes from Bob Dylan; Pink Floyd, King Crimson. I guess my major influence come from Roger Waters and Bob Dylan because they wrote something so social, that when I listen I start thinking on what my life is. When Bob Dylan talks about love, he really means it. You can feel it. Like The Girl From North Country. (Dan then puts on a convincing Bob Dylan imitation voice and starts singing).
LC – Is it all about the product, is it all about the story and is it about bringing the audience in to your world?
DB – Well it’s not actually my story. It’s everybody’s story, but from my perspective. It’s what I see around me.
LC – So you’re putting forward to people something they can relate to ...
DB - If they can’t relate, then I have failed. Empathy is the most important .
LC – You seem to have a really solid team of musicians you’re working with. Do they have any say in the creative process? Do you bring them on board at a specific time? Is it a joint effort?
DB - I become more and more like a dictator, ha, but not like that kind of dictator...
LC – Haha, what kind? Like a nice dictator????
DB – I’m obsessed with making drafts, with music soft (software) and I bring to life every idea I have for each and every instrument we have in this band.
LC – Do you hear the arrangements in your head?
DB – Yeah, but my rule is like ‘well this is what I think about this. This is the theme I give you but if you don’t like it change it. If you like it keep it’, you know? So for the first album they changed it a lot because I was not so professional, like...
LC – Or maybe not so sure of yourself, then?
DB – No I was pretty sure of myself then but I didn’t have all the conditions I have right now. In the meantime time I bought another computer, a new midi control...
LC – A new surge of confidence...
DB – Yeah, and right now I can do almost anything at home, you know. Back then I didn’t know the software so well...
LC – Were you reliant on other people to help you with the technology of it?
DB – No, I made everything myself but I learnt in time... But my computer was old. Many things I wrote, with my right hand with the mouse and it’s hard to do it like this, because until you write an idea you’ve almost lost it, you know... Many things I wrote with my pen because I just didn’t want to lose the moment.
LC – Has the new album got a title or a working title? Or are you still working on that?
DB – The working title is ‘A Kind of Alchemy’. It’s something like an innuendo on ‘It’s a kind of Magic’ by Queen. A Kind Of Alchemy because making music is like being an alchemist; transforming people, happenings, into something different.
LC – You haven’t recorded yet... But the content of the album is pretty much there?
DB – It’s been ready since November.
LC – So it’s just a question of when you’ll be recording. Have you a deadline for release and will it be independently released or through a record label? With Forbidden Drama did they (the record company) distribute? Can you find it in the shops?
DB – Yeah.
LC – When a band’s ready at the point of bringing a product together, it’s better to have full control of every process, graphics, design, distribution etc ?
DB – No, I don’t want full control. I want to know what’s happening.
When we made ‘Forbidden Drama’ I had full control and I failed a little because I didn’t know much about making an album. I knew how to make the music but the rest of it, it is too much for me. After that, for the DVD ‘Acoustic Drama’ I almost didn’t feel like I had something to do because our manager did almost everything. We realised we had a designer in our band and we didn’t know about it... 6Fingers the keyboard player made the design. He just showed me the final draft and I said, alright, it’s very fine. Right now we are pretty much a team, everybody is doing something.
LC – When do we expect the release?
DB – In the autumn.
LC – A tour?
DB – I hope so. We have a tour this summer. I don’t know exactly when and where. Anyway, just Romania. There is no reason to go outside and play in clubs where nobody knows about you.
Actually now we are working on the final drafts and I believe in one month we’re gonna go to the studio.
LC – Excellent. How can we find out updates and info’? On your website?
DB – Yeah. The next site I want total control. That’s why I think, maybe, we’re gonna make it!
LC – A video, for the next album? Have you got a single that you’re going to push forward with a video?
DB – We have many. We’re thinking, this song or the other one.
LC – A tight decision?
DB – I already know the first single. And if someone’s going to be against me I’m going to fight!!!
Whoa! Before a possible fight breaks out, better get yourself logged on to http://www.byronmusic.ro/ for updates, news, gig listings and info on the new album.
Interview by Lu Cozma.