- Mon, 2011-06-13 11:00
Glaswegian sextet Dananananaykroyd combine chaotic energy and big melodies to make the kind of music that will have you flinging yourself around with glee. Their debut album, 2008’s Hey Everyone!, established them as underground heroes, and now they are returning with There Is A Way, their second, Ross Robinson-produced album.
I Like Music grabbed a moment of drummer Paul Carlin’s time to talk about the new album, life on the road, Glasgow’s music scene and the unstoppable urge to make music.
ILM: What can you tell us about your new single Muscle Memory? How would you describe it?
Paul Carlin: Our singer Calum describes it thus: It's about remembering to be yourself when things around you are changing. Muscle Memory was always going to be a big track for us from the moment it was written. David wrote the music, Calum wrote the words. We took it into the rehearsal room and each added our own thing and HEY PRESTO, Muscle Memory was born. It's a really fun song to play live. It's got that perfect tempo that makes it easy to bounce along to.
ILM: The track is released via your label Pizza College. What made you decide to start the label?
Paul Carlin: We wanted to take back control of our band to a certain extent. When record labels are involved you definitely lose something. Pizza College is the perfect way for us - with the help of our management - to retain some of that freedom but also take a bit more responsibility for our output... And why the hell not call a label Pizza College? The way the music industry's going, everyone should be doing this.
ILM: We're all rather excited about the new album, There Is A Way. Are you pleased with the finished record? How does it compare to Hey Everyone!?
Paul Carlin: We're all delighted with There Is A Way. It's a far better representation of this band than Hey Everyone! was. That first record did have some absolute belters on it. We're definitely proud of it, but in terms of capturing a sound and a moment in time, I think we’ve nailed it on There Is A Way. There's definitely a more melodic approach to this record. That wasn't something we sat down and decided; it just kinda organically happened that way. Bands evolve. There's little to be gained from staying in the same place all the time. RIP IT.
ILM: Since starting out, how has your song-writing process changed and developed? How do songs typically come together?
Paul Carlin: For the most part, our guitarist David writes the basic song. He does some cool, wonky demos and sends it to Calum and John, who decide who'll write the lyrics. The finished demo gets passed around the band and we all tweak our individual parts. Then we take it to the rehearsal room where the song gestates, gets changed about some more and, eventually, we have a Dana song. Our other guitarist Duncan has written a few tracks too. We're not really a 'get in the studio and jam' type band. Our beautiful brains can't cope with that!
ILM: You worked with Ross Robinson on the new album, what was that experience like? What did you learn from him?
Paul Carlin: Working with Ross was an intense, brilliant period in our lives. In the studio he's demanding, encouraging, a little crazy and honest. Outside of the studio he's a gentle, goofy, fun guy who let us come into his lovely big house and mess it up. The six weeks we spent in L.A. were awesome fun. Ross is all about the FIRE rather than a note-perfect take. He wanted to get into our guts, shoogle everything about and make us play with PASSION. Whether that was throwing bits of garbage at us or giving us Zen-like pep talks, I think it worked a treat. He reminded us that WE'RE FUCKING DANANANANAYKROYD.
ILM: What can we expect from the new songs live?
Paul Carlin: We've just played a week of shows in the UK, which were a whole lot of fun. Even without There Is A Way being released yet there were kids down the front (attempting to) sing along to the new stuff. As a band that's the kicker. That's the moment where you can really feel like you've done a good job. So, onwards to summertime! We've got about 2184912 festivals booked around the UK and Europe and we're TRULY PUMPED. Anyone who has seen us live will know that we're here to have a good time, so expect more dancing, jumping, thrashing, flailing, hugging and high-fives all summer.
ILM: Out of all the shows you've played, which have been some of the most memorable?
Paul Carlin: I'd say supporting Foals at the Glasgow Barrowlands a couple of years ago would have to be up there. The Barras is a legendary venue in Glasgow. It's the place EVERY band wants to play... and we got to do it. Elsewhere, opening up the Radio 1/NME Stage at the Reading Festival two summers ago was pretty special. The heavens opened, everyone piled into the tent and we had a huge party. Splendour in the Grass Festival in Australia also deserves a mention. That was a whole lot of fun.
ILM: How would you describe touring with Dananananaykroyd? What's it like to go on the road together?
Paul Carlin: People seem to believe that Dana on tour is a frenetic, wild, lol-tastic non-stop party... it is A LITTLE, I suppose, but we're just like most other bands. We like sleeping, eating, messing about on our laptops, etc. I think having toured so much in our earlier days we've become quite thick skinned and we seem to get on quite well these days. Everyone knows each other so well now. Touring can be awesome fun but it can also be quite hard. The trick is just to avoid having unrealistic expectations of your band-mates. If someone's having a bad day, that's cool! The most fun I think we've had as a band was travelling to Australia on the plane a couple of years ago. Us and our manager up the back of the plane; loads of drinking, much hilarity. (Ended in tears, obviously).
ILM: What's your earliest musical memory? When did you realise music could have such an affect on you?
Paul Carlin: Personally, my earliest memory is running around my parents' kitchen table to Mickey by Toni Basil (argh, showing my age here) as a toddler. I've always been aware of music. Always. Music is so important when you're growing up. Think about the music you listened to as a teenager... think about how it made you feel. Kids use music as a crutch; it's something to hide behind or stand in front of. We all remember the music our parents played in the car (Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms). We all remember the first single we bought (KC and the Sunshine Band - Give It Up). I remember being a massive fan of Big Country in the eighties (DO NOT DISS THE COUNTRY) and stealing all the pillows in my house to set up a rudimentary 'drumkit' on my bed. I whacked the pillows with knitting needles and I was obsessed with drums from that moment. I was only 7 or 8 as well. My parents were musical and encouraged me from an early age, so I have them to thank for this. I spent the ages of 13-16 playing drums in my bedroom along to albums by Nirvana, The Posies, Sloan and Smashing Pumpkins (took a while to get good at the Pumpkins stuff!!). It made me who I am today.
ILM: What affect do you think Glasgow has had on you and your music?
Paul Carlin: We're lucky to come from a city with such a brilliant musical history. I started going to gigs in the mid-90s and the indie scene in Glasgow around then was amazing. Few of those bands are left, but being a part of something back then felt awesome. In a sense, that hasn't changed that much. I don't think the quality of output from Scotland is quite as good as it once was, simply because anyone can make music now. Anyone can do it. Stick a mic into your laptop and hit 'record’. Every member of Dananananaykroyd played in Glasgow bands growing up. We all had different experiences of different genres. It's awesome how six guys with pretty diverse taste in music can come together and make a glorious racket. Anyway, Glasgow's still brilliant. I saw the Franz Ferdinand drummer pushing a pram around the west end a couple of weeks ago. That was a nice moment. Just like everything in life, cities evolve. Scenes evolve. Change is good.
ILM: What's your take on the current Scottish music scene - any bands we should check out?
Paul Carlin: Scotland is still producing a lot of great bands. I'm really enjoying the United Fruit album right now. They're a scuzzy, angular 4-piece from Glasgow. We recently took Glasgow duo Bronto Skylift on tour as well. If you're into that sorta Hella, DFA1979 sound, you should check them out. One of the best records I've heard this year is the Sparrow and the Workshop record. My goodness, what a band. Out of Edinburgh, Tape Studio is bringing synth pop BACK. The Linn Drum Machine is not dead! Also, be sure to pick up the Copy Haho record. They're good pals of ours and their album is just perfect indie rock. The LuckyMe Collective out of Edinburgh is doing shit NO ONE else is doing.
ILM: What have you been listening to recently?
Paul Carlin: Chad VanGaalen!! The new Chad VanGaalen record, Diaper Island, is the best thing I've heard this year. Canadian, lo-fi, eerie, sweet indie pop. I doubt I'll hear a better song this year than Peace on the Rise. In addition, the new Fucked Up record is just great. Really long, but relentlessly heavy and awesome. I'm also really enjoying new EPs by Here We Go Magic and The Sea and Cake. As for the rest of the band, I know that Calum's digging the Gang Gang Dance album, John is on a huge Prince binge, Ryan is probably digging either Elliott Smith or Glassjaw, and Duncan and David are possibly listening to the same stuff as me.
ILM: What is it that keeps you creating music?
Paul Carlin: You can't stop. Fundamentally. If you're born with a talent that allows you to make music, you can't stop. You can try but you can't stop. When we're not doing Dana, we're each doing our own side projects. Making music and playing shows is a privilege. It's not always easy but I doubt any of us would want to change a thing right now. That hour that you spend onstage rocking out more than makes up for the long drives, the stresses and missing home. That’s what keeps you creating music.
Guest Edit #40: Dananananaykroyd Take a look here