BEFORE this interview…
I knew a bit about Dan Sadin and the work he has recorded. I was keen to learn more about his solo career and how he balances that with his work in the band, FRENSHIP. The Way That It Hurts is his first solo single – a song that definitely sticks in the mind and compels further enquiry.
Sadin talks about his musical progression and changes; which artists and albums have made a big impression on him; how he spends his time away from music; whether we might see him visit the U.K. – he recommends a couple of new artists to check out.
Hi, Dan. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey man! I’m good, thanks. I’m in the van on my way to Boise, Idaho from Omaha, Nebraska. This week has been packed. I released The Way That It Hurts, which I’m so happy to have living out in the world and have been playing almost every night with, and opening for, FRENSHIP.
For those who are new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Thank God for guitars and good songs – can I just leave it at that?
The Way That It Hurts is your first solo single. What is the origin of the track? What does it mean to you?
This song was about two years in the making. Over the course of writing the song, I left my old band of about eight years, broke up with my long-time girlfriend; joined up with FRENSHIP and started touring the world. It was a whirlwind of events and not a lot of time to process it all.
The Way That It Hurts is my way of understanding all of those things that happened; specifically, the struggle of ending and creating new relationships. It’s always tough to accept the pain that comes from change – but I feel strongly that it’s necessary in order to grow and move forward in my life.
Will there be an E.P. or further singles later in the year?
Absolutely. I will be releasing more music - leading up to an E.P. at the end of June.
How do songs come together for you? Do you set time aside to write - or is it best to allow for inspiration to strike?
Writing is a muscle: if I don’t exercise it, I have a hard time using it and being creative.
I am always writing down snippets of lyrics/prompts on my phone and recording quick ideas during soundcheck or in the car. When I’m home, I generally go back to these ideas and start building from there. Sometimes, I’m able to follow an idea through to the end and, other times, it sparks another musical path that I follow. I used to be hyper-critical and only allow myself to work on what I had originally set out to do...
But, I’ve found, if I just follow my creativity, I’ll end up where I need to be. I never want to be fighting myself for a song. There’s nothing authentic about that.
Many know you from your work with FRENSHIP. Was there a reason for stepping away from the group and going out alone?
Actually, I still play with FRENSHIP. They’re like family and I have a hard time imagining a life where they aren’t involved in some capacity…and, as much as I love them, at the end of the day, I’m playing somebody else’s music.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s such a treat to play the music - it’s really good and there’s a lot I can learn from them. But, I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, use my own voice. I feel like I’ve found a good starting point and I’m working as hard as I can; making myself the priority in my own musical career.
How does your life as a solo artist differ to that of FRENSHIP? Have you noticed big changes and differences?
Since I’m still playing with FRENSHIP and we’re in the middle of a two-month-long North American tour, not too much has changed. I guess the biggest difference is that I’m pulling double duty – I am opening up the shows on this run for them as Dan Sadin as well as playing in the band. It’s been incredibly rewarding and meaningful to get in front of their audiences and start connecting with people around with the music I’m creating.
Which artists did you grow up around? Tell me who you count as idols…
I feel like I’ve kind of grown up twice…
Once, from a kid to an adult and a second time, within the last few years, where I rekindled a creative fire I never knew had gone out. I’d count this second phase as equally, if not more, important in my current identity as a musician.
I never got into Tom Petty when I was younger but, in the last few years, he’s become my biggest musical idol. When he passed in the fall, I felt like I had lost a family member. I hate being that dramatic about it but my heart truly hurt - and it still does. Also, count me in for Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and Patti Smith.
As a kid growing up, I was into anything that had a guitar or a guitar solo. I’m a closet early Van Halen fan (through 1984)…outside of that; my favorites would have been: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin; Steve Miller Band, The Rolling Stones; Jeff Buckley, The Strokes; Jet, Radiohead; The Allman Brothers, Chris Whitley; Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt; Green Day, AC/DC; U2, The Police; Coldplay, John Mayer…
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
I do! I am continuing to open for FRENSHIP for the rest of this tour through the end of May. I am lining up shows for the summer around the release of the E.P. - when I’m back in Los Angeles.
Might you head to the U.K. and play?
Yeah; that’d be absolutely killer…you have any connects?! Haha.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
At the end of last year, FRENSHIP was quieting down and I set a goal to start releasing music and make my own project happen this year. So far, I’ve kept to that goal and look forward to releasing more music, playing more shows; hopping on more tours, building fans and growing this project in a meaningful and lasting way.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – one that sticks in the mind?
Playing Outside Lands last year with FRENSHIP was super-meaningful. I grew up in San Francisco, so I got to walk from my parents’ house to the festival and play for my family and my hometown – literally, on the field where I used to play soccer as a kid.
Don’t think I’ll ever forget that one.
If you could select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Only three?! That’s tough, but I’ll go with what I’m feeling today:
Full Moon Fever – Tom Petty
This album has so many great songs and yet was recorded in Mike Campbell’s garage. It is one of Tom Petty’s largest commercial successes but both members of his band and his entire record label doubted its success. To me, this is where Petty really started reaching his peak as a songwriter and artist – and the story of perseverance, of him believing in himself and using so little to create so much is something that I deeply connect with.
Grace – Jeff Buckley
This was the first time I had ever heard the guitar played in this way. Buckley’s playing is straight from the heart, unique in style and is equally as virtuosic as it is complementary to his vocals. Grace also pushed me to rethink what a song could be, how it could be constructed. This album carried me through high-school.
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends/Prospekt’s March – Coldplay
It’s just so good - and same with the E.P. that followed. I don’t think there’s anything else that sounds quite like it. The production, the songs; the feeling…they’re all there for me. Life in Technicolor II is one of my favorite songs and is still on-repeat for me.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I feel like I’m a new artist. Ha. But, if I had to talk about my dogma as a musician, I’d say don’t let anybody else shape your opinion of your own music. Nobody is going to work harder for you than you will. It’s not just about hard work: it’s about smart work and making the heart work.
IN THIS PHOTO: Colyer
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Totally. I’ve had the pleasure of working with my close friend and musical brother, Colyer. His music is so good and I am thrilled to be able to share in it with him.
Also, I’ve been working with Celeste (Tacuhar), the keyboardist and singer in FRENSHIP, on her own music. It’s been a lot of fun and I am looking forward to finishing up that project and supporting her in her own career. Keep eyes out for her!
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Not a huge amount of time but, when I do, I’m usually spending quality time with my girlfriend and my dog. We do a lot of road trips, camping and exploring. I honestly don’t know what I would do without either of them in my life. Their unconditional love helps ground me when I need it the most.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music – I will do that)
This one is for my brother, Colyer. I co-produced his song, Lost in Your Love, and it is one of my favorites
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