LISTENER’s very own Dan Smith was kind enough to answer a few questions for us regarding their upcoming album and world tour they’ve just got home from.
We covered Listener’s new release a while back on the site which you can look at HERE.
Thanks for taking the time out to answer some questions for us today guys, for anyone not familiar with your work, would you mind introducing yourselves?
This is Dan Smith, and I play in a band called Listener.
You consider your genre ‘Talk Music’ where did this come from?
It was kind of a necessity at first. Promoters wanted to promote the band as something, a genre and we didn’t want to use hip-hop or poetry to describe it, so Talk Music came out of that time. Talk and Roll has also been lovingly used, and rock and roll with poetic lyrics, we are a rock band.
When did Listener form and how did you guys all get to know each other?
The current lineup of Listener being me, Kris Rochelle on drums and Jon Terrey on guitar, we have all known each other and/or of each other for about 8 to 10 years now. Kris and I started touring about 5 and a half years ago in Listener, and before that we had played shows together in different bands. Jon, we met a while back too when he was playing with The Chariot and we have all been touring together for 2 and a half years now.
Who inspired you musically throughout your lives?
I always listened to hip-hop growing up, and then other rock and roll bands however mostly The Cure and Outkast those are two big brand name bands that I’ve always loved and look forward to listening to their records.
Onto the upcoming album. It’s all been pretty hush at the moment, just a few studio teasers on Instagram and Facebook. What can you tell us about it?
The record is done, mixed and ready. We have decided to put it out a little at a time. With 4 seven-inch records, and for each of those releases we will put out a video, then when they are all released we will put it up as a twelve-inch record, a CD, digitally in a lot of places and probably a cassette. A number of styles of art can take years to make and tons of money to then just be put on the internet the next day, so we want to put this album out slowly in pieces first, kind of like going to see a movie at a theater vs just downloading it. Come out to a show. We are playing the tunes.
How will fans be able to gain access to the new album and any previous work you have done?
Our website, all good record stores, online at Itunes and such or from us at a show.
How has the music evolved on the new record as compared to the previous releases?
So for every record, we want to make a different album… usually. But in some ways, we are the same people, and a lot of ways we aren’t the same as we were 4 and 6 and 7 years ago and beyond. This record has Kris Rochelle at the helm he wrote all the music and did the arrangements. We have production help by Josh Scogin. We also recorded with Nate Washburn in Atlanta at Glow in the Dark studio and it all helped to make the sound we have now. We play a couple hundred or more shows, practice, live life, learn new instruments, listen to new bands and the times that we have. It all shapes us to make and want to make the albums and art we make now. We are attempting to make the next best thing, and chasing the thing that’s in our heads that is the best whilst also being what we want to make. It’s a lot of fun, and nerve-racking, all of it.
Lyrically your music has always seemed to stem from an intimate place but fans tend to connect to your lyrics on a deeply personal level, was this intended?
I just like to write my thoughts down when I have them, and then try and make songs out of them.
We saw in the album teasers that you were working with Josh Scogin from ’68 and The Chariot fame, did you work with or have anyone else feature on this record?
Josh helped us with ideas and producing the record. It was a lot of fun getting to hang out with him and work on a project in this way. I’ve known Josh for a while now and usually, we are always just living life on the road playing shows, and that’s been the extent of how we work together creatively. But it was fun to get his feedback on our tunes and make a record. If you get a chance to make a record produced by Josh, I say do it!
How has the creative process on this album differed compared to your previous albums?
It’s newer, and we are all older and have made records before, so a little bit of the anxiety wasn’t there, but then a lot of the anxiety was there too. Kris and I hadn’t made a record together just the 2 of us, and we also haven’t worked with Nate or Josh in a studio setting so we were nervous as to how it all would shake out, but they made us feel great and we were able to relax and make something we loved.
You’ve just got back from a very ambitious world tour, do you have any tour survival tips for aspiring artists out there?
We just got back from almost 4 months of touring on a world tour. It was a lot of moving, a lot of shows and a lot of fun. I would say to peeps who are aspiring to be musicians to get an instrument you like and play it every day. If you want to get in a band or even just travel and play shows by yourself I’d say do that too! I think it would be like winning the lottery if you made art and then magically everything was done for you by someone else. I think you just have to have a goal of something… say a world tour. Then try and play as many shows and make as many records as you can until that happens. Pack light, try to stay positive, sleep and eat well, try to take care of your friends on the road, and they’ll take care of you.
There were a lot of destinations on this tour, are there any in particular you enjoyed?
I loved getting to go to Russia and Israel, playing shows there and having some days off in both. I love just getting out there in the world, getting to see different cultures and ways of being. Playing shows in different countries and the ways things are done, the way audiences take in live music is challenging and rad, I think it’s good to mix it up. Stoked on it, happy to go back and happy to be home.
On this tour you hit Arcangent festival, how does playing to a festival crowd differ to that of your own shows? Are these shows tougher?
So, playing at Arctangent was a highlight for us. It was actually the largest audience we have ever played for. It’s fun to play clubs with good sound systems and people that come out just to see us and have a night together. The fest crowds (for us, because we aren’t big enough to warrant pulling a crowd of 3000) is different because the majority of people watching don’t know us or know what they are about to get in to, and in my mind I feel like we aren’t going to hold that many peoples attentions or be interesting. But they all seemed into it, we played really well and were stoked on it. I say bring on the fest audience.
Did you catch any other acts whilst you were there?
We got to see Converge which was a highlight. But we didn’t get to see many other bands. I wanted to watch Explosions in the Sky, but they played the next night and some friends sent me videos of them.
Whilst on tour you’re very open to meeting with fans, before and after shows for bites to eat or even happy to stay with them if they have space for you. How important do you feel it is to create these relationships and memories with your fans?
If possible I try to eat every day, sleep too, aside from traveling like a weirdo and being on stage at night I’m just a normal person. Getting to share a meal or take part in someone’s hospitality, or stay with friends is healthy to do on the road. It helps me feel normal and somewhat grounded. Getting to stay in hotels is great too, having plenty of solitude because it means not having to talk and just spend a quiet morning or night then go to sleep. All in moderation, and we get a mix of it all on the road.
What are you currently listening to?
The new Brand New, Jeff Rosenstock, Pup and The Cure.
What hobbies do you have outside of music?
I like to build things, make things and do like DIY renovation projects. My home has been a large renovation project. I’m down to just the finishing touches on it, and living in it, so it’s slow going now.
What plans do you have for the future?
Get better at playing my bass guitar, travel more, see my mom, sister and friends more. Also, try and like myself more.
Are there any people you’d like to take the opportunity to thank?
Thank YOU Dan. This has been a lovely interview to have. Listen to the newest single from Listener below.