I recently had the chance to sit down with a good friend of mine who also happens to be one of my freaking favorite human beings on the entire planet - Dan Smith, frontman for Listener. Dan is a spark, and I say that in the most humble of ways. I have seen him perform numerous times, each time it just gets more and more inspirational. Without even trying to emotionally manipulating the crowd, Dan, in some unspoken way has the ability to seriously reach inside your soul, and start rattling all these chains. Its hard not to look into the crowd at a listener show... Some in tears, some in prayer, some dancing, some screaming the words at the top of their lungs. It really is something indescribable. Take a look below, as we get to know Dan a little bit better. And for the love of God - if you have not listened to these guys - do it NOW
First off, what is your favorite cereal? This really sets the tone for the whole rest of the interview...
Oatmeal, or granola and yogurt.
When did Listener officially start?
it officially started as a solo project in early 2002, but Chris and I started making what Listener is today in early 2007.
You came from a hip-hop background, right? Explain that a little bit and what made you transition into the indie scene?
You bet. I used to make lots of hiphop and really be in to that music and scene, and made several albums in a couple different groups, but after the group I was in, deepspace5, got a record deal we started playing more shows and touring and playing all hiphop shows...and I put out 2 solo records in that scene....and I just was over playing just in front of rap audiences and working in that genre. I wanted to play for everyone and not exclude people. So, I tried and set out to play for people wherever they were at, mostly house shows, and it's been a series of years and tours and albums and we never really pick what scene we are going to be in, but just make music from our hearts.
Where do you drive your Inspiration from?
I try and just write down the thoughts I have when I have them. living the life I get to live, not the job I do, but the gift of life is inspiration enough. sadness and joy and everything in between.
Did you always want to play music? What was your dream job as a kid?
I think ever since I was about 11 I wanted to play music. I didn't think it could be done for a living, but it's doable. I think when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor, and I went to college for TV broadcasting, and also graphic design. I've done a little of all of that.
Where did you Grow Up? Did you live in an environment where your friends and family were supportive of your music?
I grew up in Southern Missouri, and my family and friends were always very supportive of what I did. I never got the impression that they liked it or understood what I did...but they always have been supportive :)
You played rugby in college, do you still play?
You bet. it's the best sport in the world. I still do play. I've been playing and training with the Denver Harlequins lately. I've played on several mens clubs since college and even helped start a team in Fayetteville Arkansas. Sometimes touring puts a damper on whether or not I can be super active in our schedule, but I still love playing when I can. I just played in my alma mater's alumni game last week and we won. We've beat the students now 8 years in a row.
What was your Favorite cartoon growing up? Whats your favorite cartoon now?
I really loved Scooby Doo and GI Joe. I don't think I have a favorite cartoon right now. Chris showed me one called the Regular Show which is awesome. I need to watch that more.
In your writing process as well as when you perform, how do you integrate your faith into your music? Is that a weird balance? Has your faith ever been a problem when its come to music?
I don't really think about it too much. I do have my beliefs as a lot of people do, but I don't really look at how much of my faith that I can fit into someones face or a song....I just try to write as honest as I can and be a good person when I can when I'm on stage and off.
You guys just got done writing your next album, right? Was your writing process for this album different from Wooden Heart? Any specific inspiration behind this album?
We did. It's still in the works too. The writing process was different. We wrote it a lot faster, and with a drummer this time. It's much heavier than wooden heart and RTS, and we wanted to just get in the studio and make something from where we are right now. The words for the album are all encouragements and warnings.
What is your favorite city to play? Do you have a favorite venue?
I really like Montreal and San Francisco, we haven't played either much at all...but I like those cities. I also really like to play in Paris.
Do you have a personal favorite song you play, and why?
I enjoy playing a lot of our songs. I don't think I have a favorite.
Whats your favorite genre of film?
I love good comedy films, but I think the thing I like most is finding a few writers and directors that put out consistent good material and try and follow them. I can't watch scary movies though.
Who is your least favorite actor or actress and why?
I don't care for Tommy Lee Jones, he got kind of type cast there for a while and was playing all the same character. I don't know if I have a least favorite actress though.
If you had to fight a wild animal, what would you choose and why?
I would fight a squirrel so I wouldn't die :).....it would be cool to fight a mountain lion though, but it would hurt.
What is the one thing you couldn't live without on the road?
I probably couldn't live without my telephone. it's just become the way I stay in touch, and the way I listen to things, and get around. I could certainly live without it and get along fine, but it's a really good luxury item to have.
Do you have any killer tour moments that stand out from your last tour? Good and Bad?
They are all great. Some really amazing heart filling moments and also some sad ones. It's always amazing to me to play in front of a room of people who all came out of their houses to see our band. Sometimes I just can't believe it.
All that being said, when in the hell are you guys playing in Denver again?!?!
I live here now!!! So pretty soon :)