All images by Rob Blackham ©
Danny Bryant releases his new album ‘Revelation’ on April 20th 2018. Down The Front Media caught up with Danny to find out what’s been going on in his life, his influences behind the music and the tour that accompanies the album. Here’s what he had to say:-
DTF: Where are you right now?
DB: I’m at home in Royston. Near Cambridge.
DTF: And we’re speaking about your new album ‘Revelation’? It comes out this year on the 20th April on Jazzhouse Records?
DB: It does. We’ve started the whole promo thing quite early this year which is nice. I always enjoy this sort of thing. Promoting the albums but I’ve got a tour that’s around 50 shows literally in a row and sometimes I’m doing the interviews while I’m on tour. It’s much easier doing it when I’ve got some time off when I’m at home.
DTF: 50 shows. Wow. The album is going to drive what you do for the rest of the year. Tell us about the album Danny.
DB: Well, the last project I did was a big band project and we had a nine piece band, keys and a horn section and everything. So we recorded a live album with that. This time when I went in the studio I wanted to use my regular touring band but also the big band aswell on some of the tracks. There’s a bit of both and it’s kind of the way we tour this year. We’re doing some big band shows mainly at festivals and some regular band shows. It’s a slightlier heavier album than the previous ones in terms of the music side of it. Some of the lyrics are a bit darker and I’m pleased with the way it’s turned out. Despite some of the darker subject matter, we had a lot of fun making it and it was a relaxed kind of atmosphere and it was good fun.
DTF: Having listened to the album, it’s fantastic. It’s quite diverse. There’s an acoustic number, there’s the full nine piece big band thing and there’s some rockier stuff going on there as well?
DB: It ended up being quite diverse. I think for that reason it’s going to be fun to do live. I mean we obviously won’t do all of it live but there are some straight ahead blues like ‘Truth or Dare’ where you’ve got the brass section and then there’s things like the title track where it’s a bit more of a ‘song song’ and like you say down to some acoustic stuff aswell.
DTF: It’s interesting in ‘Revelation’ the darker lyrical content is definitely there but the music isn’t dark.
DB: No it isn’t no. I did an interview earlier today and the guy was saying “were you very depressed when you made it?” and I said “no, not really, it’s just a snapshot of how you might feel on a certain day”. Let’s face it, songs about sunshine and roses don’t make a good subject matter so you’re always better exploring the darker side of things for songs ‘cause they’re most interesting. People don’t want to hear about you having a great life and everything. They want to hear about things they can relate to I think.
DTF: There’s a lot of life in the album. There are a lot of your experiences and of course there’s that great tribute to your dad Ken?
DB: Yeah, which is probably one we won’t play live cause it’s hard singing that high bit (laughs), but I tried to write that in the style of the music he liked. He liked blues music. He played bass in the band with me for years but he loved ballads so I tried to make it something that if he heard it, he’d like it. I obviously knew him so well and we were so close I knew exactly what he’d like so it was quite easy to write the music for that.
DTF: And of course we’re talking about ‘Shouting at the Moon’. I heard some interesting influences in there. Maybe it’s just me Danny but there’s almost an 80s synth padding in the background that’s really interesting.
DB: Yeah. I’m influenced by so many different things and if I like something, I like it and I don’t turn it away cause it isn’t blues or something like that. It was a fun song to write. It is a little bit different. When I originally wrote it with the producer it was just going to be an acoustic song but once we started to work on it, it presented itself as a band song.
DTF: And I would have perhaps made an assumption that you wouldn’t sing it live because of the emotion it evokes but there’s a bit more to it than that I guess – it’s the falsetto choruses.
DB: It is the falsetto choruses but there is the emotion. I mean whenever you’re playing you put emotion into everything. Equally, you put as much emotion in as you can but you also switch it off cause you’re concentrating on the job so it’s not I wouldn’t be able to get through it. I think it takes a particular type of audience to listen to that sort of song because it’s quite a quiet song in a lot of ways whereas a lot more of the songs on the album present themselves more as live tracks.
DTF: I totally agree. I was totally lost in the ‘Shouting at the Moon’, listening with headphones on and I think it’s a very passionate emotional song and you should be congratulated on that. It is a great tribute to your dad.
DB: Thanks mate. I appreciate that.
DTF: The more upbeat songs that are on there – we can’t ignore the big band feel of ‘Truth or Dare’. You can tell that’s going to translate onto a stage fantastically.
DB: Yeah, I think that will be a lot of fun. That was very much written deliberately for the big band because as I say when I put the big band together, I didn’t know if it was gonna be more than two or three shows that we were gonna play which were just the ones we were recording for the album. It was really well received and I mean we’re doing quite a few shows with them this year so I wanted to have them on the album. So there’s a couple of songs that were written specifically for them so we could showcase them. That one in particular will be fun.
DTF: And it is fun. And ‘Sister Decline’ which we can now get on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon. That’s a great upbeat song. Lots of energy.
DB: Yeah. That’s kind of why I released that one first. As you say, that’s got a lot of energy and it’s got the whole band on it. I think we’ll probably open the shows with that.
DTF: So an interesting approach to touring. Some bands like the consistency of ‘this is the band, these are the dates, we’re gonna go out’ but you’re gonna mix and match the nine piece with the four piece that you toured with before Christmas?
DB: Yeah. We’re doing four piece shows and then we’re doing festivals with the nine piece. We’re also doing trio in Poland and the Czech Republic. Yeah, it keeps it quite diverse and it keeps it interesting for me and for the audiences. As I say we’ve got a lot of tour dates. The first run is 50 shows but then we have another lot as well so we have about 100 shows which is good. I like to tour and in this modern day, especially with blues music, we don’t get a lot of mainstream media coverage so you’ve got to get out there and let people know you’ve got an album.
DTF: You’re background as well has been on stage. You’ve toured relentlessly?
DB: Yeah. It’s something I’ve always loved to do. I’m lucky to call it my job as well. It’s good to get out there. It’s good to play. The only part that ever gets you down is the travelling but that’s a necessary evil. I sort of think of myself getting paid for the travelling and the playing bit I do for free.
DTF: I’ve never heard of anyone putting it that way. It makes perfect sense. When you’re on tour, do you still involve the family in how the band is managed and supported?
DB : Yeah. My wife manages the band now and she travels with me and my mum who used to manage the band. She comes out to certain shows. We fly her out and if she’s coming to a show we stick her on the CD stand (laughs) and get her working. So yeah, still a family affair.
DTF: Fantastic. Get her working to pay her fare.
DB: Exactly (laughs)!
DTF: So 2018. 100 shows – wow. Where is that going to take you? What are the stand-out shows through 2018?
DB: It takes us all over Europe. I think it takes us to about 14 countries. We start actually before the album is released - in March. A show in Germany. It’s gonna be filmed for German television. It’s a festival they’ve been doing for 49 years in a row and it’s part of their established music history. I can’t pronounce what it’s called but that’s gonna be broadcast on the equivalent of BBC 1 in Germany so that’s good exposure. And then we start the Revelation tour when the album’s actually released. We have a blues festival in Sheffield and then we start off in Germany, then we come back to the UK. We just go all over.
DTF: And who are you taking out on tour. Who are your support? Is it Steve Hill?
DB: It is Steve Hill. He’s doing the first half of the tour and then a band called The Rainbreakers. They’re doing some of the other days once Steve’s gone back to Canada so it should be good.
DTF: I looked at the album cover. An evocative photograph on the cover. It looks like American with a doorman or a cop (in silhouette)? What’s the cover?
DB: It’s a doorman and if you look closely, the poster is a picture of me. The record company ran a few ideas past me and we’ve done so many album covers with a cover of me and my guitar so we wanted something a bit more mysterious. A bit more kind of like the music. Actually the record company chose all the artwork and they just ran it past me. I don’t actually know where it is. I think it’s Chicago.
DTF: It has that look, it’s in black and white and you’re right it gives a feel for the album.
DB: Yeah. I mean basically we just decided 10-12 albums of me standing on the front with a guitar – it was time for something different but I said “you guys need to find what looks good and what works” so credit to them they did that. It’s come out nice and it’s being released on vinyl. It’s always nice when you see it on vinyl. You get more appreciation for the artwork when you get it 4-5 times bigger.
DTF: Those of us at a certain age are still in love with that tactile thing.
DB: I’m in love with it and it’s great to see these albums reissued and printed on vinyl. I’m constantly buying vinyl now.
DTF: Isn’t it interesting that history repeats itself?
DB: I know. And when I started making albums, I didn’t think that I’d get to make a vinyl album because it was a thing of the past and suddenly it’s come back and I think this’ll be the fourth album we’ve done that’s been put on vinyl.
DTF: Really special. And all across the land, people are building collections again.
DB: Yeah, it’s great. I got all my mum and dad’s old vinyl cause she got rid of her set-up for playing vinyl. I think she wants it all back but I’m not gonna give it back (laughs). So I’ve got original Springsteens, Rory Gallaghers, Claptons, so I’ve been lucky there.
DTF: And collaborations over the years. Any stand-out moments. Any defining moments from people you’ve worked with?
DB: They’ve all been good. I had a great experience last month cause Bernie Marsden has become a friend of mine. He’s always sort of been an influence and I’ve always loved his music and I’ve got to know him over the last two years. He phoned me and asked “do you want to play second guitar for me in London?” and I said “I’d love to”. I’m not massive on my back catalogue of rock – I knew Bernie more for his blues stuff so he sent me a list of ten Whitesnake songs to learn. I think I had two and a half days to learn them so that was quite a challenge and I was thinking this guy that’s written all these hits like ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Fool for your Lovin’. I can’t really get up and play back up guitar for him and mess them up. I’ve gotta learnt them but it was a great experience and a great learning curve as well.
DTF: I managed to listen to him at the Skegness Blues and Rock Festival a few weeks ago. He did an acoustic set and the thing that struck me were the anecdotes about his life.
DB: Yeah, he’s a really-really lovely guy and has some incredible stories. He’s been a part of history and been around so much, played so many sessions and written so many important songs you know.
DTF: And what an honour for you to play with him but you’re up there Danny. That’s why these people are coming to you. You don’t have to look too far to see the influence you’re having on the blues scene across Europe and beyond.
DB: It’s always good to meet your heroes and find out that they’re really nice. He’s a prime example of that and again Walter Trout is another one. I was with Joe Bonamassa in January and went to The Black Country Communion show and he was just a lovely guy. I’d met him before - a long time ago. They’re all really nice people these guys.
DTF: Fantastic. Danny – You’re new album – Revelation. Released on Jazzhouse Records on 28th April and you’re kicking off the UK leg in Bilston on 7th May with Steve Hill. It’s a fantastic album and I know our listeners and readers are gonna mop it up. It’s a fantastic slice of your life.
DB: Thanks I really appreciate you taking the time to ring and speak to me.
Danny Bryant's new album "Revelation" is released by Jazzhaus Records on Friday 20th April. His UK tour starts at Bilston's Robin 2 on Friday 7th May.
Special guests include Steve Hill and Rainbreakers. Further info: www.dannybryant.com