Gettin' down with the Daniel Byrnes Band
By: Jane Ellis, July 23, 2011
The Daniel Byrnes Band is a group of talented musicians with the power to make you move. Not surprisingly, The Power to Move is one of three singles on the band’s recently-released EP, Triple.
If guitarist/vocalist Daniel Byrnes is the heart of this band, the soul is made up of Hanwar Harnett on saxophone, Rich Hill on bass, Aaron Nickerson on drums, and Colin Bradley on keyboard.
Brynes is an exceptional musician and composer. Not only do his originals become stuck in your head after one listen, his ability to make cover songs his own is outstanding. He can segué from a powerful soul song to a simple folk ballad effortlessly and seamlessly.
The time has come for Byrnes and his band to be heard. You can also catch them as a quintet the first Friday of every month at the Sandwich BBC and also as a quartet every Thursday at the Falmouth BBC. The band has a monthly residency at the Beach House in North Falmouth.
I/O's Jane Ellis caught up with Byrnes before one of his regular gigs at the BBC.
InsideOUT: What have you been listening to lately and where do you draw inspiration from?
Dan: I have a few new records: My Morning Jacket’s newest one is real cool. I also like the Budos Band, and all the Daptones stuff is awesome. The Big Big Bucks are out of Boston and their latest CD was produced by Jack Younger, who also produced our single. I listen to a lot of singer-songwriters who are better at the craft than I am—like Josh Ritter, who inspires me to become a better songwriter.
I/O: How did you get started in music?
Dan: I have always been playing music. I started playing piano when I was a kid, guitar and bass in high school, then I started writing songs trying to get better at that. I was in a jam band called Contraband, then I moved in a different direction, but it was fun. I keep changing and evolving.
I/O: How did you determine this was the career for you and this is what you wanted to do?
Dan: I remember, I was 23 and I had dropped out of college. I was already playing gigs professionally and said, “OK, this is what I am going to do, I’m going to play music no matter what, but I’d better figure ways to make it work.” Then when I started teaching, it made things easier career-wise to have both performing and teaching aspects implemented.
I/O: You were recently in the studio. What was it like and what did you accomplish?
Dan: I am still in the middle of this project. It’s been amazing.The last recording I’d done was Conversations in Stereo which I produced, recorded, mixed, wrote, and played all the instruments. It was too much. For this one, we have a producer, Jack Younger, who is awesome. I have given him a lot of control. He knows the songs, but we are working together so it’s a lot more collaborative and interesting. My band is also recording with me this time. It’s a lot more live, whereas my other record was more of a studio sound.
There are 3 songs on this single that we worked on. I wanted go in and play live and record what we sound like, but once in studio things changed. I heard other things we could do in the studio. [The full album is] not done yet—it’s still a work in progress.
I/O: What were you hoping from these sessions?
Dan: I was expecting to go in and record just a single to capture us live, because we play a lot together and we have been sounding great. We did three songs that way, but that’s when Jack Younger got in the studio. Now the music is changing in a good way. It’s different than what we could do live, which is fun. You'll hear it on track 2.
I/O: How do you plan on proceeding as a musician? What do you see in your future?
Dan: I want to keep making music, keep writing and get better at writing, and hopefully keep playing with this band I have now. I love it. I just never want to do the same thing for too long—I want to keep things new and fresh, writing new songs, so hopefully people will still want to listen to it.
I/O: You’ve played with a number of musicians. Do think that has helped you grow as a player or do you prefer learning and playing with a set band?
Dan: Everybody has a different idea of what the music should sound like. But what it made me think when you asked was how Hanwar has changed my musicality so much. He has made me so much better, but really everyone along the way has taught me something. Back when I was about 18 I played in a blues band with some older guys, and I learned a ton from that. This band is more rehearsed, so we can get tighter and better arrangements as opposed to just jamming, so in that way its nice to have a set band that you can grow with.