Dan Nathan and Well Informed Citizens tap old school roots
Good old rock 'n' roll is something that can immediately lighten people's moods and get them chair dancing at work. The feeling of blues riffs with distortion, playing loudly through speakers, backed by a thick bassline and moving drums, is something that's undeniably catchy and timeless.
That good old rock 'n' roll is something so many music fans still crave today as rock music has gotten further and further away from its '60s and early '70s golden era of experimentation, creation and evolution of what we now look back on as being "classic" or "arena" rock, into a post-punk and post-grunge world where Nickelback rules the airwaves.
There are some musicians, both old and new, that still hold on to the torch of that previous generation and are proud to continue to make music in its vein. Dan Nathan and Well Informed Citizens are some of the prideful, and that love for the "old school" shines through on their self-titled debut.
With guitar playing reminiscent of Jimmy Page and Lindsay Buckingham, a flute solo that will have you break out your Jethro Tull records and a Phil Collins-esque-voiced lead singer, Well Informed Citizens have recorded a passionate and straightforward rock record that will certainly bring back nostalgic feelings while helping to keep the flame alive as bands like The Black Crowes once did.
Before they celebrate the release of their new album at Linneman's Riverwest Inn on May 27, I talked with Daniel Nathan about the new disc.
OnMilwaukee.com: The new songs have a real classic rock feeling to them. Who are some of your influences?
Dan Nathan: I am pretty old school. I still rock CDs and I don't have an iPod. In my CD player right now I have Jimi Hendrix's "Live at Albert Hall," Led Zeppelin's "Physical Graffiti," Anders Osbourne's "American Patchwork," Stanton Moore's "Groove Alchemy" and Wolfmother's "Cosmic Egg." All those people are pretty influential.
OMC: Where do you get your song topics from?
DN: Anywhere I can find them! They are usually a reflection of something on my mind at the time, whether it is something that's going on in the world, a personal experience or a fictional story. There are so many characters you run into and sometimes they need to be written into a story.
OMC: What is your song-writing process like?
DN: Every so often I'll hear something in my brain and have to go play it and record it. A lot of times I'll have a groove in my head that I heard somewhere, and then I'll steal that groove and make a song around it. Sometimes the first take is great, sometimes things need to be reworked. One of the great things working with Paul Kneevers is he really challenged me to write better hooks and make the songs catchier.
OMC: When people hear your music, what do you want them to take away from it?
DN: THAT ROCKED!
OMC: When did you pick up a guitar and begin your musical journey?
DN: I picked up my first acoustic in 1998, but the musical journey began much earlier. I was playing violin when I was around 5 years old. Funny story actually, I had my first recital at The Conservatory playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" or something. So, my grandpa says if I play well he will buy me a toy. I get up there and start fiddling with the bow. The bow falls apart. Then the teacher has to come over and put the thing back together. So, I play like sh*t and my whole family is all embarrassed. I come back over, "Do I still get the toy?"
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