Q&A: Dangermaker

How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard you?
Adam: I always struggle with this one, we all bring in a lot of different musical influence and I guess I hate to feel tied down to a specific genre and put into a box. Also our sound has changed and progressed so much since we started. Nevertheless… we go with dark indie pop now. Kind of like if Phoenix and The Killers had a baby and then got divorced, so the baby was kind of angry and confused, like an Interpol or White Lies, but then grew out of that darkness into an M83. To be more specific though, in recent years I’ve been writing more on synths and keyboards, and we arrange as a band with that prominently in mind, so the songs have veered more into a big epic territory than in the past. I think we’re approaching a sound that is very familiar sounding but also somewhat unique to us lately…

What are you currently working on?
Adam: In early December we went back in to record a few new tracks with Aaron Hellam, who has done our past few eps. We have the basic tracks done, and always step away for a week or two or three to get some perspective, so that’s where we are right now. We’re doing a series of related eps titled Light the Dark, we’re on the third one now which should come out in spring 2016, we’ll probably play a track from it for you…

Where do you find inspiration for your songs (maybe give a story behind one specific song)?
Adam: Anywhere and everywhere in life to be honest. I know that must sound cliche and make eyes roll, but it’s the truth. I try to open myself up to as much as possible and let it all effect me. At an early age I really took to playing music, not just for fun but because I think I really needed a way to process emotion and cope with the confusion of growing up in a weird divorced household… Anyway to be more specific nowadays, for example, my father passed away a couple years ago in a sudden accident. I was devastated and angry and dealt with it by writing a bunch of music. I wrote Never Go Back the night he died. As a songwriter every thought, idea, and emotion is documented somehow, jotted down, hummed into a phone, whatever, and then when I have the time and patience I sort through that big mess and try to objectively pick out the good stuff and work it up…

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Who has been the biggest influence on your music?
Adam: Wow, good question. I’m kinda stumped actually… You know what, up to this point, San Francisco. Yeah. I was going to say my father, who got me my first guitar as a kid, or someone I idolize like a Joe Strummer or Dylan or something, but in reality I came to SF in the late 90s for the sole reason to fully pursue a creative life, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing here. First as a writer, a graphic artist, and a thousand other things, but I always come back to music like I did as a kid, again I think it’s that way of coping with adversity. As a place to live, San Francisco has no shortage of adversity, especially nowadays. Pair that with a very active music scene, and the more recent struggle between artists, the high cost of living, the new money, and the down and out, and it’s all very influential in a Dickensian way.

What is something you learned during the past year?
Adam: I think as a band we learned that persistence really pays off for us. In other words, in prior years we encountered a lot of setbacks, both personal and band related, and had to grow past them in order to keep going. And we learned that we are capable of doing that if we work hard enough, keep pushing forward and raising the bar.

If you could have an other person’s talent or skill, who and what would it be?
Adam: Hard to single out just one. I’ve always admired artists who successfully cross over multiple genres and art mediums, some names that come to mind: Damon Albarn, Thom Yorke, Daft Punk, The Clash, David Bowie to name a few. It’s very rare and difficult to pull that off, but I think it’s a sign of a true talent when it happens successfully.

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What song would you make into a movie?
Adam: If we’re talking about our songs there are a few, Another Bad Dream and Danse Macabre could set the stage for a kind of psycho-drama, like Psycho or The Shining or something. Although, actually just recently we made a short film/music video for Never Go Back with director David Dutton, the whole idea was to make it cinematic, we’re very happy with how it turned out.

Where’s your favorite place to be in the Bay Area?
Adam: I spend a lot of time around Hayes Valley and the Fillmore, where I’ve lived and worked since ’03, it’s home for me. It’s ever-changing, in some ways good and bad, but never boring. Place Pigale was a second home, I met all kinds of characters and friends in there. I had birthday parties for my dog there. Hayes Valley has changed a lot in recent years, these days you might find me in Brass Tax or Cafe Soleil. I know a lot of people in the neighborhood, the longer-time residents are a great mix of different people who all get along in very true SF way.

What’s your favorite local venue?
Adam: It was Cafe Du Nord before it changed hands, the place just had a historic vibe that was incomparable to anywhere else. Everyone that worked there was just a pleasure to work with too, from the sound guys up to the manager Rob. I think it was the first place I ever drank in SF haha. We always looked forward to playing and just hanging out there. They were good at what they did, they ran a historic venue, and they always treated us well and fed us dinner! The only other venue close has been Great American which is equally as great. Although recently I ran into that same Rob at The Chapel, which is another favorite. The Rickshaw is top notch too.

Who would you like to see on Monday Morning and why?
Adam: A little plug for a few SF friends of ours: Waters, Family Crest, Picture Atlantic, The Trims, Scissors for Lefty, Nrvs Lvrs, Beautiful Machines.