A Chat With…Dan Webb

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Dan Webb has been kicking around the Melbourne scene for a few years now, solidly building his live reputation off the back of two EPs. Now the singer-songwriter/keyboardist/producer is releasing his debut album Sandstorm on May 9th and we figured it was time for a chat!

In a matter of weeks your debut album Sandstorm will be released. How are you feeling? Yeah, not long to go now. I’m really proud of this album and I can’t wait for people to finally get their hands on it, put it on and turn the volume up. I’d advise people to listen to it loud. Disturb your neighbours.

2013 saw you release 12 songs in 12 months. How did that idea come about? And what was the response like? Well it came about because I was working towards an album and needed to record demos anyway, so why not involve the fans in that creative process? Especially given it’s my debut and it’s been a few years since my last EP, it was a way of making a bit of noise, too. It was a risk but it certainly paid off – we got played on BBC 6 in the UK and on triple j and apparently in places like Greece and New Zealand too. I think there are definitely people out there who are tired of formulaic music and formulaic release strategies…you know? So any opportunity to break the mold, I’m happy to take on.

The songs are essentially demos for the album – was it good to gain some feedback on them? For sure. When we got started on the 12 Songs, 12 Months project I was intending to pass the demos on to a producer I had in mind for the album. But we were getting such positive feedback from fans and press, and I felt the songs were 90% there anyway. So in the end we didn’t re-record everything from scratch. I brought in a guitarist and a few other musos and we recorded additional overdubs, touch-ups and transitions and stuff. And Colin Leadbetter came in to mix it all. He’s done an amazing job.

Speaking of the album, you successfully raised over $8000 through a crowd funding campaign. How does it feel to have that kind of support from your fans? The thing with crowd funding is that it’s crucial you set a realistic target and offer something people really want. So it didn’t surprise me that we reached the goal, but I’m certainly grateful for everyone’s support. It’s been a dream of mine for years now to release an album and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my fans.

The album features an array of guest vocalists – including Kylie Auldist (The Bamboos), Bobby Flynn and actress Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues). How did their involvement come about? Well I’ve known Kylie and Bobby for a few years now. Melbourne’s got quite a close-knit community of musos and those guys are great, I’ve worked with them both in the past. It felt like a no-brainer bringing them onboard for the album. Ashleigh I met a year or two ago through mutual friends. We actually lived together for a little while. I knew she had some singing experience from when she was a bit younger…she played me this demo recording from when she was like, six or something. She sounded like a young Michael Jackson!

I love the album artwork by Debaser (who I believe also did the artwork for both EPs) did it make sense to enlist their work again for the album? 
WBYK were actually the design crew responsible for the EPs. They’re great to work with. But having brought in a raft of new musicians and instruments like horns, flute and guitar for this album and experimenting with different themes and different genres and so on, I wanted to have artwork which reflected where I’m at and what I’m producing at this point in time. It made sense to work with Debaser, they’ve won a handful of ARIAs for their work over the years…and deservedly so.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite Melbourne acts? Spender is an amazing singer/songwriter and I think he deserves more recognition for it. Go check out his EP. I also like Axolotl and The Cat Empire…I mean, who doesn’t?

And Melbourne venues? 
The Forum, Ding Dong, Cherry Bar. I’ve seen some great shows at Festival Hall and even though it’s a bit run down, it still holds a special place in my heart. And of course there’s The Palace. I hope they don’t turn it into an apartment building. It’d be a great loss for the city.

You’ve set yourself a challenge, a 32-month moratorium from live music performance which concludes on Thursday October 15th 2015. Following the release of a record, most bands and artists actively tour, so why this challenge?
Well as I said earlier, I’ve brought in a bunch of new musicians and instruments and there are so many different styles of music on this album. It wouldn’t be right to put on a show now because we wouldn’t be able to replicate or represent the songs accurately on stage. I also don’t know what direction I’m going to take on my second album. I’ve already written seven or eight songs for it, but I need some time to figure it out. I’m also busy with other projects, I’ve started up my own label (Misdemeanor Records) and there’s talk of producing other artists in the not so distant future.

Thanks for your time!

Pleasure. Thanks Sabi.

Dan Webb’s debut album Sandstorm is out May 9th. Pre-order it here.

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