“Every now and then I fall, every now and then I lose control”. I feel that almost anyone can relate to this lyric… With that said, even when you fall, you’d get a comforting feeling that everything will be OK after listening to the joyous music of Dan Croll. The British singer-songwriter is soon playing two shows in Toronto for NXNE — The Horseshoe Tavern on June 18th and Wrongbar on June 19th — and before the gigs, I had the opportunity of giving Dan a call. Read our new interview below as we discuss covering Whitney Houston, his diverse influences, bizarre gas station encounters, making new friends, and how his dream concert is in a volcano.
AMBY: Hey Dan, thanks for speaking with me today.
Dan Croll: It’s quite alright, thanks for having me.
AMBY: It’s my pleasure. First off, congrats on the release of your debut album Sweet Disarray. Tell me a little about the record – what was the experience like creating the debut?
Dan Croll: It kind of started about four years ago; it’s been a long process. I haven’t really been thinking about it as an album… It was kind of four years ago I made the decision to be a songwriter and I’ve been going through a learning curve to experiment and be influenced by lots of new music. I just started recording songs and before I knew it, I thought I can put together an album. It’s a bit of a mix tape and story about where I’ve come from and been over the last four years.
AMBY: You mention influences there and how you’d taken influence from new music. When it came to recording Sweet Disarray, who were your biggest influences?
Dan Croll: There was quite a lot. I worked on a track by track basis, and I liked that because I feel confident in that I’m not making every track the exact same. I like to focus on a track singularly and then go through different influences for those. It kind of depends on who I was listening to; there were some acoustic tracks that were influenced by Simon and Garfunkel, and there’s tracks like Can You Hear Me which was heavily influenced by A Tribe Called Quest, and tracks are influenced like earlier bands like Mars Volta.
AMBY: There are a lot of genres in there.
Dan Croll: I love a lot of music and it leaks through some times.
AMBY: Both live and recorded, you’re known for doing some terrific covers like Katy Perry’s Roar and Grizzly Bear’s Yet Again. Which one would you say is your personal favourite to date?
Dan Croll: I loved covering Grizzly Bear. I think the Katy Perry one was a bit of a tough one! That was under the restrictions of BBC Radio and wasn’t my finest moment… [laughs] I was a massive fan of the Grizzly Bear one because they’re such huge influences of mine and I have a massive amount of respect for them. Also, I think we did a live cover of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody last time we were in New York.
AMBY: Yes, I saw you talk about that in your Live Hangout for Amoeba! Lots of fans asked about that cover in the interview.
Dan Croll: [laughs] Yes, it seems to be a bit of a tradition in New York.
AMBY: Can we expect any other covers in the near future?
Dan Croll: At the moment, songs that pop up and really stick in your head and remind you of past times and stories, I do like to try and cover. I think it will be a surprise for the audience, as well as me.
AMBY: On May 4th, you finished your USA Spring Tour which was five solid weeks of touring and 9, 000 miles clocked in the van. What were some of the highlights you had while on this tour?
Dan Croll: Oh, a lot! I think there’s usually some sort of highlight every one or two miles. I’m lucky enough to tour with my best mates; even though I’m a solo artist I get to play with a band. For me, that’s the reason I started music, to travel and travel with friends and share cool experiences. Getting to tour America has been an amazing thing. You have to make the best of every moment of it. I’m trying to think of one highlight specifically… I think a nice thing I took away from our tour was being in the middle of nowhere in the dessert. We stopped at a gas station that stood alone and it was a bit mad, really. There were these two people who worked there and they were really interested in us. They were asking all kinds of stuff. I gave them a copy of the album and they put it straight in a frame up on their wall.
AMBY: No way [laughs].
Dan Croll: It went right behind the cashier. I just left that gas station thinking, “I’ve got one album stuck on a wall in the middle of nowhere, in a gas station in Texas”. It was quite a cool feeling.
AMBY: That’s so neat. Next up on the touring front, you’ll be playing two shows in Toronto for NXNE on the 18th and 19th of June. What do you look forward to most as far as being on the road again goes? You’ve been on a little bit of a break.
Dan Croll: A little bit of a break…
AMBY: It never seems to be enough of one?
Dan Croll: [laughs] Yep. I’m one of those people who need to keep their minds going. So, it’s really nice to head out back on the road and get back together with the guys. It’s always an amazing feeling to meet new people and fans. It’s amazing to see people who are so far away enjoying the music.
AMBY: With all this talk of festival season, if you could curate your own festival, where would it take place and who would be in the line-up?
Dan Croll: That’s a good question.
AMBY: Thank you.
Dan Croll: Where would it be? I don’t know… That’s a really good question. Maybe it would be in a dormant volcano. That would be cool. Then I could get the band Volcano to play in the dormant volcano.
AMBY and Dan Croll: [laughs]
Dan Croll: I could have Ash play, too.
AMBY: It would be pretty fitting to have Ash play; they could perform Burn Baby Burn!
Dan Croll: Yea [laughs]. That’s so great.
AMBY: Outside of music, what are some of your favourite things to do for fun?
Dan Croll: Music is most of my life at the moment. When I’m back home it’s catching up with friends and family, keeping fit, playing sports… I like to play some football and rugby and kick back and keep my mind running.
AMBY: Now we’re sadly at the last question of the interview! It’s a bit of a stumper but feel free to say whatever you want. What’s something about Dan Croll that nobody knows yet?
Dan Croll: Oh, shit [laughs].
AMBY: [laughs] Told you.
Dan Croll: I took salsa lessons for about two years when I was fourteen.
Thank you Dan Croll, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout