Genres: Indie Folk
Instruments: Banjo, Mandolin, Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Organ
Daniel is a really really cool dude. He had a really refreshing look on making music that I really enjoyed listening to the first and second time (when I was transcribing the interview). Please enjoy!
Ashley: What start Red Moon Road?
Daniel: The initiative was a two-way partnership between my friend Daniel and I. We are both Daniels and we were both drummers. At the very beginning he was drumming in a country band and I was playing drums in a metal band with my brothers. We had both come off tour when he invited me to go to the lake with him. His friend had a cabin at the time and we went out for a sail. We tipped the sailboat in the middle of beginning of November, so it was pretty late in the season, and it was a bit of a crisis but we managed to get through it all. All four of us figured if we could survive an ordeal like that, we could probably spend time in a band together and it hasn’t let us down since.
Ashley: Where does the name come from?
Daniel: The name has very humble origins. When we first decided to start recording, before we played any shows, Daniel and I and the singer at the time were recording in a friend’s house in one the suburbs of Winnipeg off Lagimodiere. If you search you Red moon Road on Google the first thing that comes up is the street, Road Moon Road, and then it’s us. That’s actually where we got the name, nothing more glorious than that. We needed a name, we walked out of the studio, looked up there was a sign: a road sign.
Ashley: What is a practice session like with the whole band?
Daniel: Like a rehearsal?
Daniel: There are two different types of rehearsals. We are all professional musicians and we have an understanding of what an efficient rehearsal means. When we are rehearsing for a show or specific event that’s coming up, we have repertoire that we’re been working on for the last four years so a lot of those songs don’t need that much polish.
Often we will bring in a new song or two or five for a particular show we when we rehearse, we’ll get together and decide which songs [to play], figure out what keys are good to sing and play in and then we’ll go home and practice them on our own and the next time we come together. It’s expected that everything have their parts figured out. In the first three times [when we play them] through, generally we have to figured out what kind of tempo and feel that we want. That way it gives us the time and chance to make little mistakes on our own and without frustrating others. And when it comes together it still has that electric energy.
The other kind of rehearsal is when we are writing songs. When we are putting together the material that we haven’t really finished yet, often we’ll play through a portion of the song or idea or something and when we get to the end of it, we’ll see where your ear takes you or your fingers take you. There is a lot of speculation, lots of trying things over, lots of repetition. Lots of encouragement, we’re a very encouraging group.
Ashley: Do you ever start one song and finish it in one session? Or do you find you’ll usually have to come back to it later?
Daniel: Sometimes, if it all comes out in one shot, then that’s always ideal because you spend a lot less time on it and it feels a little more inspired. But more often than not it’s good to know when you’re beating a dead horse and when to walk away from something when it’s just frustrating you and you’re not being very productive. It’s a combination of both.
Ashley: So who inspires the music? Like, who do you all listen to that you feel really influences the sound?
Daniel: I can only speak for myself, really. But we do share a lot common interests. We all came to folk music a little later in life; Sheena grew up singing gospel and loves R&B music. She loathes admitting it but she’s a big Mariah Carey fan, she loves all the ballad songstresses. She takes a lot of cues from them. But also some real blues singers. Daniel is a really big fan of the Beatles so a lot of his writing is informed from that new wave of British pop from the 60s and 70s. I’d say my bass influences, in terms of folk music, are the folk greats like James Taylor and Neil Young, the gamut. Also Joanie Mitchell, of course. I also listen to a lot of metal whenever I’m driving or at home, I’ll usually listen to it.
Ashley: [Metal], that’s like the same as folk.
Daniel: Well yeah, I’d have to say that blue grass is just metal on acoustic instruments. It’s the same speed and virtuosity. A lot of the parts that I write are melodic and try to include as much melodic diversity as possible. I’d say that’s a pretty big influence in my writing.
Ashley: What accomplishments are you most proud of, with the band or individually?
Daniel: Well, I’d say the band is one of my greatest accomplishments. We’ve come a long way in the past four years. We’ve toured a lot recently. I think [another big] accomplishment is the fact that we’re still such a solid team and are evolving as people and as a business people as well as artists and all [we are all moving] in the same direction. I think maintaining a friendship throughout that and in between all the business has it’s challenging but is extremely rewarding. We just came back from a 2-month European tour and that’s sort of the most stand-out thing in my mind in terms of accomplishments. Yeah, playing a few sold out shows in the UK, getting a chance to see Paris and touring through Switzerland was also amazing.
That would be [one of] the biggest accomplishment, for now. It’s only the first of many tours out there, I think.
Ashley: What’s your favorite song to perform live?
Daniel: Does it have to be one of our own or can it be any song?
Ashley: It can be anything!
Daniel: Sheena is a trained jazz vocalist. We haven’t really been doing it on the stage, but we’ve done it at jams and after hours. She does this amazing version of At Last jazz standard that she just rips to pieces. It’s so amazing. That woman has so much soul it’s great. I just get to color in between the lines, I guess. That song. I feel we do a really good version of that.
Ashley: Are you guys going to share that with the world at some point?
Daniel: We should definitely record it.
Ashley: I would love to hear that.
Daniel: There will come a time. Maybe it will be a radio spot, it might not be something we put out ourselves. It’s gotta happen though, I’ll let you know.
Ashley: Yes please, I would love to hear that! Do you have advice for beginners who want to start making their music and sharing it?
Daniel: Um, I think the best piece of advice I can give is: just do it. You can spend so much time in speculation and wondering what you should or should not do. But there is no substitute for experience in both performance and in creation. If you’re someone who is inspired and already creating music, then great you’re already doing it. But if you feel like you need to share it, it’s just a matter of making connections, good connections, and going out and seeing shows. Make connections with people on stage and finding out how to get on that same stage. More than anything this business is about who know and how you know them. It’s important to be congenial and polite but also a fun human being. But just getting out there and doing it is the most important thing.
Also, don’t be afraid of criticism. Especially, be wary of compliments. Don’t always accept them for what they are because often when you’re first starting people are excited to hear you play and they’re going to say that they loved the experience. It’s going to be great but just don’t let it get to your head. No matter how good you are, you can always get better. The real advice you should be looking for is people who aren’t afraid to criticize it for what it is. That way you can take or leave it but at least you know it’s coming from a place of a true experience. That’s the most helpful thing that you can get. Compliments are nice now and again but seek criticism and then you will grow. Also, always play with people that are better than you.
Ashley: What do you do to help deal with nerves before a performance?
Daniel: Um, I don’t get really get nervous.
Ashley: Well, how about when you first started when you were first figuring out your sound? I’m sure you were nervous.
Daniel: I don’t know, I might have skipped that somehow. When I was young I did a lot of improv theatre so I was used to the stage from a very young age. I was also eased into it in a very supportive community. I’ve always felt really comfortable up there. That’s not to say that if an extremely good act is following us I won’t feel nervous. I’ll want to put on the best possible show. I just try to take a moment before I step on stage. Just take a deep breath and appreciate the moment for what it is. The people that are out there, the fact that they decided to see you perform and that you’re going to entertain all of them, they’re attention is in you’re hands for the next how many minutes and it’s up to you to be prepared ahead of time and be ready. You can craft the experience for them. I guess I don’t see it as something scary and more of an opportunity to make something exciting not just the audience but for you as well. There is a connection between the audience and the performer where that spark happens. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to knock them out.
Ashley: You mentioned how you just came back from this huge tour, what was the most stressful part about touring?
Daniel: Figuring out where accommodations are going to be that same night. Trying to have an itinerary that makes sense. Make sure you have enough time to get from your lodging, or your hotel or wherever you are sleeping, to the stage and a way to get from the stage to the hotel. But then, the most stressful thing is making sure that you’re instruments are all ready to go. There are so many variable when you aren’t in a controlled environment. There is only so much you can do to prepare ahead of time. Be as anal as you can be, cross every ‘T’ and dot every ‘I’.
Don’t be married to any one particular way that things should be because often things are going to change and you’ll just have to roll with it. The thing that stresses me out though is broken instruments; irreplaceable pieces of your tool kit. Accidents can happen and I was just so worried. If something like that breaks when you are over seas and there is no way to replace it, it costs so much money and it stresses me out. There is no remedy for that.
Ashley: Just a few tears and you move on.
Daniel: Yeah, or just being careful and preventing it from happening in the first place. Ugh, even thinking out about it makes me squirmy.
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