Artist Interview: Daniel Webster
Andy Backhouse, from Creao Studio, got to interview Dan Webster. Normally, the Artist Interview series is scheduled to post on the first of the calendar month – however, Andy has been otherwise engaged. He was knocked sideways by a take-away, poor snowflake. MSG, terrible stuff. Dan uses the studio as a space to rehearse for up-coming gigs. This is an interview in the Artist Interview Series – This is an interview with Dan Webster.
Dan has been a fixture on the Harrogate Indie scene for years, now – he has played and led Birdman Rallies, been a solo artist and is now the front man of Gosh Hawk, to name a few triumphs. Dan has featured on BBC Sessions and worked with some pretty interesting people. Andy Backhouse, sat down with Dan to ask a few questions – the results are typed up below.
I’ve heard some of your rehearsals at Creao Studio. It reminded me a lot of Two Door Cinema Club. How do you feel about the comparison?
Hmm. When I think of Two Door Cinema Club I think of perky disco pop. I don’t think we have any perky songs, no disco and the pop element is there but through a weird lens. My lyrics are mostly dark comedy, whereas theirs seem to be much more everyman optimism. We have guitar and drums and bass and voice. Those things are similarities…
Right, then. Off to a good start – Where do you draw your influences from?
I’ve never wanted to emulate anyone else, but I definitely wanted to be as cool as Bowie, sexy as Iggy, otherworldly beautiful as Kate Bush, as good at songwriting as Joni Mitchell, straightforward as Kurt, magnetic as a young Jagger. Having said all that I recently tried to write a song as good as ‘Do you believe in a life after love’ by Cher, so I’m all over the shop. Nowadays my influences are all mushed up in a big soup and I’m more likely to be inspired by a silly pop song or a nice spring day.
So, is the music you make the soundtrack to your ideal youth, or is it something you grew into since adulting?
Both. With Gosh Hawk I’ve managed to seize some of the simpler ideas that come out when I sit down with my guitar, and keep them relatively un-f*cked-with. That sort of simplicity happens more when you’re young and new to songwriting, and I needed – as an adult – to allow myself to do that again.
I remember watching Birdman open for Gruff Rhys. Was that the pinnacle of your music career? What is the scale of your ambition?
It was a good gig to play – actually it wasn’t that great a gig, we were plagued by technical mishaps, didn’t have a proper sound check, not much vibe in the room etc. We supported the Stranglers a few years back which was to a much bigger crowd, so if pinnacles are measured in numbers and prestige that would be it.
Scale of ambition – huge, globe straddling success, obvs.
How would gauge the scene for your genre in this town, in 2020, right now?
In Harrogate there isn’t much of a scene I can discern, and there are hardly any venues, so not great. The music I write has often been met with perplexity in Harrogate, a lot of comments that it’s somehow overly arty or weird, whereas at gigs we’ve done in Manchester or London say, we’ve either fit right in or felt like the square kids.
Right, we will send Andy B away to listen to something other than Two Door Cinema Club and we will thank you for reading this. The Facebook Page for Birdman Rallies is here. If you ever hear about one of Dan’s bands playing then please go to the event – he is a gifted frontman and it will be a swell night. This interview was in the Artist Interview Series on the Creao Blog. Thanks to Andy for interviewing Dan and we hope to write up another interview in the coming weeks. You can listen to a track by Gosh Hawk above, within this post.