Perhaps previously better known as the drummer for bands like Fat White Family, Phobophobes and Misty Miller, singer and songwriter Dan Lyons has recently started to make his presence known as a solo artist in his own right, and has recently released his debut album 'SubSuburbia'.
Produced by whenyoung producer & Florence & the Machine drummer Chris Hayden alongside the frontman, with mix duties from coming from Ash Workman, known for his work on Metronomy, Girl Ray, Christine & The Queens and Baxter Dury, the album is a stark reflection on the dystopian nature of modern UK society. Mixing bold and pulsing indie-rock grooves with his own impactful vocal performance, the new full-length tells a string of stories, all looking to examine and understand the world that we live in now.
So with his new record finally with us, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has inspired him over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
When I was about ten, a snare drum mysteriously appeared by the front door. I remember having no idea what it was, and then eventually figuring out that it made a loud noise if I hit it. That was probably my first infatuation, unless a baby rattle counts?
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
Life and the way people treat each other and the state of the world we live in. In terms of musical inspiration, I’m very into Syd Barrett, Sparklehorse and The Go Betweens at the moment.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
Bands like Nirvana, Green Day, Blink 182 and Less Than Jake, all the stuff that was on MTV2. Some of it was good, but looking back I have trouble understanding what I liked about that pop punk stuff. Probably the drumming… Alongside those bands, though, I listened to a lot of Television and Blondie and the New Wave Records my parents had downstairs. Also Oasis, which was on the radio a lot. Lots of other FM radio bands actually too, on the way to school. Ash, Travis, Catatonia, you know the ones.
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
I don’t think there was one. It was just sort of a given, I never made a decision. I’ve been in bands since I was 12. I moved to London to go to university, which was an attempt at securing some sort of fall back plan, but then I dropped out of that and started playing in a band. But 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford is a good song, let’s use that one.
When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
Depends on what side of the bed I wake up on… During lockdown I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan’s new stuff a lot. I Contain Multitudes is brilliant. I’ve been listening to Adam Schlesinger’s old band, Ivy too. He sadly passed away at the beginning of lockdown from COVID-19 and was a genius songwriter.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
I think they all have little bits and pieces of reality in there. The people I sing about are usually like Frankenstein’s monster, made up of various bits and pieces of the past. The books I like to read most are the ones by authors who blur the line between fiction and reality - Henry Miller, John Fanté, Bukowski etc. They all have this way of painting pictures that are so vivid that you don’t know if they’re real or not…
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
Probably playing The Bataclan in Paris during our first tour with Peter Doherty, it was completely surreal. Everyone was very aware of what had happened there, and yet there was this air of complete tranquility before each band came on. We played without a drummer, and with Bacio from Murman Tsuladze playing Saz. The songs took on this really sombre, melancholy feel, and the room was packed, it was amazing.
Outside of music, what is your biggest passion?
I love reading, although I don’t do enough of it. And I’ve just started growing some plants in the garden…
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
I’d like to think I might have worked at a newspaper, like my Grandfather.
And what advice would you give to other musicians looking to stay productive through the coronavirus lockdown?
Keep writing. Don’t let the bastards drag you down.
Dan Lyons' new album 'SubSuburbia' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it in the player below.