Share This



Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.


You must have Adobe Flash Player to use this function.

By Sarah L. Myers
New York, NY, USA

Every time I meet up with Dan Sartain, it seems we have another story to tell. First it was the botched tanning bed incident from December 2006, and our second interview was in the blackened basement of Chicago’s Double Door with rowdy tour mates The Willowz running in and out. This time we witnessed an SUV clip a taxi driver on Houston from the back row of the Sartain van in New York City. As always, there were more laughs than actual questions, with the topic of horror movies a priority. Some things have changed. He has a new tattoo - a faded red lobster on his right forearm - and a brilliant new record. The “Cobra” franchise lives on, like one of Dan’s beloved boogeymen, and the latest installment is a quick-draw partner to his debut’s original. In the midst of a tour with Social Distortion, and celebrating the success of a single out on Third Man Records, Dan’s star keeps rising. When Thirsty hits shores across the pond, maybe we’ll have yet another story to tell. For now, we’ll let the man from Birmingham speak for himself.

(credit: Nora Wong)

THIRSTY: It’s been so long since we last met up! You want to start off by telling me a little about the new record? Specifically, I’m wondering why you didn’t choose to kill yourself on the cover of this record!

Dan Sartain: (laughs) Well, I don’t know. I ran out of ways, basically. And I don’t know, it always upset my mom. On the first one I was trying to do this kind of Alice Cooper thing and I’d seen James Dean do it and I always thought it was cool. And my mother went and saw Alice Cooper back in the day back when it was still the Alice Cooper group and not just the guy doing the solo thing with replaceable musicians, and she talked about how she was on acid and saw him hang himself and freaked out. I loved that and tried to do something like that. And then the next one was making fun of it, and I don’t think people got the joke cause it was “Join Dan Sartain” and I’m blowing my head off so it was like, ‘yeah, blow your head off!’ But this one, I really wanted this one to be kind of a happy one cause I was pretty happy when I made it. That’s kind of why it took so long to get it done, too.

THIRSTY: And were you working on the album the entire break after the last tour? Because you moved to London, right?

Dan Sartain: Yeah, that’s anther place I’ve been staying this year a lot is London. But when we made it, it didn’t take that long amount of time, about a month, when we actually went to Liam’s (Liam Watson, who also produced the White Stripes’ Elephant) studio and got the guys who were going to play on it with me. It didn’t take a whole hell of a lot of time once we got everything together and sorted out which songs we were going to use which was still a little bit strenuous, and we got kind of heavy into the recording process and recorded some and decided ‘ahh, it’s not as strong as I liked it,’ so we’ll do something else. I’d first intended to do it on my own, which I did. I made an album on my own and got some recording equipment and did it at my house and sent it to the record label. They were like, ‘yeah we loved it, but we won’t be able to sell this to anybody or get it on the radio or anything like that,’ so I went back and I kind of compromised and I ended up being happier with it after we went to Liam’s to be honest. It’s not really compromising because I’m still happy with it. And all that stuff is going to be put out. Like the next thing we’re doing is, because I’ve been recording a little over two years now with this act, and we’re putting out some rare stuff from that span. So all that stuff’s going to come out, it’s going to be like twenty tracks or something.

(credit: Nora Wong)

THIRSTY: And you’re doing a DVD, too?

Dan Sartain: Yeah, yeah. There’s one coming out. With all this stuff, with that, with the next album, it’s going to be called “Legacy of Hospitality”, like kind of a take on the Misfits album! And the DVD and the new record that’s out, I don’t know,

You must have Adobe Flash Player to use this function.

I was blessed with the benefit of hindsight cause we get to examine it for too long, but then often you over think it and lots of artists do that. Especially if they record it themselves, and they’re not paying for studio time or anything like that! You know, you sit around and you can endlessly tinker with it at your house and it’s a bad thing because ultimately the listener doesn’t care. They just want to hear new songs so I don’t know. They want to hear something new that you’re doing. But these next things are coming out and hopefully it’s not going to take this long in between albums next time. Because, yeah, I gotta do this more often!

THIRSTY: How’s it been on the road? You’re still doing a tour with Mike Ness and Social Distortion right now, right?

Dan Sartain: Yeah, we’re still in the middle of that, but we just got the day off today so we’re doing our own thing. Those guys are surprisingly nice as hell. I’ve never met them before and I never saw a picture of those dudes smiling (laughs), and I was surprised! We’ve only done two shows with them so far but they were really nice. That dude sings as good as he ever did. I was a little nervous going into that one, to be honest.

THIRSTY: I read that you were listening to a lot Ramones lately, and that you love the record “Brain Drain” too. Did that shape your material at all? Or is that just something you always have on?

Dan Sartain: I’ve been listening to a lot of the Ramones! But, yeah, “Brain Drain”s a weird one! It’s got all these guitar solos that come out of nowhere and stuff, and they’re obviously not Johnny! I remember being, when we were young, and that album was coming out and it’s like, ‘wow, Johnny got really good!’ I still think of the Ramones as like a current act! Almost like Jimi Hendrix or something, like he never goes away. And he always feels relevant. The Ramones, I don’t know. It’s hard to think that they’re all dead. In my mind they’re still out there. I’m going to catch them one day. “Oh yeah, they’ll come through Birmingham again!” I was just underage enough to have missed their last club show. It was oddly enough. And I’ve read books about it and they didn’t mention that specific show but they did mention how sloppy it was during the last tour and it felt a little inappropriate that they were going on Lollapalooza and things like that for their last tour.

You must have Adobe Flash Player to use this function.

You can pick up any Ramones CD, and CD - that’s more behind the times than saying LP now! But you can pick up any of them and there’s something valid about it, and good about it. They’re a real safe place, too. You know they’re going to be alright, you know. They’re never going to not be valid or something. I don’t want to love in a world where the Ramones aren’t valid anymore. I hope I never have to.

THIRSTY: Who else have you been touring with?

Dan Sartain: I was really excited to do our own (tour) again in the UK, because it’s going really good. It’s going really good. We’re getting people at the shows, and there’s a great support system over there. It’s harder too, because it’s all the way on the other side of the fucking world and you got to pay for this and that before you even get over there and start making money. It’s a little hard. And we’re not making any, I think we’re just trying to break even. I don’t know, I mean these opening slots, are really good, and I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, because we’ve been offered some good ones. But I also don’t want to get stuck doing that because it’s bad for your self esteem, man! It really is because I understand, too. If I went and saw a legendary band, I would pretty much want us to get the fuck off the stage (if I didn’t know us). It feels more like work when you’re doing an opening act slot, you know. It’s humbling and you’re just not going to impress everybody, and it’s pretty impossible for you to impress everybody. They don’t know you, you don’t know them. You gotta kind of stand for something or fall for anything. I think if you want your music to be valid on any level, you need to not worry about entertaining everybody. So when you don’t worry about entertaining everybody that means not everybody’s entertained, so you’re playing in front of a bunch of strangers and not all of them are going to be entertained no matter what you do! And you don’t necessarily want to. So I don’t know, but I’d rather do my own shows with fifty people or a hundred people than monkey around with these opening things anymore.

THIRSTY: I know that you want to get your music into movies and TV. I think it’s perfect because your music has such a cinematic quality to it. The first “Cobras” song sounds like it’s from a Tarantino movie. Where do you see it going? Do you want like a paper towel commercial?

Dan Sartain: Yes, yes! I would even write songs for those types of things if they asked me to. But the thing that’s appealing about that now is that there’s no such thing for a band at the level we’re at, and lots of bands are at right now, there’s not such a thing as selling out because the music industry is on such a low note now. Unless you’re set already, and you do something that seems compromising to what you’re originally about or betraying to your fans, but I think that people - my friends would be all stoked if I got to do something like that. Because I know friends of mine’s bands that are about the same level as mine that sold a song to McDonalds or something like that. And it’s like, ‘good job, dude!’ I know you’re not all stoked about McDonalds but it just so happens that the people that run advertisements now have better taste in music than the people who run the radio. Even the XM radio, man, I got that and it’s much, much better but it’s still fucking Don Henley and the same shit you always hear. Just more of it. And Howard Stern gets to say ‘fuck.’ I would like to do something like that, though. As far as movies, I would like to do something with a little integrity. I would like to score something. I’ve been listening to lots of stuff like that! Been listening to lots of horror movie soundtracks lately. Lots of Goblin and Phillip Glass and John Carpenter and people like that. I’m just going to make a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist, really. I really want to, man. Because I can come up with tunes all day long, it’s the lyrics that are the hard part. It would be so easy to go and make an instrumental record. I want to do that so bad. Maybe even put it out under a different name or something.

(credit: Nora Wong)

THIRSTY: How did the collaboration with Third Man Records come out?

Dan Sartain: My friend Ben Swank who used to play drums for me some, he was a friend who got me over to London. Really good guy, he used to play in a band called the Soledad Brothers. I just happened to reach out to him and he was like, ‘yeah, I’m working for these guys up in Nashville now’ and got us to do that. I have him to thank for that. All those dudes I’ve worked with. It was easy to come about. It was kind of a coincidence, too, honestly. I didn’t know he was working for this label.

THIRSTY: Why “Bohemian Grove”?

Dan Sartain: I chose that song, and Jack slowed it down to a snail’s pace. I know the guy is super capable of making a three-minute pop song that’s good, cause that’s the stuff of his I like the most. Some bands like that, I’m sure you want to go in deep cuts and, if all you know of Iggy Pop is “Lust for Life” and “Search and Destroy”, that’s really not digging so deep. But with some acts, some of their best stuff is the stuff that people hear the most. I wanted to do something like that. They promoted it as a song that I’d never had before, which is true. And it has been good! Folks are showing up that wouldn’t otherwise show up, so I’ll forever be grateful for that.

THIRSTY: You seem to always have really cool road stories. Anything you can think of that’s happened on this trip?

Dan Sartain: I hate to say we don’t have any interesting stories! Lobster town was fun yesterday! America, it’s been so bad the last decade in the Bush administration, because it made it hard to admit that I fucking love America, man! It’s great! Take a ride down Route 66, do that! And go see the fucking Hoover Dam and tell me it’s not great and impressive. I don’t always agree with the politics but I don’t think anybody’s ever completely content with the politics of the country. It made it embarrassing to say, “I love America,” you know? But I do, man. It’s beautiful. I thought I’d seen it all and we took a different way out up to the East and it was beautiful. Parts of New Jersey looks just like Alabama. I’d never think that. I just think of like “Toxic Avenger” and the Misfits when I think of New Jersey, you know! It’s lakes and trees and shit, and no humidity!

THIRSTY: Where do you guys go after this? You’re still doing the Social D thing? Are you going back to Europe after?

Dan Sartain Lives (2010)

Dan Sartain: That’s the plan. We’re supposed to go back in September. It’s going to be fun. It’s good. I’m hoping the rest of this goes really well because, to be honest, I thought that Social Distortion’s crowd was going to be very intimidating, which for appearances it is. Cause you got all these fucking people that have been into punk rock for 30 years and stuff coming, and young punk rockers that are aggro and it really looks like the kind of show where a guy like me would get his ass kicked, you know? But it turns out it’s great! And I put two and two together and thought, ‘well, ok. All these people like Social Distortion.’ And if you listen - and I’d probably get killed for saying this - to their stuff, it is about the songwriting and a lot of those songs are about love and they’re actually quite sensitive. So it’s like, well maybe these people aren’t that prepared to rip my head off. We’re selling more stuff with them then we did a lot of acts we tour with, that were more appropriate in my mind for us to be touring with. But I’m hoping for the best out of this one. It’s already going way better than I thought so I’m happy.


Thirsty : October 2007 : Interview with Dan Sartain
Thirsty : January 2007 : Interview with Dan Sartain
Dan Sartain on MySpace




Become a Thirsty Friend:

Share This

Search Thirsty for:

© Stay Thirsty Media, Inc. 2006 - 2010
All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Terms of Sale | Contact | Site Map