After I got off FaceTime with Dan Hanson–singer n’ guitar player for ORL-to-CHI soul/R&B band Fat Night–me n’ my ol’ friend continued to chat up n’ talk about his new life in Chicago. In this post interview dialogue, Dan told me a story that served as a great climax of his acclimation story, one that is laid out in the interview below. I wish it would’ve gotten captured, but I wanted to paraphrase the ending before you hear about the story that built up to it. EnJoY.
Dan went to an intimate 200ish person vinyl release show for Noname’s Telefone. It happened to be on top of a roof and had an open bar. He ended up talking to a local trombone player that happened to be Frank Ocean’s trombone player. When Noname first came onstage, she introduced her band and went back into the crowd to let them warm up the Chicago night and happened to start talking to Dan’s new friend. Then Dan happened to be singing along to the D’Angelo song the band was playing …ended up being pushed onstage by the 26-year-old rapper to finish the song.
Cover photo by Hannah Mae.
matthew warhol: Yo dude, how’ve you been?
Dan Hanson: I’m pretty good.
matthew warhola: How do you like Chicago?
Dan Hanson: Chicago is pretty good. I’ve been up here for 9 or 10 months now.
matthew warhol: I can’t believe it’s been that long!
Dan Hanson: Yeah, time has flown by, and city life is definitely a lot quicker, more fast paced than home.
matthew warhol: What do you think the hardest thing to adapt to has been?
Dan Hanson: We moved in December so it was winter time and even though it was a mild winter, there was a lot to get used to. You do a lot of walking in general, getting better sneakers or boots that hold up as much walking as you do is important.
matthew warhol: Damn.
Dan Hanson: Also, the climate is dryer up here so I had noticed within the first few months my nose was so dry, and it would get cracked. Not to get to involved with that, but it was to the point where I was using lotion on parts of my body that I’ve never had to use lotion before. It was getting real dry.
matthew warhol: I think we should have a 45 minute long conversation about lotion [laughs] and dry noses… What do you think the cultural differences are? Are you as involved as you were in Orlando.
Dan Hanson: Not yet, it’s a little bit more expensive up here and there’s so much more going on, so you have to really figure out what’s attractive to you. I would say that I haven’t gotten to the ideal place where I want to be here, just because it takes time to get involved and get to the point where you start noticing the same faces and realize your a part of something. It’s a lot more established. Chicago being one of the birth places of blues and jazz, it’s pretty well instilled in the live music here.
matthew warhol: You were the last Fat Night to move up there, right?
Dan Hanson: Nik, our drummer, was actually the last one but he came up right after me.
matthew warhol: Did you feel like you were starting over in Chicago?
Dan Hanson: Not really, just because we played up here a few times already and once we did get up here, we started making our way into lineups pretty quickly. It was just kind of another step, rather than starting over, a bigger step rather than figuring the whole thing out again. It’s just on a bigger scale.
matthew warhol: Are you finding it easier to get into your own niche—where as Orlando, with the smaller amount of musicians, are you finding yourself in a pocket more?
Dan Hanson: Um, I think it is very easy to find a niche here. I don’t know if we’re there yet. We’re still open minded with shows that come our way, but there have been a couple of pretty cool shows. One was with Durand Jones & The Indications who is on Colemine Records. We have a record out onColemine and they’ve been on the up and up. They brought a sold out show to a really cool venue up here called The Empty Bottle. And the same thing happened with another band on the label called The Dip. It’s been really having connections like that where if someone comes through, we can be like, “Hey, we’re here if you’re interested.” That seems to be a lot of what we’ve gotten into since we’ve been here as apposed to putting together lead slots for shows. That’s the one big difference I’d say. We’re kind of back to square one, opening up for bands before we can start laying down our own thing up here.
matthew warhol: I bet there’s something exciting about that though, especially since you’re not a new band. You kinda feel like you need to prove yourself, but you already have the chops as a band.
Dan Hanson: It’s been reassuring that we are heading in the right direction. We are toying around with some new sounds and getting a little more openminded towards what we’re doing.
matthew warhol: What are those new sounds?
Dan Hanson: About five months ago, we started on a new album, a full-length, and it’s the most songs we’ve had ready in a specific time where we’ve paired all the tunes together and it makes sense as a body of work. We’re starting to use a little more synth in some of the songs. We’re getting a little more comfortable with trying more for recording. We’re not afraid to do stuff that we wouldn’t be able to do live, like putting a bunch of vocal tracks on a song. We’re just focused on making a good recording.
matthew warhol: Do you think being in a new city has helped foster creativity?
Dan Hanson: I think so. The level of musicianship here is really diverse and really high caliber. You’ll find people in any genre killing it on any night of the week. It’s really cool to see how humble a lot of those people are too. Everyone’s just trying to make something good.
matthew warhol: Does the new album have a name yet?
Dan Hanson: It’s tentatively, but mostly likely, going to be called Live For Each Other, which is after the name of a song.
matthew warhol: Anything else you can divulge about the new music?
Dan Hanson: No release dates right now. We’re still wrapping out recording but I’d say we’re about 80% there. We did a huge chunk of the tracking while we were all in town. Colemine Records, who released one of our singles in the past, is going to be working with us on a release.
matthew warhol: Now, Gabe [vocals/keys] just moved to LA, right?
Dan Hanson: That’s correct, for about a month now.
matthew warhol: Part of me thinks that I would be frustrated with that, since you had all just gotten to Chicago. Does that mean anything different for the band?
Dan Hanson: It slows things down just a little bit, but everybody still has a pretty strong input on what’s going on. And it’s something that we’ve practically always been experiencing since this band started. We started—when it was just me, Nik, and Ted—Ted was in Tallahassee going to FSU. When he was in town, we’d just jam and make some music for fun. Then eventually, Ted was back in town, but Gave was going to school in North Carolina. When we could, we’d just make music for fun. Then Ted moved up to Chicago. And Gabe moved up to Chicago. We’re used to those kind of hurdles, but I think accepting that we can take as much time as we need is kind of comforting. It just feels like family. We all support what the others are doing. And we’re all just as interested in music.
matthew warhol: I imagine you have to have a pretty strong relationship to be able to do that.
Dan Hanson: Yeah, and we all go back… Gabe and Ted to go back as far as middle school and the rest of us since high school…
matthew warhol: Are you picking your nose on this webcam right now?
Dan Hanson: What’s that?
matthew warhol: Are you picking your nose on this webcam right now?
Dan Hanson: I might be. I kind of give no fucks when it comes to picking my nose. I think it’s a very natural thing to do. We come from apes, man.
matthew warhol: What do you usually do with the booger? Do you wipe? Flick them?
Dan Hanson: I mean… usually it’s just enough so if it’s itchy I’ll get it out of the way. If I am in a public place, I’ll try to find the most tactful way to expose of it.
matthew warhol: My thing is I just gotta get it off my finger as quickly as possible, caution to the wind. Getting into more of the music itself, there seems to be a lot of nostalgic sounds, reaching back into the past and pulling the music forward. How do you make sure it sounds new?
Dan Hanson: It’s barely conscious. A lot of the songwriting itself can be pretty in depth; we’ll get down to the nitty gritty detail-wise. But I don’t think there’s too much focus on making it sound a specific way. I think we’re just very aware of what we all like to sound like within the group. Everybody listens to what they like to listen to—we all really like old soul music—but a lot of it comes down to the way we’re playing it. It goes back into our relationship as a group. We understand where everyone is coming from when we’re making a song, trying to keep space for each other. I think that’s something indicative of those old soul bands, everyone gives each other enough space to let the song groove.
matthew warhol: With the vocals, specifically, how do you decide who’s going to sing what between you and Gabe?
Dan Hanson: Generally I or Gabe will come in with a formed song. We’ll play around with it and from there, we’ll come up with harmonies and bounce stuff off each other. Like, “I think you would sound good on this,” or “We should do a three part harmony here.” With “Honesty Man,” Ted wrote that song and he knew that he wanted Gabe to sing the lead on the verses and he wanted me singing the bridge and the chorus melodies. I think that goes back to us having a pretty good understanding with where everyone’s heads our at.