The folk singer-songwriter is satisfying our need for live music with the release of his new album Grand Plan: Live.
With live shows a distant memory, we’re craving any sense of performance and singer Dan Croll is satisfying our needs with his introspective live record version of Grand Plan. Having released the critically-acclaimed album last year, the live version stays true to the original in terms of delivery and meaning, but like a true live artist, the singer retells some of the stories with more intricate guitar melodies and soulful vocals. Split into two parts, the album begins with records from his Spacebomb live stream before taking us to Echo Park, Will Rodgers Beach and an Uber.
Speaking to us on why he decided to drop a live album now, the singer revealed, “The idea of releasing a live album was born from the sessions we’d done pre-pandemic with Wild Honey Pie, and then during it with Spacebomb. I thought it would be a great contrast to capture the audio from those sessions on one album. One side that hears me playing my songs worry-free around LA at the places where I wrote them, and the other side locked down in Richmond, distanced and masked in Spacebomb studios. Hopefully, this album can somewhat temporarily fill the void of live gigs until we’re all back together again.”
Much like the original project, the album offers us detailed diary-like entries from Croll’s life, forged together with melodic guitar strings, sweet country-tinged vocals and an irresistible charm. With the album out now, we spent some time with the singer-songwriter, diving in deep on his production process, life without touring and why it is important to hear music stripped back.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Dan, how’s this past year been for you? How you developed musically? Has it affected your creativity at all?
It’s pretty much been one big dumpster fire. For most of 2020, the last thing I wanted to do was write or create anything musically, all of my mental focus was spent on just trying to survive, mostly financially. I’ve been lucky enough to rely on music to keep me afloat for the past 8 years, but with touring being cut I had to pick up some odd jobs here and there and found myself hustling like a broke student in Liverpool again. That said, the past month I’ve been slowly picking up the guitar again and started to ease out some rough ideas and demos, so hopefully, this is the start of the next album!
You’re originally from Liverpool but moved to Los Angeles, why the change and why did you feel restless in Liverpool?
Liverpool has been my home for so long, and with it being such a creative and friendly city I found myself getting almost too comfortable there. Friends were settling down, having kids, getting real and more reliable jobs, and I felt like I wasn’t ready for that. I’m a person who constantly needs a challenge, and for me, that challenge was throwing myself into a completely different city and country.
You’ve just dropped the live version of your album Grand Plan, congratulations! What was it like recording and producing during lockdown? What made you want to drop a live album now?
Well most of this was done unintentionally before lockdown, and I’m very lucky that we did so! Rather than go down the stressful route of creating music videos for one or two of the album tracks, I wanted to team up with The Wild Honey Pie to capture live video and audio for a large handful of the tracks, and showcase the environment around me where I wrote them. I was also very lucky that there was a brief safe moment in lockdown to travel over to Richmond to see the space bomb guys again, while over there we did a live stream session and captured all of the audio for that. So when the lockdown hit again and touring showed no sign of returning anytime soon, we thought all of this live material we captured could sit together well on one release.
In comparison to the original album, you have made a few changes on some of the productions and stripped things back, why is this?
It’s important for me as the songwriter that people hear what a track sounds like when you really strip it back, pretty much how you wrote or captured it. The Wild Honey Pie songs especially were exactly how my original demos sounded, and for the space bomb tracks I was performing in exactly the way we captured the album in the studio. It’s just important for me that people get to experience the different stages and variations of a song before they get to that finished product.
What’s it like releasing music during such an uncertain time?
Exactly that, uncertain. Me and the team had already come so far with the album release that when the pandemic hit it just made no sense to delay or postpone it. Obviously, none of us have experienced releasing during a global pandemic, and so it was a very strange feeling just letting go of this collection of songs and seeing what happened.I think the saddest part of it all for me was not getting to tour the album after its release, that’s always the way I’ve done it and that’s my favourite part of the job. Getting to travel the world and perform live in person for fans is a feeling like no other, so not to have that was a tough blow. That said I was still glad to see the album connect with people and receive some lovely feedback, but I’m still excited for that moment I get to head out on the road when it’s safe to do so!
How would you describe your sound and genre?
It’s been all over the place during these three albums, but I feel it’s now really settled and I’m making what I want to make. I’d say it’s in the folk world, maybe with a foot in the Americana side of things. Whatever the sound, It’s all very honest and personal storytelling that I hope others will connect with.
With things hopefully looking up this year, what are you looking forward to/ what are you most excited for?
Getting on the road, playing some tracks live, having a beer with new friends, writing some more, then doing it all over again.