On the back of the release of his new album Oh Fortune, Vancouver’s hardest-working man, Dan Mangan, returns to Australia with a very special performance at the Hotel Great Northern on Saturday. Dan’s DIY, underdog, indie, tour-as-much-as-you-can attitude is making him a favourite all around our wide brown land.
You have a tour-where-you-can-whenever-you-can attitude. Why is that? What do you get from touring hard? It’s hard to pass up opportunity. Exhausting as it may be, touring makes life pretty interesting. I’m working on an iPhone app that brings the people from each city around the world to Vancouver in groups – that way we could play to a new audience every night and still sleep at home. I’m accepting investments/donations to the cause.
Can you tell me about one or two of the more out-of-the-way or unusual places that you have played? A laundromat in San Francisco. An aquarium in Brighton, UK.
When you recorded Oh Fortune, what did you set out to achieve? We wanted to outsell Justin Bieber, Adele and The Wiggles combined.
How close do you think you came to your goal? We failed miserably.
What are the stories that inform your songwriting? Dr Seuss, mainly. I wrote that as a joke, but now that I re-read it, I realise that it’s actually kind of true. I’d put Dr Seuss in the ranks of Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut. I’m always listening to the chaos in the world. I feel like I ingest whatever I’m reading/watching/hearing and spit it back out. Whatever ends up in the songs is just a mixture of stories that have stewed in my stomach juices.
Do you find yourself snooping for stories or narratives in the lives or histories of others? Yes. Oh Fortune is a metaphor for Britney Spears shaving her head. I wrote that as a joke, but now that I re-read it, I realise that it’s actually kind of true. The record is about ‘letting go’.
It’s a whole new world when you see the word’s indie and folk in the same sentence… do you feel that folk music has a whole broader stroke that we haven’t really seen yet? Something that falls outside current genre labels perhaps?
I kind of like the term Post-Folk, but I also feel a little sick in my belly when I say it. People used to feel upset when two people who had different colours of skin got married. Now, most people know that to feel upset when that happens is really, really stupid. That’s why people come in all kinds of shades now. People got pissed off when Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar. Music mirrors life, and life is always evolving. I know that it would be misleading to not mention folk when describing my music, but it’s a tough situation. You don’t want to put yourself in a box, but often it’s important to tell people which box they are allowed to put you in. I just went crosseyed.
What is the music that has most influenced you? When I was a kid, it was Van Morrison and the Beatles. In recent years, it’s Radiohead, M Ward, Bon Iver, the Constantines, Colin Stetson, Broken Social Scene. Post-Folk. Har-dee-har-harr.
What should we expect for your Byron show? We’re giving away cupcakes to the first 8,000 attendees. And dirt-bikes.
Saturday at the Hotel Great Northern.