An Interview with Dan Baird

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Formed by Dan Baird of The Georgia Satellites and solo artist who brought the world the album Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin offer up authentic classic rock sounds in a way seldom seen in today’s music industry. The newest album Screamer is slated for release October 10, 2018 and can be preordered now at https://www.jcplmusic.com/shop-home/.

What was it like growing up in Georgia when you did? How do you think your early days helped shape you into the man you are today?

Well, I never thought about it while it was happening, or really since, as everybody has to grow up somewhere. I was born at the end of 1953, so I’m sure I wasn’t too much different than anybody else.I grew up in Sandy Springs which wasn’t as wealthy as it would become. Pre 285 it was the sticks I guess. It’s all I knew. Our past cannot help but shape us, for good and ill. I’m not so circumspect as to divine what individual things helped me in becoming myself. It just happened all by itself.

What are some of your most fond memories of that time? Do you consider yourself lucky to have been exposed to such a vast array of musical stylings via your mother?

There were a few people that I still stay in contact with, they’re the best of what went down. My mom’s taste in music really was pretty great. Still can’t get up with Mel Tormé, but much of what she tried to get me to listen to was really excellent. Ray Charles was instant, Merle was 5 years later, Sinatra another 10.

What was it like working your way from Georgia to playing worldwide? Do you think persistence and hard work are a must in your line of work?

I thought I was ready well before I was actually ready. We all do. What sprung us to playing around the world was a mix of dedication to what we liked, the desire to be as good as we could be on our instruments, both amateurs and professionals that took an active interest in us succeeding and then pure luck. Luck cannot be overrated.

No one is ever ready for the jump. There’s a whole set of problems you can’t find the answers to without the trial and error method. The errors kinda sting. The correct solutions you get right aren’t necessarily applicable to other situations. I’ve kinda learned to trust my intuition and not be upset when that wasn’t the correct path.

You once said in regards to working in the studio versus touring that, “I like both. They are different. I like different. One is makin’ movies. One is doing a play. If you’re an actor you should like to do both.” Do you enjoy the fact that music can allow one to put on a persona that lets them step outside of who they are in their everyday lives for the time they are working on their craft?

That’s an interesting way of looking at performance.

Personally, I enjoy people giving me a piece of themselves, as I try to do when I’m up there. Find the heart of the song and bring it to the front. On nights that isn’t available, just try to remember the lyric, hit pitch and keep time. That’s for live stuff. For studio, you’d best do it until you mean it.

So I don’t rely on the “outside persona” to do a show. I just keep fighting to bring “it” to the front. That’s why I don’t use a set list. “I feel like having fun” “I could really sink my teeth into a sad song” “ooh, ooh, that one!”

I don’t care for most “pro” music with the set list. I don’t feel like there’s money on the table.

I don’t know how actors do it.

 Speaking of actors were there any that left an impression on you early on that may have helped you do what you spoke of above? What do you think are some of the traits shared by musicians and actors?

I do remember seeing Robert Mitchum early on, thinking “that’s what a badass looks like”. Thunder Road, I think. The whole idea involved in performance was summed up well by Alfred Hitchcock; getting your audience to suspend disbelief. I’m not good enough to fake it, so I try to make sure I immerse myself in the moment I wrote something, what it means now, or if it’s a cover, why it means something to me. You get the idea that I hate just connecting dots. Boring on stage is plain ugly in the audience.

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Your music has always had a sort of authentic and sincere feel to it, as opposed to the music you find on the mainstream charts at this time, what do you attribute that to? How is that accomplished?

You go ahead and combine these questions to make them fit. I honestly didn’t read ahead. Ha!

Mainstream was never what I listened to. I completely gave up 25 years ago. It’s music for young folks. Always has been. Pop music usually isn’t even interesting. That said, I love The Monkees and ABBA. Go figure.

How has the music industry changed most since you started your career in it?

Completely.

Record sales used to be a real thing.

Can you tell us a little about Homemade Sin and the members of it? What do you enjoy most about working with this particular bunch of fellows?

We became Homemade Sin when Warner joined, sometime around 2007.

Mauro Magellan and I took about a 10 year break. Long story, way too long. He’d been with me since Sats days. He came back in sometime in 2005 or so.

Sean Savacool joined last year.

Warner is a founding member of Jason and the Scorchers, and still is as far as I know. He was a true shot of adrenaline when he came on board. Always looking for a new way to say something on the guitar. He takes care of me being a crappy showman. Sargent Rock with a Les Paul on.

Mauro is the guy. He hasn’t been dependable 2 or 3 nights out of 35 years. It was always equipment failure. We know each other all too well.

I usually start the songs then turn quickly to him and ask for a tempo adjustment. All my fault, but I’ll deliver the tune better. He nudges it for me.

Sean, is the new guy, he is YOUNG. 33. He can play for a young’n. Promise ya that. Someone will poach him. He’s that good.

 What can fans expect from the new album Screamer? Are there any tracks on it that are more dear to you than others?

Part 2 First. Of course there are. Of course I won’t tell. Do you like one kid more than the other? Yes, and you’re not telling either. Not quite as riff oriented as Rollercoaster. A few more strummy and funny songs.

You also once said “Soul is better than talent.” Do you find that to be true in all aspects of life?

Not all.

See, you have to have a certain amount of talent to even be able to really try to do somethings. Hit a baseball, comprehend a contract, do calculus, bake. The list goes on. But you can always tell when that someone is doing it with soul. When that’s part of the equation, it jumps out at you.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

Not D minor. (Spinal Tap joke)

Combo of intuition and courage. Figure out what your spirit needs, have the guts to answer the bell when it’s time.

How do you hope to be remembered when your time is up?

I hope I achieve rock and roller status. That’s not a little thing.

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