Live & Listen's 'Bands You Should Know': Dank August 26, 2016 09:58
Photo by Christian Stewart
Live & Listen is pleased to continue a brand new weekly feature known as Bands You Should Know. This new concept will highlight a different band each Friday with an interview, general background information, current happenings, as well as videos and audio from each band. After nearly two years of various interviews and artist spotlights, we feel that installing a consistent weekly feature is the best next step for Live & Listen.
For our seventh edition of Bands You Should Know, we sat down with Matt Henderson of Dank, one of our favorite up-and-coming bands out of Atlanta. We were first introduced to Dank as they toured around the southeast, and we couldn't be more excited for their upcoming sets at CukoRakko and Funksgiving. Dank's funky nature leaves you wanting more with every track, and there is no doubt that the future is bright for this group that only seems to get tighter with every show.
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
So you guys officially started the band back in 2010 in Athens. That's obviously a hotbed for musicians and live music in general. How did you guys initially get connected and put things into motion?
Matt: Right. So this current lineup didn't really get solidified until about two years ago. Athens is such a small community of music and such a small little town. Everyone kind of knows everyone through friends, or you've played together, or you seen each other's bands play. That's really how things were born. Friends of friends got together, started playing, and that's how I got to know all of these guys that are in the band now. There's just so much music going on, and Athens is such a great atmosphere for playing music.
Things have obviously evolved a bit in the past year. The band is now operating as a four-piece, and the new EP Get Up definitely has a new, energized sound to it. Tell me a little bit about the direction the band is moving in right now.
Matt: Absolutely. I think a lot of it is just that the band has really matured and grown our songwriting. What we like and want to do musically has changed a bit. What we listen to, and what we're striving for. We're really focusing on the songs, and we're trying to write the best songs that we can. What parts does the song need for the studio? We've been trying to look at the live show and the record as two entirely different things. Taking advantage of the studio in different ways, and not always thinking about what would be cool to play live.
We've focused more on what would be cool for each track once we're in the studio. How can we make it the best possible song? How can we use different recording techniques to enhance each song? That was a conversation that we were having a lot for the Get Up EP. Moving forward, we want everything to sound a little more mature and tight on the record, while still having a show that is wide open, as far as us being able to improvise and bounce ideas off of each other in the moment. Trying to keep both aspects of that alive.
Watch Dank's official music video for "Get Up" here:
How does the improv element work for you guys? Are there particular songs that you're always looking to really open up and run with?
Matt: Definitely. There are usually a few that we know we are going to open up and see what happens. There are other songs, like "Get Up" for example, that has that little "end section," which we can kind of adjust accordingly each night. If we only have a 45-minute set, we usually keep it pretty straight. If we have more time, we can open up that certain section. Then, there are other times where we take a song that we've been playing for a few years and haven't really jammed it too much, and we might say, "Lets open up this section tonight and see what happens." That allows us to keep things fresh for ourselves, too. If we've been playing the song for a long time, and we feel like it's getting stale, we try to find a way to reinvent what is in the song, for ourselves. We want to keep in interesting from night to night. Then, there are other times when we just kind of stumble onto something, and we go from there.
I've talked to several bands who are moving more in the direction of the 3-5 song EPs, rather than putting out full length albums. There are obviously two sides to that concept. Studio time isn't cheap, and people's attention spans aren't always there. Is this something you feel you guys are headed towards?
Matt: Right. It's funny...we've had that conversation a lot. It's kind of an ongoing thing that everyone seems to be talking about. The music industry is so different now. There is so much content out there. We decided to go that route this time; keeping things short and sweet. It's new stuff for people to hear, but yet there is something about the concept of the full album that all of us really love. You think back to your favorite bands, and most of the time, there is one record that has really stuck with you and made an impact as a whole. That's something that we really like and haven't taken off of the table. I think the full record sometimes gives you a little more room to do interesting and creative things with soundscapes between tracks, interludes, or just weirdness in general. Whereas an EP is more about sticking to the songs and getting them released. A record allows you to create an entire vibe for 45-60 minutes or so.
We're trying to balance both, because at the same time, I do thing that people's attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. It's hard to get people's attention for long enough to really listen to an entire record. We've been trying to think of ways to maybe have both. We feel like the music video is really making a comeback these days. That's a nice way to shorten up things. People can watch it and hopefully like the song, then that might lead them towards wanting the rest of the record, or whatever else we put out.
Photo by Jim Dimitroff of Showlove Media
So, I guess to elaborate on that...the way music is released and delivered is a totally different things these days. Album sales are nearly extinct, but you have the ability to get music in front of people easily and quickly. How do you view the pros and cons of this concept as a touring musician?
Matt: Right. It's definitely tough. From a digital/online perspective, we like to keep it free. There's so much stuff out there, and we want to get the music out and in front of as many people as we can. I was reading your interview with Justin (Hasting) from Zoogma, and he mentioned something about still having a bunch of extras CDs sitting around from previous releases. We have that same thing. You get these records pressed, and people just don't really buy CDs like they used to. Some people do, but most people just go to Spotify and stream it from their phone.
We've been talking about totally abandoning the concept of getting CDs pressed. We've talked about records as well, and I feel like that's something still worth investing in. We know that about 80% of people are listening to music on their phones, in the cars, or whatever. It's an interesting climate we're in for sure.
I'm sure that it's hard to justify spending that money sometimes. You don't want to abandon the CD, because it's so much of what you've known, and it's a tangible object that is part of a collection. That can be an easy expense to avoid though, especially when you see the market really trending in that direction.
Matt: Definitely. People still like to have something to take home that connects them with the music. So we're trying to come up with creative ways to still have something that people can tangibly get to connect them with the music, but we don't have to order 1,000 CDs that might end up sitting in our basement.
Listen to Dank's 'Get Up' EP here:
Shifting a little more towards what's coming up this Fall, I know you guys are returning to CukoRakko in October. The band is billed as "Dank and Friends" for this particular performance. Can you elaborate on that? Should fans expect anything different?
Matt: Super, super excited about that. I won't give too much away, but we're really good buddies with the Funk You guys. Those are some of our good friends. We saw that they were playing, and even though we knew some of our guys would be at a wedding that weekend we still wanted to be involved. So we started talking to Greg (Entrekin) and Jamie (Glass) about the idea, who are just awesome dudes that we've known from playing the festival a couple times in the past, and they were open to the idea. Me and Jimmy (Bones) actually went up there this past spring, when we weren't even playing. It's just that awesome of a place. I try to tell everyone who has never been up there how cool it is, and it's hard to really put into words. But yeah, we really wanted to be involved, and we talked to the Funk You guys, as well as some friends that have a horn section. We put together a set of some really great, fun songs. We'll be focusing on southern heritage...southeast United States. Dank and friends is really what it is.
Very cool. I've been really intrigued as to what you guys have planned for that set, so I appreciate you giving a little insight on that. That's going to make for a really fun set.
Matt: Definitely. We saw that Mama's Love and Maradeen is on there now too. We know all of those guys. Backup Planet, too. There is a really cool group of connected bands on the lineup this year. We've definitely been reaching out to everyone. Anyone that is going to be there that wants to join in on the party is more than welcome. We're really looking forward to it. Should be a really fun set with a lot of friends sitting in.
That type of situation always creates a really great energy. That always translates over onto the stage.
Matt: Definitely. Horse Pens 40 is just an incredible spot for music, so there is always a good energy there. Any of the bands who have played there know that.
How are things shaping up for the fall and winter? What can we expect to see and hear from Dank in the coming months?
Matt: You can check out CrankTheDank.com. We've got all of our dates for the fall. We'll be heading around the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia. All of the normal places that we go. Mainly, on the horizon, I would say that new music is really what we're focusing on. We just put out this EP, but we've been writing a ton, and we have a lot of new material. We're excited about that, and we want to get to work on it as soon as possible.
Photo by Christian Stewart