Dan & The Wildfire


Boston-based ‘folk rock’ band Dan & The Wildfire (Dan Htoo-Levine, Thom Brennan, Matt Hines, Sam Katz, Kyle Jenkins) can be defined as ‘folk rock’…if you’re lazy about labeling awesome tunes. Fortunately, Dan and his crew are full of energy (and creativity) when it comes to discussing their unique sound – they simply call it ‘folking awesome music’, complete with bits of blues, jazz, rock, pop and soul – a form of ‘melting pot-rock’, if you will. And we will. We definitely will.

Dan & The Wildfire995499_533666616704322_314038129_nDan & the Wildfire are not only creative, but collaborative as well, everyone bringing something distinctive to the table, a team effort that has been refined since their first two records, Nothing, Anything, Everything in 2011 and Smoke Signals last year. Today, the band is prepping for their March 2015 release, a new album titled Bull Moose. We asked the band about the record and their latest single, “Buzzard” – they said, “This album is a game changer for us. We’re covering a wide range of styles on this one, but it was important to us to still have it sound like a cohesive record. This record gives listeners a chance to hear just how diverse we can be, and it definitely reflects all of our individual influences in ways that Smoke Signals didn’t.”

Click to http://www.danandthewildfire.com/ to sample “Buzzard” in preparation for Bull Moose, and to look into the band’s schedule as they hit the road hard in support of the new music. Don’t hesitate – do it now…right after you finish reading all of the answers to the XXQs below.

XXQs: Dan & The Wildfire

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over others in your genre?

Dan Htoo-Levine (DHL): When people ask us what type of music we are, we default to “folk rock”, but the truth is, we’re much more than a folk rock band. We’ve got elements of blues, jazz, rock, pop and soul, so it’s hard for us to really pinpoint what genre we fit into. We are melting pot-rock, really. We play what we feel like playing, and we’re proud of that fact. I think that’s what makes us stand out the most. That, and our vocal harmonies. People dig those.

PEV: Calling Boston home, what kind of music were you all into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

DHL: We call Boston home now, but it hasn’t always been that way. Sam is actually the only band member from the Boston area, originally. Kyle is from Arizona, Matt hails from the UK, Thom is from Connecticut, and I’m from right outside NYC. It’s a mixed bag and our musical tastes reflect that. Thom has always been a jazz head. I’m pretty sure he owns every Miles Davis record. Sam was into bands like Wilco and the Grateful Dead. Matt grew up on prog rock. Kyle listened to classic country, and I liked the Dave Matthews Band. A lot.

PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene in your hometown, when you first started out as a band? What was your first show like together as a band?

DHL: It’s never easy trying to get people to pay attention to you, but the more shows we played, the more people started to notice what we were doing and we were encouraged. The whole starting a new band process was hard work, but anything worth doing generally is. Our first show with this lineup was actually for a packed house in Philly. It was nuts. We had people hula-hooping, there were glow sticks, and people were loving it. It was one of the most unique shows we’ve had as a group so far, I’d say.

Dan & The Wildfire563057_375597502511235_1762373077_nPEV: What can fans expect from a live Dan & The Wildfire show?

DHL: We take our art seriously, but we still like to have a good time. We love to switch things up as much as we can, and we love covering songs that are out of our comfort zone. Most recently we did a cover of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”. It was a bluegrass, soul, mariachi hybrid and it was awesome. People loved it. Expect things like that. Also, every night before the set, the guys give me a word or phrase that I need to somehow work into that night’s banter. Sometimes you’d never know it. Other times, I say weird things to make the phrase fit so that I don’t have to pay Thom a dollar. So expect it to have the potential to get weird, but not too weird.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

DHL: Water and set lists.

PEV: How has playing in Dan & The Wildfire been different from working with other artists or projects in the past?

DHL: Dan & the Wildfire is very much a collaborative effort. Each of us has our own skill set and background that we bring to the table, and we all push each other to be better. We’re good at putting our egos aside and working together. If we had a viral Internet video, it might be called “5 Guys, 1 Sound”, which is way less exciting than it seems.

PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music? Where do you get your best ideas for songs?

DHL: We draw inspiration from everywhere. It really depends on the song. The best ideas come to you when you least expect them to.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

DHL: Sure, we talk about that stuff sometimes, but we don’t dwell on it. We’re still in the relatively early stages of our career. We’ve done a lot of work so far, but we know we still have some hours to put in.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Dan & The Wildfire?

DHL: I’m not sure if there’s anything particularly surprising about us. We’re all just (fairly) normal dudes who like playing music together. If I had to pick something, I would say that it’s the fact that we’re big pranksters. We have an ongoing prank war within the band. It’s calmed down more recently, but pranks range from filling Thom’s room to neck-height with balloons, to replacing hand sanitizer with lube, so it never rubs in. There are plenty of other pranks we’ve pulled on each other. It’s a wonder we’re still friends, but for whatever reason, it works.

PEV: Tell us about your latest project, Bull Moose featuring your new single, “Buzzard”. What can fans expect from this work?

DHL: This album is a game changer for us. We’re covering a wide range of styles on this one, but it was important to us to still have it sound like a cohesive record. This record gives listeners a chance to hear just how diverse we can be, and it definitely reflects all of our individual influences in ways that Smoke Signals didn’t.

Dan & The Wildfire1505475_743508379053477_1243746207510907181_nPEV: What is the feeling you get after a song is complete, and you can sit back and listen to it for the first time?

DHL: It’s probably similar to the way those competitive eaters feel after they eat a ton of hot dogs.

PEV: What is the feeling you get after a song is complete and you can sit back and listen to it being played the way you envisioned?

DHL: A song is never played the way we envisioned it. That’s the beauty of working with this band. The complete song always takes some path that none of us could have predicted. It’s a pretty cool thing.

PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

DHL: We have a nice little fan base out west. We’d love to get out there.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play in your hometown?

DHL: They love it. Playing a Boston show is always awesome. What’s not to love about a big group of people dancing and singing?

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

DHL: When we’re not doing the music stuff, you can probably find us playing Mario Kart, or watching some sporting event or reruns of Cops.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?

DHL: That’s tough. We listen to so much music, that it’s really impossible to say.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

DHL: There’s a guy named Nick Camillo that we share bills with fairly frequently. He’s a singer/songwriter from Connecticut and performs with his incredible bass player, Tom Foutsizis. Nick’s music is awesome. Check him out. Plus, he’s rocking a new mop top lately that’s super retro.

PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what do you think each of you would be doing for a career?

DHL: We would all be high school football coaches in rivaling towns. Kyle would lose every game.

PEV: So, what is next for Dan & The Wildfire?

DHL: Well, right now, we’re ready to release this album in March and play a ton of shows. After that, who knows? What I will say is that there are a ton of interesting ideas being kicked around about what comes next, but right now, we’re all about promoting Bull Moose.

For more information, click to http://www.danandthewildfire.com/.

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