Before his set for our Rock Against Homelessness event, Melissa got a chance to chat with Dan from Trunks and Tales about punk rock values and recent projects he’s been working on:
M: Alright, cool. So. Dan, from Trunks and Tales.
M: Welcome to Dickinson College!
D: Thank you!
M: You’re welcome. Ummmm… So we have a bunch of stock interview questions for people. The first one is: What is your horoscope sign?
D: ….Leo. Yeah, Leo. August 2nd.
M: I think that’s right, I don’t even know. Secondly, what is your favorite Beatle?
D: My favorite Beatle? Like the band?
D: Oh… I don’t really like the Beatles.
M: None of them.
D: I’ll go with Ringo Starr.
M: Okay, that’s fair. Um… oh! The third question is: If you had to be a deciduous tree or a coniferous tree, which would you be and why?
D: ………………………… Coniferous is a Christmas tree? I would be a coniferous tree. ‘Cause then you would live all year long, and you wouldn’t just die.
M: Well they don’t really die, they just lose their leaves.
D: They don’t really die, yeah. You wouldn’t hibernate. I’ll put it that way.
M: Yeah, yeah. They just slack off for like three months, really.
D: Yeah, ’cause I’m not a slacker. That’s why! That’ll be my answer.
M: Alright, cool! So now let’s actually talk about music and stuff. You’re basically a solo singer-songwriter, correct?
D: Sort of, yeah. I grew up listening to punk rock, and it’s really hard to find band members that are reliable and are willing to put work into stuff. So I just sort of do it myself. So it’s just me with an acoustic guitar, but it’s sort of me singing the punk rock songs that I wish I could play with a full band.
M: Yeah, I noticed that! I really want to talk influences with you, actually…
M: Because… Alright. Firstly, because, have you heard of The Riot Before?
M: You remind me so much of them, in a way that’s really good.
D: I think we probably come from a similar background, as far as like music-wise, just listening to… I grew up on a lot of old, not like super-punk rock kind of stuff, but a lot of what’d you call “heavy indie bands” from the 90s: like Small Brown Bike, Hot Water Music, the Casket Lottery… a bunch of old emo bands, original emo bands, like The Get Up Kids, bands like that, Mineral. So, that’s where I’m coming from, and it’s sort of just me going in that direction by myself.
M: It shows a lot though. You have a bunch of covers that you did, actually, right?
D: Yeah, yeah. My reason for doing that is that it’s sort of to pay homage to all the bands that have inspired me, and to sort of get people that–older bands that people like me don’t really realize existed or do still exist–to get people listening to other kinds of music that they might not be into.
M: Right, totally. Yeah, that’s really cool. I really liked all the covers, by the way.
D: Cool, thank you.
M: Yeah, like the Billy Bragg one. Way better than Lars Fredricksen’s, way better. I was like, “He showed that guy.” Do you play live a lot?
D: I do. I’ve been doing this for about two and a half years, and I’ve probably played in that time about two hundred and fifty shows. This is, I guess, you asked me to play this show, and I had a couple people ask me to play shows in this general time area, so I actually booked a kind of ten-day tour thing. I’m playing here today, I’m playing Bethlehem-Allentown area tonight, then… I didn’t get a show booked for the next day, but then I’m going up to Long Island, and then up into Massachussetts, then a few more days in Pennsylvania, then down to Washington DC and back up. So I play as much as I can. As time allows, because I’m also working full-time. But music’s the thing for me, so if I have to take off work, that’s not really an issue for me.
M: So, is your boss pretty okay with all that, or do you kind of have to work around it?
D: I found a good job, the kind of job that all musicians should have, where my boss will pretty much give me off any time that I ask off as long as there’s enough advance notice. I can be like “Hey, I need this day off, I’m playing a show,” and he understands that music is my first and biggest priority, so I’m really lucky.
M: That’s really cool.
D: And I have a lot of friends who play music who aren’t that lucky, so I feel very lucky to have that.
M: Who’s your favorite person or band to play a show with?
D: Um… I’ll go one for each, person and band. I have a friend named Chris, he goes by Anniversary Club. He’s originally from the Pittsburgh area but now lives in Cleveland, and he’s more of a singer-songwriter thing, but sort of more in the louder, punk rock style. He writes some great songs and he’s just a really good friend of mine, so it’s really fun to play with him. I have some other friends from Philadelphia that play in a band called Science Fair, which–I’ll be playing with them tonight. They’re actually a lot of fun to play with too, just a lot of really fun dudes and they have their hearts in the right place. They’re not in it to become rockstars or anything, they’re just there to hang out and make friends and write good music that they mean, which is cool.
M: Are you recording, or working on anything right now? I mean, you have the tour coming up–
D: Yeah, I have this little tour. Also, I’m playing a festival in Massacchussetts in May, which I’m gonna do. It’s called Mass Recovery Fest, it’s a two-day festival with a bunch of acoustic bands on Friday night and a bunch of full bands on Saturday night. So I’m gonna be doing a few days up there, hopefully, and back… and hopefully, this summer, coming out with a full-length album. And, um… just trying to play as much as possible.
I’ve recently started a record label, a little independent record label, called Kat Kat Records. It’s on facebook and bandcamp, all that nonsense. But it’s where I help put out my friends’ records. I’m doing a split cassette tape with a band from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, called Captain of Compliments, and that band Science Fair I talked about from Philadelphia. And then I’m also doing a 7″ for a band from New Jersey called Aspiga, and they’re kind of a Lawrence Arms-y sound. So I’m trying to keep that going, help friends put out records, and people that I really believe in… you can tell that they really mean it when they sing, and they’re not in it to do anything crazy or get famous or anything, they’re just doing it ’cause they love the music. And they really grasp the whole DIY community feel of what punk rock should be. And I feel some of the scenes have gotten too big for themselves recently, so it’s gotten beyond that. It’s gotten to a… there’s been a “cool factor” introduced. So I’m trying to keep it so it’s a community-based thing where no one’s above anyone else, and we can all just come and hang out and play music together, and be friends. And really the music is a way to implement that community sense and a way to broadcast that to other people. The music is just the medium to get it across. So, those are the things I’m up to now.
M: That’s awesome! That’s really cool. Everyone, go check that out now. Right now. …I don’t know why I’m telling that to my recorder.
M: So dead!