Tuesday, 28 November 2017

House Concert

Dan Bryk – House Concert – Nov 2017

Bryk’s return to “performance” after seven years of child rearing “sabbatical.” Nearly all new songs, warts and all. Utterly unprofessional recording grabbed from FB Live but don’t worry, the camera gets adjusted upwards once the set starts. You’ve probably never heard songs quite like these.

I opened a house concert for my old friend and tourmate Michael Holt. This is the warts and all document, sneetched from Facebook Live. Super rough around the edges and straight from the heart. All new songs except for the opener and closer, this is “what I’ve been up to”, sort of.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

songwriter questions file icon

Songwriting Questions… from a decade ago.

So I found this 2008 Word .doc on an external dump drive while hunting for a scan of an old, never-finished song. The file is dated May 17, 2008. I have no memory of which writer or publication even asked these questions–no hint in the file either–but never mind. I have a feeling this probably never even made it off my desktop.

In hindsight, I certainly take back my natterings about Lou Reed, though. The callousness of youth and all that. (R.I.P. Lou, may you find the rest you were denied here.) And I’ve certainly made my peace with I-IV-II-V, so long as there’s a solid supporting argument for it.

SONGWRITER QUESTIONS FOR DAN BRYK

What comes first; lyrics or melodies?

It depends. Melodies, if I’m sitting at the piano “trying to write a song.”  Words generally come any time a pen and notepad aren’t handy: falling asleep… driving in the car… in a meeting at work… post-coitus or worse, during. Awkward!

Are there any times in particular more fertile to the process? A couple of artists have told me that long solo drives tend to be particularly fertile….

I used to write a lot while driving, but I burned out the compact flash card in my old-school Olympus portacorder and I’ve been too lazy to hunt down a 16MB CF card. I’m really not good at writing while driving. I guess I could just buy a new note recorder (which might even have Mac OS X-friendly USB), but it was one of the first things I bought after moving to the Triangle (yaay Capital Pawn) and besides it’s the principle of the thing. We accept enough planned obsolescence as it is.

Influences – crib from them, or try to ignore them?

Wherever possible. Pop songwriting is a magpie’s art. I remember Nick Lowe saying something to the effect of “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Or maybe it was “I steal, but I steal from the best.”  Hopefully the overall effect is more like Rauschenberg than say, Puff Daddy looping 8 bars of “Every Breath You Take” over and over and calling it your own.

First song you ever wrote – title? Theme?

“Please Please Please Lord.”  I believe it had something to do with asking God for a girlfriend. This was even before I got sent to the principal’s office for playing the White Album on the art room cassette player. It’s hard to believe that even in 1982 Pentacostals still had a problem with that “bigger than Jesus” bit. It was someone’s birthday.

Influential songwriters (3-5) – what about them in particular?

Randy Newman – American Genius. No one skates between pop song and art with such finesse.

Aimee Mann – huge influence on my album “Lovers Leap”. She hasn’t done shit for me lately, but “I’m With Stupid” is still my Nevermind.

Leslie “Sam” Phillips – one of the smartest, deepest thinkers ever to wield a sharp pop hook. I’ve been a fan for 20 years, even when she was still considered a “Contemporary Christian” artist, and her last three albums are her best. She is so underrated, especially in indie music circles, it’s just stupid.

R.D. Burman – the late Bollywood composer. I have been devouring everything I can find of his since I bought a box set on a trip to India three years ago. An incredibly versatile composer, syncretic in the extreme, he mixes up Indian classical music and ragas and bollywood pop with all kinds of western sounds in brilliantly idiosyncratic arrangements—I hear everything from Bacharach to John Barry to ABBA in his music, but it’s still unmistakably his, and he wrote for all the great playback singers. Young Indian composers refer to him as L.O.R.D. for a reason.

Elliptical narratives, opaque imagery, or specificity?

Whatever works.  I’m not very good with descriptive detail, but I’ve been working on that. Some people find my lyrics hyper-specific, but those people probably hate Douglas Coupland too. I’ve tried to cut back on name-dropping consumer products when it’s clear they’re not going to underwrite my work. No-one told me about that Taco Bell “Feed the Band” contest, and that hurt.

Do you write for an album, or is each song an island?

I try and write good songs and hopefully I write enough of them to fill an album every year or two. I consider myself lazy if I can’t write 10 good songs a year, but then again inspiration’s for the lazy. Pretty soon I’m going to have to give up using immigration as an excuse for not finishing up my records. I’m fortunate in that Pop Psychology sort of has a grand theme, but it’s failure. People will only put up with one or two albums about failure in a row. Ask Mark Eitzel.

When do you know if you’re in a rut?

Dust on the piano.

Is it easier to take a personal event and tweak it to make more universal, or to take something completely fabricated and personalize it?

Dude, that’s a ten-point essay question! Unfortunately I, uh, tend to write from actual life experiences. I always sucked at creative writing in school, I was more into The New Journalism. Also I find unhappy or tense situations to provide more compelling narrative than when things are going smoothly. And I never tweak to make shit more universal. Put them all together = I still have a day job.

Artists from other writing mediums impress/affect? Poets, novelists, Raymond Carver?

Love me some Copywriters: Mary Wells, Bill Bernbach, Edward Graham, Ron Rosenfeld, Phyllis Robinson, Shirley Polykoff, David Ogilvy, (mmmm) George Lois. They made art out of the art of suggestion. Probably explains a lot.

What’s the longest you’ve ever tinkered with a song?

17 years. It’s called “Lowering The Standards” and it’s been almost done for maybe 5 years now. I just need to get the lyrics right in the bridge… it’ll be worth it, I swear.

What’s one thing that will turn you off instantly to a song on the radio (or the computer-ish equivalent)?

A I-IV-II-V chorus.  It’s like the “hit” algorithm. Every lame-ass pop punk song, every formulaic song the Matrix shits out… my ex-girlfriend referred to that chord progression as the “money chords.”

Also, auto-tuned lead vocals. Well, maybe I’ll make an exception for movie soundtracks when the actor is supposed to be singing. I’d rather hear Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman sing “Come What May” with a little help from Melodyne than some ringers with perfect pitch.

Dylan or Lennon?

Costello. It’s like the best of both worlds, without all that irritating myth and hagiography.

Lennon or McCartney?

There’s no point in choosing, no choice really. Their genius… it’s so ubiquitous you just have to accept it and try to work around it. It’s like picking between air and water.  It’s like… Falkner or Brion?

Lou Reed or Tom Waits?

I am so fucking sick of Lou Reed coasting on his laurels.  New York was his last good album (not counting ‘Drella, but that was half Cale anyhow) and I was in Grade 11 when that came out. GRADE 11.  Tom Waits still writes great songs, cuts great albums, plays great shows. Plus, Tom never shilled for Honda.

Stipe or Malkmus?

Pollard.

All Wikidding aside

How, exactly, does one solicit Wikipedians to update one’s Wikipedia entry? Is there a dark web where one leaves offerings of Chocodiles and Samwell Tarly fanfic in exchange for accuracy, if not flattery?

I hesitate to edit myself lest my neutrality or hell, notability be called into question. However, friends and complete strangers think I still live in Dar Es Salaam.

Let’s see… I’ve been back in the states since 2014, living in Durham NC for almost a year now. I’m doing very well under the circumstances. I will have some new music out there sooner than you’d expect and later than you think.

You’re welcome!

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Definite Article

Played pianorgan on this sweet little King Radio song not long before my dad passed away. Not a song about grammar.

Definite Article

King Radio: The Definite Article Frank Padellaro: guitar and lead vocal, Paul Pelis: drums, Rob Cook: bass, Lee Flier: lead guitar, Dan Bryk: organ and piano, Brandi Ediss: backing vocal and vocal arrangements, Diana Chadwell Brown: backing vocal, Matt Brown: backing vocal, Bob Fenster: backing vocal, Lee Wiggins: tambourine.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Pop Up Chorus sings She’s An Angel

I almost forgot about taking part in Durham’s delightfully eclectic Pop Up Chorus a few years back, gleefully conducted by my old peep (and Pop Psychology hornsmith) Seamus Kenney. I never actually make it on camera (look for my striped blue short sleeve shirt from behind) but you can definitely hear me in there. It was a great time, but the next morning I got a brutal kidney stone. Damn you, salty delicious barbecue.

PopUp Chorus sings “She’s An Angel” by They Might Be Giants

“She’s An Angel” by They Might Be Giants, recorded on Monday, April 28, 2014, at Motorco in Durham, North Carolina. PopUp Chorus is held on Monday nights at Motorco in Durham, NC, and is brought to you by Community Chorus Project, founded by Lauren Bromley Hodge.

 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

A New Song. No, really.

I contributed a cover of “I Hate My Generation” to an upcoming Sloan tribute record. How upcoming? It drops this Friday the 5th on Detroit’s Futureman Records. They’re even taking pre-orders.

I Hate My Generation, by Dan Bryk

from the album If It Feels Good Do It – A Sloan Tribute

It’s an admittedly highly interpretive take on the original, and I managed to sucker an amazing band into it: Josh Hicks on the sticks, Joe Giddings (ex-Star Collector) and Steve Della Maggiora on guitars, Frank Padellaro (you may know him from King Radio or the Scud Mountain Boys) on bass and Brandi Ediss on shouting.

And me on harmonies. Lots and lots of harmonies. Do you remember how Moxy Früvous’ Get In The Car basically ripped off the intro (and uh, general vibe) of Pen Pals? You don’t? Well, I sure as hell do!

My First Petition!

Now that I am officially part-American, I have finally created my first petition. Could I get a witness? I require 150 signatures for my petition to show up on the White House website:

Investigate Gov. Rick Snyder for gross negligence in the poisoning of the people of Flint, Michigan. | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government

Governor Rick Snyder’s actions have caused irrepairable harm to the families of Flint, Michigan. Gov. Snyder needs to be indicted for criminal negligence in the matter of the poisoning of the city water of Flint, Michigan, and if found responsible he needs to be charged.

So please, sign and share! It only seems fair.

#arrestgovsnyder

 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Apologia [Video]

Archive dive for Theme Music One-Word-Titles: “A”

Apologia (2009)

From the album Pop Psychology (2009) an archive dive for Theme Music One-Word-Titles “A”

Footage from a solo show at the Empty Bottle, Chicago around 1998 or ’99. Never bothered to write the damn date on the VHS tape.  No later than 2000 anyhow.

 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Horizons in My Way [Video]

Horizons in my Way

An archive dive for A Bit of The Old In and Out Theme. A duet with the lovely Greta Gertler from my 2009 recording Pop Psychology. Video from James Maduzia’s amazing 2003 Brick Film “The Letter” — really hope he doesn’t mind my derivative use. https://archive.org/details/tl http://downloads.bryk.com/album/pop-psychology https://www.facebook.com/groups/theme.music.group/

 

Sunday, 8 March 2015