Liverpool-based musician Dan Croll is set to release his much anticipated debut album Sweet Disarray on March 10, featuring singles ‘From Nowhere’, ‘Compliment Your Soul’, and ‘Home’. Prior to his gig at Manchester Deaf Institute in November, Dan gave up some of his time to talk about the video shoot for ‘Home’, his experiences on tour, and a festival in Norway (that he can’t quite remember the name of).
You used to play in Eye Emma Jedi, how does that compare to what you’re doing now?
It was a lot heavier, a lot more rocky. And plus I was playing in Scandinavia, so I spent nearly every weekend for like a year in Oslo or around Norway, which was amazing, it’s an amazing country.
It was different, and it was a band where we were all writing together – and I was playing bass as well… I don’t play bass anymore!
You’ve been playing gigs with Bastille and Imagine Dragons, how has that been?
Ridiculous, we played Brixton Academy last night to five or six thousand people, sold out, it was pretty crazy.
All the gigs have been crazy so far, and we’re still going with the Imagine Dragons ones, and even the last two dates of the tour – Madrid and Barcelona – like fifteen thousand people, so it’s like ‘ahhh!’, but it’s amazing. We’re having an amazing time.
Dan from Bastille, and Imagine Dragons, have all been the nicest guys, it’s been really cool to hang out with them.
So there’s a big difference between supporting bands like that and doing your own shows…
Yes! This is really weird going from last night straight to here; I think we were all getting a bit short with each other just from being so close together all the time.
What was the first gig you ever played?
The first gig I ever played was a gig at The Bluecoat, where weirdly it was selling really well, which freaked me out because I’d never played a gig before and no one really knew my music.
And then I realised the reason why it’d done so well was because people had come thinking that Diana Krall was playing… a Canadian songwriter, and rumour got round like ‘Diana Krall’s playing a secret gig in Liverpool’. So people turned up for Diana Krall and it wasn’t, it was me!
How closely based on personal experience are your songs?
Pretty much all of them are personal experiences, maybe a couple that are just made up or something like that, but I’d say that nearly all of them are personal experiences.
Have you always wanted to do music?
No, I was going to be a rugby player until I was eighteen. Yeah, I was playing semi-professional rugby, and did a lot of the England camps and training things, and then I broke my leg when I just turned eighteen.
So I had to quit rugby and decided to take up music, applied to LIPA, got in, and then I’m here.
That was only like… five years ago, so it’s been such an intensely fast five years. Crazy.
What inspires you? Musically or just anything…
Musically, a lot of songwriters like Brian Wilson… James Taylor, big songwriters. And then people-wise, family really; my nan, she was a big influence.
My mum as well – she had a beautiful voice – she still has a beautiful voice! She was the one who was always singing round the house and pushing me to sing and you know, let it out.
Can you tell me about the shoot for ‘Home’?
The shoot for ‘Home’, yeah, it was just about… it would be quite hard to have a song about home, and not do a video about home, but I didn’t want to just do it about where I was born or where I live now, so I decided to do three places that I call home: Liverpool, where I live now, Stoke, which is where I grew up, and London.
Usually every week, I take the train down to London, do my business there, stay overnight, come back to Stoke in the morning, have tea with my family, and then come back to Liverpool.
I wanted to show that journey that I usually take and the people within those cities, it’s really great: got the band in Liverpool, my family in Stoke – some of my family in Liverpool as well.
I saw you at Liverpool Sound City this year playing two very different gigs in one night, how did the main one compare to the intimate one?
I think I was more drunk for the intimate one!
That was such a highlight for me of that festival; out of all the festivals this year, that was a really good night I think. We had a few technical problems in that big one, and that happens because it’s such a big stage, so you’ve got to be prepared for things to not go your way, but it went well.
But yeah, Bold Street Coffee! It’s a place quite close to my heart, I do spend a lot of time there. That’s where I drink all of my coffee.
It was just really fun. Far more intimate – I just really enjoy that, performing directly to people. It’s quite nice to feel like you’re having more of a discussion or something, just chatting, and it takes away the barrier between performer and listener.
Is there a strange situation you’ve been in that’s inspired a song?
One of the songs, ‘Eyes Together’, which is the B-side for my single ‘Home’, that came to me just as I was running round Sefton Park.
I had my iPod just in my like arm-pocket, listening to music, and the music stopped and I just couldn’t be bothered to press play on another song, so I just had quiet.
I started humming a melody, and I was still running, coming to the end of my lap and I was like ‘mhm I’ll keep running’. And as I kept running, just made a song in my head and put on the microphone on my iPod, which is what I record all my ideas on.
I was running round Sefton Park talking to my arm, I must’ve looked like a nutcase doing that.
What was the last gig you went to?
The last gig… I really want to remember this! There was Amsterdam, there we go, we saw The Dodos, and their first album was a massive inspiration for me – an amazingly well produced album.
That was quite weird; we had a dressing room right next to theirs. That was cool.
Are there any places that you aspire to play, or would like to go back to and play again?
There’s actually one festival that I really badly want to play – it’s one in Norway. It’s called Trænafestivalen, but it’s basically this island in the middle of the sea and there’s this enormous like mountain just on it that’s really steep, it’s hollowed out in the middle.
And the festival’s like within this cave and everyone I’ve spoken to that’s been to it has just been gobsmacked by it. You don’t need any amplification; it just echoes around the cave… yeah I want to play that. You have to get to it by boat.
Does it feel strange to have so many people hear your songs, like on the radio…
Yeah, it does feel weird. My mum still rings me every time it’s on the radio and she hears it! So yeah, it’s strange, but it’s really good.
Some of the songs are on FIFA and GTA, which blew my mind a bit thinking that sold like… five million copies in the first week – so that many people, in a week, who might hear my song. It’s just crazy when you start thinking about it.
What’s been your favourite moment from the last year?
The American tour was amazing, and this tour has been really good – this is the biggest one we’ve ever done, and every show’s been a great show, there’s not been any negatives from any of them, so we’re having a great time right now!