Dan Rico has gained renown for performing as a part of local acts EGO and MAMA, but last year he released a solo album entitled Endless Love. This month he'll perform at the Empty Bottle on April 11th highlighting tracks from that release alongside fellow local Flesh Panthers and fellow rock-band-member turned soloist Ian Saint Pé (of the Black Lips).
CHIRP volunteer and DJ Amelia Hruby recently caught up with Dan Rico to chat about his solo work and upcoming shows.
AH: After your work with other local bands, what made you decide to record a solo album? How do you think this work stands out from those projects?
DR: Recording a solo album wasn’t so much a decision as it was a discovery. After exploring in the studio for a number of years at a certain point I turned around to find there was plenty of material to put together a cohesive album. Another factor was that I know I'm gonna be making music for a long time. Why not lay the first bricks now for a road I will inevitably travel the rest of my life? In my experience bands come and go-- people quit and move and get married etc—but this way I’ll always have this project to build on.
To answer the second part of your question I’d say Endless Love is a departure toward a more pop-oriented sound (not billboard top 100 type EDM-hop pop but a little more traditional). I grew up listening to pop and as an artist aspire toward a sound that’s universal. Most of the bands I’ve played in have had very niche audiences (hard rock, experimental, etc) and though I’m proud of these projects I want music I can show my parents and friends and kids and have them all enjoy it. Growing up playing in punk bands, I hope to make music that’s still counter-cultural, that confronts norms and encourages critical thinking, but that’s also enchanting, uplifting, harmonious, atmospheric, and accessible. I don’t lnow if "Endless Love" achieves this on all fronts but that’s what I’m working toward.
AH: What were your primary influences for Endless Love? Where did the title come from?
DR: Since high school I’ve become really involved with T Rex, who harness this sort of blues-pop sound, then make it larger than life and magical. In terms of approach to production what you hear on Endless Love is about as close as I could achieve to an environment like the one on “Electric Warrior” or a lot of David Bowie material. I find Bowie’s treatment and arrangement of background vocals particularly informative. Big Star are another big one for me, particularly how their music gets so intensely personal and nostalgic, by digging into the past, other places and times, to inform the tone of the moment.
Endless Love was inspired a person I spent some time with that sort of distorted my perception or reality. Whenever we’d hang out I’d get the feeling I was stepping into some sort of waking dream. Nothing romantic or otherwise ever manifested in my relationship with this person, but reflecting on it I mused that in some other life, or in some other dimension, we’d had a very strong bond that was somehow rippling against my current conscious perception. At the time I was very fascinated with science fiction and sort of looking at humanity on a very grand scale, future and past. Though sensibly this line of thinking is a little hard to describe I was very taken with it, and thought a lot about the idea of some ethereal side of ourselves reincarnating, over and over, experiencing endless loves, endless losses, heartbreaks, tragedy, self discovery, etc. I associated this continuum with sort of the overall condition of being human— hence it’s significance as the title of the album.
AH: The album copy says that Endless Love condenses the last 50 years of pop/punk music into a delicious, low-calorie, fun-sized package." What's your favorite delicious, low-calorie, fun-sized snack? Musical or otherwise?
DR: I love eating popcorn. I love going to movies. I think of it as kind of a guilty pleasure. Now theaters are so expensive and you can find most films at home with the touch of a button— but it’s still such a treat. Major motion pictures are also such a revealing portrait of the mindset of a time. Thats how I justify going to see big box office super hero movies and stuff like that. I think a lot of musicians share my secret hope of one day scoring for film, at least trying a hand in it. Anyway, popcorn is a big favorite for me. Otherwise I just tend to eat fruit and nuts and stuff. As for a favorite tiny musical treat— how about the Nerves self titled EP?
AH: What's next for Dan Rico?
I’ve got a few weeks of national touring ahead with stops in the south and east coast. I’m putting out a very special limited edition EP that will contain all new songs ONLY available for the tour. This summer will see the release of a new 45 that I’m very excited about. Then traveling to Europe this fall to promote the album there. I’ve spent the winter of 2017 pretty much recording exclusively and hope to release a second full length album sometime next year.