by Joe Fielder
Many Embers, the new project from Rob (Death to Anders) Danson, is about the struggles of many musicians currently living and playing in LA. (Or, as he describes himself and his kin, “A family of rejects plagued by modern America.”)
"I have so many brilliant and artistically inspirational friends," says Danson, "who, throughout the years of playing their music in Los Angeles, have been beaten down psychologically. They fear playing live. They fear releasing albums. And they’re afraid to follow their passion as strongly and personally as they once did. The flame has died within their souls and they’re giving up."
But, as Danson explains, it's not just about the challenges they face, it's about perserving and overcoming them.
"There are times when I feel like a beaten dog who
cowers at the most simplest thought of moving forward..
when all I want to do is get the fuck out of Los Angeles and go back to
Colorado. Go back to my college buddies who now have nice houses, nice
cars, and a nest egg. Go back to a world of security and 401k plans,
insurance, babies – a family. But... I can't go back. I
gave up before – for a brief period – and it killed me. There’s no
escaping this world in which I, and so many of my friends, live."
Listen for yourself, by streaming the group's recently-released EP, and read the full interview below.
Who are you working with?
Many Embers originated as a bi-coastal recording project between a few LA based musicians (myself, Nick Ceglio and Kaitlin Wolberg) and a Brooklyn-based drummer Anders Griffen.
Me: Vox, Piano, Bass, Guitar
Nick Ceglio: Background Vox, Bass, Guitar
Kaitlin Wolberg - Violin
Anders Griffen - Drums
All the songs were written and recorded in LA, then sent via USB stick to Brooklyn, where Anders Griffen recorded the drums through Danielle DePalma at Seaside Lounge Recordings.
I produced and engineered the album. Andrew Lynch mixed, and Mark Chalecki mastered. All in all, I couldn't be happier with the team of talented people that came together for this wonderful project.
How did it come together?
After Death to Anders broke up, Nick Ceglio and I decided to get together every week and just record. We really didn't have a specific plan except to just create an experiment and see what happened. Once we recorded six songs, we then brought in Anders Griffen and Kaitlin Wolberg to record drums and violin.
Where can people find the EP?
People can stream and download the E.P on our bandcamp page. You can stream the songs for free or download the album on a "pay what you want" basis.
How would you say it's different from Death to Anders?
Many Embers is a very personal album. In fact, it’s probably the most personal album I’ve ever written. It isn't just another attempt at playing music. Instead, it’s a byproduct of how living as a musician for nine years in Los Angeles has affected me psychologically. This isn’t based exclusively on my own experiences, but also through my observations of the majority of my friends who are all musicians and are being affected in the same manner as me. I journal almost every day and pour out my deep, personal thoughts into spiral notebooks. I talk to my closest friends about their experiences as musicians and I’ve began to notice a pattern.
There’s a common theme engrained in all of us and that theme is rejection. It’s rejection despite our efforts. It’s rejection despite our passion and our love for music. And its all around us. Technology, I believe, is part to blame, for we’re all lost in an overwhelming modern machine landscape comprised of millions of digital signals beckoning our attention from all sides. In other words, people are being strangled and bound by distractions. At least that’s how it is in America.
I feel like people don’t want to think anymore. I feel like our modern American has lost the hunger to push himself intellectually and to challenge himself. Digital technology has made everything easy and as a result, we are crafting a society of dullards. We’re crafting a society of people who don’t want to think, and who want to be spoon fed. And one of the aspects of our society that has taken the biggest brunt of this is art. When admiring the great composers, authors and artists from our past – Beethoven, Monet, Miller, and Whitman, for example, we don’t say, “My God, their work was so plain, generic and simple minded.” No. We proclaim how complex, intellectual and superb their art is. We compare these artists as gods, for their visions and creations are beyond what most humans could ever achieve. Yet our modern art, and most especially musical art, has lost that.
It’s as if the people have lost respect for their own intellectual capacity. Don’t be challenged. Don’t think. Don’t question reality. Be lazy… And as a result, the people in our modern American culture begin to demand art to fit their lifestyle. They begin to demand easily-digested and understood music. Music that is comprehended within one listen. Music that’s “fun” and nothing else. It’s sitcom music. It’s reality television music. It’s gossip music. It’s scum. If, in the future, there was a museum dedicated to the most digitally streamed songs fore each year, do you know what would be number one for 2012? It would most probably be Gangam Style. And that really saddens me.
It’s not that there’s no good music out there. There is plenty of it, and I listen to it every day. I hear it coming from my friends here in Silverlake - the ones who are rejected and can’t get gigs. The one’s who have hundreds of copies of brilliant albums – masterpieces really, gathering dust under their beds. But most people don’t know this music because they do not demand it. They demand a simpler type of music. A lesser type of music. And now, they truly have what they wished for.
I’m not saying that Many Embers is better than our modern music. I’m saying that the message that I evoke through Many Embers is that of fear, rejection and what has lead to an overwhelmingly depressive state due to the modern apathy which plagues this culture. And it’s not only my message, but the message of my artistic friends as well. It’s the message of struggle and the message of love. It’s what unites all of us together.
I have so many brilliant and artistically inspirational friends who, throughout the years of playing their music in Los Angeles, have been beaten down psychologically. They fear playing live. They fear releasing albums. And they’re afraid to follow their passion as strongly and personally as they once did. The flame has died within their souls and they’re giving up.
I’m in this boat, too. There are times when I feel like a beaten dog who cowers at the most simplest thought of moving forward. There are times when all I want to do is get the fuck out of Los Angeles and go back to Colorado. Go back to my college buddies who now have nice houses, nice cars, and a nest egg. Go back to a world of security and 401k plans, insurance, babies – a family. But I’m a musician and I can't go back. I gave up before – for a brief period – and it killed me. There’s no escaping this world in which I, and so many of my friends, live. Many Embers is about us. All of us. A family of rejects plagued by modern America.
What's next for the band?
We're continuing to write more and more songs with the plan to release another album. Although we started off just as a recording project, I do have to say that I'm getting the urge to play these songs live.
We just booked us our first Many Embers show at Taix in a few weeks.
(Photo by Zoe-Ruth Erwin.)