Danny Danzi - 2001 Interview

luigiluigi NZ
edited December 2020 in Interviews all


This is the 'In The Spotlight' page. Featuring the guitar virtuoso from New Jersey, Danny Danzi. Signed to the European label Z Records, Danny shot to prominence with the legendary melodic rock opus 'Somewhere Lost In Time' during 1999. A multi instrumentalist by trade, with an equal passion for drums as well as guitars, he is very much the dedicated musician with an eye for perfection. Danny also apepared at last years Z Rock 2000 gig, and in the year 2001, is putting the finishing touches on his next melodic meisterwork. Glory Daze's Luigi Cisaria spends some time reacquainting himself with Mr Danzi. (June 2001)

Hi Danny, it's great to be able to catch up with you again for Heart Of The Rock.
Hi Luigi, it's great to be a part of Heart Of The Rock! Thanks to you and the staff for thinking of me! :-)

The past couple of years have been pretty full on for you thanks to 'Somewhere Lost In Time'. Any chance of catching your breath yet?
Well, when you are a solo artist, you rarely breathe. Especially when you have the abilities to play all the instruments yourself. Though I have a new band now, sometimes I don't want to wait to see them when I have an idea brewing. So I work it out myself to see if it's a good enough starting point to share with them. After the new album comes out, for sure I'm going to breathe for a while! Hopefully meet a nice young lady and settle down for just a bit until I start this all over again.

When I saw you at Z-Rock 2000 I was stunned by your ability. Did it come naturally or was it a matter of many hours of practice?
No social life and plenty of practice. God gave me the tools, a good ear, and functioning body parts, I did the work. It's all I've ever done. When all my buds were out partying, I stayed in the house and (partied alone Hahaha!) played my guitar. After guitar licks and the whole virtuoso thing passed, I really got serious with songwriting. So hell yeah, beyond hours of practice, I lived it.

Now you're not the biggest guy on the planet so does all this intense playing and practicing take a toll on you physically?
Not the biggest? Was that a 'small-fry' joke? Are you implying my lil body can't take it? Hahahahahaha! No way! Nothing takes a toll on this lil guy. I've been staying up practicing and writing for the past 16 years. I get about 2-4 hours sleep a night, and I'm now permanently on autopilot. :-) I get a bit beat when I do a show because I put so much into it. But other than that, I sleep a few hours and I'm ready to go another day.

You are presently readying your new album with a full band this time round. Does that take any of the pressure off?
Yes and no. It does because I don't have to play all the instruments, (Thank God!) but sometimes I'd do something a bit different than the guys, , like, let's say I hear something that will benefit something we're working on. If I feel strongly that the part should be a part of the song, I'll voice my opinion and it usually gets implemented. Sometimes I have to physically play something to show them what I mean and that's where it can be a bit rough. The guys don't play like I do, and I don't play like them, so sometimes the style thing is a bit frustrating when conveying ideas.

Do the rest of the band have a say in the writing process?
Totally! I usually start the song, and they help finish it, or enhance what I've done in a few instances. Andy and I basically wrote the whole album song wise and lyrically, but Wayne and Timmay added the rhythm section thing on their own. Andy also contributed 2 full songs musically and lyrically, and we just enhanced what he already had finished. We all help each other. It's not like 'Danny is the boss, .it's his way or no way.' Why have puppets on strings you know? I recruited these guys because they are great and can stand on their own. Sure ideas are sometimes shot down, but so are mine. We know what's good and what isn't. We can tell in an instant if something is 'magical enough' or not, so it's always a 'team effort'.

You were in bands that opened for national acts such as Cinderella, yet they would get signed and your band wouldn't. That must have been frustrating.
Yeah it was, but you know what, it wasn't my time. God does things for a reason, and I'll not question what was, or wasn't meant to be. I was a bit wild and crazy in those days and may have drugged out and killed myself if I had what I had now back then.

Are there any good stories you can pass on?
Not really other than the one I stated in earlier interviews with Dizzy Dean and Britny Fox. I was a 'to myself' loner type guy. Always playing my guitar and not really getting involved with who was signed, who was a star. I worried about me and not what the others were doing. I guess that's why they got signed and I didn't huh?

Were there any recordings from those earlier days in those other bands?
Yeah I have several recordings of my previous bands. Some of the early 'Passion' stuff was intense. I want to get all the guys that ever played in that band and do the best songs from each line-up and put out a CD of it. Even if it were just for my head, I'd love to hear it professionally recorded because some of that stuff was way before its time.

Some people may think that, having played 99% of the material on Somewhere Lost In Time, you have a bit of an ego. We're sure that wasn't the case. Was it a matter of getting it done right, the way you wanted?
Nah I'm the furthest from egotistical. I never had any guys to work with that were die hards like me. So what else could I do? If I didn't at least try something on my own, I might have woke up 40 one day and asked myself 'why didn't I do this, why didn't I try that?' I never want that to be the reason I failed. 'What ifs' ruin lives.

I never wanted to put out an album all by myself. I never wanted to be the singer, or the guitar player! I'm a drummer first and foremost and that was what I always wanted to do. But every band I ever got in, needed a guitar player so one day I said 'I'll do it.' I wound up liking the damn instrument, so I let the drums fade for a while.

So as I went along in life playing in different bands, I learned different instruments to accommodate the projects I was in. When I couldn't find the right guys to complete my band, I did everything myself just to try and get a deal, or at least get placed in someone else's project. That's really all I wanted.

Just to play guitar in a great band as a collaborator, not be a solo artist. But this is how it turned out, and I'm quite content. I'm actually starting to like singing a bit more too. :-)

Danny and Steve McKenna. Live on stage, Maximes - Wigan ZROCK 2000

Some of those tracks are quite breathtaking, like 'Lost Without Your Love' and the supreme heaviness of 'Is Love A Lie'. I know you've had an upbringing playing drums, so how did the arrangements come across during the recording and production phase?
Thanks, I'm glad you liked them! :-) 'Is Love A Lie' was a tune we called 'The G tune' for quite some time. I wrote the music for that one quite a while back. Andy came down one night and said, 'what do you think of these lyrics?' and the rest was history. I've always had a good sense of rhythm and timing because of my drumming abilities. It's helped me to be a better musician because I lived it being a drummer.

That's the cool thing about being a multi-instrumentalist. You know how the other players feel, and what their needs are being you've done it before. It helped me with my arrangements and recording because it was experience I'd already had in the past, and I knew exactly how I wanted things to sound.

What about the mixing of the harmony vocals? Some of these sounded very sweet. By the way, have people told you your voice is similar to Ted Poley?
The harmony vocals were all me except on 'Dreams' Andy sang harmony with me. The back-up's alone are what I hate most about the recording process. I record them at least 15 times, high mid low, high mid low etc. I keep on doing it and each time, I change the pitch on my tape machine to simulate a different voice. This way it doesn't sound so much like me singing everything. Hehehe, nope I never heard I sounded like Ted Poley before. :-)

Z Records quite noticeably came after your signature. Were there any others in the hunt?
Yeah quite a few actually. I spoke with N&T, CMC, Sony, Escape, and MTM.

How many albums is the deal with Z Records for?
Three albums or 2004 I believe the arrangement is.

Has anyone tried to make you jump ship since the success of the debut?
Hehehe not really. I've talked to a few people, but I wasn't really offered a 'jump ship' deal. They all pretty much value and respect when an artist is signed. Unless a major gets wind of you and they want you big time, there would be no reason for me to look or consider elsewhere.


Considering the fact that you began work on SLIT during the heyday of Grunge, what spurred you on to create melodic hard rock at such an unfriendly time for that genre of music?
I am what I am. I can't change that. If I never got a deal, I'd have some awesome stuff to listen to in my car. I don't believe in keeping up with the Jones's, and I'll do what I like whether I have a deal or not. It's all about personal preference and what you believe in. Even if YOU are the only one that believes. ;-)

Being a Jersey boy (and we've interviewed quite a few Joisy artists of late), have you found that you're more popular in Europe and other countries? Perhaps more so than at home?
Yeah, way more popular in Europe and Japan than here. It's ok though. I'm cool with that. I want to give the people that are into me, something special. The Euro/Japan scene is incredible because of their loyalty and they know great music. I don't want to be subjected to the corporate BS the US has to offer. It's not just money or fame, it's self-satisfaction with me and I believe that to be the most important.

Does the Japanese market fit into your plans somewhere along the line?
Well I'd like to hit them a bit harder, but I got a not so good review that I'll never forget, and an 83% isn't a good score in the Japanese scene. It wasn't really bad; it just was worded with the utmost immaturity and lack of professionalism. 'SLIT would have been a great album if Jimmy Jamison was the singer on it.' Thanks Burnn! I'm sure that statement fits many other bands too, but why did they have to say that to me? I say to that reviewer, .go f**k yourself and don't stop until you get it right. If you DO get it right, send me a royalty check for turning you on to the idea!

What advice would you give to a budding melodic rock artist/band trying to get signed?
Don't quit your day job! Hahaha!!! Just kiddin, seriously, follow your dreams and your heart. Don't stop doing what you believe in because a few labels tell you that it isn't what they're looking for at this time. Remember Gene Simmons couldn't do anything for Van Halen, I personally would have given up if he told me he couldn't help, , but they kept on and became rock icons, so never give up and keep writing!

If you could put your all-time band together, including yourself, who would you choose?
The guys I have now are perfect, but for the interview, Drums- Scott Travis from Racer X, Vocals- me and Dann Huff switching off, Guitars- Dann Huff and me switching off, (Hahaha!) Bass- Tony Franklin, and Keys- David Rosenthal or Jens Johanson, I can't decide between the two.

On some non musical aspects. You include Motor Cross, Karate, and Football as your sporting interests. Not exactly finger friendly activities?
Hahaha! I gotta live a bit on the edge sometimes, ya know? They help keep my sanity and my mind set. You need a drastic change once in a while to keep you fresh and creative in this business. ;-)

Is there any time in your life at the moment for things other than music?
Not really at this time. I sure would like to settle down and have a family someday soon, but I guess I gotta have a girl for that, and me meeting the right woman doing what I do, , impossible! I'd have an easier time getting pregnant myself , hmmm, let's not go there. :-) Yeah there is time if I make the time. Right now there is nothing else in my life but music, and I dive deeper and deeper into it because it's all I want right now. If something else comes along that makes me raise my head from the depths of my studio, I'll make the time.

You said recently on a post on your notice board that you can make a good living out of music, with the right deal. Is that the case for you, or do you have to supplement your income with other work?
I also own a business that I purchased from my family. I worked in it very early and knew it had potential, so one day I bought it and retired them. Of course they still work everyday because they're bored out of their skulls, but I need a few good people and they run it for me. I just own it and feed it when it needs a few bucks, going in a few times a week to see if everything is running smooth. But music is where my income comes from. The family biz is just something I wanted, not something I need to survive.

You profess to being totally 80's in your musical taste, so there must have been a time when you wore spandex, right? Perhaps a dash of lipstick? (LOL)
Grrr! Yeah I did that spandex thing as well as a bit of make-up. The make-up lasted three shows and I never did it again. The spandex did last a bit longer though. I just hated make-up so bad! The worst was going into girl shops to buy clothes, what a nightmare! It was bad enough I would go out to eat and have the waitress come from behind me asking, 'hello ladies, may I take your order, oh sir, .sir, .I'm so sorry!' And I wasn't wearing any make-up or spandex! Gzzzz!

Can you give us an insight into the new sweeping style you have pioneered?
Well, most guitarists do the sweep technique using what we call a 'rake' on the right hand. You rake while muting the strings down/up in two strikes. Everyone does it now, and I wanted to try and take it a bit further. Just like Eddie VH did the tapping thing and everyone did it, same with sweeping. But my sweeps are a bit more than just your average sweep. I call them 'Roll Sweeps' because they roll together.

Very legato (not picked or raked) and smooth, which is something I haven't heard much of from anyone as far as sweeping goes. Once you 'roll' a few different scales together, you get this sound that is pretty intense. Most people that have heard me do it live on the net, want to come to my show just to see how the hell I do it. But I never tell, this is my lil secret.

How long do we wait before we get another dose of Danny Danzi?
I'm hoping for the first week of October if all goes well. You know with my luck, that probably won't be the case, but we shall see. The album is near finished in pre-production form, and we just need to get the ok from the studio we're using to see when we can get in there. They've been pretty booked up, so I'm waiting for my special treatment. Hahaha!

Same with the mastering house I'll be using. All top dollar facilities, so you gotta wait in line. I promise to get it done and out ASAP that's for sure. We're quite excited to release it and look forward to performing this stuff live. I think people will like the slight change. It's still Danny D, but it's a bit more musically stimulating and heavy. Same big hooks and guitar solo's, but a slightly different direction on a few tunes.

People have to keep in mind that the majority of the songs on SLIT were written in the late 80's early 90's. I've matured quite a bit in my writing since then, but those songs were great and needed to be heard. By the time I had changed and re-wrote the material on SLIT, they had become different songs with similar ideas. So in a sense, the majority was fresh, just re-written and re-produced.

This album sports brand new material from the ground up. I'm pretty ecstatic about it so far, and hope that everyone enjoys the slight change. It's always a bit scary when you make personnel changes and a slightly new direction all in one album But I think most people will really enjoy this disc in all areas. At any rate, I feel I put out the best possible songs I could at this time. If it doesn't do well, I'll go out of it knowing I gave my all. And with that in mind, I'll be beyond content.

Left to right: Keiran, Danny, Tony, and Glory Daze's very own Luigi Cisaria..

Luigi. Thanks so much for the awesome interview! You rock!!!!
Sincerely, Danny Danzi

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