Friday, February 5, 2016

Danny Lion's "I'm Not Afraid to Die" Debuts and We Can't Stop Listening

A little over a year ago, Danny "Lion" Blanchard and I were working on tracking some demos for what was the start of a personal project I had been revamping. Towards the end of working on drum tracks, Danny asked me if we could lay down drums for a song he'd been mulling over. In a matter of 20 minutes he'd taught me the guitar parts and we quickly plowed through recording drums and scratch guitars. We we went out for beers that night, and talked about the usual- music in Austin, how fucking dumb everyone else was, but how we were gonna fix it all... somehow.

It was probably a week later that we reconvened on the song. At this point, Danny and I were living together in a small house a few miles east of downtown Austin. I'm not really sure of the context of how we started putting it all together, but at some point Josh Merry and Jon Fichter showed up. Both guys that have become fixtures in parts of the Austin music scene. I think they had been at rehearsal for one of the endless string of bands everyone was involved with. We were drinking heavily, I can be sure of that. I had set up my laptop in the tiny living room and a cheap recording interface I was borrowing from Danny. An assortment of guitars and cables were all over the house. It was a dirty and Danny and I didn't exactly have the best cleaning habits, but at that point in our lives, fuck it.

I had laid out some guitar, but Danny was not digging what it was sounding like, so Jon hopped on guitar and we started layering his playing over mine. Josh stepped in and threw down the first solo and doubled it quickly. Then it was Jon again laying down another layer of guitar solos. More beer. Time for vocals.

I've always been a fan of layers in tracking. Sometimes I get ahead of myself and the character of the song starts to go missing because I've gotten lost in putting harmonies on everything. This wasn't one of those times though. This was a "fuck it let's do it" type of thing. The whole track ended up sounding like it was at the edge of falling apart, but it matched the tone. As soon as Danny comes in singing, "I'm not afraid to die, I swear it on my grave," everything falls into place. By that I mean, it's barely holding on.

A year goes by. I haven't thought about it. I'd just wrapped up an EP for local heroes, Sweet Spirit. Danny Lion is the drummer for that band. Jon and Josh also play for them, but I digress. I had been going through my hard drive cleaning a few things up. I had just finished moving some of my equipment into a room of a house I had recently bought 10 months before. I saw a folder buried in a weird spot in my drive. I had mislabeled it, "Im no fraid to die." Like I said, we had been drinking heavily. Realizing what it was, I opened it for shits. The mix was awful. I know I must have been fucked up when I did it because everything was too loud and I had put compressors everywhere. Like fucking everywhere. If you're anyone who has any experience with recording, you know it's a novice thing to do. I spent the next couple hours stripping down the track, Eq'ing, and cleaning up the garbage as much as I could. The end result it trashy, loud, chaotic, intense. It still maintains a pop sensibility which is what I love about it. You wanna sing along and you're not afraid to die either.

By far, this is one of my most favorite things I've ever recorded.

-Danny Bravo


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