Thriving in the underdeveloped world of modern pop music, Brett Dennen has been making some of the best and most under appreciated music over the past few years. Mixing Van Morrison’s pop sensibilities and the musicality of 60’s pop and soul, Dennen has created his own niche in today’s music world. Coming to Macky Auditorium this Saturday, Dennen was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk about touring, his favorite bands in L.A., and what we could expect from him in the future.
(Courtesy Brett Dennen)
Last summer, you had your first big hit, “Sydney (I’ll Come Running).” What is it like touring now that you are on the forefront of pop music?
Well, I actually don’t really know. I have been taking some time off and producing some other artists, writing music for my own next record, so I haven’t done much more. I do notice though, that when I play shows I do notice a lot of younger people in the crowd that weren’t there before.
When can we expect your new album?
Next year, but before that I think I want to release some sort of acoustic album. Maybe an EP, maybe a full album. Not really sure how it’s going to be, but something acoustic and folky. Maybe in the fall.
You also mentioned producing other artists. Who are you working with?
I have been working with this guy named Milo. He is from Belgium. And I am also working with someone named K Girl, and she is from Alaska. We have been writing songs for her record and we are going to record it next week and I think it is going to come out in the fall.
What is the difference between playing in a city, in a normal concert venue and performing on a college campus where there are a lot of young people?
Well there are definitely pros and cons to each. I think one of the benefits of playing on a campus is that it is kind of like playing in someone’s house because the students go to school there. They get to see a lot of shows there, kind of on their home turf. A lot of them live there so it is easier for them to get to. You know, there is none of that bullshit: driving, parking, or anything like that. I love that, and I love just being around the whole college spirit. I remember when I was in college, and there would be a concert on my campus and I thought it was so cool that these bands that I loved would play at my school. And I would be like ‘What the hell are they doing here, man? Why would they come to my little school? They could be playing somewhere else?’ That was before I understood. Now as a musician, I am more inclined to go to the people, than having the people come to me. Back then, I thought it was the coolest thing ever that bands would come to my campus.
Relistening to your catalogue, I noticed that on Loverboy (Dennen’s most recent album) it went to this classic pop sound whereas your first few albums had a singer-songwriter feel. The new one kind of reminds me of Van Morrison. What influenced to go in that poppier direction.
I don’t really have a specific reason, I just felt that that was what the songs were calling for. Obviously, I wanted something that could maybe reach a bigger audience and wasn’t confined to a singer-songwriter genre. Now that I am getting to be more and more of a songwriter, I realize that I don’t try to force songs to be something that they’re not. If I am in the beginning stages of writing a song and it sounds like a pop song, or it sounds like a country song, or whatever, I don’t try to force it into some other genre. I just say, ‘alright, let me just write it’. If it is good, I’ll sing it, and if it isn’t good, it will just be not good and I’ll never play it. I used to try to be a bit more manipulative with the sound of a song, but now I don’t take it so seriously. I just write whatever it seems like it should be.
You reacted when I said Van Morrison. What are your other musical influences?
Well, he [Van Morrison] is probably my favorite, but I love the Grateful Dead, Paul Simon. A lot of Graham Nash: he is one of my favorites too.
What other bands are you listening to right now?
Well my favorite bands are obscure L.A. bands that no one knows, but one of my favorites is a band called The Lions. They’re a reggae band, and I think they are one of the best reggae bands out there. I have also been listening to this singer songwriter. He is actually from my home town, and I have known him all my life and I always thought he was a great musician, but he just came out with a new album that I can’t stop listening to. I have probably listened to it ten times in the last three days. His name is Willy Tea.
Brett Dennen with special guest are set to play at the Macky Auditorium on Saturday, April 28. Tickets are $15 with a valid BuffOne Card.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Patrick Fort at Patrick.email@example.com.
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