Londoner Dan Cross is a familiar face in the underground music scene in the UK. Member of 80s outfit The Perfect Disaster and collaborator and session musicians on various projects, Dan has just released his new single ‘Paingiver’, a very explicit protest song about Donald Trump with. Flavoured with a post-punk attitude and delivering both in his spoken word vocals and his music, Dan shouts “we know he can talk but he finds harder to think..” and well, we can only agree.
Painkiller debut solo album ‘ATHEIST ANTHEMS’.
Dan teamed up with producer Donald Ross Skinner (Julian Cope Band) during lockdown at Atomic Kitchen studios and recorded a series of songs, some of them appearing in his new album ‘CUP OF THRILLS’ which will be released later in the year.
The release of Paingiver was accompanied by a brilliant video. Footage from protests work as the perfect background for the extremely direct lyrics agains Trump. I guess why work around the words when you can say things exactly as they are.
Dan’s spoken word style delivery and Donald Ross Skinner production are a match made in heaven (or in helll since we are talking about the US president) in this unapologetic track and we can’t wait what they got ready for us in the album.
Listen to Paingiver on Spotify and check out his previous releases while we wait for the new album.
Here’s our interview with Dan:
Hi Dan, thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. We bumped into your single Paingiver on Musosoup and it left us wanting more. Luckily it didn’t take us long to find your album Anthem Anthems and here we are now asking a few questions about your life in music. Let’s start…Please tell us a bit more about your musical journey, when and how you started getting involved with music? Let’s give a bit of background to our readers if you don’t mind.
I got involved with music when I was about 14 years old and later on joined a band called The Perfect Disaster when I left art college who made 4 albums for Fire Records in the 80s. We supported Pussy Galore, My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies etc. The best known member was Jo Wiggs who later on joined The Breeders with Kim Deal.
I played on various albums & projects over the years inc David Westlake & Field trip to the moon and joined Dido Hallet & Donald Ross Skinner (ex Tiger) in Fragile States in 2019.
I’ve made 3 albums including ‘Love in here’ & ‘ Atheist Anthems’ & ‘ Cup of Thrills’.
What was the first music you bought/downloaded?
I vividly remember listening to my parents records which were around all the time snd which ranged from classical records like ‘The Planet suite’ by Holst & ‘Carmina Burana’ by Carl Orff to blues & jazz & folk. I was really lucky that I was brought up in an atmosphere of open mindedness, but by the time I had an opportunity to buy my own records they were hard rock like Rush & Led Zeppelin , soon followed by punk like The Stranglers & X Ray Spex – anything that made a loud noise basically!
What was your favourite artist/band as a child?
My favourite band from really early on were ‘Queen’ – me & my sister were massive fans & I took delight in watching them first treated as bizarre & ridiculous like a peacock in a supermarket but then watching them become huge & familiar like rock royalty when they played ‘Live Aid’.
In my opinion they are a quintessentially English band and particularly in their first few singles there is virtually no hint of America in them at all.
They are easily as British as Nick Drake or The Kinks which I loved about them.
First song you learnt how to play?
I think it might have been ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath – a lot of Sabbath was quite easy to copy – their guitarist Tony Iommi had cut the top of his fingers off on an industrial metal working machine so he invented a unique way of playing chords that just involved using 2 fingers on the thick strings – perfect to copy for a beginner like me.
What are your main influences now? Is there a particular artist or an album that inspired you more than others?
I couldn’t honestly answer this question without mentioning ‘Blood on the tracks’ by Bob Dylan. For me as a songwriter it’s like the Taj Mahal or Michelangelo’s David Just a towering achievement of the 20th century in any art form.
As a collection of songs that capture a moment in time it’s perfect- there are no lies on that album- it’s all just as true as its meant to be. I could have chosen ‘I’m your man’ by Leonard Cohen but it’s got ‘Jazz Police’ on it which is ridiculous!
Tell us a bit more about your latest single and the album you have in the pipeline. How did it come about? We know it all started in during lockdown, is that right?
The current single is called Paingiver & it’s a totally unambiguous protest song about Donald Trump.
With ‘Cup of Thrills’ I wanted to properly record some old demos I had that were left over from the last few years The ‘Atheist Anthems’ album took a few years to assemble & was finally released in 2019 but I had had a period writing a ton of songs during the making of the album that existed purely as home demos on my home recorder.
Through a mutual friend I met Donald Ross Skinner and asked if he would help me put them down on his computer in a more realised form using ‘ Logic’. I guess without the lockdown we might not have gone as far as we did – at various points along the way I kept thinking I had enough for an EP & that I should stop & go back to work but it just kept rolling on – work was suspended & I ended up recording a double album!
If I had sat down and planned an album back in Jan 2020 it would have been a very different beast but because of COVID the identity kind of grew out of it itself as it went along I guess there is a theme if you look for it but it’s subliminal, not overt.
We worked on an online festival in August and even though it was amazing for us being back on a ‘live show’ setting and something that resembled a festival site, speaking with the musicians we could sense there were mixed feelings on the whole situation and on the right mindset needed to play just in front of a couple of cameras for an online audience… what do you think about this? Did you get much involved with live streaming during these past few months?
I did a few things on my own in front of computer screens back in the Spring much like we all did but I never really mastered it – much like meditating I found myself drifting off & mind wandering during the performance- it’s something I want to go back to eventually & try and enjoy – there must be a way to do it well.
This is something we ask pretty much everyone we know, not just during the interviews…
we are massive lovers of movie soundtracks, what is your favourite movie soundtrack? And what existing movie would you like to recreate (or even just curate) a new soundtrack for?
Like you I love movie soundtracks so here are a few from the top of my head:
The Straight Story: Angelo Badlamentari
On the waterfront: Elmer Bernstein
Under the skin: Mica Levi
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid:
The Wicker Man: Paul Giovanni
Alice in the cities: Can
All the presidents men: David Shire
I guess I would like to curate a new soundtrack for a film from the great heyday of the silent movie era.
Often the soundtracks that have been slated are not really sympathetic to the visuals so to attempt to contribute some new music to a great FW Murnau film for instance would be amazing fun.
Free question – please ask yourself a question that you have always wanted to get asked.
Could be a question about your future plans, or a statement or just a story you’d like to share with us and our readers.
Which do you consider the most rock n roll fruit?
Before we let you go, can you recommend a couple of great new bands/artists you are into at the moment? Any new artists we might not have heard about?
Yes, with pleasure, I am always happy to recommend Charlene Darling from France & Brigid May Power from Ireland – you can hear them both on SoundCloud.
Thanks so much for your time and looking forward to hearing more music from you.
Follow Dan Cross at the links below:
Bandcamp – https://dancrossmusic.bandcamp.com/
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9wRmFonIUBWOSfIWlXIPeg?disable_polymer=true
Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/artist/4Ahvs4zBYtmiTV4h8uncUY?si=tTcMpnw7Sr-
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/dancrossmusic
Twitter – https://twitter.com/dancrossmusic
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/dancrossmusic/