Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room

Photo by Katie Hovland

Last month, Alkaline Trio singer/bassist Dan Andriano released his debut solo full-length, Hurricane Season. He recorded the album in his home studio and also played a majority of the instruments himself. We spoke with Andriano about the creation of Hurricane Season, as well as what inspired some of the lyrics, his upcoming European tour and where he hopes to take The Emergency Room in the future.

Bill – When did you begin writing songs for The Emergency Room?

Dan – Some of the songs on the record are actually two or three years old. I’ve been kind of doing solo shows, just like here and there, with this idea in the back of my head that eventually I would do something or start another band. So, I’ve had a couple tunes that I’ve been excited about. I’ve got a couple that are even older that I still want to record at some point. It’s kind of been a while for some of them, but some of the tunes on the record are brand new. I’ve been messing with the idea for a couple years now.

Bill – What made you choose “The Emergency Room” as the name of your solo work?

Dan – I like the name “The Emergency Room” a lot, just for a band name. When it got down to me actually releasing this thing, I thought it would be in my best interest to include my own name. It is a solo record and that’s why I called it “Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room”. I wanted to keep the Emergency Room thing in there because I wanted to leave it open-ended. Eventually I’m going to turn this into a band, so I didn’t want it to be a band and have it just be my name. There’s some rock-type stuff on the record and I want to do more stuff like that eventually with other people.

Bill – Tell me about the creation of Hurricane Season, in terms of how you played all the instruments and recorded it in your home studio.

Dan – It was kind of nerve-wracking. I was looking for studios around St. Augustine, Jacksonville or Gainesville. I talked to a couple different people about teaming-up with them, people I know in Florida or some people I know in Kansas. Eventually it was like, “Alright, I’ve got this block of time, I’ve got these songs and if I’m going to do it I just have to do it”. So, I just kind of locked myself in my office at my house and took stock of what I had and just started recording. I’m not going to say I’m a great engineer, but I’ve got enough gear to do what I did. I figured I would do it low-key and do it with Mike Park and Asian Man Records, and not have too many expectations or anything. I just wanted to record the songs as well as I could. I like playing guitar and I like messing with the drums and doing stuff like that, so that’s kind of just what I did.

Bill – “This Light” is one of the more personal songs on the album and it talks about the ups and downs of a relationship. What inspired this song?

Dan – That song is kind of centered in the record and it’s one of the songs that speaks more to the theme of record, which is being away from home and missing what you love, while still trying to do something else that you love. That’s kind of where the record came from as a whole. That’s definitely what inspired that song in particular, but it kind of has more of personal nature just due to the production of the song, the stripped-down nature of it. I tried to make it as live and as up-close to the microphone as I could to get that kind of right there, in your ear kind of feeling.

Bill – “Me and Denver” is also about being on the road and missing home. In what ways is touring as a solo musician different than doing so with Alkaline Trio?

Dan – It’s a little more like the recording was, just kind of like an exercise in trying to make it as good as possible by myself. I want to do all these things with a band, I’ve got all these musical ideas, yet here I am just playing shows alone. I’m already beginning at a point where I feel like I could be doing more, but I’m not. That part of it kind of drives me nuts. At the same time I really enjoy it. As nervous and weird as I get, I get really awkward when I do this kind of thing, I kind of appreciate the loneliness and the connection that’s automatically established with the audience. It’s just me and I’m like, “Here I am. It’s kind of quiet and weird”. With Alkaline Trio, it’s not like I’m on autopilot, but I’ve just been doing it for so long that I’m so comfortable with Matt and Derek. I’m so comfortable with the people who come out to see us. The people that come out to see Alkaline Trio have become almost as big a part of the show as the band. We recognize so many of them and there’s a very, very nice comfort level there. It’s not something we take for granted, it’s awesome and like I said, it’s become part of the show. With me doing this alone, all of that is kind of gone.

Bill – Musically speaking, how would you describe The Emergency Room?

Dan – I don’t know; that’s a good question I guess. I don’t write folk songs. “Me and Denver” would be the closest thing on there to a folk song. It’s all pretty much acoustic-based. I sing songs about things I know, like my life, my relationships, my friends and travelling. Musically I try and dig-in to some of my more current influences than I would with Alkaline Trio. I draw a lot more from stuff like The Replacements and Ryan Adams. With Alkaline Trio, we’ve kind of become our own influence. It’s like I write a song and then Matt and Derek turn it into an Alkaline Trio song. That’s kind of how it unfolds. With this it’s more of like me kicking back and writing a tune. If I write a song in ten minutes that’s usually a good sign and I’m not really going to want to change it. Something that falls out of you that quickly is probably good that it was that natural and organic, so I try not to fuck with it too much.

Bill – Several of the earlier songs on Hurricane Season have somewhat of a negative tone, but by the end of the record the lyrical content becomes noticeably more positive. Did you intentionally write and sequence the album this way?

Dan – It’s kind of weird. I didn’t write it as a concept album or a themed album in any way. I guess due to what I was writing songs about and the way I feel, that’s kind of how it turned out. Once I realized what I had I thought about the sequence a little bit, but certain things were really just happy accidents. It does kind of take you from point A to point B and it’s a whole record, not just a collection of songs. I like to listen to albums from front to back and when I have time to do that that’s what I like to do. I was really conscious of trying to get that. Something that I was really stoked on that was a total accident was the first line on the record, which is “It’s going to rain all day”, and then the last line of the record is “We’ll die in the sunlight”. That’s taking it from A to B right there. The whole rest of the record is getting there.

Bill – What are some of the benefits of releasing Hurricane Season with Mike Park and Asian Man Records?

Dan – The first thing is that Mike is one of my best friends. He’s a very good person and he’s honest. Mike and I talk about everything. He’s very much a one-man deal. Certain things are just out of his reach and I know that going into it and I’m okay with that for now. It all comes back to being comfortable. I don’t necessarily want to fly under the radar, I want people to know about this, but the low-key aspect is important for me given how nervous I get about doing certain things. I’d rather surprise people with a good thing and then they find out about it and they’re excited, than I would have all this big hype-machine behind it and then have a bunch of people be like, “Well, he should just keep playing bass in Alkaline Trio”. As long as I’ve been doing this, I still second-guess everything I do, probably to a fault. That’s just what I wanted and when Mike told me he wanted to do it, he was the one who kind of just told me to do it by myself and that ultimately I’d be glad I did. I trusted him when he said that and I got to work.

Bill – Later this month you’ll embark on the European Revival Tour with Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem, Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music and Dave Hause of The Loved Ones. What are you looking forward to most in regards to this tour?

Dan – Just being on tour with those guys. I just picked up a rental car and I’m about to do a week of shows down in the southeast with Dave. We’re going to be driving around the two of us, playing shows, and that’s going to be fun. I’ve known Chuck for over ten years now. We became friends the first day Alkaline Trio played with Hot Water Music in like 2000. All those guys, me, Chuck, Brian and Dave, we all do this for the same reasons. Ultimately it became what we do, like our job or whatever, but it was never why we started doing it. There’s a certain kind of person that gets that and there’s a certain kind of person that doesn’t. I’m not getting righteous about it in any way; I’m just saying that I would still do this at 34-years-old if it was all I had to do. If I was still sleeping floors to be able to do this, it’s like I would do anything to do this and still support my family. I think all those guys feel the same way. It’s because we love the songs we write and the connection we make with the people that have come to see us over the years. When Chuck started this Revival Tour a few years ago I was so excited for him, because ever since I’ve known Chuck it seems like the kind of thing he’s been really reaching for and striving to do. I was just excited for him and kind of proud to know him. When he called me and asked if I would do this in Europe, he said he was taking it overseas, I was pretty much like, “Where do I sign up?”. It’s going to be fun. Like I said, it’s going to be more about the connection between us as friends and the connection with the audience than anything. I’m excited to be onstage with those guys and play some songs with them. I’m excited to be on a bus with them, it’s just going to be different. I’ve been on tour with Alkaline Trio for like 15 years, it’s been the best years of my life, but I’m excited to be on this tour because it’s kind of going to be like I’m in a new band. It’s going to be super-fun and really different.

Bill – Have you thought about what you’d like to do for your next solo recording? If so, what sort of things do you have planned?

Dan – Well, I definitely want to do it with a band next time, like I said. I want to do it in a real studio, or at least like a makeshift version of a studio where I could record basically live. I want to get involved with some people who I like and trust and who I’ve known for a while. I just want to go to a place where we can all go for a few days or a few weeks and get comfortable with the tunes, and then just kind of press record and try to get as much of it down like that as possible. We might have to overdub a couple things or whatever you might do, or maybe not with certain songs. I want to keep the vibe of Hurricane Season, but I want to do it with some other people. I’m sure there’s going to be few acoustic songs and a few rock songs on the next one, but I like other people doing things. I think it really helps the songwriting. Someone could make the smallest suggestion and really open up all sorts of doors when you’re talking about writing songs in those kind of situations. I’ve never been opposed to other people’s ideas. That’s what I really enjoy about being in bands. That’s what I’m going to be going for and hopefully sooner than later too.