Sugar High Podcast: Two Hours with Dan Croll

Dan Croll
Dan Croll

Atwood Magazine is excited to announce a new partnership series, Sugar High, formerly known as The Tour Manager’s Guide, a podcast by Danny Carissimi featuring various musicians and industry professionals as they talk about their life and career. After a month off in the U.K., the podcast is back, and the next episode features Dan Croll.

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I spent 2 hours with Dan Croll in a trailer in East London. This is what I learned.

By the time I’d reached Citadel Festival in Victoria Park, London, my body was in a particular state. I’d arrived in London 5 days earlier and proceeded to barrel straight ahead without sleep or any regard for my own health. This was my first time flying to London from LA and I completely misjudged how goddamn long the flight would be.

From LAX I flew 2.5 hours north to Vancouver and 10 across to London. Travel time cut into the trip and I had so many friends to see that I turned into a party robot. During the day I was tired, but by 7 p.m. when people left work my jet lag evaporated, allowing my body to push forward with the fortitude of an Olympic athlete. The day before Citadel, I was at Latitude Festival to conduct an interview with Lucy Rose. My wit would not click. I’m not sure what was going on. Personalities? Time of day? Jetlag? 300 beers?

I left the Mumford tent (they have their own zone) and returned to where the normal artists were hanging out. One beer turned to many and we finished the night taking shots of Jameson and getting a cheap hotel 2 hours outside London.

The next morning I still didn’t feel prepared to talk to Dan. It had been hard to get internet so I had his manager, Rowan, give me a break down of his career and read his Wikipedia twice on the way to the festival. When I arrived at Citadel in London, I ran over to see Banfi and Joseph J Jones perform. I ran back to interview them in the artist tent, then ran back to watch Dan play… then it was go time.

As Dan was arriving, someone told me he was in a bad mood. Apparently he had sound issues and was unhappy with the performance. As a tour manager, I know this is not a good time to do press. If we (normal people) mess up at work, maybe our boss knows… but when an artist messes up it’s in front of like 5,000 strangers. Understandably after something this public they want to be alone. I get it. But I’d come a long way for the interview and one thing I’ve learned is that when you have the opportunity to talk to an artist, you had better do it then and there or it won’t happen.

Fortunately, there is something in my brain that begins to work when the sun sets. This is true anywhere in the world. If I’ve just landed in Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, whatever, at dusk the gears start turning. Perhaps generations ago my ancestors were the Nightwatch, I don’t know. I walked into the artist trailer and set up everything; then Dan rolled up. Even though he was unhappy with his performance, he possesses the unique British ability to compartmentalize personal feelings for the greater good. I liked that when I started recording he wasn’t “on,” but he was present. Many artists I have on my show are prepared or they turn on a “press button” that’s hard to turn off. Answers become stock and you can almost see their eyes glaze over at certain questions. Dan glazed nothing. He hopped right in and started telling stories that were so much fun it was hard to stop. We recorded until the sun had nearly gone down. And when we were done, I didn’t feel the need to edit the episode that much. When I got home, I messed around with it for like 3 hours then put it out. I wanted the conversation to stay completely in tact because it’s one of the better ones I’ve had.

Individuals from North England are a particular breed, especially Liverpudlians, and I find them fascinating. England is like… the size of Alabama? Yet you have people that live 5 hours north of London with a completely different accent and worldview. That’s cool. I found Dan’s openness about his struggles with mental health refreshing. I love that we are at a time where public figures are becoming more open about their internal dialogue. It’s inspiring to people that struggle with this stuff, and I’m no exception.

During the episode Dan eludes to having troubles with someone in his life but he doesn’t get into specifics. From what he said I think we experienced similar things and I think it took the conversation to a different level. I think I’ve been in a similar place to where Dan was when he wrote his most recent record, and I know how long it takes to get over an abusive working relationship. Our conversation went from interview to a real conversation between two dudes that have experienced the same thing.

After re-listening to Dan’s first album and hearing his new album, it is unbelievable to me that he’s not more popular. The way radio stations and labels measure an artist’s success are ridiculous, and he’s the complete example. Dan has MILLIONS of streams and plays online; that’s something of value. People know who he is. Yet he was judged by straight up iTunes and album sales. How crazy is that? If your audience is 14 year old girls, can you expect any of them to use iTunes? They might as well be judging Dan’s career on 8 track sales. It’s ridiculous. Either way, I’m glad my boys and all time heroes over at Communion Records picked him up, because that new record is the shit.

See kids? You can do drugs and drink for 5 days straight without sleep and still pull off a great interview with a great artist. I still wanted to die after, but the conversation and high powered air conditioning helped out.

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