The Dann Huff interview - (Date of interview: May Ď97)
This interview was completed over the phone, late on a Saturday afternoon. Dann was with his kids at home. They had just ordered Pizza...and so had I. The interview took approx. 1 hour 15 minutes.
I Hope you enjoy it, because I sure did.
Brian Jarrett: Werenít you 20...werenít you young when you started out?
Dann Huff: Wasnít I 20 once? Yeah. (Laughs) I was really young. I started professionally when I was 16.
Brian: 16? Who were you playing with?
Dann: Just demos here in Nashville.
Brian: How old were you when you were with Whiteheart?
Dann: 19 or 20...something like that.
Brian: Was that Ď82?
Dann: Well, if it was Ď82, then I was 22. I was born in Ď60. We started a good year or two before I moved to L.A., and I think I moved to L.A. at the end of Ď82. Check that first record. Check the copyright on it. Just figure it was a year before that came out.
Brian: When were you born?
Dann: November 15th.
Brian: Who taught you how to play the guitar?
Dann: Myself. I was basically self-taught. I had a couple of teachers along the way. The guy that was the most influential to me when I was young was a guy named, John Darnall, here in Nashville. He was a session guitar player at the time, still is a very good guitar player. He came over to my house when I was 13, and he showed me a scale. And that was the beginning. I had been playing acoustic up to that point, but that was...I remember the day. I remember him coming. I remember where I was. I remember him jotting it down. That was the beginning. I mean, I took some Classical guitar lessons. I did basically what any guitar player does. I took lessons at a local music store for a minute, but most of the learning was listening to records and emulating things. So book-wise Iím not as well versed as I am just playing, but you tend to gravitate towards what you wanna hear. So thatís the way I learned. My folks will attest to that. All I did was sit
and listen to records. Stop and start...I was a serious needle dropper. I wore those records out.
Brian: Do you read Tablature?
Dann: Yeah. I read music. I probably read music better than I do tablature. If Iím gonna sit and read something. Iíll read it musically.
Tablature looks too much like an equation. So I never got into it.
Brian: How many siblings do you have besides you and David?
Dann: Dave and then my other brother, Ron. We are all about 18 months apart. Iím the oldest. Iím the wiener. Those 2 guys are
much bigger and more handsome. Iím the runt. Ron is a tennis pro, and will probably end up being a college professor. His passion is World
Religions. Heís kinda got sidetracked because heís such a great tennis instructor....and itís hard for him...because, itís just too good of work for him. But his passion is Academics.
Brian: Is Ron musically talented?
Dann: Yeah, very. He doesnít do anything in it. He doesnít play anything, but he just has it. You canít be around it and not have it. He just made a conscientious decision...He probably said, Phooey! everyone else is in music...Iím gonna do something different. And I donít blame him. Yíknow? Heís as musical as any of us.
Brian: Is your dad, Ronn Huff?
Dann: Uh huh. My dad is an arranger/orchestrator. Heís very famous in some circles.
Brian: Didnít your dad do strings on the Savior CD?
Dann: Itís funny, because he does that, and he also did the strings on Megadeth for me. My dad said he was so proud of that, that he was gonna put that on his resume...from Bill Gaithier to Megadeth. I mean, he does alot of big pop stars too. He and Dave Mustaine are really good friends. He and Dave get along great. You know Dave has been sober now...I think we had the year party about 4 or 5 months ago.
We had the party over at the house....just family. Yíknow? Dave is kinda like family. Heís loved by the family. They love him...they think heís great. They love Pam, his wife, and Justice, his kid. Dave is a good guy. I even remember my dad saying that he was so proud of what he did that he wanted to put that on his resume along with everybody else. He figured itíd be kinda funny. Shake some people up that he likes.
(Dann Produced Megadethís latest album, CRYPTIC WRITINGS)
Brian: Did you play any on this new Megadeth album?
Dann: I didnít play a note. Itís the band. Yíknow, Some people lie about stuff like that. Iím not lying. I did not play one note on the record. It was their deal.
Brian: How is this new album gonna be different? Did you change up anything as far as the way they played?
Dann: Yíknow, the odd thing is...Iím not familiar with alot of Megadethís stuff, and I kept it that way. I decided I didnít want to
go out and just learn every bit of their old records. I listened to bits.
Brian: You wanted a fresh approach. Right?
Dann: Well, yeah. I figured if they wanted to get me they were gonna get somebody who was different. And their other producer, I thought he was great.
Brian: Who? Max Norman?
Dann: Yeah. He did some really good stuff...I mean some of the stuff that I heard, I thought, "Wow! thatís really good." But I wasnít gonna sit and dwell on that, nor listen to it, because I didnít want to be influenced by that. I mean, we just started rehearsing...I got down there at a rehearsal hall. I had just finished a real hard-core country record...THE WIGGINS...that Iím just as proud of as anything. And they are just coming out right now. We finished that, and the next day I started rehearsals with Megadeth. I just basically sat in the middle of four guys that played at a volume...I felt like pimple getting ready to bust. They play so loud, man, it just like cleaned my cobwebs right out. And I learned their stuff. We just took it a day at a time. I suggested a little something...and theyíd say, "yeah, weíll try that" or theyíd say, "uhh.. Itís not us."...and Iíd immediately say, "Fine." Or sometimes Iíd go, "What do you think. Try this. I know itís not maybe you, but maybe it could be interesting." Just little things here and there. It was just a process of growing.... and relationships...and we didnít know each other that well. I think Dave just thought I was funny. I always called the record...I always called myself, "Opie." "Opie Goes to Hell" is what I called it
Dann: Just because of the perception. Yíknow, Megadeth. Here is Dave and Crew..and here is me. Iím Opie or Richie Cunningham. I was basically Ronnie Howard. In alot of ways, we are alike, and in alot of other ways, we are not alike at all. Just different lifestyles and all that kinda stuff. So our process was, Relationship and getting to know each other...not just musically, but personally. Because when you are in the studio for that long a time period you really...
Brian: You need to get along. Right?
Dann: Well, you are bearing your souls. And Iím trying to figure out, as a producer..."What they are about." "What they want to say." "What they wanna do." "What they wanna sound like."...And also give them a certain amount of input...And also find out what input they like. The whole process definitely involves alot of trust. Because itís not like one of these things where I would be so arrogant to go in there and say, "This is the way it should be." That would be stupid. Because they are really a great metal band. I donít know if youíve ever seen them play live, but these guys really play as a band. All four of them have their distinct personalities...and I was knocked out. I didnít know that they were that good. Honestly...because when you hear records you never know how good someone is. And yeah, I was blown away.
So anyway, to make a long story short. We hit it off great. We experimented alot. I just talked to Dave 2 nights ago, and he said heís been in a different major city everyday...actually all around the world...because heís been setting it up for 2 or 3 months. And people are Freakingí out about the record. The first song is song called, "Trust"...thatís the first single...ironically enough...TRUST. And itís stunning. I mean, Dave wrote some killer songs...very much more inventive. His themes are the things he lives. My favorite song is a song called, "Use the Man". Heís talking about Heroin. Obviously an upclose and personal view of it. One that a guy like me could never have.
Brian: So you kinda saw through his eyes what he felt?
Dann: Oh yeah, and he told me all this stuff. And Iíve never been like one for drugs...and so Iíve never got into that thing. And so to hear it from a guy who really, really got into and really had to kick it. Thatís why I have all the admiration, because thatís not easy to do. They are really determined to stay that way. But the funny thing is...they are more aggressive musically now. To me itís like, they hit a little harder. Itís more even rock basis...itís more musical. They have some really fast crazed metal songs. They have a little bit of everything. But they have some stuff on there, that when you hear it you are gonna go, "Thatís Megadeth? Wow!" Because they are not limited. They are not just limited to a metal format.
Brian: So you think you helped them achieve that?
Dann: Well, yeah. Iím part of that new equation. But they wrote the songs. I didnít write the songs for them...so itís all coming from within. I just helped them bring it out. So itís really cool. Iím proud of the record... I gotta say. It was like an 8 month project in a 3 1/2 month period. We worked out rears off. Itís good. I think the fans are gonna be blown away. Matter of fact, they had a bunch of people from all around the world, their Fanclub. They came in and their fans freaked out.
Brian: Why did they choose you?
Dann: I have no idea. Other than...their management, ESP management, out of the West Coast. One of the guys used to manage GIANT...and Iím sure what happened is he just said, ĎCheck out Dann Huffí...and then they probably said, "What?!?" And they just arranged some meetings, and then we hit it off. I think a long time ago we used to rehearse across from each other in a rehearsal hall...and I think we met then.
Brian: Of all the songs or albums that youíve worked on, which is most close to your personal preference in music?
Dann: Ah thatís easy. I like the song I played on that PLAYERS record that they put out. It actually won a Dove award. I didnít go to the Dove awards, but I found out a couple of days later. The song on the PLAYERS CD is the closest to me musically. Itís a nice song. Itís like the way I like to play music.
Brian: Are you married? Kids?
Dann: Iíve been married 15 years...to my 13 year old sweetheart, and we have 3 kids.
Brian: How do you feel about the Contemporary Christian Music movement? What do you see as the future of CCM?
Dann: Thatís a fine question. I donít think about it really. I was never a part of the Contemporary Christian movement. Itís a fine deal. If people want to express their Faith. I think itís Killer that there are some great, great, great artists. The guys in DC TALK....Iím absolutely blown away with those guys. Iím very close to Toby, and I play softball with him too. Mark Heimermann who is their producer, who I think is probably one of the most talented people that Iíve ever met. Iím blown away by them. I heard this band, Jars of Clay, that I thought was phenomenal. There is alot of great talent. I donít listen to alot of it. I listen to DC TALK because I play on some of their stuff...so I listen to it. And what I respect and love about those guys is...they are very soul-bearing in their lyrics and the way they talk about their faith, and I think itís great. What I guess I like about alot of the new artists that Iíve heard, and Iím not cutting down anybody else....it just seems to be kinda of a renaissance period of all rock music. Itís like all of a sudden the 80s got just kicked right out, and all of a sudden people got very honest, and it became very unhip to be corporate. And I like that...in all kinds of music. I mean, it will swing back. I like music PERIOD...I mean the idea of the business of CCM. I think thatís a really scary kind of proposition. Because youíre...
Brian: Selling your faith...?
Dann: Well, in a certain sense, yeah...youíre capitalizing, youíre marketing...but To Each His Own. I think itís fine. Iíve always been kinda of a...Yíknow...I donít know...somewhat of a Ďbastard child of CCMí. You donít have to say that, but thatís the truth. itís Iím kind of a...You can say that...itís not a bad way of saying it. Actually, Itís probably the best way to say it. Because that was my heritage, and thatís what I grew up in. I started the band, Whiteheart.
Brian: Yíknow, they say Steve Green was the vocalist of Whiteheart...but I hear you singing on more of the songs.
Dann: Yeah, Steve was the vocalist. I sang a couple of songs. I donít even remember it. I blotted it out. When I did GIANT they said, "Have you ever sung before?" I always said, "No." I donít even remember hardly singing that much in Whiteheart, but I guess I did.
Brian: I rarely hear Steve on the Whiteheart records...
Dann: No. no..he sang on most of the songs. Steveís voice is just extraordinary. He didnít feel comfortable in the Rock Ďn Roll music field.
And that goes back to his heritage too. From where he comes from thatís really very kinda distasteful, sinful. Whatever it is...He just didnít like it.
Brian: So yall both had your reasons for getting out of the band then. Yall werenít comfortable with it? Right?
Dann: Yeah, he wasnít comfortable with it from his perspective. Musically... I was totally comfortable with it. I wanted to be a session musician in Los Angeles...thatís all it boils down to. The band was only a way to get me in the studio. I wasnít burning to go out and Ďsell my faith.í That had nothing to do with it. I wanted to play guitar. And I didnít think that a bad reason either...I thought that was a great reason.
Brian: Just to do music. right?
Dann: Well yeah. The fact that we did songs about Christianity was great, and I thought we were really good. Alot of people say that that was a real turning point record. Well, whatever it was...it was what it was. The second I had the chance to move out and play sessions...I was like, "See ya!"
Brian: Do you ever have any contact with any of the other members of Whiteheart?
Dann: Very seldomly. Every once in a while Iíll see Gary Lunn in passing...every once in a while, and Billy Smiley every once in a while, Gersmehl.....We live in such different worlds that our paths just donít cross. I think they are great. Iíve always tried to keep up. Gordon Kennedy is a really close friend of mine. Heís a dear friend...When we went to High School we graduated a year apart.
Brian: Now, werenít you the one that kinda helped Gordon get the gig with Whiteheart?
Dann: Well yeah, I was the one recommending him...but Man! Gordon Kennedy..I always have loved his musicianship, ever since we used to play together in High school.
Brian: You used to play together in High School?
Dann: Well, yeah...we did assemblies at our school and all that kind of junk. Iíve always told everbody that he is the most underrated musician in Nashville. And this year he had a phenomenal year. He and Tommy and Wayne wrote a Grammy winning song, and all of a sudden Gordonís on fire. Now everybodyís kinda realizing now, "Hey, you were right!" Iíve just been telling people that, "Gordon is the talent."
Brian: So you were really pushing him eh?
Dann: I always have. Iíve always said that he is an extremely important musician, (period). I think he is one of the better musicians Iíve met in my life. And I have always said that, and I always will say that. Thatís just the way Iíve always felt about him. And itís funny...itís a situation where the music business is not always necessarily fair. It just is what it is. But anyway...yeah, Gordon and I keep in good touch. Iím always calling him up for songs, (Acts as if heís on phone with Gordon) "Címon man. Give me something great so I can produce it."
Brian: When recording a song for a CCM artist, Do the lyrics affect the way you play on the song?
Dann: No. I mean, I try to listen to the lyrics...but I hear music Iím gonna play. I mean, Iíll ask. Iíd like to say, Yeah, that I really do, but no, I just play guitar and when I play on something...and the music is gonna usually dictate. I donít sit there and... Otherwise, I guess you could probably say itís obvious that I donít consider it, because I play sinful stuff. (laughs) Well, alot of people like the way I play.
Brian: Alot of people have asked, How you can say an artist like Madonna is one of your favorite sessions?
Dann: My favorite session? I donít think I ever said it was my favorite session. Somebody asked me about a session with her, and I said, as an artist I totally respect her as an artist. I didnít say I like her.
Brian: So you might not totally agree with what she stands for, but you like her as an artist?
Dann: No. Most of what she stands for, I donít agree with. I liked her as a person. She and I got along great. I mean, sheís funny, and sheís witty. Heck! Sheís Madonna for crying out loud! But by the same token, she got into a phase where it was like...Címon, sheesh, For Crying out loud, put your clothes on. But sheís who she is. But what I respected about her was her absolute control and commitment to what she did. She was not an artist in name. She created everything about Her.
Brian: She wasnít a fake. Right?
Dann: Yeah, and I respect that in anybody, but do I respect what she stands for sometimes? Absolutely not! Itís totally the anti-thesis of my views of what I would want to impart to my young girls. Sex isnít a dirty word to me, but thereís alot of things about how she has stood for it...that to me, has degraded sex. I think sex is awesome! And I want my kids, when they find their mates, to think sex is awesome too. But I think there is a very debasing element to the way she has handled sexuality. I donít mind the openness about sexuality. Thatís fine with me. Itís not like, Letís not talk about sex...no letís definitely talk about sex. I just think she took the beauty out of it, and that bums me out more than anything. I guess thatís, if I really think about it...I never really thought about it that much...I think thatís what really bothers me more. Itís not sexuality..itís just when itís taken down to itís lowest common ground. Iím not saying it always has to be mystical either. I just think itís alot more beautiful than alot of people like that have made it. But yeah, I do respect her.
PART II-The Dann Huff Interview
Brian: Some people ask, Whatís your relationship with Christ? Are you a Christian?
Dann: Yes I am a Christian. I canít be anything but. The culture that Iíve grown up in, socially, and historically...thatís what we believe. Thatís our basis for belief in God. So I am a Christian. Iíve gone through all the ritual...I went through all the things you are supposed to do when you are a Christian...accept Christ into your life and all that kinda stuff. I never went through Charismatic stuff like Speaking in tongues and all that stuff. I went to charismatic churches when I was kid, but I also say that if I was born in India that Iíd be a good Hindu.
I think itís all the same. I honestly do.
Brian: You donít think any denomination is over the other?
Dann: Any religion. I donít mean denomination. I mean religion. I honestly believe that. Iíve gotten to the point where itís like, what does it matter what I believe? I seem to know it to be true. It doesnít belittle Christianity for me. Now real evangelicals will say Iím heretical and that Iím wrong, but Christianity is true to me. I think we are calling the same God. I donít think our Hindu brothers are calling a different God. They are just seeing God from a different perspective. And Iíve traveled alot. Iíve traveled around the world...and people are just people. Yíknow, itís like for a Hindu to convert to Christianity would be as freaky as a Christian converting to Hinduism. Yíknow? Itís like, "Youíre doing what?" And I donít see the point anyway.
Brian: So you think itís just a different format?
Dann: I do. I just really do. Who knows. I may be wrong. I may be right.
Brian: But thatís what you believe. Right?
Dann: Yeah, and itís not come as a result of rejecting anything. I am definitely not a fundamentalist Christian. Thereís no doubt about that, based on the things Iíve said. But by the same token, we go to church. We donít go every Sunday, but my kids are being raised as Christians. That is the way they are learning about God is through Christianity and the Bible. They are learning the Bible. Iím definitely teaching them to be open to other religions. The one thing I donít like about our religion. Itís so intolerant of any other religions. Historically... Christians have alot to be ashamed of. Killing in the name. Whatís the main thing? God says to love one another. And of course thatís the last thing Christians usually do. Historically...we kill Ďem. Itís better to kill them than to be alive and call God by another name. And of course our Christian nation throughout a whole people in this Country...and thatís just people. Christianity is Christianity and Christ is Christ, and that doesnít diminish his words or the legitimacy of the religion. It just shows that people are people. But Iím becoming more religious as I get older too. itís really interesting.
Brian: So you are more into it now than before?
Dann: Oh heavens. yeah. Of course like I said, some people, if they want to read something like this, theyíll think Iím just totally off my rocker. And itís okay because I think Faith is personal too. I mean, you ask me a question, Iíll say it. Part of me is saying "that I shouldnít even be telling you this stuff, because what does it matter what people...Yíknow?" Part of me says "yeah. Iím a Christian." But by the same token, if you ask Iíll be honest. Yíknow? And itís not an attempt to get away from Christianity. It has nothing to do with that. Itís just the idea that I am a Christian, but Iím not a person who excludes other religions. I respect other religions and I want to know more about them. Thatís the main thing. I would like to be more educated. Would I convert to another religion? Absolutely not! Thereís no reason. Thereís no point. Converting to what? We are still talking about God here. The beauty of Christianity is a part of my life I canít erase. Itís my life.
Brian: How can people best pray for Dann Huff?
Dann: Thatís a cool question. If I wanted to have people pray for one specific thing...itíd be that I can manage my time better so I can be with my family more. That to me is the most pressing and important thing in my life. I mean I got 3 children whom I adore. Until you have kids you donít know, but people who have kids they know. My wife Sherry, I absolutely honor and respect her. Sheís no doubt my best friend. Iíve known her since we were 13. First kisses basically. Actually wasnít my first, but she was my second. We were dating when we were 13. Basically what it is, is that. I mean, talking about finding God...boy itís right there in your family. And that to me is the most relevant thing I can be. I mean forget music. Music is like...Thatís my job, and I love it. Iím gonna be remembered by 4 other people here. They know I love them. Thereís no doubt about that, but following it up all the time is tough. So thatís what I care most about. So yeah, if anyone wants to pray for me... The only reason I guess I say that is that that is the most important thing to me. Talk about your religion, God. I mean what is the most immediate extension of your faith? Itís how you relate to your family. And thatís also the hardest thing. Especially when you get on in years in marriage. I see so many of my friends they lose the respect for their spouse. Yíknow, thatís something that if you are not very guarded and very aware of...you lose that intimacy...you lose that respect, which is the ultimate degradation for people. If you donít respect your children. All that kind of stuff. To me thatís religion...everything that Christ said, and everything any other prophet said. Itís all about Love. Of course, Iím a bit of a cynic. Iíve been close to certain religious movements, churches, and what not. And because Iím from it, I guess Iím cynical about it only from the standpoint that I see people reaching for the masses and yet they crush the people that are closest to them. And thatís just the way people are, but for me, like I said, God is right here. Elliot is sitting with me right now..
(Says to his son, "Yeah, do you want me to get a Bible?") Heís listening to me thinking, "What the heck is dad talking about?"
But that to me, like I said, to me that is my life. That is life. When Iím gone by a hundred years and my great, great grandchildren are walking around, I hope that somewhere that itís written that, "I really love my family, and that I not only loved them, but acted like it." But talking about seeing God...I look in every one of my childrenís eyes, and boy! there God is. Whoever God is...heís right there.
Brian: Have you ever thought about being a preacher?
Dann: (Laughs) No. Heavens no.
But to me that is....religion is just a word. Everything about religion...words mean nothing. The Bible means nothing if we donít act on it. And if we donít make it relevant. Forget about evangelizing and going out and telling other people. I donít tell people about my faith unless they ask me. Iím not gonna go out and start sharing my faith.
Brian: Like Bible bangers. Right?
Dann: No. And those people help alot of people. First of all, my kids arenít interested in my words. My kids donít give a rip about what I say. They say that they do, but thereís just not a chance. Because people really arenít interested in words.
Brian: So itís your actions?
Dann: Itís who you are. Itís everything about you. If you are the type of person that people can see God in....God moving through you. If the way that you live is obvious. They are gonna be drawn to you in a certain way. And itís nothing that you can say thatís gonna do it. And thereís nothing that you are gonna say thatís gonna change them. Plus, I donít want to change people. Even when I was a kid, when I didnít understand kinda how I was thinking...I always felt like the idea of trying to quickly convert somebody was repulsive to me.
Brian: Yeah, I donít think there is anything written in the Bible about ĎQuick Conversionsí.
Dann: I mean, there are alot of things written in the Bible, and this is a another subject. The Bible was written in the 1st Century...alot of it. And it was written by people in that time period, and the truth of it holds on. But there is so much of it that was relevant to that time period that is not relevant to now. And the more we try to squeeze that into the modern world...not that we are a better world now. Itís just a different world. I think that is where people get all screwed up.
Brian: They are trying to apply what happened back then?
Dann: Well, think about this. Here is one thing. Think about the main issue of the way, Historically, throughout the centuries, we have treated women. Just that. Okay, that alone. I have two daughters and I am very sensitive on this issue, because itís like...women were property they were no more than cattle. They meant nothing. They were something to be used. Yíknow. And we until even this last generation...
Brian: They started having their own rights?
Dann: Well yeah! I mean, Good Grief! they didnít start voting Ďtil what year? My wife could tell you all this stuff. I mean sheís not a card toting Womenís libber at all. Sheís anything but. But alot of people in our religion...they still want their wives to cover their heads in church. They donít want women to speak. And Iím going, "I would just assume hear a woman who is wise speak than...
(Dannís other phone rings and he is preoccupied for a minute or two)
This is my argument. if you will. If Iím gonna argue about something. Not that I care too much about arguing, but so much of seemingly...
the overtone of alot of what was written in the Bible still took that on. Right? And now of course people argue and say ĎNo. God talked about the marriage and the union...and husbands submit to your wives." Right. Thatís True. That was all said there, but the tone was of 1st Century. Yíknow. And Basically women were still...they were not equal, and they have never been equal until about now. And that is what Iím talking about in respect to the Bible. Itís not saying that itís not relevant. Itís the most relevant book of our time. And yet you have to read....I think people make the mistake of not reading in context of when it was written. Yíknow? Again itís like these are just views that I have. And I know alot of people who would agree...and thereís alot of people who think Iím absolutely wrong. And either way it doesnít matter. Itís not a Game! Itís not tallying up stuff. So anyway thatís my basic philosphy. Thatís kinda in a nutshell. And it all started with that great question of how would you like people to pray for you. Because thatís pretty cool.
Brian: What do you do to relax?
Dann: I donít have alot of time to relax. That was something I was talking with my wife about last week. I like to play softball. Iím trying to take up Golf, but I donít have enough time to play golf...it takes up too much time. I sit down drink a beer and watch TV. Yíknow? Thatís about it. Actually, I take that back. I donít count this as relaxing but I guess it does relax me thatís why I didnít think of it. My favorite thing to do is read. I usually have 4 or 5 books going at one time.
Brian: Yíknow, that really surprises me. Youíd think itíd be music.
Dann: No. Iím around music all the time. I mean, Iíll sit down and play the guitar some. I have music all the time...so I wanna learn things...so I like to read. But I never thought of it as relaxation, but it really does relax you. I like all sorts of books...Iím reading a pretty varied....
Brian: Yeah, thatís a good question. What are you reading now?
Dann: Right now. I finished Herman Wouk, one of his earlier novels, Marjorie Morningstar. I just finished one of Herman Hesseís early books called, Peter Camenzind. Iím also reading some Joseph Campbell, Power of Myth. Iím also reading a book by the guy who wrote The Last Temptation of Christ.
Brian: They put a movie out on that book right?
Dann: Oh man. The book blew me away. What that guy was contemplating made Christianity for me. People thought he was heretical. I thought just the opposite. This guy cared so much. He wanted to deal with the humanity of Christ in such a way that it moved me. It was the first thing that really moved me. Whatís that book called?(Thinking) Zorba the Greek, thatís what itís called. I usually try to keep some James Michener books going in the process. Iíve almost read all of his books...Iím running out of stuff. I really like fiction, and I like reading people that have lived and been around a while. Thereís alot of wisdom you can get from these older guys. I like reading and educating myself. Itís kind of the way you continue your education, by immersing yourself in other peopleís thoughts. And I definitely like Fiction. I always like stories. Yíknow? Itís kinda like entertainment and everything rolled into one.
Brian: What do you like listening to, musically?
Dann: Anything Jeff Beck puts out...I always get. I just like him for the obvious reasons. He just sings through his instrument. I like so many different kinds of stuff.
Brian: You really canít nail it down?
Dann: No I really canít. I always thought it was cool that people could really point to different records and stuff like that. I just kind of just buy stuff all the time. I go to the store and buy a smattering of everything.
Brian: Is that to keep you up to date on what people like?
Dann: Yeah. I want to know why people listen to certain things. My 11 and 7 year old keep me in touch with whatís going down on the dance circuit. This is not dance music, but groups like, NO DOUBT. Iím checking out bands like that that appeal to the younger audience. And Iíll buy some of the really crazy Rock stuff just to find out whatís going on? Iíve been intrigued by this MARILYN MANSON phenomenon. Iím a real big fan, in a certain sense, of Trent Reznor. I canít listen to his stuff for very long though....when I heard that song on MTV, that had all the expletives deleted on it...it startled me. It was almost like the most vile thing Iíve ever seen on TV. But by the same token...I thought the song, the way he did it...I thought it was awesome. I think I went out and bought Marilyn Manson, but I still donít think I have even listened to it. I wanna know why stuff affects people, but do I go out and buy NIN records? No. Not really...I like a song or two...because listening to that stuff too much...itís so much of a downer. Yíknow? And Iím interested in hearing what he says of his thoughts about his life. I donít want to dwell on it too much, because itís so dark. And to me I like stuff that makes me happy...but heís speaking to different people. And I usually like everything PRINCE puts out. Iím a real Pop-head. Yíknow? I like stuff you can sing. I like alot of these new women singers...Cheryl Crow... I mean I like Jazz music...Best of Sly Stone, Best of Parliament, all the Motown stuff, Joan Osborne, etc... Just kind of everything. There really isnít anything I donít like that much. I like good Country music...because Iím playing alot of Country music?
Brian: So you are starting to dig it?
Dann: Iíve always loved it. Wait! I take that back. Since 1989 Iíve liked it. Up until then I never really listened to it. Iím producing Faith Hill (May Ď97) right now. We just cut the tracks a couple of weeks ago. She and her husband, Tim McGraw, are two of my favorite people in Country music. Iíve known Tim and Faith, separately, for a long time. Iíve always loved what they do. And Iíve been a guitar player for their stuff...and now Iím starting to work in Production. And this Wiggins thing too, by the way, this brother and sister. They are truly truly awesome. I hope they catch on...because they are the real deal. They are as good as they get. Itís not a guitar extravaganza. They made a record that is a singing record. There is a little bit of guitar on it, but itís more about it.
Brian: What products are you currently endorsing?
Dann: 2TEK bridges, I love those. Iíve always endorsed
PEAVEY...that 50 Watt amp...I think itís a killer amp.
Brian: What about the 5150s?
Dann: Yeah, I use them occasionally. I use a little bit of everything. I thought the Deluxe Reverb they had was really good.
Brian: Are you into Vintage equipment?
Dann: Oh yeah, but I donít go out and buy alot because I just donít do it. I love stuff like though. Iím not a real collector. If I find something I like the sound of, then Iíll go get it and use it. I donít go to the vintage shows...only because I donít know when they are.
Also, some case Company, TKL Cases. I love that endorsement They make guitar cases. And I like stuff that I can use. I donít go out and endorse just tons of stuff. Cases I can use. They make road cases and all that stuff...not just guitar cases. Oh, and Strings...strings, the single most important thing I endorse...American Flyer Strings.
Brian: ĎMuttí Lange. Are yall friends?
Dann: Very good friends.
Brian: So you are his Protege? I read something about that.
Dann: Yeah...thatís a cheap shot. I would never ever say that I was his protege, because I think he is probably one of the best producers of music, not just Rock...but anything he does. And somebody said that using his name, and I kind of...I feel like that is using his name to promote me.
Brian: And you donít want to do that. Right?
Dann: My friendship with Mutt...we are very very close friends. I mean, I consider him one of my better friends. I love his musicality. He likes the way I play the guitar. Heís also the reason...heís the one that really pushed me to get into production. Heís the one that said, ĎCome on Dann. You are a producerí. I guess heís given me enough encouragement to step out and do it and quit playing guitar so much from a day to day basis. But as far as me being his protege...I mean, if someone wants to say that, they can. But Iím not gonna say that.
Mutt is so much in a class all of his own. Mutt Lange is MY Hero. He really is...heís the best.
Brian: So you look up to him in a way, that you want to be him someday?
Dann: If I could get half as good as him...Iíd be really doing good.
Brian: What guitarists inspire you to play? Are there any besides, well, Jeff Beck?
Dann: Everybody. Yíknow. A good friend of mine here in town, Brent Mason, is beyond comprehension as a guitar player. One of the best guitar players Iíve ever met. Heís the guy I try to copy in any Country. Although, he goes way deeper than being a Country guitar player. Heís a great guitar player period. I listen to everybody...and I listen all the time. I like everybody that everybody likes....Eric Johnson...everybody. There isnít hardly any guitar player that I dislike. And thatís the truth. I just kinda like listening to what people play. There are certain ones that I relate to more. I mean, everybodyís got their thing. Yíknow?