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INTERVIEW WITH DAN SUSNARA
& NOW, in what's becoming a TRADEMARK symbol fer' "I.N.", an interview with one o' th' STALWARTS in today's D.I.Y. scene. I first started corresponding with Dan WAY back, '90 or so, & have reviewed TUNZ o' tapes that he's been on, or produced in solo efforts. Not afraid to tackle much of ANYthing, Dan produces some real QUALITY music from his home-base in Chicago. His privacy there 'as been invaded more'n once when I hit th' cupz. We're in th' process of layin' down some trax together on an effort of our own (tentatively titled "Grolsch Violations", or somethin' like that), & I just couldn't get the thought outta' my mind that an INTERVIEW with Dan was in ORDNUNG... read, enJOY, but after reading do what ALL good lil' D.I.Y.'ers DO... get in TOUCH with him (at 7806 S. Kilpatrick, Chicago, IL 60652)... &, as always, TELL 'im Zzaj sentcha', ok? Here goes...
Zzaj: I've noticed a wide diversion in yer' playin' styles, all the way from 60s psychedelic to "headstone" musics; any particular reason for that, training (or else) wise?
Dan: My age, for one thing. Nearly three decades of influences. I started out with the Beatles. I was in my first little combo at age 10. The bass players' older brother had all these Moby Grape and Mothers Of Invention albums playing all the time; I was cutting my teeth on guitar learning songs like "Incense and Peppermints" and other '60s stuff. So, that's my roots. In the '70s, I was heavily into Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull, which got me writing serious songs. In the '80s, The Psychedelic Furs, The Cure and The Smiths all, for me, evolved "isms" of psychedelic music, while at the same time being brooding and morose, I liked the contrast. So THAT, too, left its mark; as well as all the female fronted bands going on NOW, like Lush, Sterolab, etc. They teach you about harmonies, things like that. Everything I hear that's somewhat "different" influences me.
Zzaj: Do you think "commercial" artists or D.I.Y. artists have influenced YOUR music more (or less)?
Dan: I've been on or around the indy scene since '88, so I guess I've heard a decent amount of both worlds. I hate "commercial" music. What I listen to is CALLED "alternative", but I don't consider it "commercial". The tape manipulation/industrial/experimental people on the indy scene have influenced me greatly (Rikk Rue, The Tape Beatles, Gadget, Negativland, Evolution Control Committee). Every indy songwriter, musician, etc., you hear about always leaves some kind of mark.
Zzaj: Is airplay important? 'Zines? Which have more impact on the D.I.Y. of today?
Dan: I think 'zines get you more response in that people are more apt to look for something they read about; airplay is important, too, but with today's access to technology, the indy stations are flooded with tapes, and you're lucky if your tape gets played 3 or 4 times. But, really, we are in DIRE need of airplay AND 'zines that review indy people. It's getting scarcer and scarcer.
Zzaj: Who are some of your favorite D.I.Y.er's today?
Dan: Oh God, so many!! Scott Davey, Jeff Olson (Screamin' Popeyes), Dino Dimuro, they're all brilliant. John M. Bennett. Tom Wright is great. Ron Jagielnik and Tom Mikols get my vote as "Best Indy Tape of 1994", with their "Bright Black" tape. Too many to list, really!
Zzaj: Will D.I.Y. ever "buy th' bananas fer' ye'?
Dan: Nope, and it never will; because the music would become a job, and thus become a chore and a bore. I'd like to just make more money so I could afford better equipment. Who wouldn't?
Zzaj: Do you have a "day gig"? If so, what?
Dan: Yeah, knock on wood. Factory warehouse work, foam products. Peanuts for paychecks. Took some computer classes; hope to get back to that soon, then look for something better. Yawn!
Zzaj: What kind of equipment do you use? Any future plans, equipment-wise?
Dan: 1985 Gibson SG, 1981 Ibanez acoustic, Kawai PH-50 keyboards, Casiotone keyboards, Dr. Rhythm drum machines, stomp box effects, tape loops/dialogue manipulation. I don't even want to talk about the stupid 4-track! FUTURE PLANS? Yes! Buy a fucking 8-track! THIS SUMMER! Do, or die! Some ethnic percussion stuff & instruments.
Zzaj: Are the D.I.Y./indy efforts you hear nowadays gettin' better or worse?
Dan: Slicker-sounding, with all the new technology. A lot more people are going in the studio these days, which is scary. I think a lot of indy music still sounds like the '80s, and needs to grow and change. Not ALL indy music, but a lot of it. I'd like to hear more real drummers, for instance (with my own music, as well). More originality, too. MORE REBELLION!
Zzaj: What's the Chicago scene like for D.I.Y.?
Dan: Outside of our tight circle of people, I don't know of anyone much else. Up north, however, we get people coming in from out of town, in dribbles. The only indy place to play is The Lunar Cabaret, which is run by Maestro Subgum and The Whole. We saw Little Fyodor there, hung out; had a blast. My friends and I play the occasional coffee house gig. Not that much cookin' right now; we're all busy on our own projects.
Zzaj: Any last words for D.I.Y.er's out there?
Dan: Network as much as you possibly can. Try and get access to a computer (to make covers, flyers, etc.), save for an 8-track, 'cause 4-tracks suck, but at the same time stay in a cassette medium rather than contribute to the CD disease. Above all, keep it COMING!
...Many thanks to Dan for his time in preparing these responses! R. Zzaj