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The Interview: Dangerous Kid

How would you describe Dangerous Kid’s sound and feel?

Dangerous Kid: Dangerous Kid takes piano-based pop (influences include Ben Folds, Gavin Degraw, Elton John, and Billy Joel) and kicks it into the stratosphere with a boost of harder-driving influences from funk, punk, and rock. Our songs, which I generally write on my own and arrange with the band, are a mix of balls-out singalongs and heart-on-sleeve ballads. we’re into pop songs without the sugar-coating, that make you feel but also make you move.

For those that don’t know, who is Dangerous Kid and what are you about?

Dangerous Kid: Dangerous Kid was started in early 2005, when my last band broke up right after my girlfriend and I did. I met Paul Withers while looking for a drummer, and we were both into Ben Folds Five, so we jammed a few times. I wanted to beef up the sound of the solo songs I’d been kicking around at local open mike nights, and he (as a drummer for various local heavy-metal groups) was looking to play in a band that wouldn’t scare the nice people he worked with. We auditioned quite a few bass players before meeting Matt Dosberg, who had previous played in funk bands in Charleston and L.A. 10 minutes into his audition, we cancelled callbacks and started planning our first gig as a band.

Currently you are recording a new album, when can we expect that and what if anything is different about this album that we might not expect.

Dangerous Kid: This is our first full-length album project and my 7th time recording in the studio, so we are coming to it with more experience and a better idea of what we want. Our debut EP, “On The Loose,” was really a demo that we put together very quickly after forming the band, with the first few songs we had. We played live in the studio together and then I went back and did vocals. I think the whole project was about 12 hours of recording. Now that we’ve been a band for 2 years, we had a whole list of songs to choose from, and it was really important for me to make a quality product that reflected who we are. we’ve recorded almost every practice and at least 20 shows, and we’ve listened to and refined things along the way. We sat down in December with a list of all our songs and compiled everyone’s’ top 5 songs, which made a list of 10 total. Then I added 2 others that I really wanted to record—a solo song, “Never Too Late,” and a ballad, “Someone”s Son” that we rarely ever play live but I always thought the original demo arrangement was powerful.

Having recorded the first album locally in Falls Church, Virginia, where I grew up and lived at the time, we decided to go to Nashville, Tennessee this time, where my first New York roommate had an old friend with his own recording studio. He had been an apprentice in several major studios down there before starting his own, and after speaking to him, I felt like he would be a good producer for our project. (Anyone who likes Radiohead is good people to me.) We traded CDs through the mail for a while and set the whole thing up pretty quickly. Nashville didn’t mean we were going for a country CD, though—we still wanted to maintain our pop-rock sound, but it was very important to me to a) get away from regular life and record without distractions, and b) record on an acoustic grand piano. While I use keyboards live most of the time, I’ve always much preferred pianos, and this past year I’ve really tried to book us at places that have them—it”s a better sound and a better show. I also wanted a bigger sound on this record—harmonica, organs, vintage keyboards, background vocals, and even a trumpet solo were added into the mix along the way. These are all new things for us, and I think it makes the record a lot of fun to listen to. we’re in the process of mixing the album now, and we’re hoping to have it out around Memorial Day.

From the beginning till now… How has Dangerous Kid grown as a group and as individuals?

Dangerous Kid: Well, I’ve gone through a lot of changes since the band started. After living the DC area pretty much all my life, I decided to move to New York City, a process that was sort of the story behind “On The Loose”. I wanted to keep the band together, and I think we’ve done well with it. I’m back and forth a lot so we play both cities regularly. In New York I’ve taken guitar and harmonica lessons, as well as studying piano and voice again with some great musicians. I’ve had a weekly residency at 169, a dive bar on the Lower East Side, for the past 6 months, so I’ve worked a lot on these new songs, both solo and with the band. I know that Matt and Paul have developed an interesting relationship driving back and forth to NYC for shows, and I think the stuff we’ve been playing has continually gotten more interesting and exciting. I’m always amazed (and pleased) when I bring some wispy, emotional song to them and they pump it up to something really fun that doesn’t lose the original feeling. That, to me, is what the band has always been about. The new album, “The Day Has Come,”really reflects the fact that I’m finally living the life I always wanted.

Where is your favorite place to play and why?

Dangerous Kid: Personally, my favorite is 9:30 Club in D.C., where I played a few times with my last band, Worry Stones. I’d love to get Dangerous Kid in there sometime soon! I think the band has had some of its best times at Ri-Ra in Bethesda, where we played quite a bit last year and always had a good turnout. My solo stints at Staccato in Adams-Morgan before the band and 169 these past few months have both been memorable experiences.

What do you guys like to do when you aren’t playing?

Dangerous Kid: I’m a music freak, so walking around the city with my iPod is at the top of my list, along with live shows and jamming with random people. I’m also obsessed with pop culture, so TV and movies make up a large portion of my time. Paul is into fixing cars and often buys old heaps and turns them around and sells them. Matt is definitely the dangerous one of the group, with great stories about his adventures, and he’s also got a cool video on YouTube that’s’ worth checking out.

Do you take any interest in politics, what are your opinions on celebrities or other famous people who use their forums to voice their views?

Dangerous Kid: I don’t like to talk about politics much, and we’re not a political band, but I do think it is important to stand up and speak out about the things that are important to you, no matter who you are. The song, “Someone”s Son” on the new record is about a friend of mine who died fighting in Iraq. It’s not a political song at all to me—on purpose—it”s more important than that. I want to remember him. I don’t mind celebrities with causes because I can respect anyone who is in a position to help people and does. what’s’ important to me right now is that people take care of each other—it”s so easy to get petty about disagreements, but we’re all in this together.

With ties to both NY and DC… Nationals or Yankees/Mets?

Dangerous Kid: Sorry, when everyone else was out playing and watching sports growing up, I was home playing the piano and listening to my parents” records. Also, I sucked at sports. I’ve been to a Yankees game once, and I got a cool pin. My sisters were both jocks in high school—I”m the artsy one.

What is the passion that drives you and your group to want to pursue this as a career?

Dangerous Kid: I love music. Listening, playing, learning, watching—all these things are exciting to me. The more of my life that involves any of these things, the happier I am. I think it’s important to find what you do well and do it. I really enjoy helping people to have fun, and experiencing the way music brings people together.

And the last question, kind of silly, but I ask it to everyone… Who is your celebrity crush? Was or still is?

Dangerous Kid: I have strong feelings for Jennifer Aniston and Charlize Theron. I can’t place one above the other, and I don’t want them to have any bitterness towards each other, just in case everything works out.

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