Dan Potthast, leader and namesake of Dan P And The Bricks, takes us through the band's debut Watch Where You Walk track by track. The album is out now on Asian Man Records.
"Watch Where You Walk"
This is one of the oldest songs on the record. I wrote it maybe thirteen or fourteen years ago, and intended it to be an MU330 song, but it never seemed to click at practice. It's weird how sometimes the same song presented to a different set of musicians can produce such different results. This one is an essential part of the Bricks street show, and one of my favorites to play. The shout choruses and the tambo make the street show come to life!
"Fan" originally appeared on [my 2008 solo record] Eat the Planet. It was the first song I wrote during those writing sessions, and got the inspiration by looking up at the ceiling fan. It truly is all about the arrangement on this one, since it's just the same five chords looped over and over. This was one that I always felt could really benefit from a full-band treatment, and it finally got it on this album. A couple things that always catch my ear when listening to this version are things that happened during the recording process: the first being when we were recording the horns, we decided to have just the trumpet and trombone play the melody the first time through, and then have the saxes fill it up on the second pass. Satisfying. The second one is something that Chris Murray thought of at the end of the tune. It used to just fade out. It was Chris' idea to have the band drop out and have the vocals finish by themselves. Faaaaa-e ah-ahn! Nice one Chris.
Another song from Eat the Planet that finally got the full-band treatment. This is one that Chris Murray added quite a bit of input on in the studio. In particular, the catchy bass line that Matt and Brendon play together. Chris also helped us clean up the end a bit. I mixed the album in LA with Chris Murray and Michael Rozon, and the rest of the band hadn't heard the mixes yet. We had a listening party at Matt Knobbe's house, and when this song came on, with the crazy effected verbed out drum effect intro, Larry our drummer literally rolled off the couch and did a somersault! Definitely my favorite moment of sharing the mixes with the band.
This is one off my first solo album, Eyeballs. It's about my mom having the guts to be able to fall in love again. "Set Sail" is a song that I'd been jamming with friends at beach parties and informal get-togethers since I moved to Santa Cruz over ten years ago. The arrangement was always loose and laid back, and it will always remind me of good times. Chris Murray helped us tighten up the arrangement a bit and pushed us to get it right in possibly the most intense late-night recording session I've ever been involved in. We dug deep and I think learned a bit about ourselves. The moment is NOW!!!
This is one that I wrote with my wife Shannon. I wrote the first verse, and she wrote the second. Another in-the-studio horn decision helped shape this one. To mellow out the attack of the main melody, we dropped out all the horns except for the trombone and tenor sax, and it made a huge difference.
"Map Of The Stars"
I wrote this song after having a conversation with a friend who grew up in Bel Air, and he explained how weird it is that people would actually pay to ride around his neighborhood in a van on the "Map of the Stars" tours and snoop on his neighbors. I remember not being too excited about this song after I recorded the demo, but when I worked it out with the band, it became one of my favorite Bricks songs. The groove makes it for me on this one.
"Mess It Up"
Mess It Up is probably the first song that I wrote with the Bricks specifically in mind. Big horn melody, big sing along chorus... it's got all the stuff that I imagine the "Bricks Sound" to be. If there was one song that comes close to being a theme song, this would be it, and that's reinforced by the fact that we play it at LEAST twice every street show.
Another song from Eat The Planet that finally got the full band treatment. I love Matt Porter's guitar lines on this one, as well as AJ's sneaky keyboard intro. Some production decisions with the vocals went beyond my normal comfort zones: delays and reverbs were used liberally, and I let it happen, and I'm happy with the results. Left to my own devices, I would have gone with a dryer vocal sound, but I love how it turned out.
This could possibly be my personal favorite on the album; I love how the horns sound on this one. We decided to only lay down alto, tenor and bari sax, and leave off the trumpet and trombone. The horn sound turned out especially warm and reedy. With all the space in the groove, the upright really gets a chance to shine and sound like an upright bass. This is another example of the lead and background vocal being more effected than I would have chosen in the moment, but I'm psyched on the end result.
This was the last song written before we went in to record the album. The arrangement was still taking shape as we laid down the rhythm tracks. The horn players hadn't learned it yet, and it was questionable as to whether it would make it on the album. When we went to lay down the horns, we kept putting this one off because we expected it to be an extremely difficult one to get. When we finally got around to it, it was all business. It's crazy that it went down that way, because when I listen to the recording, the horns are killing it, and it sounds huge. Sometimes a little pressure helps, I guess.
"Sweat For It"
While we were in LA laying down the rhythm section parts, it was Brendon's dream to go before our recording session one day and work out with Richard Simmons. Three times a week in LA, Richard teaches a workout class called "Richard Simmons Sweat!" Basically, we blew it by not making the time, and it didn't work out with our recording schedule, but maybe someday we could get the whole band to work out with him... maybe even film a video for "Sweat For It!"
"Quit On Me"
This is an older song that never found it's way onto an album. It's one that when I brought to the Bricks, the groove just felt right, and Matt Porter nailed it on the guitar melody. When we play this one at street shows, Matt Knobbe doubles up Porter's guitar melody on the melodica, but that evolved after the actual recording. Bricks Fun Fact: The only evidence of melodica on the album is in one of the photos on the cover. alt