(Mental Health Conversations): DANNY DUNLAP of GENTLEMEN ROGUES

Editor’s Note:  Recently, Austin, Texas’s own GENTLEMEN ROGUES released their 7″ single for “Do The Resurrection” on vinyl via Snappy Little Numbers.  In their music, Gentlemen Rogues combine guitar pop with catchy punk rock that will remind people of The Jam meets The Replacements.  Gentlemen Rogues is composed of Danny Dunlap on vocals/guitars, John Christoffel on guitars, David Hawkins on bass, and Josh Power on drums.  In this mental health conversation with Madness To Creation, Danny Dunlap of Gentlemen Rogues discusses the single, mental health and navigating their way through the Covid-19 pandemic.  Fans can find Gentlemen Rogues at the following locations:

www.facebook.com/gentlemenrogues

www.twitter.com/gentlemenrogues

www.instagram.com/gentlemenrogues

www.gentlemenrogues.bandcamp.com

Madness To Creation:  You’re gearing up for the release of the 7″ single “Do The Resurrection” on December 4th, take us into the writing process of the song

Danny Dunlap: Do the Resurrection! was an attempt at writing something very straightforward. I’m a fan of this guy from Toronto named, Marvelous Mark. He writes these really fuzzy, straightforward, hooky-as-hell, power-pop songs. Everyone should pick up his records, Crushin’ and Buzzin’. Do the Resurrection! was an attempt at capturing that kind of thing. Almost like a writing exercise…what would Marvelous Mark do? Ha! In the end, I don’t think Do the Resurrection! sounds much like a Marvelous Mark song, but that idea was the jumping off point. 

Do the Resurrection! started out really simple, but inevitably got more complicated as it developed. The song’s development ranged from tweaking a chord voicing to chopping a section out of the song, entirely. I mean, the song did end with a dueling “guitarmony” solo, but at its core Do the Resurrection! is just a 3 chord pop song. That was what I wanted to achieve…minimal chords, a short run time, and lots of hooks. I think we achieved that goal, and the feedback so far seems to indicate that Do the Resurrection! is a bit of an earworm…in a good way.

The b-side Bloody Rudderless (in Ursa Major) also involved a writing process, despite being a combination of cover songs. Allow me to explain. I randomly noticed once that The Lemonheads “Rudderless,” Superdrag’s “Destination Ursa Major,” and My Bloody Valentine’s “When You Sleep” all shared a common chord progression. I was never a big fan of the bridge in “Rudderless,” but otherwise totally adored the song. I started messing around with laying the drone guitar bends from the Superdrag song, on top of the Lemonheads song’s chorus. It sounded really cool, and that spearheaded the idea into what the song eventually became. I replaced the ‘Rudderless’ bridge with a section from the Superdrag song, which amazingly managed to still feel like a bridge. I might have had to slightly tweak the key of the Superdrag piece to make it work, but it came out sounding like a natural fit into the Lemonheads tune. By sheer coincidence, and from what I lyrically understand about the two songs, they both tackle the topic of substance abuse/addiction. From that perspective, the idea to merge these two songs turned out to be a bit lyrically serendipitous, as well. The melodic guitar line from My Bloody Valentine’s ‘When You Sleep’ is blended in to Destination Ursa Major’s outro guitar solo. This merging of three different songs might not make any sense, but it makes perfect sense when you hear it. It turned out sounding even cooler than we hoped it would.

On a side note, Marvelous Mark himself has given Do the Resurrection! a thumbs up! He said that he really loved the song, and that it reminded him of “early Green Day, The Weakerthans, and Teenage Fanclub.” I thought that was really cool, and I ain’t mad at that comparison.

Madness To Creation:  How has the band evolved their songwriting process?

Danny Dunlap:  I’m not sure that the band’s songwriting process has changed very much over the years? Songs are rarely written in the exact same way, so there really is no systematic process. I feel like I know how to write a pretty good song, and simultaneously feel like I have no idea what i’m doing. Like a lot of songwriter types, I record more song ideas into my phone’s voice memos than i’ll likely ever be able to turn into anything useful. Occasionally lightning will strike, but most of the time i’m just trying to document an idea before it vanishes into wherever ideas go. I’ll usually scour my phone for something that I like, and start banging around on that idea until it takes the form of something resembling the potential for a song. Once I work up an idea to that point, I’ll show it to the rest of the band and we’ll start banging around on it in a loud room, together. Do the Resurrection! came together pretty fast, but other songs can take (what feels like) an eternity to finish.

Madness To Creation:  You’re from the music capital of the world (I argue anyways), how do you make your band stand out in Austin, Texas?

Danny Dunlap:  We’re still trying to figure that out. Ha! At risk of sounding a bit woe-is-me, we’ve never really felt like we’ve fit into a “scene.” I saw a Mike Krol t-shirt once that said, “Too Indie Rock for Punk Rockers, Too Punk Rock for Indie Rockers.” We identify with that sentiment.

Madness To Creation:  Do you all have any livestreams or anything planned to promote this release?

Danny Dunlap:  The short answer is, no. We, intentionally, haven’t been doing any. Livestreams are a tricky thing for us to wrap our head around. Personally speaking, playing live is my favorite part of being in a band. The energy exchange with an audience, the volume, the immediacy, and the possibility that anything could happen (for better or worse) all add to what makes playing live such a special component to being in a band. I just can’t see livestreams as scratching that same itch that playing a live show does, and I’m hesitant to potentially diminish my favorite thing about being in a band. I don’t know if that makes any sense? We’ve talked a little about making videos…whether it be a proper music video or a live video of the band playing a song or two. I don’t know. I might have to start rethinking my stance on live streams, because who knows when things will ever return to what they were. So…maybe? Stay tuned.

Madness To Creation:  How have you been coping with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Danny Dunlap: Trying to stay positive, productive, and…patient. We’re following all of the safety precautions and trying to do our part in getting this pandemic to bugger off.  I’m still not accepting any of this as “the new normal,” and have grown to hate that phrase almost as much as I hate the word, “influencer.” The only thing worse than the word “influencer” is its definition. 

Madness To Creation:  Big plans for the holiday season and 2021?

Danny Dunlap: Although it was a bit of a bust this year, Halloween is the only holiday that matters.

As far as 2021 goes, we’re hoping to release some more music. We have two projects that we’re actively working on. A few years ago, we released two separate EPs called, A History So Repeating and Fatal Music, respectively. They came out about 2 years apart from one another. A History So Repeating was released on CD, and Fatal Music was only ever released digitally. We’re all big vinyl lovers, and have always wanted these two EPs to exist on vinyl. Our plan is to release both EPs on to a single LP…one EP on each side of a colored vinyl 12”. We think the songs are all really good, stylistically cohesive, and would make for a great full-length album equivalent. We’ll be calling it A History of Fatalism and are loosely shopping it around to labels for a proper vinyl release. The songs are already recorded, the artwork is sorted out, so we’re pretty much ready to pull the trigger on getting that record released the way it was always intended to be. 

We’re also in the process of writing a brand new record that we’re hoping to release in 2021! We’ve got about half of the new record written, and are really pumped with how the songs are shaping up. Do the Resurrection! has been getting a VERY positive response, so we’re really excited for people to hear all of these new songs we’ve got cooking. 

Aside from that, we’re just crossing our fingers that the world rights itself sooner than later. Remember when the world shutting down was only supposed to be for two weeks? We’re now 8 months in, and with no end in sight. Obviously, we’d love to be able to play shows and tour, but until that is a realistic possibility we’re just going to try to continue to stay safe and healthy.

Madness To Creation:  We cover mental health awareness at Madness To Creation, what gets you through when times get difficult?

Danny Dunlap:  If you aren’t suffering from some serious political discourse fatigue, then you haven’t been paying attention. Throw in a society at each other’s throats, coupled with a global pandemic and yeah…difficult times, for sure.

I’ve seen therapists off and on throughout my life, starting around the age of 11 or 12 years old. That feeling of deep sadness, with no understanding of why, has always reoccurred throughout my life. To this day, my default setting tends to be to predict rain, and it doesn’t take very much for my thoughts to turn a bit dark. I think i’ve been that way for most of my life, and I have to make a conscious effort at being optimistic. 

This will likely seem like a very predictable answer, but music gets me through those difficult times. It doesn’t matter if i’m creating it, playing it, listening to it, or just talking about music, it always brings joy into my life. 

The less predictable answer would be watching stand-up comedy and exercising. I love to go trail running and do so several days week. Also, who doesn’t like laughing?

Most Gentlemen Rogues songs deal with romantic relationships and mental health, but I  always try to insert a dose of humor into a song. I look to David Gedge from The Wedding Present/Cinerama and Morrissey for that kind of lyrical inspiration. How can I make this song kinda sad AND funny? You can’t take yourself too seriously.

Madness To Creation:  What else would you like to add in regards to Gentlemen Rogues?

Danny Dunlap:  Hmm? Not sure. We all really like cats? Do the Resurrection! is out Friday, December 4th, which by no coincidence lands on the next scheduled Bandcamp Friday. Ha! The physical 7” is on “milky clear” and standard black vinyl in a half-in-half configuration. It comes in a 60’s style retro gold sleeve, and looks so cool.

And there you have it!  Check out their 2018 EP release entitled “Fatal Music” via Spotify below:

Author: madnesstocreation

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