Armed with some paper, his band, a nice view and a lifetime of memories, the celebrated bluesman is all set
TRenowned and prolific British blues artist Danny Bryant recently returned with his twelfth album, The Rage To Survive. The follow up to his critically acclaimed album from 2019, Means Of Escape, it is another collection of heartfelt songs which were written and produced by Bryant. Taking only four days to record, the album was recorded live in order to replicate the gig experience which has been taken away from so many touring musicians since the start of the pandemic.
Showcasing Bryant’s full range, the albums spans an array of styles. From the classic British blues sound of the 60s and 70s on Trouble With Love, through the more traditional Rain Stops Play to the rocking feel of Falling Tears, it’s a testament to his virtuosity as a guitarist but also his growing assurance as a songwriter. Enamoured with his latest effort, we asked Bryant to share with us some of his essential tools…
I haven’t really ever truly embraced modern technology, I hate using phones and I am pretty rubbish with my laptop. Therefore, every song I write goes straight down onto a piece of paper. From full songs to scraps of ideas they all get filed away, sometimes I won’t even look at them for a year or more. I have always believed that the best of songs come all at once and in a hurry, it is the writer’s job to catch them when they fly in like that. Other songs are harder work and require building from the ground up.
Tom waits once said, “Sometimes a song just comes out of nowhere. Other times you chase one song for a couple of days and then you wind up with nothing. Then you have to bring them back from where you found them, and sometimes they escape. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they get sick first and then die. Sometimes they kill you.” So I always keep some paper close by in case I get lucky!
I always write on the guitar. I don’t have much of a choice in the matter, to be honest, as it is the only instrument that I can play. Therefore, I always have a guitar close to hand and it is quite often when I am just noodling about watching TV that an idea will come up. It may be a riff, a chord structure or a melody. There is no real pattern to it. But for me, this is usually where the germ of an idea will begin to formulate. This happens much more regularly than if I sit down and deliberately try to write something, when the pressure is off and you are not trying. I always liked that idea that people say of learning is to get out of the way of the music. That makes a lot more sense to me as I get older and with the more albums that I make.
Who could ever write about anything if we didn’t have our past to call on? Memories after all are all that we have. And they inform every aspect of a writer’s work. Even if you are only writing about something that happened yesterday, an argument, a broken heart, a stranger you noticed on a train, it is all just a memory. For me, I find listening to other people’s music helps bring back the strongest and most vivid of memories; the music sends you back to a time, a situation and then you are off and running, you have something to write about. I imagine everyone is different, maybe it’s a place or a smell or just a photograph in a frame.
THE ROAD AND MY BAND
I find that travel gives you a lot of time to think. We tour a lot and therefore we are always moving onto someplace new. The road is a good place to write. If I come up with an idea, I like to run it through with my band and see if it is worth pursuing.
Ideally, I like to write with a nice view. I find looking out at the garden gives me a sense of peace and calm, as corny as that may sound. Sometimes going for a walk works well for me also, it clears away the cobwebs and gets the ideas flowing, so I still have that piece of paper in my pocket!