The City Sound, made up of Dean Danger, Kris Ross, Chris Reyes, and Chris Ellis is ambitiously planning on releasing three albums this year, the first of which will drop on May 19. The City Sound was formerly known as The Artillery for twelve years, but due to the departure of a member and the entrance of member Kris Ross last year, The Artillery decided to re-brand themselves in order to represent their current sound.
The band describes their upcoming album, called Volume One, as, “This album is all about the trial by fire nature of the music industry. The lyrics contain everything from hopes and dreams of where we want to be to what writing a song is like to me, and the struggle we have seen as a band throughout our years.” With a lot of experience under their belts, along with new line-up and a new name, The City Sound plans to make a splash into the music scene this year.
I got the chance to interview The City Sound’s vocalist Dean Danger about the band, highlights of his musical career and songwriting.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in music? Was there a specific incident that really impacted you?
Dean: Back in high school, bands would rent out this duck pond pavilion and play free shows. The first show we ever played there, was absolutely packed. I say “packed,” meaning 300 plus fellow high school students. That was the moment I decided that it’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I guess you could say that seeing the audience gave me a high, and now I’m addicted. I think I always knew that there wasn’t much money in pursuing a career as a musician, but that has never deterred me from trying to make it.
What does your family think of your decision to pursue a career in the music industry? Were they supportive?
Dean: My family has been behind me every step of the way. They all believe that someday I will make enough money to buy them all new cars, well, at least my mother does. Whether that is true or not, they all have been incredibly supportive. I might say I was spoiled as a child with instruments, but only due to my parents’ belief that I could really do something with music in my life. My parents still to this day try to make it out to every local performance.
When did you start learning how to play an instrument?
Dean: I learned how to play my first instrument around age eight when I started playing the drums. I actually wasn’t too bad. If it wasn’t for me not being able to find a band to play with, I would probably still be a drummer today. Toward the end of middle school, I began to pick up the guitar. I never really took guitar lessons, I just played along to Lenny Kravitz’s greatest hits album over and over again. During that time I was in a short-lived punk band called The Autumn System, but we broke up when middle school was over. Then in high school, in search of a band, Chris Ellis asked me if I could sing. I said yes, even though I knew I couldn’t. I was determined to be in a band enough that I would learn. 13 years later I’m still with that band, and I still have no idea why they didn’t kick me out at our first practice.
How did all of you meet and decide to form a band together?
Dean: 13 years ago, I started high school and literally knew no one at my school. Chris Ellis and Chris Reyes asked me to sing in their band, Next Friday (no relation to the movie, although it would make a better story). After a few years, we decided to change the name to The Artillery. Three albums and 10 years later an original member, Jonathan Macias, left to pursue his dreams of traveling, we then gained Kris Ross, and changed our name to The City Sound. If you kept count there are now three Chrises, (one spelled Kris), in the band
What was your happiest/worst moment in your career thus far?
Dean: We were playing a show in Austin with Jonny Craig in October 2013. My grandmother had passed away the day before my performance, and I chose to stay for the performance and fly out for her funeral immediately after. It was a very tough decision to make, but I believe that it was a decision she would’ve approved of. We were playing our song, “Just Like Everyone,” for the first time ever, and in the last few lines of the song, I got this overwhelming feeling of peace and it truly felt like my grandmother was watching over me proudly.
Those lyrics impacted me even more than when I wrote them: “After all this effort you would think we’d catch a break. Eleven years and all the names on the walls have changed. I can only speak for us when I say to you that holding out was the only option that we knew. My father told me don’t you ever give up, son, because if you do you’ll be just like everyone.”
What is your favorite part of a concert? Do you have a particular show that you really enjoyed for a specific reason?
Dean: My absolute favorite moment during a show is the instant you finish your first song. That’s the moment where the crowd lets you know that it’s real. You play the last note into a brief silence that’s interrupted by the loudest cheer the audience can manage, and you know the night is going to go well. Every show is like a dream to me. When I wake up the morning of a show, I wake up anticipating how the night will play out. It’s on my mind all day as it nears, and once it begins, it’s gone in a flash. Because of that, every performance means so much to me.
What are some of your favorite activities/hobbies aside from music?
Dean: It might make me less interesting, but music honestly consumes everything I do. If I’m not performing, I’m writing. If I’m not writing, I’m recording. If I’m not recording, I’m sleeping. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Does the band have a main songwriter?
Dean: We all bring a lot to the table when it comes to shaping and molding new songs, but I am the weird one that gets melodies and music stuck in my head, which I present to the guys. From there we jam and write together. Jamming for us usually ends in a funk or blues song, but we can be productive from time to time. Lyrics are the tough part for me, only because I don’t consider myself a lyricist, which makes me second guess everything I write. The one thing that helps me write lyrics is feeling as if the lyrics are already written, I just have to find them, if that isn’t weird. What I mean is that I only feel comfortable with a lyric when I feel it is meant to be.
How does your music affect your lyrics and vice versa?
Dean: I always write lyrics last, because I want to hear my boundaries first, and then try to tie the emotion of the music into the lyrics. That is not to say I haven’t woken up with a melody on loop in my head, which I wrote a full song around. Either way, when a song is written everything must correlate or else you leave everyone confused.
Do you attend a lot of concerts by other bands? Which concert has been your favorite so far?
Dean: Oddly enough, I don’t attend as many concerts as I should. The ones I go to are for the bands I idolize: Manchester Orchestra, Thrice, Envy on the Coast. My favorite show so far would be Thrice’s Farewell Tour in 2013.
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