Listener is a really good emoindieband and here have Dan been so nice and answered a lot of questions. He thought it was too many so he didn´t answer all of them…..January 2018


Please tell me a little bit history of the group?  

 -Listener was a solo project that I started officially in 2002 with a tour in the US and a solo album the next year called Whispermoon. I had used the name since the early 90s as a solo hiphop project. I out out a couple albums and EPs under the name Listener as an indie hiphop thing….and it sort of morphed in to a band in 2006 and has been that way since then…at first friends filling in on guitar and drums and bass, and then a more secure lineup from about 2007/2008 on until now. We have put out 4 official albums as a band. “Return to Struggleville” 2008, "Wooden Heart", 2010, "Time is a Machine” 2013, “Being Empty : Being Filled” 2018.


Please tell me a little about every member in the group right now, age, family, work, interests and something bad about everyone? Earlier bands?  Other bands on the side?

-I won’t speak for all the guys, but I’m in my late thirties and I have a mom and sister…they were just in town for the weekend. I like to build art and functional things, and work with wood when I’m home…mostly work on house projects. I have done Listener as a touring project for 16 years now, and before that it was Listener as a recording hiphop project. I do solo tours under my name “Dan Smith”, and I play bass guitar in the band Red Sweater Lullaby.


I can hear much different influences but mostly emo and indie and a little bit of soft hardcore etc? Favorites from the past?  

-Some of my fav bands are The Cure, Neutral Milk Hotel, Queen, Radiohead….those are big bands, but I love a ton of independent hard working bands…I like to support when an artist is putting out a record and then traveling on it and breathing life in to it by playing out every night. I think it’s important. I haven't listened to much heavy music, but I’ve been around it a good bit, and I’m starting to understand it more and find my way in to liking some of it.


Listener are you satisfied with the name? How did it came up?  You weren’t afraid that some other band would be named like this?, Which is the best bandname you know?

-I’m fine with it. In hindsight we should have changed it when we started touring and recording as a band, but it stuck and it’s what we’ve been all this time. There’s a hiphop artist in the UK that put out a single under Listener, and they are changing that…also a Norwegian band…maybe Danish, but they were really courteous when we contacted to let them know we existed. Other than that we haven’t really had much competition. Listener, the name, started as my rap name.


What´s the best thing with playing live?

-I like the feeling of leaving everything on the stage and playing with my friends and creating a special thing on stage with a room full of people.


And where is best to play? And the worst place?

-There’s not really a best and worst. We have played for thousands of people and tens of people on amazing stages and terrible sound systems….and they’ve all had their things that have been superb and terrible, depending on the night and the audience and how we were feeling together and separately. Expectation gets in the way, so I try and stay away from that and just let it be what it will be.


How is to play this sort of music in USA right now? Which types of bands do you have concerts together with?

-Last year we played shows with ’68, and the Homeless Gospel Choir, Levi the Poet, Comrades, and Everett….and a ton more locally each night. In Europe we played shows with ’68, a few with The Dillinger Escape Plan in Russia, and a fest with Converge and Explosions in the Sky and our friends in Birds in Row…..and also a lot more as support in various cities. It’s usually always a surprise….there have been some good surprises for sure, and sometimes not so much…but there are highlights for sure.


How would you describe your music in three words? In the letter which came with the record it stood Talkmusic…..Explain?

-Poetry, Rock, Heart.        I think Talk Music came out of the touring before and around the album “Return to Struggleville” our promoters and reviewers were asking for a genre and that seemed to work and it stuck.


What does punk mean to you, is it only a word or is it a lifestyle?

-I don’t know about punk in that way.


How do you see on downloading, mp3 and that stuff?

-I think the age of digital music has been awesome for bands large and small….but especially for the small band. Sites like BandCamp for instance really give the power to small bands to publish their music and have power over how its distributed, and allows the band to be paid for fans buying their music. There’s even been a lot of good digitial distribution sites popping up to let bands publish their music on the bigger site like iTunes and such. I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask about services like Spotify or Apple Music however…I think it’s not good for music, the same way that the MoviePass thing in the US is bad for Theater. A band puts out a record and puts it on Spotify, and it gets played the same amount of times it would on Bandcamp (for instance), and they get pennies for the plays, and Spotify gets the ad revenue, fan data metrics, and a monthly subscription to pay their employees and stock holders (not the band, and certainly not fair pay to the bands). The fan gets unlimited access to the music on their service for $10 a month, which is awesome…that part is sweet….but their monthly subscription money is going to the company Spotify and not the bands they listen to who worked hard to make the music


How is it to live in USA right now? Politically?   Fascists?

-Politically it’s a nightmare to live in the US….it’s rare (thankfully) but when I meet a person who supports Trump I just can’t seem to find a way to understand where they are coming from on a lot of things. Like, it doesn’t add up. There is a real polarizing divide when it comes to him being president. I didn’t vote for him, and neither did an actual majority of the US….but there is an old system in place that takes our votes in to mind, but actually votes for us. Which is fraud, and that’s not fair….for instance like old laws that govern our rights to own guns….it’s based on a law that was written at the end of 1791 (227 years ago) when gun technology only accounted for guns shooting 1 bullet at a time, and there were about 4 million people living in the country (instead of now at almost 325 million), and there really weren’t any grocery stores to speak of, maybe in a big city….and so people used guns to hunt for food. Versus now, times have changed, but Trump supporters don’t see a need to update laws like this to reflect where we are as a country. It’s kind of hard to wrap my mind around, but this is the country I live in, and I try and share my viewpoints when it’s appropriate.


What do you know about Sweden?  

-I’ve been to Sweden a few times. I don’t know too much about it, so I won’t bore you with those things….but the cities I’ve been to have been Malmö, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Linköping, Jönköping, and Örebro….all have been for shows or festivals…but I’ve always found the people to be warm and comforting and respectful. where I am in the US there used to be a lot of Swedish immigrants and so the people in Sweden sometimes remind me of some qualities about my grandparents or friends or the way people in the Midwest US are.


Have you heard any good bands from Sweden?

-Not too many unfortunately…we played a few shows with Blindside here and in Sweden, and I’ve listened to Extol :).


Your lyrics, who does them and what influences you?  Is it easier to do lyrics now or was its easier to do it when you was younger?  

-I write the lyrics for Listener, and it’s just as easy or easier than when I was younger, but I write a lot less finished song work…and more thoughts and lines.


Politic and music, does it goes hand in hand?  Which is your most political song?

-We have a song on the new record…the first half of the song Plague Doctor is pretty political, but that’s not something I’m too interested in writing songs about.


Do you think that music(lyrics and so on) can change anyones life, I mean people who listens to music?

-I think so. Music has changed my life, and it just depends on how much you take in your mind and heart and apply it to your life.


Your cover on your CD looks really nice, is it important to have a record cover which shows people which type of music you play? Your favorite recordcover?  Who does your covers?  And do you have any good recordstores in your hometown?

-For the new record we got our friend Jesse Reno to paint for it. He’s amazing, and there are a few good shops in Kansas City. Records with Merritt is so good, and so is Mills Records. Both really close to my house.


Is it important to get out physical records of your stuff? Why or why not? Vinyl, CD, cassette, what do you prefer if you could choose whatever ? You did something with singles before you released this full album or how was it?

-I think it’s important, less people collect the physical record and that’s totally fine, but I still believe in music ownership…owning a copy instead of paying a service to let you have access to your music.


Is it boring with interviews? Is it much interviews??

-I quite like interviews, but I’d much rather do them in person.


If you could choose five bands from the past and the history and nowadays and both dead and living bands to have a concert together with your band. Which five have you been chosen?

-Probably The Cure, Queen, Tom Petty, Outkast, and Radiohead.


Is music a good way to get out frustration and become a nicer person outside the music??

-It can be…doing something that’s outside of yourself and creating is a great way to be.


Which is the most odd question you ever have got in an interview?

-Once we got asked to do an interview in a bath tub in England….I think it was for a youtube channel, but we turned it down.


Futureplans for the band?

-We are putting out a brand new record on February 2nd, and then touring.