Interview: Dan Croll Reveals How Girls, Alzheimer’s & ’90s Boy Bands Inspired His Debut
By Shannon Carlin
In the six months since Radio.com last spoke with Dan Croll –who was not only one of our 2013 New Music to Know artists, but was kind enough to play our acoustic showcase during last year’s CMJ– he’s released his full length debut, Sweet Disarray, and earned himself quite an enthusiastic fan base.
So enthusiastic in fact that they’ve taken to throwing gifts onstage, specifically articles of clothing. At a recent show in Manchester, England, Croll even found a very large pair of underwear with his name on it. “Yeah, it was weird,” Croll said. “But I think it’s a good sign. With the tour, every date was sold out. It’s great to be playing headline shows and filling them out and see that people are enjoying the show.”
The English singer, born and raised in Liverpool, says his first album is a mixtape of songs both old and new that show what he’s been up to the last five years. Each song touches on his own experiences whether its love –both lovey dovey and stalkerish– or coping with his grandma’s Alzheimer’s disease. Croll has a way of speaking one on one with his fans through his music, making it of little surprise that these people would feel comfortable enough to throw their (hopefully, clean) undergarments on stage. “I don’t have any fear of being too honest,” Croll said. “I just want to connect.”
While talking with Radio.com, Croll shared the stories behind five songs off his debut, which include one that was inspired by the boy bands of the ’90s and another by J-pop. We’ll let you decide, which one of those is more surprising.
“It was just not the right relationship to be in,” Croll explained of the song, which is about the time he dated a girl who liked to party a bit too much.
But when Croll thinks of this song, he doesn’t really think about the girl who got away, he thinks about the organ he gained after spotting it on the side of the road. “It was all about creating a strong foundation,” he said. “To keep it kinetic and not focus on the lyrics. It all started with the organ.”
“Sometimes you know an instrument too well,” Croll explained. “It becomes a part of you and then you start not really experimenting. Whereas if you don’t know that instrument, you have to get to know it. I felt like a kid again, banging around in my parents house.”
“I Wanna Know”
“I wanted it to be quite romantic and nice about those people who care about you so much and want to know where you are,” he said. “But I wanted to take it one step further and just talk about how at times it can be too much. It can become a little stalkeresque.”
“It’s not all lovey dovey,” Croll said of the song. “But it does get us talking about love in another way. A more upsetting way.”
“We’ve only been on the road on this UK tour for about six days and every show I have someone comes up to talk about that topic and it’s quite bizarre,” he said of the song which talks about what it’s been like for him and his family to deal with his grandma’s Alzheimer’s. “I thought it was something that wasn’t that common, but it really is. You feel very much alone in dealing with it.”
“It’s very close to me,” he said. “To be able to talk about it makes a world of difference.”
The track, which samples his friend Dustin Wong’s song “On/In the Way,” is a bouncy, key-tar-filled ode to J-pop and Croll wanted to keep things as fun for the song’s video, which has the singer doing a little karaoke at the beach, during sunset and in a kaleidoscope.
“It was a last minute video, so I said, ‘Let’s just go and get a green screen and make a karaoke video in a way,” he said. “We just went through the different styles that they have in Japan. And had a good time.”
“I’m a ’90s kid, so I think just subconsciously in me in a way,” Croll joked about the tracks boy band-feel. “I originally just went way over the top and had a bit of down time, messing about and playing with all these really tongue and cheek elements. Then I came back to it and realized, ‘Hey, this is actually pretty good.'”
Since recording the song, Croll has wanted to make a video where he and his band are seen on the tarmac by a private jet, wearing matching white outfits, not unlike the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” But while, he’s willing to negotiate about the song’s video, he wasn’t going to budge on the spelling of the track’s title.
“I battled hard to keep that,” Croll said. “I thought it had a bit of funny feedback, people like,’What the hell is he on about?’ To me, it’s not worth doing if it’s not fun and to me, that spelling summed up the track.”