I’ve known Wellander Dan Romano since we were 17, skateboarding in the parking lot out back of L3 before rock shows down at the Red Square. We’ve ran into each other over the years, saying a quick ‘hello, how are ya?’ But I never really knew Dan. He was always a mystery. Growing up in the region, I’ve watched Dan grow up through his music, ripping it up in Dead Only Better and rollicking through his days in Attack in Black while changing both time and speed with his solo work and his most recent ‘band’ Ancient Shapes. I had the chance to formally talk with Dan about his past, present and future.
What was your starting point for getting into music? Was it with Dead Only Better, or were there projects before that?
Yeah, I was playing live music already before that in my family’s band. So I was playing with them around 13 or 14. I’d have to hang out in the back room in between sets because I was underage and couldn’t be in the bar.
Not only do you play solo shows as well as play with Ancient Shapes right now but you also have an art opening coming up at the Niagara Artists Centre – how do you maintain your focus, and switch between projects?
Initially, it’s more of a fast focus then an extreme focus. I try to do things quickly so that I don’t get tired with them. That way I can remain semi-removed from them and not be too attached to one certain thing. It lets me keep an outsider’s perspective on what’s happening.
I always heard rumours of a lost Attack In Black album from mutual friends – was that Fake Love Songs?
No there’s a completely different album that will probably never see the light of day. There’s been murmurs of it for years but I don’t know what state it’s in. That being said, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities that it would see the light of day.
With Ancient Shapes you just wanted to lay down the drums and kind of rock out the songs. Will this be something that’s will always be part of your art, maybe not so much a side project but just Dan Romano under a different name?
Yeah I think so. Well I don’t know? It always takes a new form. It’s definitely a very particular type of output. It takes a specific mood or collection of circumstances to make an Ancient Shapes record exist. That happens often, there’s a lot of unreleased material that already exists. For the foreseeable future that will continue to be my shadow.
With your output over the years, everything is in a state of flux and always changing and reinventing. There’s almost a different vibe to all of your albums. Do you see this as something you would like to see other artists doing?
I don’t really care what other people do. It’s important for me to not do the same thing over and over again. People can do that and be happy with themselves and I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with that. Evolution and progression and even the opposites of those things are important to experiment with. For me it’s scary if you have something successful and you think, okay, I have to make this over and over again because that’s what people want. I’m not really interested in the commercial nature or consumers nature (of music).
As someone from Niagara, what do you think about what’s happening here music-wise and do you have any ideas or visions of what might happen next?
I’m happy to see that it’s becoming more community-oriented, which is always beneficial to everyone. That was lost for a long time, which was strange because it was such a hard drop off. I think that that’s a good sign and I hope it continues on that trajectory. I wouldn’t feel comfortable predicting what’s going to happen.
Daniel Romano performs at the Niagara Artists Centre on August 11 – which will also act as his opening for Kicking Cadaver, his debut art show. Ancient Shapes performs at the Warehouse on August 23