Definitely NOT rockabilly!

Dan Sartain tells Ross McGibbon why UK kids need an asswhuppin!

Itís a surprise to see Dan in his army surplus jacket with tousled hair and Southern stoner drawl. All the PR shots are a Brylcreemed quaffed greaser pushing a rockabilly tip. We find some space backstage amongst the too and fro-ing of a gig in preparation.

Heís a quiet-spoken, tight lipped fella, full of thoughts that occur, sometimes at a confusing tangent. Heís at a happy place in his life and it shows in his demeanour.

Howís your tour going?

Good good. Itís the fourth one and weíre finding our niche. The first one we turned up, plugged in and turned up too loud for our own good Ė we were excited to be there. It was personally pleasing but not as good as we can be.

Plate Six didnít play on the album did they?

No, but theyíre local guys and weíve played a lot together before. Their band was about to break up. I used to go and see them when I was fourteen. My Dad used to drop me off a block away so I could walk in the punk club on my own!

When I heard their album it sounded very different.

We get along really well in Birmingham. Thereís a lot of music and no two bands sound alike.

So no-one sounds like Lynard Skynard?

Oh no, I canít think of one band that sounds like that Ďcept cover bands. Thereís too little of us for the Goth kids to discriminate against the rock and roll kids and whateverÖ..

Five bands on the bill tonight!

I dunno, the drummer has to do three jobs for three bands!

He must be knackered!

Is this your first time over here?

Oh no! I spend more time over here than at home. I spent six months here last year. I spend a lot of time in London, man. Thatís where that record label is (One Little Indian). They donít take no for an answerÖ..

Is it different playing here?

Not while weíre playing. But after the shows! The street life, all the Chavs and what-not on the streets. They donít mind their own business, man. Thatís the thing over here; chances are the other guy doesnít have a gun. You donít go up to someone and chat shit at home, he might have a mof*cking gun! Itís been the same in Oxford and Liverpool, thereís guys talking shit to you and God bless you if youíve got a pretty girl with you Ė God knows what theyíre going to say to you. Little kids seem a little more rowdy too.
But then they donít grow up to be violent criminals like back home so maybe you should just let them be smart asses when theyíre 11 and 12. Get it out of their system and grow up to be respectable adults.

Do you prefer playing live?

No, I love making records, you get to spend so little time in the studio thatís itís a real privilege. I think I shine more there. I think Bowie was the same.

Who else are you a fan of?

I went through a big Jonathan Richman phase. Iím really jealous of him, heís too goddamn happy; what have you got to be so happy about?!

We talk about J R bootlegs Ė one being a tape he diod to impress a girl that got into circulation.

I hear itís pretty hard for Chris Isaak to get girls. Probably because heís prettier than most of the girls!
I like Ween.

I donít get them, it seems like two guys arsing around.

Youíve just got to be stoned to understand the sillinessÖ.

How about your style?

People get stuck in a niche. I was fortunate to have a lot of friends with different tastes.

We talk about the career route where some bands come over to Ďcrack Englandí before they head home with the laurels of success.

Over there I really worked Ė I get twenty people here, a hundred at a gig there. Iíve earned it. But over here I feel like Iíve been handed it.

Youíre on your second album. Something must have gone right.

I think they just believed in it. Iíve found out that critical success is not the same as financial successÖ.. especially with everyone stealing music these days. I can understand it and I feel like after an artist has earned X amount of money his music should be free or cheap or something like that.

CDs f*cking blow. They scratch too godammn easy. Iíve got LPs Iíve had for years but CDs scratch if you rub them on the sleeve of your jacket.

I wanted to know about your ambitions.

This year is the first time Iíve put a roof over my head that Iím responsible for. I wasnít born with a silver spoon in my life but my parents have been real good at helping me see this thing through Ė being there as a safety net. They never gave me thousands of dollars but over the years of nickel and dimingÖÖ I just want to keep things how they are. I got married this year, Iíve got two cats, Iíve got somewhere to put all my stuff and itís in my home town and I get to travel. I think the record company would like more success for me Ďcos I donít think I make enough money for them but I want to keep it how it is Ė playing consistently to two hundred people.
More than a thousand people Iím always going to be too scared to play. Iíve been opening for people and theyíre not my crowd. That shit band The Kooks, you know them? That Gogol Bordelloís crowd was great. We could tell The Kooksí fans werenít really people who listen to music, you know what I mean?

What impression do you want to create?

I dunno. You get people thinking weíre a rockabilly band and theyíre going to be disappointed.

We talk about corporations and Ďselling outí for ads.

You may hate the corporations and cutting down the rainforest and sweatshops but they still have to hire people for the ads. Iíll sell out as soon as I can. Give me some money man. I can still do my art and know what it means. It just matters how it looks to you.

We talk about the history of his label One Little Indian and itís roots in Flux Of Pink Indians and the bands around Crass.

The guy who runs that heís completely honest and that doesnít always benefit you personally. Itís like a job Ė I have arguments with them all the time and itís just because things are happening and then twenty minutes later weíll be on the phone making up. They have clout and they have money. The guys in the States donít have the ney to throw around. I mean I love Swami. The label in the States is all cool points but over here itís more clout and more money for sure. Iím completely content with it.

You donít want to be a rich mega star?

Iíll take the rich but I want to keep doing club dates! They more you sell the more youíve got to spend on the production.

I mention how little the tickets cost tonight and how little money it must make the band.

At least they come out to hear rock music over here.

We get to talking about MTV and rock programming on the radio. Danís telling me about how, regardless of the quality the DJ aims for, kids still call up asking for Fall Out Boy.

Oh, I saw them last summer and they were SO boring. I had to leave half way through. It was very stylish but boring.

Their spins are all choreographedÖ.. Itís not my world.

Thankís Dan, for your stand against a uniform world.

See our live review, linked off our home page.