TEN QUESTIONS WITH DAN TRACEY OF ALAN PARSONS
Rob – Thanks Dan for taking some time to do this interview with us here at Masters Radio. Before I start, I have to tell you that your interpretation of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree was a big hit this year with our Masters Radio family. Do you have any additional videos planned in the future? 🙂
Dan – Ha ha. Well, not really. But comedy can strike at any time, so…
Rob – You have been a fixture in Nashville for a number of years. You also have recorded with everyone but the Pope. Is there a process that you follow in working with the many artists you have worked with?
Dan – It’s more about the SONG, than the artist, for me. Of course, every artist has their own unique thing they do, and I try to be respectful of that in a way that continues to lift that up. But I have always believed that the SONG is king. Anything I do is always in support of the song as a whole.
Rob – In a world where people don’t have to be musicians or even sing on hit songs, do you think audiences are clamoring for artists to actually play and sing live?
Dan – After seeing social media posts about the recent Super Bowl halftime show, I would say most people don’t really care. And in their defense, art is something that either moves you, or it doesn’t. Personally, I came from the age of incredible singer songwriters. David Gates, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Eric Carmen, Etc. I prefer that over fluff, but to each their own.
Rob – How have your audiences changed over the years?
Dan – I imagine you’re talking about my current touring with Alan Parsons LIVE Project. I would say we’re seeing more and more of the younger generation discovering Alan and Eric’s wonderful music. I think it connects with them on a cerebral level. That’s why I have always classified APP’s catalogue as “timeless”. Lyrically, it’s just as relevant today as ever. Musically, those songs are darn near perfection in arrangement and performance. Now add in Alan’s gifts of making them sonic landscapes.
Rob – We have been listening to “The Secret” for a couple of months now. Are you all able to play any new songs on this tour?
Dan – Yes, of course. We’ve been playing them since early last year even before the record dropped. We currently do, “One Note Symphony”, “Miracle” and the song I wrote with Alan – “As Lights Fall”.
Rob – I understand that picking a favorite song you have written is like picking your favorite child. However, is there a song that you would call your signature piece?
Dan – I do have one. It’s not been released yet. I’m searching for the perfect artist for it right now. The song was written over a period of three years. I had most of it in 20 minutes, but I needed a bridge. Every visit to the well of creativity wasn’t worthy of the preceding lyrics, so I would shelve it and come back to it periodically.
One night, I woke up at 4am, sat up abruptly, and jumped out of bed. My wife yelled “What’s wrong!” I said, “I’ve got it. I heard it!” and ran down the hall to my studio. I quickly hit record, and out came my Bridge.
I believe it’s the best thing I’ve written to date, as far as how it’s crafted. But that doesn’t mean it’s a hit. People are fickle. Three words – Achy Breaky Heart. ?
Rob – Of all of the live performances you have had in your career, is there one show in particular that stands out?
Dan – Our first show with our current guitarist, Jeff Kollman. It truly changed the entire dynamic of the band in ways we weren’t expecting. First off, the guy is a stone-cold legit guitar virtuoso. AND he commands the stage ala a true guitar hero. But from a band perspective, we were able to start dialing in the nuances of these wonderful songs in ways that would elevate them even higher. I noticed much more focused “listening” of each other, the parts, how we respond to each other. It was apparent that it was a chemical thing that was happening. I remember walking into Alan’s dressing room after that first show in Germany saying, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that?!?! Don’t let this guy go!” He’s since become a very close friend who I look up to both musically and as a human being. He continues to lift up the craft of guitar playing rather than showboat or self-promote. But when you have guys like Steve Lukather and Mike Landau singing your praises in interviews, you’re doing something special. We’re blessed to have him in our circle. But that again is part of Alan’s genius. Building the right team to support the songs, right?
Rob – I would be remiss if I didn’t do a blatant plug for Masters Radio where we play new music from artists first popular twenty years ago or more. Where do you see the music business headed in the next ten years?
Dan – I believe we’ll see the continued resurgence of vinyl. And probably a better-quality digital format – much like the one Neil Young was pushing a few years back.
As far as artists go, I’m clueless man. I don’t think we’ll ever see a period again like the era of the singer songwriters. Well… I say that, but then again, we have Lady Gaga. Who I believe is the real deal. Meat suits aside. She’s both a great singer, and wonderful songwriter. So, who knows?
Rob – If we had the ability to put together a “Super Concert” including your band, who would you enjoy seeing and hearing on the bill?
Dan – The Raspberry’s with Wally Bryson on guitar, and Eric Carmen on vocals. We actually play a few of those tunes during soundcheck sometimes. Tom Brooks (our MD) and I both have an affinity for 70’s pop hits. We’ve done “Baker Street”, by Gerry Rafferty, “Imaginary Lover” by Atlanta Rhythm Section, and Tom often gives a nod (and a wink to me) to Eric Carmen in his keyboard solo with the Rachmaninov sounding middle section of “All By Myself”.
We’re very blessed in that we’ve been able to tour with a slew of wonderful artists from that era and hear them live again. The Canadian band “Lighthouse” comes to mind. Saw them on the Moody Blues Cruise. The singer, Dan Clancey absolutely blew my mind. He still has it in spades. Made the hair on my arms stand up. We’ve since become friends.
Rob – Finally, in keeping with our Masters Radio definition of a Master, who do you believe never got the recognition they deserved in the music industry.
Dan – I’m sure there are several, if I really thought about it, but a few come to mind immediately.
Now, when I say this person’s name, it’s not because he’s been associated with the Alan Parsons Project. It’s because he’s supremely gifted in ways that haven’t been recognized enough IMHO. Ian Bairnson is an absolute treasure as a musician. His parts, and melodic lead playing always serve the song. He was also really inventive. Dude was playing amazing three-part harmony solos LONG before Brian May. (Oh, It’s Magic – Pilot). Just a brilliant, brilliant player/arranger.
I’ve heard he’s had some hurdles with health like we all do from time to time. I’d like to send him our love and prayers from our entire APLP camp. Alan always speaks so highly of Ian, and we hold him in the highest regard, as well.
Rob – Thanks Dan for doing this interview. We look forward to seeing the band this year somewhere on your tour!
Dan – My pleasure, Rob. While your fans are enjoying The Secret, I’d love to invite them to check out my current project, Save The World®️. Start here… www.savetheworldband.com
You’ll hear a cameo from Alan, as well as a few songs written for Alan, that ended up on our record.
Thanks for all the support folks! We love ya’all!