|Dan Smith and Christin Nelson of Listener|
Article By Madison Foster
While I was preparing for my interview with Listener I found a humorous piece of fan art spoofing the Marmite ad stating, “Either you love it or you hate it.” I found the particular drawing interesting because just like the yeasty British spread I could see how some people might love Listener while others dislike the band. Although I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't like Listener, if I do I will probably lose some respect for that person. In the end, love them or hate them, their own brand of music (the best way to describe it would be talk music) with Dan Smith's raw and powerful words over the purest form of rock music, achieved with drums, bass and guitar, is so unique and creative. Some might think that spoken word in music is basically hip-hop or rap but there does seem to be a difference. “With hip hop, you do a verse for awhile then there's a break for the chorus. There's a lot of patterns that you stay in,” explained Smith. “Vocally, for what we're doing, it could just be where ever it needs to go. Word wise, sometimes it could rhyme, sometimes it could not. Sometimes there are patterns, sometimes not. It's just spoken out.” Not wanting to be “avant gard” the band members say they like to stay away from genres as it allows them more freedom then what's expected from hip hop, poetry or rock.
Both coming from different musical backgrounds in music, Smith and long- term band mate Christin Nelson got together to create music without boundaries. This was over 10 years ago. But with the addition of newest member Kristopher Rochelle (Or Kris 2) the band was able to create a much fuller sound with a traditional rock band line-up (with the occasional trumpet solo). “I’ve known Kris for too long and finally it just lined up where he was available,” said Nelson while explaining why you would add a new member after all this time.
I guess one could say that there are really four members in Listener. The forth being the binder of all of Smith lyrics that he’s collected over the years. “For the last tour I put together this binder because we had taken a few months off without touring and at that point we had been touring 10 months out of the year. I decided I didn’t want to worry or think about the lyrics and get them out of my head since we had played them every night,” said Smith. “They’re all still in there but I needed a way to look at them in the van or on stage. It’s mainly just a way to have notes about some of the songs.” When listening to the lyrics of Dan Smith you can hear all the passion and influence oozing out the words he’s speaking. Words that actually are inspired by everyday life. “Day dreaming while I drive, thoughts about life, thoughts about living, living with friends and family. Strangers and people I don’t know. About different truths and non-truths. Sometimes there are thought in our twisted brains that can get turned into songs.” You can find a some examples for Dan Smith’s lyrics on the band’s website but other than that expect no more than the packaged deal.
“This is will only be published with music.”
Currently on another long journey that ends this month, Listener have toured North America and a European tour is just around the corner. These are a few boys that are no strangers to the road. “You just go day by day,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of great lessons we’ve learned on tour. Just to accept people for who they are and to go through life and accept what happens.”
Want to see what “talk music” is all about? Check out Listener’s bandcamp.