Satellite Ranch Artist Spotlight: An Interview with Dan LyonsZachary Franck
Zachary Franck interviewing Dan Lyons
Satellite Ranch is more than happy to have Dan Lyons back to play with not one, not two, but three different acts! This man has been an integral musician in our scene since 2010. Between his touring years with Solaris and his success with Horizon Wireless, he’s been a driving force in livetronica acts for as long as I’ve known him. On top of that, we get to see him throw down ridiculously explosive trance-fusion with Microcave for the festival hat trick. Dan Lyons is one of Satellite Ranch’s standout artists, and by the end of the weekend our patrons are going to see why.
ZF: Dan! Firstly, I’d like to say how excited we are to have you back at Satellite Ranch this year. Thank you so much for contributing your musicianship for not one set, not two, but three! You’re a real all-star for that. Just curious, have you ever played three sets with three different acts at a festival before? How do you feel about this daunting task?
DL: Firstly, thanks so much for deciding to pick my brain, Zach. You honor me with your curiosity. I’ve never played 3 sets at one festival, and I’m hard pressed to remember if I’ve ever even played 3 seperate sets in 24 hours before. I have however done some dual SOLARiS/Horizon nights, and on such occasions, I remember there being alot of blisters and spilled whiskey gingers by my feet.
Thing is, I’m 30 now, which is tantamount to being physically disabled, so yeah—I’m mildly worried about 3 sets at Satelleite. These days, as a counter-measure, I literally douse my fingers in Liquid Bandage solution before shows. It turns my fingers into pieces of plastic and makes me semi impervious to the woes of friction. So, I’ll probably bring a bottle of that, and a backup bottle as well, because sometimes as I sloppily use the first, the plastic cap of the bottle becomes bonded to the glass. One time I even had to bite it off during a hasty set-break in a criminally dimly lit dressing room…resulting in a chipped molar.
ZF: Give us some history. How long have you been playing drums and when did you join each project?
DL: I began drumming at seven years old. I joined middle school concert band soon after, but got kicked out within a few weeks. Our band leader, a man who was rank with the smell of cigarettes as if he had risen from an ash tray, was chronically late to class. In the peaceful interim precluding his arrival, I’d sit down on the drum kit and lash out in front of my classmates. They loved it, and it was my first taste of the power that can come from an audience. It was the Jazz Band’s kit though, and after catching me play it like seven times in a row, my teacher threw a bass drum mallet at me and sent me to the principal’s office. My Principle, Richard or “Dick” House, was a fairly unforgiving and aptly named man who kicked me out of the class entirely.
Since that moment, I’ve been tumblewheeling through life, chasing that elusive and envigorating dragon’s high of audience response. I always say yes, I always want to be on stage, and I feel like it’s never enough.
I joined SOLARiS to show the world the kind of music I wanted to play, I joined Horizon Wireless to celebrate life and ride the galactic monorail, and I am now with Microcave to do a mix of the both.
ZF: What makes each project different and equally special to you?
DL: SOLARiS, god bless our little hearts, we were the little engine that could. We basically learned a million covers, wrote a million compositions, made like 7 studio albums, and really gave it the college try. Some day, thousands of years from now, like in that scene from Spielberg’s “A.I” when the Sixth Sense kid wakes up in the ice so far in the future that human beings look like robot aliens that fly around in a cube, someone will unearth SOLARiS’ catalogue and realize we were the greatest mid-tier upstate NY electronica act that almost was. Horizon Wireless is a love letter to everything I love about electronic music. Recently, someone referred to Harrison and I as “galactic twins”, and that really spells out the true power of our relationship, on and off stage. With Microcave, I’m joining a band with musicians who are just insanely good. I loved these guys as “Tractorbear: A Tribute to The Disco Biscuits”, and I am a kid in a candy store when I get to jam alongside these guys. And no offense to the first two acts, but the guys in Microcave are also the most handsome band I’ve played with. In SOLARiS and Horizon Wireless, I felt like a stud, but in Microcave I’m like Seth Rogen—just attractive enough to be physically seen in a movie, but if he was even 2% uglier, he’d be out of a job.
ZF: This will be your second year at Satellite Ranch, did you enjoy yourself last year and what are you most excited about this year?
DL: Last year, the Ranch was the sleeper festy of the year for me. I had so much fun with Horizon on the latenight stage, in fact, it was one of our favorite sets ever. I’m siked to check out so many friends and foes’ acts at Satelleite Ranch this year. I will be filled with jealousy, friendship, and my typically competitive and judgemental spirit. Can’t wait to see what Teddy, Nasser, and the whole Ranch squad have cooked up this year.
ZF: All the years that I’ve attended festivals, Mike Greenfield (of Lotus) was always the drummer that lend his skills to multiple sets. Is he somebody that you’ve looked up to in the past? If so, how does he inspire you?
DL: I’ve actually taken a few lessons with Mike. Truth be told, he played drums alongside Sammy for the first Biscuits show I saw in 2004. The man is a hero of electronic drumming, and it actually took me many long years to rectify the fact that he didn’t replace Sammy as the drummer for the Biscuits. He has inspired me to no end, and one of the fills he taught me during a lesson will always stick with me, his face flashing in my mind for a brief glimpse every time I play it.
ZF: Horizon Wireless has been getting the recognition that you guys deserve. You guys are getting better year after year. How does it feel to see your hard work and dedication pay off?
DL: I honestly can get choked up talking about this. Horizon Wireless is the perfect confluence of events in both Harrison and I’s lives. Everything we do, all the shows we play and coincidences we experience, seem almost destined and out of our control. I don’t know how we do what we do, but it’s basically effortless and makes us both feel incredible. We’ve gotten to open for the Crystal Method, the Disco Biscuits, The New Deal, Escort, and have played Camp Bisco twice now. If I could go back in time and tell myself at 18 years old-a rabid Biscuits fan and a deeply unrefined drummer-that this is the way it would go, I would probably pass out because time travel turned out to be real and that would be very shocking to me, as well as meeting myself which may actually collapse the universe or make me dissapear in photos or something.
ZF: Microcave is the newest project that you’ve joined forces with. I’ve seen some footage from one of your shows. You guys are meant to play together and I have a feeling your set at Satellite Ranch will stand out as one of the best that the festival has seen thus far. When did you join forces with ¾ of Tractorbear and how is your chemistry with them?
DL: With Microcave, our potential is like an untapped goldmine. I can’t wait for people to witness the sonic gymnastics that we can perform as a unit. We are really only getting started.
ZF: As a drummer and music lover, who and what are your biggest inspirations?
DL: Right now, my current musical influences are the drummers from ‘The 1975’ and Paramore. Both of them are absolute powerhouse players who keep it simple, but addictively clean. George Daniel from ‘The 1975’ is my absolute idol. I’ve learned so much from his hi-hat work, and his fills are awe-inspiring and the best pop-electronic hybrid drummer since Steven Morris of “New Order”.
I’m self-taught, so I grew up drumming along to a CD player. Started with Weezer’s “Blue”, then I learned the whole first album from ‘The Strokes’. To this day, my musical inclinations lean towards indie, electronic, and a newfound passion for garbage rap.
ZF: If you had to convince somebody that was on the fence about Satellite Ranch to come, what would you say?
DL: Please, come. Witness my triple threat, or come heckle me if I can’t hold a drumstick by my third set. Also, ‘Silver Fameus’. I mean, c’mon.