It’s been nearly a decade since Dan Mangan took to the road as a solo performer. This Canadian star, who fans will know for his pared-back catchy songs including The Indian Queens are Waiting, Sold and Robots, will make a stop in Revelstoke on Friday Nov. 27 at 8 p.m. at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre.
Club Meds is the fourth full album offering from Mangan, and the first under the moniker Dan Mangan + Blacksmith. Mangan’s latest tour will focus on this album but in a different style as he reinterprets the songs as needed for a solo performance. The Revelstoke Mountaineer discussed this with him below.
Q&A with Dan Mangan
Wow, that Vessel music video is different. It appears to be about the effects of modernization on Canada but can you explain a bit more about the idea behind it and the song?
It’s the brainchild of Ben Clarkson (who also did the album artwork for Club Meds). I love it. It’s as deep as you want it to be.
On an entertainment level, it’s eye candy. On a more political level, it’s dark, funny, scathing, and insightful.
It’s about the story of colonization, and the way we find ourselves in a collective story and treat it as the only truth. It’s about the reluctance to accept that there are multiple truths, or multiple versions of the truth.
Is music a political outlet for you and the band Blacksmith or do you go with generally whatever is inspiring at the time?
I can’t speak for the band specifically, but I think music is a connective outlet for me. I desire to feel connected to people, and music is a medium that allows me to feel that way with great amounts of people at the same time.
Politics is part of life, and part of my psyche, and therefore becomes part of the connection. It’s also not the whole story, and I wouldn’t want to limit myself under the title of “political writer,” but it’s in there. Also, to some degree, everything is political.
Why have you opted to go on this tour solo?
We did our big full band tour in the spring with full production and a big lights show etc. But you can’t take that kind of show to the smaller towns because it’s so expensive to run.
I wanted to get to some of the lesser-visited parts of Canada, and this was a nice way to do it — kinda back to my roots. It’s a little bit the opposite of the album, which is chaotic and meticulous. It’s nice to strip the new songs down to their bare bones and see if they survive the trip.
What is involved in creating a solo interpretation of the record Club Meds for a performance?
For some of the songs, I’ve completely re-interpreted the feel of the song [like in] Kitsch, for example. Same melodies and words but it’s in a different key and no longer within the structure of triplets.
Some things work really well with the band, but if you try to just play as if the band is there and imagine them in your head, it doesn’t work right.
I can’t stand seeing a solo singer with an acoustic slamming away at their instrument as if they’re imagining how epic it would be if there was a band. You have to serve that song in that moment in the light that it can best be served, and often that means some imagination.
What can Revelstoke expect from your performance?
That I shall do my very best.
Are there any songs in particular that are your favourite to perform and why is that? Is there a story behind them?
There are new songs that I’m excited about. I love playing XVI, or Offred, or Mouthpiece. But there are older songs like Basket that have just never gone away. Pine For Cedars went away, and then it came back. I fall in and out with my own songs. I think it’s natural.
Even the ones I don’t like anymore, I don’t regret them. They were part of the process. Basket was a bit of an ode to my grandfather. It’s about aging gracefully. Holding on to that sense of yourself for as long as possible. Staying honest with yourself and maintaining an openness to new things in the world, rather than becoming bitter to change.
When: Friday Nov. 27. – 8 p.m.
Tickets: Adults $25, Youth $15
Box Office: Buy tickets online and access online discounts here. Enter promo code revmountaineer for a special online-only 5% discount.