From The Inside: Danny Vaughn and his return to a more melodic sound.
Danny talks about this new project and his upcoming tour with the classic Tyketto.
Hey Danny, great to see you back in action with the new From The Inside
After two well received Vaughn albums, what drew you towards this project?
I'm always looking for challenges. Things that I haven't tried before. I feel that a musician gets stagnant if he or she only works along the same set lines all the time. I have never attempted to interpret other people's songs on a recording before. It isn't as easy as you might think and I really enjoyed trying our best to make these songs our own. Also, I was very unhappy with my previous record label and this opportunity from Frontiers seemed like the perfect way to test new waters. So far I'm very happy with this arrangement.
There was obviously a certain willingness to record some other people's
songs and also return to a more AOR sound, what was the thought process
going into this record?
It was something like, "Here goes nothing!" You have to be willing to fall on your face sometimes. I talked to several friends and was advised that if I did an album that returned to my melodic rock roots, my fans would probably be okay with that!
How closely did you work with Fabrizio and the team of musicians involved?
You want to know the truth? I never met any of the players. This was the most "hands off" project I've ever done. Normally I'm involved down to the last detail but this time I simply had to place my trust in Fabrizio, a man I had never met, and let him put all the tracks together once we had discussed how we wanted them to come out. I felt that, no matter what, Frontiers would allow me to back up and not do something if I felt it was bad, stupid, or a compromise. That became evident when we sifted through quite a few songs to come up with the track list that we now have.
Did this feel different to working alongside your brothers in Vaughn and
Tyketto - which have always been kept close by previously?
Completely and utterly different. Again, which was a great reason to do it! Change keeps you young!
Did you personally pick the songs you wished to record?
Yes. I was given a master CD of about 25 songs and waded through all of them. Some were weeded out right away. Some were put into the "maybe" file and a couple, like "Beautiful Goodbye" were instantly desirable. We went back to the well several times. Frontiers were supplying the songs from their stock of writers and publishers and I was going through them all with Fabrizio.
At what stage did you think of bringing in a couple of new tracks of your own?
It was understood from the beginning that I would contribute at least 2 songs. As it worked out, I wrote 3 (one of which is only on the Japanese version) and co-wrote 2 others.
I must admit to liking those tracks the most of all the songs featured.
There always seems to be a rich tapestry of storytelling and honest emotion with your songs. What do you attribute that to?
That's very kind of you to say. I guess one of the things that I do when I write lyrics is I try to never take the easy way out. If something is bothering me, even if it fits just fine, I'll end up changing it so I don't cringe later on. I obsess a little too much I suppose, but I just can't write a song with "dance" and "romance" as the tag rhymes. It's been done too many times. I'm not saying that I'm incredibly original, because I'm not. But my inspirations are guys like Don Henley, Bernie Taupin, or John Hiatt, who always find a way of expressing themselves that is unique to themselves. I'll never be as good as them, but it's something to strive for.
I seriously love Is Anybody Watching and Blessing In Disguise. Tell us
about those tracks - when were they written?
"Is Anybody Watching Me" was written for Tyketto several years ago. Being a ballad it kept getting squeezed out by other ballads that we had written. So it's sat in the vault for many years waiting to be revamped and revitalized.
"Blessing In Disguise" was written about when I first moved to Nashville. It's all about trying to roll with what you are given rather than railing against it.
And Nothing At All - another highlight from the Vaughn catalogue! Tell us
about that song...
That one was my headache for the album! It was the last one that I finished. I had recorded the vocals to everything else and had only one more day to finish before I had to leave town. Fabrizio needed all tracks done before I left, so there I was on the last day with his music, which I knew that I loved and could write to, and a blank sheet of paper. Every time I had tried to write something I just came up blank. Finally there was no time left and I forced the issue, which is something I never usually do. I sat down and over the course of a couple of hours, sketched out what I felt was a working draft of the lyrics. While I had been doing so, I started humming a melody in my head. For fear of losing the whole thing, I quickly recorded the vocals and left it for a few hours, hoping that, when I came back, I'd be able to sort out which bits to keep and which to change. When I came back, however, I found myself liking the way it came out. So I took a chance and sent it to Fabrizio. It's a single take, all the way through.
Two Martin Stenmarck tracks are featured on From The Inside - are you a fan
of the album, or just felt something for those tracks?
When I first got the songs they were on a blank CD so I had no idea who wrote what. I just picked the ones that appealed to me.
There are two other interesting choices I'd like to hear your comments on.
Suddenly - already a hit for Leanne Rimes and Beautiful Goodbye - a
haunting cover of the Amanda Marshall track. How did you approach recording
these, as it seems to me that you have now made them your own.
Suddenly was already a rocker. That was an easy choice. In fact, I talked with one of Leanne Rime's guitar players who said that they had to stop playing that one live because they were rocking it a little too hard and it was upsetting all the grannies that had come to hear her sing "Blue". The Amanda Marshall track was the one that first convinced me to do this project in the first place. I knew there would be no improving it, but it is such a singer's song. I knew that I would be given the opportunity to give it my all. By the end I am just tearing my heart and my throat out and you can hear it. I recorded this at home and I often wonder that the neighbors didn't call the police!
Your song writing has always been unique and I'm a big fan. Starting way back with Tyketto. But the delivery of the tracks has varied over the years - melodic hard rock with Tyketto, to a more earthy stripped back feel with Vaughn and even raw acoustic with your solo tours and recordings.
Do you now have a preference - a favourite style to present your songs?
Not really. I like it all. Sometimes I hear myself doing some really hard stuff. Sometimes it's acoustic stuff. As long as I can present it honestly I'm open to any style.
You seem to be following a path that is heading back towards where you
started - and seemingly where fans want you to be. Is that an accurate assessment?
I guess it is. It's not a conscious plan, but, judging from the excitement that this release is already generating, I'm beginning to think that I should have listened to Frontiers a long time go.
The upcoming Tyketto tour is something that has a lot of excitement and
hype attached to it. Looking forward to it?!
Definitely. The closer it gets, the more nervous I am. We have a lot to live up to as we were a very strong live band and I'm really looking forward to playing for those fans that never got to see us live. Rehearsals begin in mid September and we're all pleasantly panicked.
Fill us in with just how that got started and organized?
Not much to tell. We had discussed it many times in the past and there were always personal issues getting in the way. Old wounds that hadn't healed. Plus, it would come down to doing it for money and, as tempting as that was initially, one of us would always come to our senses and decide against it. Money is the wrong reason. This time it was simple. "You wanna?" , "Yeah sure!"
Do you see this European tour leading into something else - you know there
are a lot of folks that would dearly love to see a new Tyketto album!
Hey! Don't get pushy! :-)
Just kidding. We are not putting that kind of pressure on ourselves. If things go well and we all love it, then it's something we'll talk about. But it may not happen. All the guys have other jobs, businesses, lives, etc. so there's no way to ever make it a full time concern again.
What else lies in your future Danny? It's been a quiet period between the
last Vaughn and the From The Inside release - what (if anything) do you see
happening next? What you personally really like to achieve?
The great thing is that more and more people seem to be becoming aware that I'm out there and I'm getting the chance to look at more and more projects, and getting more offers, like playing with The Sign in Belgium last week. I certainly would like to do another Vaughn record in 2005, but I'm also considering a lot of other options. What I would most love to achieve would be to be back to being a full time musician again. Paying the bills with music only. That would be success to me. I'd like to be as busy as Jeff Scott Soto. It's getting to the point where I'm convinced there must be 2 of him!
Shall we see another From The Inside release down the track sometime?
My feeling is that this is a one time thing. But you never know, I suppose.
You are one of a handful of individuals like Jeff Scott Soto that seem to
have an honest grasp on reality and are aware of the limitations of the
current melodic rock scene - and don't mind getting off your butt to tour,
play live and build on your name.
What do you think brings you to this position where others still behave or
long after the life as it was in 1990?
See? There's Jeff again! Will I never be free of him??? I'm kidding. Jeff will be co headlining a couple of the Tyketto shows with us and I couldn't be happier about it. I don't really know the answer to your question. I think people that have a decent sense of themselves and who they are, will have that regardless of what their status is in life. Most of the guys that I know in this business that are arrogant or live in another world, were like that before they were famous or made money! For me, the most important and grounding thing is that I am still a music fan. My wonderful girlfriend was kind enough to remind me and teach me that lesson. If you love the music, get down front, cheer, yell, sing along, bang your head. When did we all become this pent up, over the hill group of casual spectators?
Do you have any advice for other musicians out there - newcomers and
When traveling in England avoid the Little Chefs! Even if they are the only thing open!
What are we likely to hear being played on the upcoming tour - and are
there any plans to capture any dates for either CD or DVD perhaps?
I won't tell you everything, but the game plan is to play "Don't Come Easy" in its entirety along with some other selections. No one has approached us about recording the shows, but it could be an interesting idea.
Anything you would care to add Danny?
Whew! There can't be anything left to cover, can there? I would like to say thanks for all the positive reviews and opinions on From The Inside that I have already received. It has given me a lot of hope for the future.
Thanks for talking to me mate - always appreciated!
Never a pain, always a pleasure Andrew! Thanks for keeping so many of us so well informed about what's going on in music all over the world. It makes me wonder how we ever got by without you before?