On my first day of college, I had to attend one of those welcoming events they inflict upon incoming freshman. Groups of ten students had to sit in circles and a senior would go around and make us say something about ourselves. I didn’t have a whole lot to say about myself. I was 18, I worked at a Toys R Us for money, and I was an idiot. I was prepared to say as much, minus the idiot part, when they got to my turn.
The student to my right was pretty distinct in appearance as he was missing an ear which looked pretty gnarly and he also had a hook for a hand. When they got to him, he explained that his name was Muktar, he was from Sierra Leone, and he was part of a school program that took in refugees. Oh fuck me. Then he went on to talk about how, back home, rebel soldiers asked if he was a student and, when he said yes, they cut off his arm at the elbow. Jesus! He told this harrowing story to a group of enrapt students and all I could think was, I have to follow this? Fuck this! (Muktar and I later became friendly as we shared a lot of classes and needless to say he was a fascinating guy.) After he was done and people were literally tearing up, they got to me and I just said, “Um, I’m Dan. Uhh… I work at Toys R Us.” A polite grin, is how I would describe the collective response.
This is my long way of saying, I don’t think I’m very interesting. Not in the grand scheme of things, anyway. Not when compared against the Muktars of the world. Still, I’ve been doing this peculiar public-facing job of rock journalist for a while now. I hang around bands and musicians of some renown and perhaps that’s interesting to someone? But while I’ve done my share of podcasts and interviews, it’s usually just goofing around and no one’s really asked me about myself. Like, who is the real me? Even I don’t know and if I’m being honest I’m afraid to find out haha :( So I happily agreed when Tim Crisp invited me to be a guest on his podcast, Better Yet, when I was in Chicago back in 2017.
I was excited to do it! Someone asked me what Better Yet is recently and I described it as “a longform interview show, like Marc Maron’s podcast for people who aren’t famous enough to go on Marc Maron’s podcast.” (That’s me!) But unfortunately, the day we were supposed to record, Tim had to pick up a violin and also hang out with his dad and cancelled on me. Generally if someone gives me TWO hyperspecific excuses like that, I can tell they must be really eager to get out of plans. This is what we in the industry call getting bumped. I got bumped for a tuba or whatever the fuck. Needless to say I berated my publicist and threw mini bottles of Poland Spring at her in our Uber Black until she cried.
But this year, I returned to Chicago for Riot Fest and Tim had no immediate woodwind emergencies so we were able to make time. He did tell me in advance that he was feeling sick, but I refused to take this as a hint that we should reschedule. I will not be bumped a second time. I would rather contract the flu than suffer the indignity of getting bumped twice. (Side note: I did.)
The episode went up today. Generally I don’t listen back to stuff like this because hearing my own voice is a form of torture. But I did listen to this one. I realize I just said that I’ve never really done an interview about myself so the competition is slim, but still, I’d like to go on record as saying it’s the best interview I’ve ever been asked to do.
I think about interviewing a lot since I conduct several a week for MY BOOK and other things, so it’s something of a hobby of mine to analyze people’s techniques. Tim is a great interviewer. He had clearly done his research on me, but he was also willing to let the conversation go in whichever direction seemed natural. That’s a very crucial part of making someone feel comfortable. We covered my whole life, from age five until that morning, basically.
Here are a few things we talked about from my life story (a few of these are actually from Bruce Lee’s life story but I’d like to keep you guessing so that you’ll want to listen to it):
how I first got into punk and hardcore
how I quit my day job to pursue writing full-time and never looked back
how I fled Hong Kong after fighting a member of the Triad family
how I’ve dealt with public perception of me
how I founded Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Fist)
how I helped write a book despite being shockingly stupid
how I died on July 20, 1973 and am buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle
So, do you dare learn more about me? Do the several thousand words I voluntarily type into the internet each week not provide you with enough personal information? Do you have an hour to kill while avoiding family members? Do you want to hear a person say the word “like” far too many times? Well then feast your ears AND LISTEN HERE! (I join in around the 40-minute mark.)
Alright, that’s enough about ME (jk jk never enough!). But while you’re here listening to me, I do want to give a shoutout to another person that’s not me, my pal Colin Joyce who is good friends with me and knows me.
I used to work with Colin at Noisey and think of him often, and at very specific times. Occasionally I’ll be hate-skimming one of those music industry “40 Under 40” lists and it’s just 40 photos of the same person. Just some fishtank office motherfucker with a professional headshot, a J. Crew blazer, and a nonsense title like Director of US Shuffle and Discovery at Spotify or Junior VP of Brandegizing at Pandora. Everything about these people screams that they don’t actually care about new music. They just studied music biz at whatever fancy college they went to and got a job in Manhattan where they take the top five artists from the five mid-tier indie labels they email with every single month, throw their new tracks into a playlist, and call it a day. It’s these moments when I think of Colin, who is the exact opposite of these people.
Colin is, without rival, the most voracious music writer with the most eclectic tastes I’ve ever met. There is genuinely no genre of music he can’t opine on. He’s always prided himself on never reading a single press release and instead opts to find music the old-fashioned way: delving into the strangest depths of the internet or going to every show in every corner of New York City. Every morning he would crack open a Diet Coke at the ripe hour of 9:30 AM and tell me about whatever weird ambient Fortnite-themed drone show he went to the night before. I’d then have to make something up to pretend I had some semblance of a life and did not spend the evening rewatching Letterkenny episodes, which is most definitely what I actually did.
Anyway, I only bring this up because Colin has set sail from the Noisey ship and if you are in any position to take on new music writers you would be out of your fucking mind not to drop him a line. He’s a metticulous writer and editor, and probably would have caught that I spelled “meticulous” wrong just there. He’s on Twitter. Here’s a photo of him, taken by, you guessed it, me.