Sound Off is a continuing column in which we pose different artists the same series of crucial questions.
In his second studio album under the Arts and Crafts banner, Oh, Fortune, Dan Mangan looks to build off the momentum of his 2010 Polaris Prize nomination while adding more of a full-band sound to his singer/songwriter repertoire. Mangan’s music can heard on the CBC Radio 3 website radio3.cbc.ca as well as live this coming Tuesday, Nov. 1 at the Garrick Centre.
Manitoban: What substance / activity do you find most helpful in the creative process?
Dan Mangan: Listening helps. To everything. The world makes so much noise, and some of it is incredible.
M: Whose work inspired you the most in your youth?
DM: I was a Beatles nut. I’d listen to my parents’ old vinyls over and over. When I was seven years old, I could play Abbey Road Side B in entirety on the piano.
M: Whose work inspires you currently?
DM: I keep coming back to M. Ward. He’s got such a way. I love how Radiohead have sorted out their career. They’re in their 40s and still at the forefront of groundbreaking music, and they’ve managed to be really popular and still creatively fiery.
M: What’s the most embarrassing album you’ve ever owned?
DM: I used to rock out pretty hard to Aerosmith’s Get a Grip. I was nine, and it ruled.
M: What bands / artists have you been listening to lately?
DM: We’ve been touring with this band the Daredevil Christopher Wright from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Their harmonies are insane — the way their voices blend. Sometimes they’re like CSNY on crack. There’s a chaotic nature to what they’re doing, but it’s all got this relaxed backbeat to it. Their new album hasn’t been released yet, but it’s remarkable.
M: Do you have any hobbies or obsessions outside of music?
DM: I’m deadly at foosball. I can really get lost in good films and books. Most TV is bad, but there are a few shows that are just phenomenal. It’s almost a cliché now to boast about The Wire, but the whole series is a piece of art. Deadwood, too.
M: In memory, what’s the best advice you’ve received?
DM: Don’t be mean. My dad said that to me in a letter when I turned 18. He said being mean had never gotten him anywhere that he enjoyed.
M: What is your most cherished musical instrument?
DM: I’ve been playing this beat up Taylor for about 10 years. It’s not the coolest looking guitar — it has a campiness to it — but it stays in tune, keeps its intonation and has been on literally hundreds and hundreds of flights and still trucks on. Total workhorse. I’ve also got this amazing 1940s Harmony inset with a P-90 as a hollow-body electric. It’s got the nicest, deadest tone. It’s all over the new album.
M: What’s your favourite song to cover?
DM: I have this problem where I get cautious to cover songs because the songs I want to cover are extremely precious to me (and other people). Sometimes we cover “Waltz #2” by Elliott Smith. Sometimes recently I’ve played a solo rendition of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel.
M: What’s been the most surreal experience of your music career thus far?
DM: Fan mail. Even saying that word is weird. It blows my mind when people have been touched by music in such a way that they want to reach out and describe it. I know how huge music has been in my life — the idea that anybody could feel a response like that to something I’ve done is pretty amazing. And surreal.
*Questions may vary.