A Chat with Dan Cross (12.09.2020)

Dan Cross, the lead guitarist of The Perfect Disaster, is hitting us with his solo single ‘Paingiver’. This contagious single is a blast to listen to and now has an equally enthralling music video. We sat down with Dan Cross to talk about the anti-Trump single, the upcoming album is is part of, the music video, his music and much more!

OSR: What first drew you to music?

Cross: It was all around, in the air and in the sky or at least that’s how I thought of it. My childhood was enhanced by pop music, classical music, television music, marching songs, musicals everything and I responded to it immediately. I guess like everyone I must have heard it in the womb and my mum always sung to me things like ‘My Darling Clemantine’ and Bobby Shaftoe etc. I found out later that she loved cowboy songs and wanted to be Roy Rogers the singing cowboy when she was small! It must have been the same fascination with her too. It was later on that I heard her 70s singer songwriter albums like New Skin for an Old Ceremony’ by Leonard Cohen, No Secrets by Carly Simon and American Pie by Don McLean and wanted time start writing songs myself.

OSR: What was the inspiration for your single ‘Paingiver’?

Cross: Just getting more and more disgusted by that environmental gangster Donald Trump who in my opinion is the worst leader the world has ever seen.

I lived in California when I was a kid and have been watching the USA ever since with more and more horror every year, the creeping death of democracy, the hate tactics, the division, the whole shit show. If you’re not doing something, anything to protest that kind of banality of evil then in a way you’re supporting it.

OSR: ‘Paingiver’ is one of over 18 songs you recorded for your upcoming album Cup of Thrills, what was the recording process like?

Cross: Well, the actual recording process has been as difficult as I expected. Trying to get my ideas down whilst still holding onto the original intention has never been easy especially as the songs are all written for my voice and one acoustic guitar. It’s a deal every music maker has to make with the forces of chaos!

The bargain is like ‘ I’ll sacrifice this bit if I can retain that bit, I’ll give you a catchy chorus if I can get to have an ugly solo or deviant song lyric. I’m always trying to hold the reins of whatever mad idea I had at 5 am one whole year previously and trying not to get lost along the way.

There are always obstacles to overcome, an annoyingly noise-sensitive neighbour here, a global pandemic there,
always something to fight, there’s always a dragon to slay.

OSR: Can you tell us a bit more about the upcoming album?

Cross: It’s a real hybrid album, reflecting my taste in music. I have no label or game plan these days and so I’m just channel hopping through my own mad mind. I was lucky enough to find in Donald Ross Skinner, a producer who could accompany me on some of my more unguarded flights of fancy into the unknown spaces between psychedelia and dark disco, there were no filters. The last thing I wanted to do was write any conventional love songs but there are for sure one or two about sex.

Cardi B and all those great 21st century performers are always coming out with very hypersexual songs and I wanted to try writing that kind of unambiguous song too. They’re fun and everyone can relate. Was I successful? You’ll have to get the record and find out! The greatest compliment to me as a songwriter would be to have a child conceived to one of my songs.


OSR: What was your creative process for ‘Paingiver’? Did you start with lyrics or a melody?

Cross: I had a folk guitar riff kicking around for ages. It was like something from ‘PINK MOON’, something like that anyway. I used it on a previous song about Ancient Greece and called it ‘Athenians’ but I thought it time to try it again in a new context. It’s really become a meditation piece for when I just grab a guitar after work but I wanted to record it and push it into a new place. It was the last song to record for the album in fact so songs about Donald Trump bookended the whole session.

The first thing I’d recorded was something called ‘The Funeral of Donald Trump’ which may get released someday and although I’d liked it, the truth was I just didn’t really connect with it by the end of the album sessions. ‘The Funeral of Donald Trump’ had been an attempt to write a vignette about a quiet unemotional funeral that would stand in opposition to the kind of state funeral that Ronald Reagan had. When he dies there will be no one there.

Personally I hope he dies in prison. It was a kind of Charles Dickens morality inspiration, like Scrooges death before he was visited by Marley’s ghost in a Christmas Carol. You know he doesn’t deserve to be eulogised by anyone.

But by the end of summer 2020 we were in sight of the presidential election, and of course, this was after the whole Black Lives Matter riots so when I got to ‘Paingiver’ I was honestly just boiling over with rage which you can hear on the finished recording, it’s not fake.

OSR: How different do you find playing your solo music compared to being part of The Perfect Disaster?

Cross: I’ve always played solo & my ‘go-to’ instrument is always the acoustic guitar. I enjoy making a noise on electric but probably don’t have the discipline to play it really well. I know lots of better lead guitarists but I’m usually more impressed by anyone of any ability who just has an original style. Not everyone needs to jam like Jimi Hendrix.

Truth is, in those days I was privately listening to bands like The Go Betweens, The Smiths etc. where an electric lead guitar wasn’t really being pushed upfront but onstage with our band I was just blasting away my daily blues almost as therapy for frustration whilst secretly wondering how to get more beauty into my life.

Dan Cross

OSR: If you could have listeners take away one thing from this single, what would it be?

Cross: I want people to wake up and realise what we are going to lose with another 4 years of Trump. It’s my opinion that the ecology won’t survive it, it will be the death of the natural world. He is like the last gatekeeper of Pandora’s box, when it’s over there will just be a wasteland that will take decades to bring back to life.

What’s it got to do with the U.K.? You might think but what happens over there today happens here tomorrow. It’s always the way.

OSR: You also have a music video for the single, how did you determine the creative direction?

Cross: I started off wanting to just have footage of America burning at war and actually put together some rough home videos that worked quite well, but the director Nigel Dean wanted a performance video of me lip-syncing. I don’t mind either way I’ll do whatever it takes to get the song heard.

OSR: Once the pandemic is over, are you planning a tour or any gigs?

Cross: Yes, I’ve just been looking for the right players. The new album Cup of Thrills is going to require a lot of work to bring it to life because some of the sounds are really quite unusual.

For instance, there’s a song called ‘Try For Me’ which ideally needs to be sung by a woman and features a sitar and other Indian classical instruments quite heavily but it’s got a totally off the wall electric guitar and xylophone solo in the middle of it. So playing that live onstage is going to be an interesting challenge!

OSR: Other than the upcoming album, what else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?

Cross: Well, as usual, I’ve already started the next record with the producer of the Atheist Anthems album Pete O’Brien and I’m interested to see how that’s going to turn out. It’s going to be good I think, got some good songs on it. I’ll be playing with Donald and ex TIGER keyboard player and singer Dido Hallet in her band The Fragile States and hopefully get something interesting released with them.

I’ll play live with my band The Paingivers when I get the chance and there’s also my long-held ambition to put out an EP of my songs sung by a female singer. That’s hopefully going to happen soon.

In the meantime look out for Cup of Thrills!

Thanks to Dan Cross for chatting with us! You can find more about him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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