After fronting a number of Leeds circuit bands, Dan Schofield struck out on his own with an acoustic album. After this, he made his way back to his alternative rock roots with the musical project Status:Revolt. Now, he is taking on societal problems and the political landscape with his album Thirteen Steps. We sat down with Schofield to talk to him about the album, musical authenticity, DIY productions and much more!
OSR: You originally flirted with the idea of this musical project in 2012, what prompted you to finally pick it up serious in 2019?
Schofield: Originally, Status:Revolt was intended to pick up where my last band, The Beat Marshals, finished off. The same genre, same approach to writing, only as a solo project, rather than with the band. I got as far as recording a single track, then shortly after my first son was born. I decided I wanted to take my music in a different direction and wrote and recorded an acoustic album, Everything Human, which I released in 2015. After a period of reflection, I wanted to go back to what I loved doing and started writing and producing music that was more based on the artists that influenced me growing up. I revived the Status:Revolt project in 2019 as the vehicle for this.
OSR: Last year, you released your debut album Thirteen Steps. Is there a theme or backstory to the release?
Schofield: No, there’s not a sole theme as such. A few songs are based on the current political and societal landscape, others more around personal experiences and people I’ve known. Some references are probably more obvious than others, but I do try to stay deliberately vague, as much as I can do. I find it’s usually better to leave the songs open to interpretation and let the listeners make their own minds up as to what the story is all about.
OSR: One of the principles of this musical project is authenticity and being uncompromising. How do you feel this has come across in the album?
Schofield: I think this is one of the big perks of being a solo artist. With this album, the influences were all my own, the lyrics are based on my experiences and emotions, the whole album was created without compromise and, for me, it felt like the most sincere and authentic process I’ve been involved with. Whether that comes across to the listeners, I don’t know, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you start with an idea for the album as a whole?
Schofield: From a writing perspective, the songs were pretty much written as a collection of individual songs, I didn’t really think about it as a whole in that regard. Production wise, I had a very firm idea that the whole album had to sound like you were listening to a live band. When I was first thinking about the album, I was listening to a lot of bands that influenced me growing up. One album I listened to a lot was Appetite For Destruction by Guns ‘N’ Roses. I always found it amazing how “live” it sounded. Some of the subtle imperfections in the guitar parts really gave the production character. It’s a great album. Especially through headphones. That production style is what I wanted to achieve with Thirteen Steps.
OSR: There are a lot of dynamic movements in the tracks of the album. Was this something that you actively tried to achieve or did it occur more organically?
Schofield: It’s something I always try to achieve, to be honest. All the best albums I’ve heard have a nice blend of dynamics. I always think there’s a danger of an album sounding ploddy and all songs just sounding the same if you don’t try to balance it. I tend to think of it the same way I do the big blockbuster movies. The epic explosive scenes are always great fun, but you’ll generally find these blended with a love story of sorts.
OSR: You did everything for the album from writing to recording and mastering, how difficult did you find the process?
Schofield: I think the most difficult part of the process was not knowing whether any of it actually sounded any good or not. The nice thing about being in bands and collaborating is that you have another three or four people in the room that can bring their input to the table, throw in ideas to improve a track, or even just tell you that it’s crap and to start again. I have a few friends who I send pre-released versions of the tracks to try to get that feedback, but that’s usually towards the end of the recording process. That real-time collaboration is definitely one thing I do miss about being in a band.
OSR: You have fronted several bands in Leeds, but how different was it to record a solo project?
Schofield: The biggest difference is that it was all done at home. No days out in the professional studio. It was a blessing and a curse; on the one hand I saved a lot of money, on the other hand, having that blank cheque of time meant I didn’t feel the pressure of nailing that perfect take, which ultimately delayed the recording process. That’s probably the main thing I’ve learnt from Thirteen Steps, which is something I need to keep in mind in future.
OSR: Do you feel the pandemic affected the sound you have created?
Schofield: Yeah, again, being stuck at home with no real time pressures, it really did feel like I spent too long trying to perfect it. I had to remind myself that some of those great albums I grew up listening to were very raw and that I needed to embrace the imperfections. That said, I was really keen to produce something that didn’t sound like it had been recorded at home, so it became a bit of balancing act between that raw “live” sound and the polished sound you would get from a studio recording. Thankfully I think the technology has advanced to the point where that balance is pretty achievable now.
OSR: If people could feel only one emotion while listening to the album, what would you like it to be and why?
Schofield: That’s quite hard to answer. The first time I played the finished master back, every song invoked a very different emotion for me. Tracks like ‘Blame’, ‘In Pursuit Of Nothing’ and ‘A Sick Tribute’ are angry songs, ‘An Easy Understanding’ and ‘This Is Why We Came’ felt apathetic, and ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ and ‘Before Everything Else’ felt mournful. The one thing I really hope is that people find the album relatable and connect with the songs the way I do.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the coming 12 months?
Scholfield: I’m already working on my next release, but before then, I would like to start playing some live shows and taking the music from Thirteen Steps to a new audience. Hopefully, in the next few months, once things start to return to normal, I can get out and put on a show.