Dan Andriano's Musical Identity Is More Than Just Alkaline Trio

When you hear Dan Andriano's impeccable tone and original vocal quality, you feel like he's been groomed to be a lead singer from the start. Yet Andriano, who released his second solo record, Party Adjacent, under the name Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room, started with Alkaline Trio as more of a musical collaborator and bass player than a lead singer. While Andriano had previously fronted the short-lived band Tuesday, on Alkaline Trio's debut, Goddamnit , Andriano took a back seat to guitarist/vocalist Matt Skiba, singing largely backup vocals and taking lead on only two of the album's songs. With each album, however, Andriano's role in the band became stronger, and today it's hard to imagine a time when Alkaline Trio ever existed without him. 

With Skiba currently touring with Blink-182, Andriano has had even more time to focus on developing his solo career, and he's currently touring with a full band in support of Party Adjacent. We caught up with Andriano and asked him about his new album, his other projects, and how he feels about Skiba's new role. 

Westword: Tell us about your latest record, Party Adjacent.

Dan Andriano: It’s sort of a bunch of songs that I've had kicking around for bit. Some are new, but the ones that have been sitting around for a bit are because I've always had this certain idea of how I wanted them recorded. I knew that wasn't going to happen with Alkaline Trio, and I knew I wouldn't be able to do this at home by myself like I did with my first record. I called Mike Park, who runs Asian Man Records, and he put me in touch with Jeff Rosenstock [Bomb the Music Industry!, Antarctigo Vespucci] and we made a plan for all of us to go to San Jose, California, so Jeff could produce the record. 

It was exciting to get in there and hear these songs take shape the way I intended them to. Jeff had some great ideas for the tunes; I didn’t know which direction to take them in. He was super-helpful and fun to work with.

Jeff has been doing a lot of great work as a producer. I love that Mikey Erg record he produced, Tentative Decisions. He seems to get a lot out of the people he’s working with.

Oh, yeah, for sure.

How do you know which songs to write for Alkaline Trio and which songs to keep for yourself?

With a couple exceptions, I usually know from the beginning, and it usually has to do with the instrumentation I want. The song “Snake Bites” I wrote a time ago, but I was being very precious about it. I’m not saying it's the greatest song ever, but I really like it. I knew when I wrote it I wanted it to have this super-fuzzy, shoegazey guitar vibe, and I don't think Alkaline Trio would ever do something like that. I didn’t want that song to get in a studio setting and then democratically changed. Alkaline Trio is a band, and we operate that way. If one person isn't into something, we don’t do it. That's what makes it awesome; we all have an equal say. But with the Emergency Room stuff, I have full control, so I can do whatever I want. Even if it sounds insane to someone else, I can still do it.

You helped put out a new The Falcon record this year [Gather up the Chaps]. What was the decision to get that band going again?

That was pretty much all Toby from Red Scare records. A few years ago he did a ten-year anniversary of Red Scare, and he got a bunch of bands from the label to play. The Falcon were invited, but before we agreed to play, Brendan [Kelly, guitar/vocals], Neil [Hennessy, drums] and I were talking about who we could get to play second guitar. It's been an off-and-on thing and rotating cast for a while. Our good bud Dave Hause [The Loved Ones] reached out and said he wanted to do it, and that show we played in Chicago was super-fun. As soon as the show was over, we agreed that we should get back at it and make another record.

It’s gotta be nice to be back in the role of just playing bass and doing minimal singing.

Yeah! It’s super-fun. The show in Denver, in particular, was one of the better shows we played. There’s a lot less pressure, and I don’t get neurotic about my voice and get crazy about certain things, but at the same time, I want it to be good. But, yeah, it’s nice to be there on the side of the stage, just chilling [laughs].

What are your feelings on Skiba joining Blink-182?

It’s been great! He’s killing it out there, and it's given me lot of time to do stuff like this. I’m psyched for him. He had a number-one record in two countries that he helped write and record. I went and saw them when they came through Tampa. It was so weird and surreal to see, but I’m glad I got to see it in that big-venue setting. He seems stoked. He was nervous and excited and a little worried about what Derek [Grant, drums] and I thought. Everything was how it should be. He's close to wrapping that up, and we’ll get back at it soon. If I had nothing going on, it might have been a different story, but he called me and told that he'd been asked to fill in when I was in the middle of making this record. So I thought it was rad, and it gave me the chance to give this record a shot more than I would have ever been able to.

A lot of musicians might have not been so supportive of choice like this.  That’s big of you to think of it this way.

Oh, I mean, for sure. That’s my boy!

Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room performs with Dan P (of MU330), Derek Grant (of Alkaline Trio) and The Larimers, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18, at Summit Music Hall, 303-487-0111.
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Andy Thomas is a music journalist who hopes other music journalists write nice things about the music he performs. He lives in Denver with his wife, their two cats and a massive pile of unfinished projects.
Contact: Andy Thomas