After getting tired of working in oil fields, Matt Thornton moved from Lubbock, Texas, to Denver about six years ago to expand his musical horizons. While Thornton played drums in some projects, including the Denver post-rock act High Tide Low Tide, he had played guitar as a hobby as a kid and wanted to try doing so in a group.
Through an online post, Thornton met Travis Owens, another multi-instrumentalist with a background in indie and technical pop punk who knew his way around a drum kit as well as a bass. In 2017, the two — Thornton on guitar and Owens on drums — started jamming on riffs, which Thornton called little “dangos” and would later form into full songs. The nickname for those little ditties also became the moniker for their duo, Dang’O.
The following year, they recruited second guitarist Trent Heddings, who had previously played with Virginia metal acts Black Matter Device and Sundrainer, and Travis Moberg, who also plays with the video-game metal band Tiberian Sons, to fill the drum chair while Owens switched to bass.
“It's a strange collaboration, but it just ended up working perfectly,” Thornton says. “And we've had no problem with getting the songs written and agreeing on everything and then making sure it feels right.”
While each player comes from different worlds musically, they all shared an affinity for acts like Dance Gavin Dance, Circa Survive and the Deer Hunter as well as instrumental rock and progressive metal bands like Animals as Leaders and Chon. As evidenced by its new single, “Fuji,” the guys in Dang’O clearly have a handle on technical post-rock with push-and-pull changes in time signatures.
The band had played “Fuji” a handful of times at previous shows and decided to record it in March after getting positive feedback from some fans. The group teamed up with local producer Tony Dickinson, who’s also the bassist for Trans-Siberian Orchestra and a longtime friend of Moberg, to mix and master the song, as he also did on Dang’O’s debut EP, 2019’s Mitad.
While Thornton says they have some heavier songs they plan to eventually record, in the meantime the band will continue to release more post-rock singles, including a video for the new song “Bacon Maybes,” which will drop in a few weeks.
“Some of the music that we haven't released goes from jazz and blues, and then we have a couple tracks that are metal,” Thornton says. “It's just kind of all over the place, but you know we're still trying to find our solid ground right now as to what, exactly, we want to keep it as. But for now, we've been just rocking the instrumental thing, and maybe one day we'll have some vocals here and there."
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