I don't like bio's. If you want to know something, just ask! I love music, that's the only relevant thing really.
Sure, what kind of music is it?
Umm…I dunno, like hip hop, but not rap like hip hop more like spoken word slam hip hop but not too heavy on the poetry side, you know with a band, and this like washing machine thing…and a trumpet too.
Can’t forget the trumpet. Gotta love a horn.
when the music stops all we have are words merely…
And what wonderful words they are.
A big new breath of fresh air.
Defining the sound slash genre of music is such a conundrum for me. I always read the little descriptions on myspace and wonder who came up with pscho/billy/americana/post/punk/rock/folk…crap? Can people seriously describe the complexity of truly cavalier sounds with this archaic method? I don’t think so, and describing the sound of Listener Project is also quite the task.
In my difficulty of finding words to describe someone else’s words, I turn to the man who wrote the words - Dan Smith. He definitely cleared a few things up for me. The hip hop most think of on the radio, or popular rap, has strayed so far from the early nineties east coast underground stuff that influenced Dan to make the music he does.
“Just like any genre, you have all these different sub-genres, but there’s not anybody flying the flag for sub-genres of hip hop. But its like a spoken work sub genre. We call it talk music, and I think people might warm up to it.”
It’s Talk Music.
Not only have they taken this talk music and ran with it, they also are the first band I’ve ever heard of doing a tour exclusively of homes. Dan has been on records labels and toured all over with other projects for over six years.
“I would do different like spoken word projects or hip hop projects, clubs, bar tours, coffee shop tours, always the house shows were the best for fans or friends, and they are just so much better than some crusty bars, or regulars that what you to stop, they’re really impersonal spaces. Then we would have these house shows, these great shows in like basements and stuff, with a friend or a fan or something like that. I’d do these house shows and they’d tell everybody and they get all excited and come check us out. They’re just so much better anyways, wed have potluck dinners. In the early touring days, it just turned out to be so good, why not just do a whole house tour, like three years ago, so we did the first Listener tour of homes.”
The house party experience is beneficial for the band and the fans. Fans get a once in a lifetime unique experience right in the living room, and Listener Project gets a complimentary bed to sleep in and cereal to eat in the morning. They don’t perform and go to bed, they hang out and talk with people who love their music. Dan and Kristen are both very genuine, polite people; an out of the box performance, their stage show, and ability to know what works and go with it, has allowed them to do well for themselves, yet stay down to earth. I had the chance to talk with him about everything from education, jobs, record labels, and the ups and downs of being an independent artist. I think that mostly, he has learned from life experience and chosen something that not only works, but also makes him happy. It is that essential human quality that you can see on stage even if you never get to talk to him, that makes it so easy to relate with the music.
How have I gone so far in life without experiencing this? This… amazing mixture of words and unorthodox percussion. Listener Project is composed of words, bass, drums, an occasional old washing machine and just a dash of horn. But, this has only been for about the last two years. Previously to that, Dan was the lone Listener. Under that name he recorded Ozark Empire. After adding a rotating group of musicians to the bill he rerecorded some of the Ozark Empire tracks and recorded some new ones for the first Listener Project album Return to Struggleville.
The songs delve into what I believe to be a secret side of people. A darker emotion. Not necessarily good or bad, happy or sad, just dark and deep, kind of solemn and very true. The album is the story of a man who loses his office job and becomes a traveling knife salesman so that he can still support his wife and two children.
As of now, Listener Project is composed of Dan Smith (his laptop) and wife Kristen. She plays the bass, bangs on the washing machine and is picking up on the drums. Kristen actually learned the bass parts to all of Dan’s songs so she could be with him on tour. Fortunately, she ended up being a great performer and they interact very naturally in front of a crowd. Their sound together is organic, and just makes sense. It isn’t the most complex instrumentally, but the art of simplicity is engaging. Especially when the lyrics bounce around the simplicity we all look for in life, but are bombarding with the complexity experienced in reality.
They are working on a second Listener Project album about the traveling knife salesman’s family. I can’t wait.
You can grab Return to Struggleville and Ozark Empire on their myspace (/listener project) or their website www.listenerproject.com. Adding the live band was a huge improvement. Check out purevolume.com, under Listener there is a great track called “Train Song” then head to their band site and hear some of the Listener Project tracks, enjoy them both.
Make a project out of it…and listen.