Interview: Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio / in the Emergency Room)

By Rob Barbour

It’s been a busy year for Dan Andriano. Seemingly addicted to touring, Alkaline Trio completed the touring cycle for 2013’s storming return to form, ‘My Shame is True’, holed themselves up rehearsing all eight of their studio albums and then hit the road again on the ‘Past Lives tour. After playing two albums a night for several months, it’s understandable that Andriano might want a break from his day job. And with frontman Matt Skiba otherwise engaged with a little side-project you might have heard of, what better time to revive the brilliantly named Dan Andriano in The Emergency Room?

The result was the Jeff Rosenstock collaboration ‘Party Adjacent‘, the much more considered follow-up to 2011 début ‘Hurricane Season’. Currently touring the UK to promote the record, Andriano took some time out to answer a few questions.

What’s been the highlight of 2015 for you?

I’d have to say being in the studio earlier in the year working on ‘Party Adjacent’. I really enjoy the recording process, and we had a really fun time I think. Everyone on board was super positive and excited. I think it comes through on the finished work.

‘Party Adjacent’ feels much more like an album by a band rather than a solo album. What were the differences in the writing and recording process between this and ‘Hurricane Season’?

The writing process isn’t really that different at all. I usually write the same way no matter what it’s for and then move things around or arrange them differently once I’ve established the vibe I’m gonna go for. But it IS a band, so I’m glad you think it sounds like one. The songs were mostly recorded the way I had demoed them at home, but I wanted the guys to add their own touches. And on a couple tunes I wanted them to help me completely change what I had originally put down because I liked the idea of the song, just not the way I was going about it.

How do you feel about the album compared to ‘Hurricane Season’?

I like both albums, but I was really glad to work with other people. They’re different though, and I’m glad. ‘Hurricane Season’ was completely done on my own and nearly drove me crazy. I like having other people around to tell me when something is fine and it’s time to move on. Or on the contrary, when something is shit and needs to be fixed.

When you’re writing, how do you decide if a song is for Alkaline Trio or The Emergency Room? What are the differences in your creative process?

I just sort of know… When the song’s being written I generally know what it’s going to end up being for, with very few exceptions. There’s a vibe or a feeling I get as it’s happening and I don’t have to think about where it’s going to end up. The creative process is pretty similar.

I read the ‘Rank Your Records’ piece you did for Dan Ozzi earlier this year and it felt like the Past Lives tour heavily influenced your choices. What would have been your #1 instead of ‘Good Mourning’ if you hadn’t just played the album front-to-back on tour?

Regardless of the reasons, that’s the way I ranked the records. I honestly hate doing stuff like that, but Dan is a good guy so I did it.

I really liked ‘Agony & Irony’ but I agree with you that it doesn’t seem to be a fan favourite. How (if at all) does fan reaction to a record impact the way you approach writing the next one?

It really doesn’t. I’m not prolific enough to actively change the way I write. I just do what I do when an idea strikes.

How has your approach to writing albums evolved over the past 15+ years?

I suppose I’m just more open to try whatever I want. And also, I finally feel like I can actually play some instruments so that makes things a little more interesting for me.

And lastly, what can we expect from you in 2016?

Not sure yet… I guess I’ll have to figure that out.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]