Starting off with recent events, you had just arrived at the airport in the USA, only to find out the LOA tour is cancelled/postponed, and even worse, a travel ban was about to go into effect. You literally had to leave as soon as you arrived. What was going through your head at that point?
Daniel: As you know, despite the fact that I'm American, I live in Austria (a small European country to the north of Italy). We'd spent weeks watching the whole situation to the south unfold with a lot of unease. Once the country went on lockdown, I reached out to a lot of colleagues in America to raise the alarm... No one took me seriously. In the back of my mind, I knew the tour would be cancelled, but I also knew that if I was the one to pull the plug and things didn't go awry, I'd be facing some serious professional backlash. So, with much trepidation, I got on my flight to LA, fully expecting the tour to crumble within one to two weeks. I certainly didn't expect it to end within one to two hours of arriving!
Once we all landed, we picked up our tour vehicle and started driving towards one of my favorite restaurants in LA. That's when we saw the news that Trump had announced a travel ban between Europe and America that would go into effect in 48 hours. Elliott and I realized we had one to two days to get back home before facing the possibility of being stranded. I distinctly remember that moment because I was driving and I felt my head swimming, my palms sweating and my heart racing. I thought I was going to pass out.
Somehow, I pulled myself together and got us safely to our dinner destination. The mood there was tense. Not just between us, you could feel the unease in the entire restaurant. People whispering and talking about the potential ramifications of the travel ban. After a bunch of exasperated exchanges like "Uhm, we're fucked..." and "What the fuck do we do!?" We decided to pull out of the tour and go home.... Immediately. Joe was able to book a red eye flight to New Jersey within minutes, Elliott and I weren't so lucky. Once the announcement was made, all the flights to Europe were pulled from travel sites and going directly through the carriers showed one-way tickets costing upwards of $8,000. We gave up for the time being, dropped Joe off at LAX and checked in to our hotel. The craziest thing is at this point in time, some of our colleagues were still trying to talk us into continuing with the tour!
By the time we were in our rooms all travel sites had crashed. We spent hours on hold with the airlines with no success. I woke my wife up in Austria and asked her to look for a connection for me. Something. Anything. To my surprise, she found an ECONOMY ticket to Austria for "ONLY" $2500. I booked it without hesitation. However, we had no luck with Elliott. We decided we would get up early and go to the airport 8 hours before my scheduled departure to attempt to get Elliott on that same flight. While I checked in, Elliott got in what seemed to be an endless rebooking line. At the counter, the agent asked at least three times if I was sure I wanted to travel to Europe because it was likely I wouldn't be able to return anytime soon. When I explained that I didn't need to return to the USA in the near future because I live in Europe, I was asked to prove it. I showed the agent my residence card (which, I had only acquired the day before!) and he reluctantly checked me in.
Elliott was able to jump through a few hoops to get booked onto my same flight. By the time we made it through security and sat down at a bar, the tour had been officially cancelled. We ordered some shots, a couple Coronas and raised our glasses to all the bullets we'd just managed to dodge.
I can't remember the last time I endured that kind of stress. I certainly don't recommend two transatlantic flights in a twenty-four hour period. But, I try to look on the bright side: At least I got to have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants!
Up until then, you had been touring all over the USA and Europe for months, one leg after another, you've been like the Energizer bunny! If the LOA tour had gone through, would this have been the longest stretch ever of near constant touring?
Daniel: I have been either on tour or traveling for almost an entire year. If it's not the longest stretch I've done, it's certainly the longest I've done in the last decade. I can feel the exhaustion in my bones.
In lieu of the great success of the Lindemann tour, what other bands would you like to open for, and what bands would you like to have open for you?
Daniel: The LINDEMANN tour was a great opportunity to share my art with an entirely new audience. Really, the best thing a musician like myself could ever hope for is to come offstage and be bombarded with statements like "I'd never heard of you before but you're amazing. You've got a new fan." I want to continue to have experiences like that! I imagine us going over very well with fans of artists like GHOSTEMANE, Bring me the Horizon or Lord of the Lost. Really, the genre is kind of irrelevant since I don't feel we fit in any particular box. Up and comers I'd love to take out would be STRVNGERS, HORSKH or Glass Battles.
In the Youtube age, do you ever look back on past shows to gauge your performance, or do you have the sense of "I was there, I know how I did"?
Daniel: I have a show diary that I carry with me everywhere. After each gig, I write down my impressions. I think about what I did right, what I did wrong, how I can improve and how far I've come. I'll usually go through a few Insta stories / videos to get an idea if my internal critique is accurate. Sometimes, I realize I've been too hard on myself, other times, I realize I wasn't strict enough. I do my best not to dwell too much on the past, and just keep myself focused on where I'm going and, most importantly, how I'm going to get there.
Twenty years of music/AP! Any special plans, shows or releases to commemorate this milestone?
Daniel: We put together the first ever Industrial Pop Festival in Germany which is scheduled for September. We booked a lot of great bands over the course of two nights, as well as headlining both nights, each one focusing on a different era of Aesthetic Perfection. Night one will be 2005-2013 and night two will be 2013 - 2020!
You've also been one-hundred percent independent for about five years now! Has everything gone as you've hoped or planned? Did you end up having to do more more work than you thought?
Daniel: I'll be the first to admit that when I cut all my label and management ties, I didn't realize how much work they were doing for me. I recognize now that I totally took them for granted. However, that realization opened my eyes to how much my own ego was holding me back. Additionally, doing it all myself gave me industry insights I wouldn't have had otherwise. I know I didn't start over from scratch, but it certainly felt that way at times. My fanbase tanked after the release of "All Beauty Destroyed" and sunk even further after "'Til Death". I'd spent years blaming everyone else for my failures instead of taking responsibility for myself. Once I had no one else to blame my entire perspective shifted. Instead of feeling like the world owed me success, I focused on being grateful for the success I did have, and spent all my time and energy on being the best singer, songwriter and producer that I possibly could, and... not so surprisingly, things began to improve from there. So no, things didn't turn out the way I planned, and I wasn't ready for a lot of the things that being one-hundred percent independent put on my shoulders, but it was what I needed to save what was a sinking ship.
Your new album "Into the Black" has been VERY well received! Do you plan to stick to the album format (per your fans), or do you think you could stray back to singles or even EP's given how tough that album was for you to put together?
Daniel: Why not both!? I think my biggest takeaway from years of releasing singles, to finally producing another full-length, is that staying on one path for too long is just an artistic restriction. There is room for everything. Singles give you the space to explore without committing to a sound or overarching narrative, albums give you the opportunity to share a longer story and present the listener with material that is less immediate. There are pros and cons to everything, but I think as an artist it's our job to explore and try new things. I approached "Into the Black" like an artist being commissioned for a painting. Initially, it wasn't something I would have created on my own, however, there was pleasant surprise by the process and even moreso with the result!
With the re-recording and re-release of the old "Necessary Response" album, have you considered doing the same with your first album "Close to Human", perhaps as a crowdfunding effort?
Daniel: A "Close to Human" reboot is actually a goal on my Patreon! So if you'd like to help make that a reality, please consider signing up here!
Videos! From your Tone Deaf series to your live streams, how much fun is it to not only spread some wisdom and experience
(especially regarding the music business), but to interact with your fans on a regular basis?
Daniel: A few years ago I realized I was no longer a newcomer artist, and that at some point I'd crossed the threshold and become one of the "old guard". I noticed that more and more I was being asked to give advice to younger creatives and it felt really good to be in a position to help! I started to consider that technology now allows me to share my wisdom with my entire audience, and isn't restricted to face to face interactions with my colleagues. That's when I started my Tone Deaf series in hope of helping new artists avoid a lot of the pitfalls I succumbed to when I was starting out.
I was surprised to learn you had moved back to Europe, more specifically Austria! I know you had previously lived in Germany, what prompted the move to Austria?
Daniel: Austria is an incredibly beautiful country. They have amazing food, an amazing culture and amazing wine. What other reasons could one need? Sure, my wife is Austrian and got a job here, but those are only minor details.
Since we are all going to have plenty of "downtime", we know you'll be working on music. Do you think having this dedicated chunk of time is going to oddly work in your favor to get projects done? Have you already set some goals for yourself?
Daniel: To be perfectly honest, I welcome the downtime. Not only am I excited by the prospect of finishing new music, I'm eager to get back to practicing. I think a lot of creatives reach a point where they feel like they've learned all the skills they need to learn in order to continue on for their lifetime. They get lazy. I think it's imperative to continue to practice and learn new techniques and skills in order to grow and evolve as an artist. I'm looking forward to getting back to my singing lessons, practicing guitar more and expanding the toolkit I use to express myself.
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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