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Fat Night’s Dan Hanson on his ORL-to-CHI Transition

After I got off FaceTime with Dan Hanson–singer n’ guitar player for ORL-to-CHI soul/R&B band Fat Night–me n’ my ol’ friend continued to chat up n’ talk about his new life in Chicago. In this post interview dialogue, Dan told me a story that served as a great climax of his acclimation story, one that is laid out in the interview below. I wish it would’ve gotten captured, but I wanted to paraphrase the ending before you hear about the story that built up to it. EnJoY.

Dan went to an intimate 200ish person vinyl release show for Noname’s Telefone. It happened to be on top of a roof and had an open bar. He ended up talking to a local trombone player that happened to be Frank Ocean’s trombone player. When Noname first came onstage, she introduced her band and went back into the crowd to let them warm up the Chicago night and happened to start talking to Dan’s new friend. Then Dan happened to be singing along to the D’Angelo song the band was playing …ended up being pushed onstage by the 26-year-old rapper to finish the song.

Cover photo by Hannah Mae.

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October 7: Fat Night at Ten10 Fest w/ Bask, Wet Nurse, Wolf-Face, & More.


Fat Night Interview Orlando Music Blog The Vinyl Warhol
Photo by John Keen

matthew warhol: Yo dude, how’ve you been?

Dan Hanson: I’m pretty good.

matthew warhola: How do you like Chicago?

Dan Hanson: Chicago is pretty good. I’ve been up here for 9 or 10 months now.

matthew warhol: I can’t believe it’s been that long!

Dan Hanson: Yeah, time has flown by, and city life is definitely a lot quicker, more fast paced than home.

matthew warhol: What do you think the hardest thing to adapt to has been?

Dan Hanson: We moved in December so it was winter time and even though it was a mild winter, there was a lot to get used to. You do a lot of walking in general, getting better sneakers or boots that hold up as much walking as you do is important.

matthew warhol: Damn.

Dan Hanson: Also, the climate is dryer up here so I had noticed within the first few months my nose was so dry, and it would get cracked. Not to get to involved with that, but it was to the point where I was using lotion on parts of my body that I’ve never had to use lotion before. It was getting real dry.

matthew warhol: I think we should have a 45 minute long conversation about lotion [laughs] and dry noses… What do you think the cultural differences are? Are you as involved as you were in Orlando.

Dan Hanson: Not yet, it’s a little bit more expensive up here and there’s so much more going on, so you have to really figure out what’s attractive to you. I would say that I haven’t gotten to the ideal place where I want to be here, just because it takes time to get involved and get to the point where you start noticing the same faces and realize your a part of something. It’s a lot more established. Chicago being one of the birth places of blues and jazz, it’s pretty well instilled in the live music here.

matthew warhol: You were the last Fat Night to move up there, right?

Dan Hanson: Nik, our drummer, was actually the last one but he came up right after me.

matthew warhol: Did you feel like you were starting over in Chicago?

Dan Hanson: Not really, just because we played up here a few times already and once we did get up here, we started making our way into lineups pretty quickly. It was just kind of another step, rather than starting over, a bigger step rather than figuring the whole thing out again. It’s just on a bigger scale.

matthew warhol: Are you finding it easier to get into your own niche—where as Orlando, with the smaller amount of musicians, are you finding yourself in a pocket more?

Dan Hanson: Um, I think it is very easy to find a niche here. I don’t know if we’re there yet. We’re still open minded with shows that come our way, but there have been a couple of pretty cool shows. One was with Durand Jones & The Indications who is on Colemine Records. We have a record out onColemine and they’ve been on the up and up. They brought a sold out show to a really cool venue up here called The Empty Bottle. And the same thing happened with another band on the label called The Dip. It’s been really having connections like that where if someone comes through, we can be like, “Hey, we’re here if you’re interested.” That seems to be a lot of what we’ve gotten into since we’ve been here as apposed to putting together lead slots for shows. That’s the one big difference I’d say. We’re kind of back to square one, opening up for bands before we can start laying down our own thing up here.

Fat Night Interview Orlando Music Blog The Vinyl Warhol
Photo by Lara Warman

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matthew warhol: I bet there’s something exciting about that though, especially since you’re not a new band. You kinda feel like you need to prove yourself, but you already have the chops as a band.

Dan Hanson: It’s been reassuring that we are heading in the right direction. We are toying around with some new sounds and getting a little more openminded towards what we’re doing.

matthew warhol: What are those new sounds?

Dan Hanson: About five months ago, we started on a new album, a full-length, and it’s the most songs we’ve had ready in a specific time where we’ve paired all the tunes together and it makes sense as a body of work. We’re starting to use a little more synth in some of the songs. We’re getting a little more comfortable with trying more for recording. We’re not afraid to do stuff that we wouldn’t be able to do live, like putting a bunch of vocal tracks on a song. We’re just focused on making a good recording.

matthew warhol: Do you think being in a new city has helped foster creativity?

Dan Hanson: I think so. The level of musicianship here is really diverse and really high caliber. You’ll find people in any genre killing it on any night of the week. It’s really cool to see how humble a lot of those people are too. Everyone’s just trying to make something good.

matthew warhol: Does the new album have a name yet?

Dan Hanson: It’s tentatively, but mostly likely, going to be called Live For Each Other, which is after the name of a song.

Fat Night Interview Orlando Music Blog The Vinyl Warhol

matthew warhol: Anything else you can divulge about the new music?

Dan Hanson: No release dates right now. We’re still wrapping out recording but I’d say we’re about 80% there. We did a huge chunk of the tracking while we were all in town. Colemine Records, who released one of our singles in the past, is going to be working with us on a release.

matthew warhol: Now, Gabe [vocals/keys] just moved to LA, right?

Dan Hanson: That’s correct, for about a month now.

matthew warhol: Part of me thinks that I would be frustrated with that, since you had all just gotten to Chicago. Does that mean anything different for the band?

Dan Hanson: It slows things down just a little bit, but everybody still has a pretty strong input on what’s going on. And it’s something that we’ve practically always been experiencing since this band started. We started—when it was just me, Nik, and Ted—Ted was in Tallahassee going to FSU. When he was in town, we’d just jam and make some music for fun. Then eventually, Ted was back in town, but Gave was going to school in North Carolina. When we could, we’d just make music for fun. Then Ted moved up to Chicago. And Gabe moved up to Chicago. We’re used to those kind of hurdles, but I think accepting that we can take as much time as we need is kind of comforting. It just feels like family. We all support what the others are doing. And we’re all just as interested in music.

matthew warhol: I imagine you have to have a pretty strong relationship to be able to do that.

Dan Hanson: Yeah, and we all go back… Gabe and Ted to go back as far as middle school and the rest of us since high school…

matthew warhol: Are you picking your nose on this webcam right now?

Dan Hanson: What’s that?

matthew warhol: Are you picking your nose on this webcam right now?

Dan Hanson: I might be. I kind of give no fucks when it comes to picking my nose. I think it’s a very natural thing to do. We come from apes, man.

matthew warhol: What do you usually do with the booger? Do you wipe? Flick them?

Dan Hanson: I mean… usually it’s just enough so if it’s itchy I’ll get it out of the way. If I am in a public place, I’ll try to find the most tactful way to expose of it.

matthew warhol: My thing is I just gotta get it off my finger as quickly as possible, caution to the wind. Getting into more of the music itself, there seems to be a lot of nostalgic sounds, reaching back into the past and pulling the music forward. How do you make sure it sounds new?

Dan Hanson: It’s barely conscious. A lot of the songwriting itself can be pretty in depth; we’ll get down to the nitty gritty detail-wise. But I don’t think there’s too much focus on making it sound a specific way. I think we’re just very aware of what we all like to sound like within the group. Everybody listens to what they like to listen to—we all really like old soul music—but a lot of it comes down to the way we’re playing it. It goes back into our relationship as a group. We understand where everyone is coming from when we’re making a song, trying to keep space for each other. I think that’s something indicative of those old soul bands, everyone gives each other enough space to let the song groove.

matthew warhol: With the vocals, specifically, how do you decide who’s going to sing what between you and Gabe?

Dan Hanson: Generally I or Gabe will come in with a formed song. We’ll play around with it and from there, we’ll come up with harmonies and bounce stuff off each other. Like, “I think you would sound good on this,” or “We should do a three part harmony here.” With “Honesty Man,” Ted wrote that song and he knew that he wanted Gabe to sing the lead on the verses and he wanted me singing the bridge and the chorus melodies. I think that goes back to us having a pretty good understanding with where everyone’s heads our at.

October 7: Fat Night at Ten10 Fest w/ Bask, Wet Nurse, Wolf-Face, & More.

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Fat Night Interview Orlando Music Blog The Vinyl Warhol

Fat Night Honest Man Orlando music

Fat Night – “Honest Man”

In my heart, Fat Night will always be an Orlando band. And I can’t wait until the next time they come to town to rip a dancefloor into funky pieces. Their latest is already a live staple that kicks erry time. If you’re in Chicago, you should consider yourself lucky.

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Fat Night Interview

Silent Night, Fat Night (sweater fest interview)

For the past few years, Orlando has shared funk darlings Fat Night with The Windy City, Chicago. The situation is similar to that of a divorced couple with kids. We get them on weekends, while weekdays are spent with that cheating whore. Luck for us, tonight happens to be Orlando’s turn, as Fat Night will be one of the many acts playing Sweater Fest. Dave Hanson (Sweater Fest organizer) and I (sweater aficionado) had a few questions for our Second City sons, some pertaining to Christmas, their latest release (that we reviewed), and that cheating whore I spoke about earlier. Enjoy.

Sweater Fest is TO-NIGHT. Check the lineup and set times here! And read more interviews here!

How did everyone end up in Chicago? What’s it been like relocating and have any new opportunities opened themselves up since the move? What are your hopes for having everyone together up there?

Gabe moved first, a couple years back, to pursue opportunities with The Second City Comedy School. Ted fell in love with the city while visiting Gabe and found a job (quite a few months) after college at a Chicago school. Daniel is still in the process of his move, so it’s still a bit of a work in progress. As of now, we’ve played here once while on tour and had a really great time. If Chicago becomes the place for us, the opportunities seem endless. There are so many outlets for the kind of music we play here, along with being in a more central part of the country, allowing us to explore places we’d love to tour more frequently.

What are the biggest differences in the music communities?

Orlando is so tight knit and centralized. Orlando definitely has a lot of killer musicians and great bands for a city of its size. Chicago has a population many times greater than Orlando, and with that, a staggering number of high caliber, session ready players, be they church musicians or kids that went to music school. There are many great shows and jams every single night and lots of cross pollination between musicians and bands. This can be both inspiring and intimidating as a musician, and both exciting and expensive as a fan of music.  

You guys put out an album called Lazy Days over the summer, how’s the response been to that, and how happy are you guys about how it came out? How has your sound and process evolved since the first release? 

We’ve had a strong, positive response to Lazy Days. It’s gotten more attention off the bat than our debut. We feel good about it too. It’s definitely a step forward from the first album, which had some songs written by us as 19 year olds. We were a little more meticulous this time around, as we were still writing some of the songs during the recording process. So we would do a bit of demoing up front to figure out not only where we wanted to take the structure of the songs, but how we wanted them to sound and feel along the way. With that being said, the vibes feel stronger and more like our own thing, which we’re super proud of.

I think more than most other music, R&B and soul relies heavily on a groove, a feeling, and that feeling is built into a song when the musicians mesh well together. How does this work in Fat Night? Is there some struggle to it? Do you guys give input to each other or kind of just let everyone do their thing?

Absolutely. Ted (bass) & Nik (drums) have been locked in from the beginning. They have really good chemistry and communication when it comes to establishing the back bone of our music. If ever there is a struggle, which isn’t very often, it’s worked out by just expanding upon the idea that someone brings in, or even trying hits on different beats or different parts of beats until a song or section is the grooviest and funkiest it could possibly be. Certain songs may have an instrument (including vocals) playing more of a lead role or being prominently featured, and we all know to stay in our lane and not step on any toes. We have a clear understanding of everyone’s style and usually go into the songwriting process keeping those factors in mind. 

After building an audience in Orlando, do you feel like you have to start over again in a new town?

Naturally, but it’s different. We’re going into something new with the knowledge we have of the past few years of growth we’ve experienced there.

How often should we expect to see you guys back in Orlando? Any plans to do a big tour between the two cities?

We seem to be able to play in Orlando at least four or five weekends a year. One reason Ted took a job at a school was for frequent touring and shows at home! No plans as of right now, but that sounds like a good idea!

What do you hope to see happening in the Orlando music community when you come back? What do you think it needs to grow into something nationally regarded?

I hope that the right people will make it possible for establishing a wider variety of venues in Orlando. Right now there are only a handful, and some aren’t accessible to every kind of show. Although what’s available is great, I think if there are more options, it will be more inspiring for all different kinds of events to start happening. 

Do any of you guys honor any strange Christmas traditions?

We often do an exchange with each other. The gifts have ranged from very thoughtful to very crappy. Sometimes during December shows, we will sneak Christmas lyrics and motifs into our songs, so keep your ears perked at Sweater Fest. 

What are you looking forward to most about Sweater Fest?

The crowd! Last year, everyone who showed up threw down. Will there be egg nog? The TG Lee Factory is right across the street…

SWEATER FEST 2015

SWEATER FEST 2015 (preview + playlist)

 “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
— Jesus (son of God)

SWEATER FEST 2014 was a landmark event. The night served as my introduction to incredible acts (and now, friends): Tiger Fawn, Someday River (at the time they were called Bellows), Fast Preacher, and ARK. On Saturday, December 19, I will again don my horrendous knitted outerwear and head to The Milk District for SWEATER FEST 2015. And this year’s lineup … oh yeah. Here’s a little taste test of the sweaty sweater goodness in-store, provided by your friends at Happy Camper Booking. Enjoy.

 If you’re at all familiar with this shitty website, you should recognize at least one of the bands on the bill. For some tight, feel-good grooves with a track record of dance hall boogie-woogie, check out Fat Night and Thrift House. When speaking of Fat Night’s 2015 EP, Lazy Days, TVW staff writer Graham Johnson had this to say:

The organ and guitar carry you throughout the album on waves of reverb and pure groove, inviting you to experience the graceful dance of the two instruments, performed by talented hands.

(Note: Fat Night are relocating to Chicago very soon, so this may be one of your last opportunities to see them kick ass, at least in the near future.)

I, myself, can vouch for Thrift House. This six-piece has only been playing live since September, but don’t be mistaken, Thrift House’s members are no spring chickens — this talent has spread itself all over Whorelando and beyond.

Maybe you consider yourself more of a rocker.”” Don’t fret little one; Daytona Beach doom woppers, Harum Scarum, and silly psych space aliens, Timothy Eerie, have the dance vitamins you crave, but with a really big muff (not what you think, but they probably don’t even use that pedal).

Rounding out this cozy, yet itchy, evening are SWIMM, Someday River, and Die Tryins. SWIMM, who jump back-and-forth between Orlando and Los Angeles, are indie poppy rocky sweetness, not unlike SWEATER FEST vets Someday River, who express the same sugary melodies, but with a cool funk. Die Tryins, on the other hand, are in a toe-tapping, indie bluegrass lane all their own. This band, formerly known as Goodrich & The Die Tryins, features Happy Camper’s Dave Hanson. He could have chosen to play with any of numerous bands he’s a part of, but he chose this one. That should convince you.

As if that wasn’t enough for your greedy commercialist ass, Frankasaurus Fresh will be hosting a silent disco on an outdoor stage. All of this for only $10. Doors are at 7, music starts at 8, and by 9, we may end the war against Christmas. Who knows?

Fat Night - 'Lazy Days' (ep review)

Fat Night – ‘Lazy Days’ (ep review)

Picture yourself sitting on a front porch on a beautiful Florida day, smokin’ cigarettes and watching the cars go by. Fat Night’s Lazy Days puts you there. The primary contributor appears to be the band’s deep roots in R&B and Latin vibes. Right off, skins (drums) walk on in with a jaunty jive, turning heads. You’re treated to laid-back strings (guitar), cruisin’ double time piano, and mellow guitar solo-ettes. The ride is as perfect and elusive as our chilled afternoon.

The organ and guitar carry you throughout the album on waves of reverb and pure groove, inviting you to experience the graceful dance of the two instruments, performed by talented hands. These elements rap around each other, only to suddenly repel, finally separating to show one another a thing or two. This is especially apparent on the tasty “Long Shadow Short Temper,” a fresh mix of call-and-return, paired to silky harmonies. A trippy organ solo leads you to the end of the street with the promise of a six-pack.

Regardless of the beautifully orchestrated keys and strings, one mustn’t detract from the marvelous vocals of the EP. The vocal lines take you on a ride down the coast with the top out and a damn good cigar to burn. Masterful use of triplets lends itself to the frequent off beats and groovy, riding bass. As if precise rhythms and sultry tones weren’t enough to keep your ear glued to your speakers, the vocal runs are capable of melting the frostiest of loins.            

Fat Night rounds off this lethargic afternoon with a conclusion, of sorts, with a drive into the sunset on “Thoughts.” As the sun comes down on Lazy Days, you receive a look-back, stylistically and emotionally, ending your journey as relaxed as you began it. ATTENTION SHOPPERS: Fat Night’s Lazy Days should go with you everywhere. It is fantastic for every occasion and will put you in the right mood every time. Keep it easy. Listen to Fat Night.

Fat Night – ‘Lazy Days’ (ep review) by Graham Johnson