Album review: DANNY DANZI – Tribulations

DANNY DANZI - Tribulations

Escape Music [Release date 24.09.21]

Danny Danzi is back with his third album (hardly prolific as his debut was released back in 1999!). His 2003 album ‘Danziland’ still gets regular plays by this reviewer. This album has been ten years in the making and is a loosely based concept album on the life and challenges of Danny, Guy DeFalco and Joe DeFalco. All the songs are written and arranged by Danny, Joe and Guy.

Opener ‘Accountable’ sets the musical stall out early – riff driven melodic hard rock with catchy as hell choruses. The sort of song many studio projects try to write but inevitably fail at. The DeFalco’s were meant to play on the album but time constraints meant they couldn’t, so everything on the album (bar the bass by Emlyn Harrison on the appropriately titled ‘Help Me Out’) was played and performed by Danny Danzi.

Danny is also no slouch when it comes to guitar solos as the one on ‘Carry Me Back’ proves.

‘Where Do We Go’ adds in some pomp to the proceedings, particularly on the song’s final third. Contrast that with the no messing riffing on ‘Help Me Out’. Reminded me a bit of Ken Tamplin’s solo works in the way he arranged backing vocals.

‘Arms Wide Open’ and ‘Forever’ provide a bit of old school melodic rock, each one has an insanely infectious chorus.

‘Broken’ is the nearest we get to a ballad on here, again those wonderful harmony vocals make an appearance.

So good to have Danny back and making music. A joyous melodic hard rock album full to the brim with memorable and enjoyable tunes. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

Danny lets us know more about the recording of the album and possible live dates…

How did you hook up with Escape Music for the new album?

I met Khalil in 1998 when I was shopping my first deal for SLIT. So we’ve sort of been acquaintances since then. I approached him to do this album and he was interested. But I was a bit unsure because 2 times I was burned with Euro labels.

I was pretty set on releasing on my own at the time so I passed on the first deal Khalil had offered. I released a single in February called “Do Me A Favor” and it was a test to see if anyone even remembered me or showed any interest. It also was my way of testing the streaming music format to see how good or bad it was. Upon the release of my single, I shared it with Khalil and he said “why don’t you let me release the album?” We talked, came up with a deal that worked for both of us, and here we are. He’s awesome and I’m completely happy with my decision. He’s been a man of his word with everything and we both trust each other. That’s all you can ask for really.

This album has been a few years in the making. Did you plan to release an album’s worth or was there perhaps a thought to release a few songs at a time? EP releases seem to be on the increase for many artists in these streaming dominated times.

Basically what happened was, after my last release with MTM, I was pretty broken hearted. One day I heard on a message forum that MTM went bankrupt. They never bothered to contact me. I threw my hands up in the air and said “I’m done with this.” We spent a ton of time on DanziLand only to be screwed by another label.

One day in 2010, my long time friends the DeFalco’s and I decided we’d get together once per week and write just to see what we’d come up with. The first song we wrote was “Restitution” and we knew something truly special was taking place.

Sometimes we were unable to get together and there’s only so much you can get done in one night for a few hours. In 2017, we finished pre-production for 13 songs and were set to record. They got busy with their construction business and were unable to record with me. My fiance and I talked over the holidays and she convinced me to play all the instruments and do it all myself. I started tracking the album on January 2, 2018. A year and 9 months later, the album was complete.

There was never a gameplan to release singles or an EP. We just wanted to write until we got 30 songs and wanted to pick 10 or 12 songs for a self release.

Guy DeFalco and Joe DeFalco are a key part of the writing process. How did you adapt given the current pandemic and restrictions?

Absolutely they were. We don’t get this album without Guy and Joey. We didn’t have to adapt to anything really. When we write and work together in the studio, we are about 8 feet apart anyway and wouldn’t risk getting together if any of us were sick. Joey also has his own studio so we also exchanged ideas and emailed each other. His brother Guy lives 5 minutes from him so they were able to create at Joey’s place and I was able to create at mine.

As Escape are good at re-issues, are there any plans to re-issue your previous two albums? If there was, would there be any unreleased songs to add as bonus material?

We actually never talked about that. Both SLIT and DZL are available on all streaming media services. I’ve not had anyone approach me to buy any of my CD’s in a long time. If Escape did ask or offer to do that, I’d consider it. I don’t think I’d put any additional material on them though. You’re talking about albums that are pretty old now. I’d want to put something that would fit on them stylistically, but in my opinion, I don’t feel I write in those styles as much any longer. It’s kinda senseless to put something that is totally new on an album that’s over 20 years old, ya know?

How long and how do you get those distinctive backing vocals you use throughout the album? It is a unique part of your sound.

I really didn’t do any crazy production tricks this time. The album is very scaled down instrumentally speaking as well as with backing vocals. Most times you’re hearing two back up vocals with a 3 part harmony on chorus parts. On DZL I layered backups like crazy. It’s just overkill. What you hear on Tribulations is ME being me without hiding behind massive production and effects.

Now the backing vocals are processed a special way using a few cool tools, but it would probably be too geeky and “production oriented” for common folks to care about. So I’ll spare you that part. Haha!

But they didn’t take much time at all. A few hours where most of the time went into trial and error more than the actual performances. The biggest vocal production is the the middle section after the guitar solo on “Where Do We Go”. Quite a bit of layering on that song. But I felt it was needed for the idea I was going for.

All being well, are you planning any live shows to back up this release?

Absolutely! I have a live band in place right now that is currently learning the entire Tribulations album as well as a few songs from SLIT and DanziLand. So if people want to see us and a tour is possible, my guys and I will be ready.

Looking back on the interview we did with you back in 2004(!), you mentioned you experimented with recording techniques and sounds in your spare time. Do you have any plans to perhaps produce/mentor other artists when they are planning recording?

I still make time for what I call “lab work” in the studio. I try to keep up on the latest techniques and I also love to debunk the myths from people that try to make others feel recording is a dark art. It’s more simplistic than people make it out to be.

As for mentoring, yes. I teach recording lessons to students and also produce other artists. I’ve had quite a few fantastic artists that I’ve worked with. Some I just record and produce, others I play guitar drums or bass and sometimes I sing lead vocals or back ups for them. I do whatever is needed.

How do you think you guitar playing and style has developed through the years?

I think I’ve become a better songwriter and use the guitar more melodically as a writing tool. I play for the songs first and foremost. It’s too easy to allow the shred bug to make a guitar player more into an Olympic athlete than a song writer. There’s not a solo I can write that will ever make more than 500 or less people remember me. But a good song may touch the lives of thousands. Which would you prefer? :)

Have you ever been tempted to join, or indeed been asked, to be in a band? Or do you prefer being solo and working to your own demands/time constraints.

Yeah. I’d take the right situation right now if I was offered anything worth while. I’ve never gotten that golden invite though. I’m only a solo artist because I could never find the right band and I was sick and tired of singers that sucked. You get guys that either can’t sing but put on a good show, or a guy that can sing that has no presence and is just an idiot as a human being. That gets old fast and can break up a band in seconds. You lose the voice, you lose the band. That’s not EVER going to happen here.

Message for your fans…

I can’t express how blown away I am that people haven’t forgotten about me. Seriously….some of the kind words I’ve received have brought tears to my eyes. Some of the nicest things I’ve ever heard in all my years of doing this. Thank you and you are part of the reason I decided to do this again. Without you, I’m playing to the spiders on the walls in my studio. Your love, support and kindness will never be forgotten. Please continue to spread the word. The more we can get people into my music, the more of a chance we can come and play for you. There’s nothing I’d like more than to play for you, meet you and thank you in person. Sincere thanks, and much love always!

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