At the end of their American road trip, Dan & Mick stopped in to Riff City’s New Hope location for a live-recorded episode of That Pedal Show. In addition to an evening full of pedal demos, gear hacks, and tone tips with a live audience, Riff City’s own Joe Leach sat down with Dan & Mick to hear where it all began and to get their take on meeting and overcoming challenges as a player at any stage.
For the full interview with Dan & Mick, be sure to head over to the Riff City Guitar YouTube channel. Here are a few soundbites of the conversation…
How has your experience been with going from two guys playing guitar, talking gear, to having a following of fans?
Mick: You have to understand that “fans,” is a difficult concept for us!
Joe: I could sense that there is a very genuine, but good, discomfort with the whole idea that you could be walking down the street and someone would go, “Hey, it’s you two guys!”
Joe: Any business starts at a moment. When was that very moment for you?
Dan: The exact moment was walking into NAMM. Mick had recently left his position as the editor of Guitarist Magazine and he was contemplating coming over to NAMM. I told him, “I’ve got a hotel, come on over and stay.” Mick was helping me out with a few business things. But whenever we’d go to talk about business stuff, we’d just start talking about gear. We were hopeless of just trying to get any work done! We’re both big fans of the gear, the people who make the gear, and the inspiration behind the gear. We love that. Now we were walking to NAMM one morning trying to have this conversation, failed miserably just talking about gear, and then Mick said, “Let’s do this on YouTube. Let’s just talk about this on YouTube.” We got back from NAMM a week later and put up the camera.
Mick: Literally, in the corner of the back room of Dan’s office. Two cameras, terrible lighting, we just went ahead and did it. We’re about two years on from that and we never even thought that it would be a business. We thought we would just be talking about pedals on YouTube. We thought if we get 20,000 subscribers it’ll be amazing, then just four or five weeks ago we went through 100,000 and we’ve put on over 10% since then. So thank you!
Joe: Do the two of each have a favorite episode of That Pedal Show in that journey to 100,000?
Mick: I think it will probably be the same one. You go first.
Dan: Joey Landreth.
Mick: Yes, Joey Landreth. Joey has become a great friend of ours. He’s a Canadian musician, singer, songwriter, and guitar player. How Joey is not a household name is staggering to us. We sat in a room and plugged in an old brown-face Fender with harmonic tremolo and had that running with a Victory V40 Deluxe with the tremolo going on. It was just moving.
Dan: It reduced me to tears, genuinely. I’m emotionally involved with this stuff and that was the one episode where I had to walk off camera because it was that powerful.
Joe: Is there a topic in this realm of pedals that the two of you enjoy talking about most on the show?
Mick: It’s less a topic and more of a state. When the sound is working and the whole thing is happening your level of inspiration and your level of creativity goes to this other place. It doesn’t matter what your creative outlet is. There’s this thing where the emotion and the inspiration bypasses all the decision making and it flows, that’s it.
Joe: Would you agree that playing live puts you in that place? Is there something about that experience that is fundamentally different from rehearsal?
Dan: Yeah I do agree. But some of my greatest musical moments have been at rehearsal, rehearsing with other players. As long as you’re conscious that the goal is making music. If you’re in rehearsal and it’s all about ticking the boxes that’s great. But if you’re with a bunch of guys and it’s just about creating music and sounds and you let yourself go to that place where you become emotionally involved with what’s coming out, then some of the best moments you can have are in that rehearsal space.
Joe: For many players, that live experience is daunting, even a barrier. What advice would you have for bridging that rehearsal to a live gig in order to grow as a player?
Mick: There’s two things I’d say. First, one gig is worth at least ten rehearsals, for me. You’re in the moment and it’s visceral. Second, you should never worry about what people think because despite what you might think, the audience is with you and they want you to be good, they want you to succeed. And you have to remember, your definition of a mistake is somewhat different from the people watching. They might not even know! If you can just remember from their point of view, you’re there for them, you’re not there for you. If you can just step over that little barrier and stop worrying about yourself and start worrying about them, everything gets 100% easier.
How important is holistic well-being to succeeding as a creative, guitarist, or musician?
Mick: Whatever it is that gets you in that spot of suspended reality [movies, physical training, racing, etc.] is very good for your condition. It’s very good for your brain and body and soul. Robert Keeley sent in a question for the live show last night, asking “How important is mental and physical health to musicianship?” It’s everything.
Dan: Mental health is a big question at the moment. This sort of stuff is so important for that. In any outlet, from music to Jiu Jitsu, if you’re having a bad day people are going to know about it.
Mick: They only thing being in good mental health is not good for is songwriting!
Joe: Thanks to both of you, I appreciated you being here with us. And to everyone else who was with us, have a fantastic day.
That’s our brief on Joe’s chat with Dan & Mick. For more details and discussion on topics not covered here—such as Dan’s secret Jiu Jitsu training for the Octagon and Mick’s motorcycle mania—head over to our YouTube channel and subscribe there for fresh content. For more That Pedal Show, check out the Riff City Blog for weekly coverage.