It may be hard to conceive how one broken leg and a long stay in a hospital could inspire one to write a single song let alone a whole album, but in Dan Carney’s case, he has achieved just that. Previously a member of the the east London five-piece folk band, Dark Captain, Carney is now going it alone after the band finished in 2012
After the acclaim for the Skydive single, the debut album ‘Hollow Ponds’ is now available to download from Lo Recordings. Initially conceived last year, this album was created whilst Dan was laid up in hospital awaiting surgery for a badly fractured leg. The fracture ward that housed Dan on his road to recovery was located near to Epping Forest and ‘Hollow Ponds’ is an area within the forest also known as Leyton Flats. Coupled with the strong longing to be walking and the effects of the morphine, these woods began to take on a very mystical edge and his dreams of escaping to these realms would now be put into writing
‘Hollow Ponds’ is an album of dreamy pondering and escapism. Beautifully constructed and intensely atmospheric, this is an album of exploration and freedom; the journeys of a mind trapped inside a hospitalized body.
‘In My Direction’ is the second single taken from ‘Hollow Ponds’ and is due for release on the 19th January. Drift into this as its minimal rhythm drives you through the song, giving way only when the chorus kicks in. There is an air of Iron and Wine meets Crosby Stills and Nash about this track
I was lucky enough to get hold of Dan Carney to ask him a few questions, here’s what he had to say:
1. Had you intended to go solo after Dark Captain disbanded? Was it an idea you already had? How much impact did the accident with your leg have on the birth of ‘Hollow Ponds? I was starting to feel like I wanted to do something on my own, and that a “band” set-up didn’t really suit me that much any more. When I hurt my leg it made me realize, as these things can, how much I’d been taking for granted, letting things drift by without doing what I really wanted to do. So I just decided to get on with it. Some of the songs were already written so it was kind of a rolling start. As well as kicking me into starting Astronauts and informing some of the songs/lyrics on ‘Hollow Ponds’, my accident also made me realize that any time spent doing anything other than music is, for me, kind of a waste of time and spirit. So I put pretty much all of my energies into music now. I don’t have as much money but I’m about 500 times happier!
2. What do you make of people comparing you to the likes of Crosby Stills and Nash, Fleet Foxes and Iron and Wine? Do you consider these your influences? What has influenced you both musically and creatively? I’m happy to be compared to anyone, as long as it’s favourable! I like all those artists but I wouldn’t say I’m that influenced by any of them. I love all sorts of things, from Washington DC punk rock to grime and hip-hop, US indie rock, singer/songwriter stuff, soul music, British psychedelia/Canterbury scene.
I can get as excited about a clicky, stuttering beat on a dance track, or a particular bass drum sound, or the general concept of Slayer, as I can about a chord change in an Elliott Smith song. Having said all that, a more knowledgeable friend introduced me to David Crosby’s first solo album ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’ a few years back – it’s now one of my favourite records ever.
3. Are you planning to tour anytime this year? Yes definitely – there are some shows in Italy in February, and then shows in France and Luxembourg booked for March. I don’t have a full band when I do this, as it’s too difficult to organize, so we do them as a duo – acoustic guitars and backing tracks. It’s seemed to work well so far.
4. It was highlighted in the write up on Lo Recordings that you had ventured into uncharted territories with your new material, especially in tracks such as,‘Try To Put It Out Of Your Mind’, ‘Vampires’ and ‘Openside’. What makes these different and how did you alter your songwriting to explore these new realms? ‘Vampires’ and ‘Openside’ are different from stuff I’ve done previously as they involve noisy, scratchy guitars! The bass and drums from ‘Openside’ were recorded live in a studio – the semi-improvised breakdown at the end happened naturally, so I decided to leave it in. I still love the old open-tuned acoustic guitar sound that is a bit of a “trademark” of mine (if I have a trademark), but I’ve always enjoyed making noise, so it was great to do that.
‘Try To Put It Out Of Your Mind’ is a weird beast, and one of my favourite songs from the album. It grew from a cyclical acoustic guitar part and turned into this thing with a big melancholy, droney intro and a kind of industrial-sounding beat which involved me hitting a guitar with an e-bow. I don’t know if I’ve ever “altered” my songwriting as such – I don’t tend to sit around with a guitar all that much – I’ll often make a drumbeat on my laptop and go from there, or layer up some organ sounds, and that’ll kick something off. Just follow my nose basically, and get lost in it. And Astronauts allows me to do that.
5. Finally, did you ever go for that walk around Hollow Ponds??
I sure did! I live about 300 yards from there now. It’s lovely.
You can download Hollow Ponds here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/hollow-ponds/id899685125
For more information: http://www.lorecordings.com/release/hollow-ponds/