There comes a moment out in God’s Country, cruising along past fields under cultivation, where you realize you’re nodding your head to what is undeniably country. It’s the polar opposite to taking in a progressive debate about gun control while maneuvering around LA in your Tesla. Right soundtrack for the right spot. Actually, having been born in LA before migrating east, living in Philly, North Carolina and now Nashville, Dan Harrison is someone who can undoubtedly understand the possibilities of contrast. If Harrison was trying to nail the modern country sound then he succeeded with his latest single “Nowhere Bar.”
He backs in carefully to the nu-country driveway with a little chord plucking, before charging off at full-tilt, V8 cylinders firing. The music is definitely way more Top 40 pop than Man in Black at Folsom Prison grit. What sounds like programmed drums really solidifies that energy. The story is a familiar one. It’s only 10 more miles to Raleigh. We’ve got hot air and cold beer. We’re making meaning connections in the back of a Nowhere bar. This reminds me of the type of song that would actually work well as a pop-punk number if these guys were less about the dirt roads and more about Hot Topic. But they’re not. And so we’ve got this: a sing-alongable track with a guitar solo that soars as high as an American eagle. If you’re looking for an alternative to the Florida Georgia Line-ification of the country sphere, you won’t find it here. But if that’s your jam, if you just scored a fracking job down at the Eagle Ford and need some music for the truck, or if you’ve got a rodeo to photograph and want to get in the mood, then try this on for size.
Listen to "Nowhere Bar" here, and learn more about Dan Harrison in our interview below!
What does country mean to you?
Country to me evokes a certain life style, beyond the cowboys, honky tonks, and whiskey. It’s truth plainly yet vividly spoken, with melodies that are crafted from emotion and not just mechanically or mathematically. I think it’s music that speaks to something authentic and deeply-rooted in our humanity, regardless of where you’re from. Overall, it’s proof that life, with something as simple as three chords and the truth, is more than the sum of its parts.
Why do you think country music loves its universal themes?
I think that country music has the same themes as all music, which are human themes: love, hate, joy, anger, sadness, family, faith, etc. What it does so well as a genre is its emphasis on visualizing these themes in a song’s lyrics; listening to a country song can be like watching a movie or reading a novel, and it tends to have a greater impact on the listener that way.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
I grew up listening to and loving a lot of different artists and genres. Some key non-country influences for me are Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Green Day, Kanye West, and John Mayer. In terms of country, I loved Johnny Cash and Shania Twain as a kid, but in college was where I really found a passion for it. Some of the artists who influenced me a lot, and are a part of the reason I’m in Nashville, are Eric Church, Brad Paisley, Zac Brown, Jake Owen, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, and Florida Georgia Line.
What's the key to taking part in the Nashville scene, while still retaining what makes you unique as an artist?
Being a successful part of the music scene in Nashville requires patience, hard work, an open mind, professionalism, and self-belief; all of those qualities are also key to maintaining your uniqueness as an artist. It’s easy to get swept up in what the latest trend on radio is; I think it’s important to stay current and find what of it resonates with you, but at the same time I think people value honesty and intention, so knowing who you are as a person and an artist can help you grow your strengths and widen your comfort zone, without trying to be something you’re not just to fit in a certain box. To quote some great songwriters here in town: “Follow Your Arrow”.
Was there a journey you went through to bring this song to completion?
This song was one that I had started before I moved to Nashville; I had a version of it that I brought to one of my earliest writing sessions after I moved. I knew I liked the melody and concept, and we were able to develop it into something that really resonated with me lyrically and musically. We did spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to capture the interaction in the story in as concise yet impactful of a way as possible. After we made a demo and got some pretty great reactions to it, we went back into the studio and really focused on making sure that it had that special energy that captures your attention right from the start. I think we did it, and I hope people agree!
What's next for you through 2019?
We’re planning to do a new song every 2-3 months for the next year or so, as well book a regional tour to really promote the music and get it out there. We’re off to a great start, so it’s about continuing and growing that momentum exponentially; I’m really excited about what’s coming next and can’t wait to share it with everyone!
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