Just Parker has been a long time in the making, the solo project of Dan Parker, who also plays guitar in widely acclaimed pop/punk band A Chance Of Pace. More on the side of The Rocket Summer and Jack’s Mannequin, Everything Around Me is an introspective work fully conceived by Dan Parker – who wrote, performed and produced very single note on the recording. Dan recently played his first show as Just Parker and hopes to do some more live gigs before his main band starts touring again. Here is an interview we conducted with Dan to discuss his work in both Just Parker and A Change Of Pace…
How long have you had the idea for Just Parker and what made you decide to do a solo project?
-Just Parker has been an idea of mine for years, since before I was in A Change of Pace. I was in a heavier band called Don’t Let Go, and I wanted to do sort of a softer solo project. I’ve always played a lot of instruments, and when I first heard The Rocket Summer years ago, I was like, “That’s cool that he writes and performs everything on his records. I could do that!”
How easy or difficult was it to record everything on your new CD? Were there any parts that were more difficult than others?
-In general it was sorta difficult to create the entire record in a sense because I was doing it entirely on my own. No band members to help with the composition of the songs and no producer to offer their insight in creating the record. It was a really cool experience to be able to test myself on every aspect of making a record.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Everything Around Me?
-There is somewhat of a story. The album title is a lyric from the bridge of a song on the record called, “Everything in Between“. The song talks about how everything around me is music. I hear it everywhere I go in the weirdest situations. I’ve had riffs or rhythms that have been inspired by dropping a pencil on the ground and hearing how it bounces, to touching the moving blades of a fan and hearing the rhythm it makes as they touch your hand. It also ties in with the album cover, my press photo, and MySpace layout. There is a picture of me holding my hands out and out comes all sorts of musical notation flying around me to signify how everything around me is music.
Where do you get the ideas for your song lyrics? Please cite two songs off the new CD and what the lyrics are about.
-I get ideas for lyrics in all different kinds of ways. As a songwriter I have little ideas pop in my head all day long, so I jot them down in my phone or something. My phone is literally full of random lines and whatnot that have popped in my head. And then of course I get lyrical ideas just by living life and experiencing it’s everyday challenges. The song, “Someone Take a Chance on Me” is one of my favorites because it describes my life story trying to pursue music but dealing with the industry’s woes as the chorus explains, “Someone take a chance on me, someone please believe.” etc. The song opens up describing how when I was very young, I first heard The Beatles and how I knew that I had to do everything in my power to be able to do what they did. Another song, “Highway Life” (which are both available online for free streaming) is kind of a cool story because there are a couple of pieces to it. Again, it discusses me trying to follow my dreams, but I wrote it in a way where the girl in the lyrics, referred to as “she” is really the state of Arizona. I moved to Arizona in the middle of high school and absolutely hated it. The song talks about how I hated it here but then grew to love it and now miss it when I’m on the road.
Has Just Parker ever performed live and if so, did you perform on your own or with a full band?
-Just Parker has never performed live, however, my first show is this weekend on May 8th here in Tempe, AZ. It’s going to be a full band line-up made up of one of my brothers and some friends. I’d prefer if every show I play is a full band line-up, but I may play by myself if need be here and there either on acoustic guitar or piano.
Do you think you may find time to tour for the Just Parker CD?
-Ya know, that’d be really cool, but I think it would be hard to find the time. Just writing and making the album was hard enough to find time for. A Change of Pace has a new record coming out soon, and when that’s out we should be touring all over non-stop for the album cycle, so I think it’d be kinda hard to get out on the road with JP. But I do want to play some shows here and there with JP when ACOP is home from tour. But perhaps one day!
What do you think of the current local Arizona music scene?
-I feel like the Arizona scene is pretty strong. We have a lot of great local bands, national bands, venues, promoters, producers, and so on. I feel like it’s a great place to be in a band. On top of it all, the fans out here in AZ are extremely supportive, and for that I’m grateful.
How has being in A Change Of Pace changed your life and how did you become involved with the band?
-A Change of Pace has changed my life in a big way. I was asked to be in the band summer of 2006, shortly after the demise of my aforementioned band Don’t Let Go. I had been friends with the guys for years as our bands played together all over Arizona, so they asked me to be in the band because they wanted to take their singer off guitar and bring in a new guitarist. A Change of Pace has taken me all over this country over and over, allowed me to meet some really great bands and kids on the road, and taught me a ton about the music industry.
The new ACOP vocalist Micah Bentley is an even newer member in the band than you. How does he compare to the older vocalist and when is the new ACOP full length coming out?
-I think Micah is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. He’s a great songwriter, vocalist, musician, athlete…I could go on. Everything the kid does is great. He’s also incredibly driven and hard-working which is a big reason we brought him in this band, because we were lacking that before. As far as the new ACOP album goes, we don’t have an official release date yet, but we’re looking at a fall 2010 release.
Do you still keep in touch with Torry Jasper at all?
-We do keep in touch with Torry and we’re all on good terms. Don’t see him all the time, but around here and there and it’s always a good time. He’ll always be a special friend to us even if things didn’t work out.
How about asking ACOP if Just Parker can open for all of the shows on tour? Is that something you would even want to do?
-Haha, I’m not so sure on that. Don’t know if I can handle two sets every night, I’m getting old! Jk.
Have you ever played Warped Tour and if so, what advice would you give a band about to attempt the Warped Tour for the first time?
-Yes I have. And my advice for bands getting on Warped Tour is just work as hard as you can to stand out and promote your band and your time slots. There are a billion bands on Warped, so it’s hard to stand out sometimes. Oh, and drink lots of water!
Any messages for people reading this who might want to check out Just Parker?
-I always try to make it abundantly clear how much I truly appreciate everyone’s support. I know there are a million billion bands out there and we all say that, but I’m being 100% honest. I will never take for granted that I get to make music for a living (I used to pick up dead animals for a living, true story!) and I owe it all to every last person who has supported me in this crazy journey. I still have a ways to go and all I can do is hope to have people’s continuing support.
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
Just Parker on Myspace
A Change Of Pace on Myspace