I have no musical training but have been an avid music fan since I was about 5 years old."
Walk us through the early history of Dan Vapid.
"In 1987 I started singing in a hardcore band called Generation Waste. We were influenced by bands like 7 seconds, Minor threat, AOF, etc…We got lots of great shows, was having fun and the experience was awesome. But, deep down I kept hoping Generation Waste would write songs with more melody to it like Bad Religion and Social Distortion. At that time, I was just a singer and our guitarist was writing the lyrics and co-writing music with our bass player. I was discovering the early punk rock bands and it was becoming clear to me what i truly wanted to play. When I heard Ramones and Naked Raygun I was forever changed and knew I wanted to take music much more seriously. GW broke up by 1988 and for about a year I tried to form a melodic punk band (the term "Pop punk" not invented yet) but nothing worthwhile came out of it. In 1989, Ben Weasel asked if i wanted to join his band Screeching Weasel. I gladly accepted as I was already a huge fan of the band's latest record "boogada boogada boogada" In 1990 I formed Sludgeworth during SW year long hiatus. At that point, I felt like I was finally getting it right and wanted to push forward."
In your musical career, what has been the single most significant, defining event and why?
“I don't have a single defining moment. I do have a few that stand out and were important. Aside from early days of picking up the guitar and having something "click', working on Screeching Weasel "My brain hurts" was very important. It was the first record I collaborated on and my bandmates and producer liked my ideas. That encouragement produced confidence to keep at it. There was also the first time my mom saw me play live with Sludgeworth. We opened for Naked Raygun. There were about 2,200 people there and were very well received. After our set my mom and older brother were escorted backstage. She looked so impressed and proud and kept smiling. Seeing that in the same day opening for Naked Raygun was priceless. I wasn't especially great at sports and felt like such an outcast growing up. I felt like I never gave her much to be proud of and that I finally achieved something. Playing Cobo Hall with the Riverdales in Detroit with Green Day was another. The Kiss Alive record was recorded there. When I was about 6 or 7 years old I would listen to that record non-stop and stare at the people on the back cover. I remember walking on stage being extra nervous because that Kiss record was all I thought about. It was so surreal. There's also the first time hearing a song I wrote in a movie. That was also surreal.”
“Simple. I really love writing songs. That more than anything is what keeps me moving forward after all these years. There's always some song idea going through my head. When an idea pops in my head I feel compelled to flush it out and see where it goes. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But it's that feeling of creating something that I truly love.”
Dan Vapid’s Musical Struggles
#2 Not over thinking shit. Letting things happen naturally and resisting the urge to perfect everything. What usually happens when you over think and try perfecting things too much is all the charm and life gets sucked out. If you want a song to have life, let it breath. Don't choke the shit out of it.
#3 Have the courage to be yourself. Find your true voice and reach your potential. I'll never be able to write like my favorite songwriters and that's perfectly fine. Being you is what's unique. It's kinda like a fingerprint. Nobody has the same.
#4 Writing lyrics. Lyrics are the hardest part for me. I don't like writing lyrics before I hear the music because I find that it has a "slapped on" feel to it. So, I write lyrics to melody and the words usually take a long time to hone. I could write chord structures with melodies all day long. To me, that's the easy part.”
What have you learned from playing punk for decades?
"Something where lyrics and music merge in a perfect marriage, like they were meant to be. Something where the sum is more than its parts. Something that soars in the air, Something that gives you chills, goosebumps, speaking on a deep and visceral level. Something that takes you to places you didn't know existed. Something that makes you air drum without being conscious of it. All of this. "
Ah-ha! Dan Vapid describes his musical Ah-ha moment.
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If you could get everyone you care about to listen to one song, album, ensemble or band, what would it be and why should everyone you know check this out?