Band Spotlight: The Big 10-4
Interview With Lead Singer Dan Verduin
How do you cook up one of the most original rock albums on the rack today? When you're Dan Verduin of Big 10-4 ,the recipe is simple: lots of practice, tons of talent and a healthy helping of pure inspiration. Orlando's newest attraction is testing the boundaries with their debut release, Testing The Atmosphere, and the results are quite promising ... but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to hear why these guys will soon be testing an interstellar future at warp speed. Engage!
Photo Credits: Jeremy Cowart
[Janice French] What's it like to have your first album released on a major label?
Dan Verduin It's very exciting. We're getting a couple of dates and the feedback we've been getting is awesome. The enthusiasm definitely pushes this record the way we want to push it. Each show is getting more and more intense. We're about to head home to do one more big show for the week and we couldn't be more excited.
[Janice French] When you heard you were getting signed, how'd you get the news?
Dan Verduin We were being looked at by another label at the same time so there was a little bit of intensity involved between the two labels to see who could come up with a better idea of what we wanted. Universal and our management all worked together to make sure we got on that label. Basically, after a trip up to New York, we landed and our phones turned on and we all got the message that Universal had gotten the contracts ready. It was an exciting day to find out we could sign with the label we wanted.
[Janice French] Of the whole album is there any one song you feel the strongest about?
Dan Verduin Really that was one of the harder parts because, we tried to focus on special singles when we were we recording but we really didn't do that. We were supposed to, but we took care with the whole record. The producer had some favorites, the label had some favorites and I had some favorites but nothing that really stuck out above the rest of them. One of my favorites would be "Irony is Thick" just probably because it was one of the newer ones at the time and the last to be added.
[Janice French] How did you guys get together?
Dan Verduin It started working when my brother (Matt Verduin) came from South Florida and moved up to Central Florida to do this with me. We did two guitars 'til we found a drummer that was interested. He (James Russo) was a sound guy in the area and he loved what we were doing, so he joined the band. We just had a recent addition with bassist Matthew Reed. Over about three years we formed the whole idea to where we are today.
[Janice French] What is it like working with your brother? Do you thump each other on the head once in a while?
Dan Verduin We're very comparable actually. We really don't get on each others nerves as much as one would like to think. When we were younger we were total polar opposites and we pretty much pulled that together. When we all wake up together we're grouchy from the night before, but overall its been actually a blessing to have Matt, who I can really trust by my side, with me through this whole thing.
[Janice French] You have a degree from Florida Central University. How did you manage to balance your music and studying?
Dan Verduin I don't think I really did balance it. Going through college, I was really focused more on the music. I got good grades and all that, but music just kept blaring in my head and I really couldn't ignore it. I remember sitting there with my parents on graduation day and them asking me if I was going to law school or whatever. I said 'I don't think so. I am actually going to pursue this music thing.' It's been great so far and until it gives us the indication that it's not going to happen we'll keep trucking along.
[Janice French] Do you think that it was a fluke or fate that you're music career took off?
Dan Verduin I don't think there is much of a fluke involved with this thing because there is a strong foundation underneath it. Our shows started with pretty good crowds and they just continued to grow. So at least we always have a home and we're starting to build that in a circle around the State and a circle around the country. So I don't think there is really much of a fluke about it. We created a buzz and there is a work ethic instilled in us.
[Janice French] I've found that people who play music and are successful have to be almost possessed and driven by it. When did you first realize that you could sing?
Dan Verduin Probably road trips. During breaks and going back and forth to school, I always played music and I always sang along. I was interested and thought if they can do it maybe I can do it. Embarrassing enough I had to get over the stage fright thing. Probably the beginning of college is where I really started honing in on the singing and concentrating on the writing.
[Janice French] Where do you get your inspiration for writing music?
Dan Verduin Each different song comes from a different place, but it's just life things. I speak about things I go through in my life with a little universal tip on it. I make sure it's things people can relate to in their own way, not specifically the way I went through it. Definitely relationships I've been through, family situations, the decision in my life whether to go with this or the career, partying every night or meeting friends. I take inspiration where I can.
[Janice French] As a woman, your music gives me a glimpse of what goes on in a man's head. You seem to be able to express what you are thinking and feeling through your songs. How did you learn to recognize your inner self and your motivations?
Dan Verduin It's one of those things where you don't really realize your doing it. It's one of those things I don't really concentrate on, I just know. I've been told I write differently from other people. I just accept what it is because I don't really try to hold on to it or change it…I just accept it as mine. If you're asking what an artist draws from, it just comes naturally.
[Janice French] What is the craziest thing that has happened to you on the stage?
Dan Verduin I slipped on a monitor one night. I jumped on it right when we were doing a big part and with the song being "Walking Disaster" I fell on my face. I had to get up, check the irony of the situation and laugh with everybody on the stage. It was hilarious.
Big 10-4 (l-r): James Russo, Matthew Reed, Dan Verduin, Matt Verduin
[Janice French] I noticed that you have a huge, grass roots fan base and you stay and talk to the fans after a show. Do you feel it's a duty or is it a passion for you?
Dan Verduin There is no doubt it's a passion. They become friends and we're gonna come back to that area. The more people we can meet the more friends we have. It has just turned this touring into a very special thing. We're still in touch with everybody who sort of comes to the shows. There's not really a lot of people in the crowd that don't meet us because we stick around and try to sign everything. They do ask a lot of questions about the lyrics and what this meant or how it relates to them. We like to sit around and wait till the last person leaves and make sure there are no questions about this band that aren't answered. It's the only thing we have control over now.
[Janice French] Do you feel like a rock star?
Dan Verduin No. I don't think I ever will. I don't know what a rock star feels like. It feels good to have people interested, buying the record and being enthusiastic behind it. Without them we're nothing.
[Janice French] You're taking off on a big tour of the Southeast US. Are you mentally prepared for it?
Dan Verduin That we don't know yet. We have a little bit of time, a break before we have to concentrate. For me, being the singer, it's going to be tough because we're doing 24 (shows) out of 25 days and I'm hoping I can be ‘there' every night which I will be. You drink a lot of water and do a lot of stuff but we're learning that as we go. We've got to take care of ourselves mentally and physically when we're on the road. It's really awkward to sit in a van all day and drive to a place then maybe check into a hotel. You don't get much free time and mental time.
[Janice French] It's hard on the road. You have to eat right and remember beer is not food.
Dan Verduin No, it's not a meal. It's a side dish!
VISIT BIG 10-4 ONLINE www.big10-4/com
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