ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 16, 2003
By Steve Newton
Danny Michel is a DIY kinda guy. For the most part, the Ontario tunesmith wrote, produced, recorded, engineered, edited, programmed, and mixed his new CD, Tales From the Invisible Man. He did it at his home studio and played guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards as well.
“If you can do it yourself, do it yourself,” Michel says on the phone from his home out in the woods near Guelph. “I’ve done that for years, on lots of my records, just ’cause I love recording that way. You know, I have a real vision of what I want it to be like.”
When it comes to live performance, though, Michel is much more of a sharing sort. He has performed solo in the past—using pedals to loop his guitar parts—but when he warms up for 54•40 at the Commodore on Friday and Saturday (October 17 and 18), he’ll benefit from the backing of a guitarist, bassist, and drummer. Michel says he’s really grateful for the opportunity to open for his buddy Neil Osborne’s band, but he vows to give the hometown heroes a run for their money in the rockin’ department.
Michel has ripped up a few stages over the years. At one time he was fronting an all-star band that included vocal sensation Emm Gryner on bass, Veal’s Luke Doucet on guitar, and Gavin Brown on drums. But a reunion of that lineup isn’t in the cards.
“It’s probably pretty unrealistic,” he relates, “ ’cause everyone is so busy. Luke’s doing his own thing, I think Emm’s living in the States, and Gavin’s a big record producer now. So I don’t think any of us will even ever stand in the same room again, on the same day.”
Brown played drums on three tracks on Tales From the Invisible Man, including the infectious single/video “Perfect”. That catchy tune is currently getting some mainstream-radio play, thanks in part to the efforts of Michel’s new label, MapleMusic Recordings, home to such Canuck stalwarts as Kathleen Edwards, the Headstones, and Gordon Downie. Michel describes MapleMusic as “very artist-friendly”, but that didn’t stop him from causing a bit of a commotion with the label when he wore a T-shirt sporting the word Benfica for the Invisible Man cover shoot.
“I bought that shirt at Value Village for 99 cents,” he explains, “because I liked the logo, and I had no idea what it meant. I wore it when we did the photo, and someone at the record label said, ‘What does that mean?’ I was like, ‘You know what? I have no idea,’ and everyone was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa—we gotta find out what this means. It could be a terrorist group or something!’
“So we found out that it was a soccer club. Apparently there’s two rival soccer teams in Portugal, and that’s one of them. So by putting that on my record, I’ve automatically made half of Portugal hate me and the other half love me.”