Text: Jan Martinek
Foto: Dan Nelson archive, Jiří Olszar
Although DAN NELSON has been singing in loads of musical projects and bands, metal fans probably would know his name from his short appearance in legendary thrash metal band ANTHRAX (2007-2009). Dan was the original vocalist for the band's latest release Worship Music (2011), on which he co-wrote majority of the songs. Yet after his mysterious departure from the band, his vocal tracks were erased and replaced by the reunited singer Joey Belladonna. Dan unfortunately declined to answer all the questions regarding Anthrax, but spoke about many of his other musical endeavours.
Even though you are an accomplished singer and have worked on many projects, it's safe to say majority of the people probably doesn't know you. How would you introduce yourself?
Hi, I'm Danny, it's nice to meet you. (laughs)
Can you also introduce the bands and projects you sing with these days?
Since about December I have been writing and recording demos with one of my best friends JR, who is an amazing drummer. So I hope to be releasing some music of my own within the next few months. Also, over the past few years I have been recording and producing a lot of solo artists and bands in my studio here in New York. That's something I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to doing more of as well. I still occasionally play guitar and sing for the band Hawks Of Metropolis. We are all great friends, but the bassists job keeps him very busy and the drummer is also involved in his own musical projects. But we all enjoy creating together, so we get together as often as we can. I am also actually playing bass for quite a few projects these days. A lot of gigs for solo artists, covers shows and some metal as well.
Your musical range is very wide. You sing basically everything from blues to metal. What style appeals to you the most?
When did you start singing and who were your singing idols back then? Who are they now?
According to my parents, I have been singing ever since I could speak. My singing idols back then where probably Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and Mickey Mouse. Ha ha. My favorite singers nowadays is such a long and diverse list. But a few that come to mind are Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Jim Morrison, Ray Charles, Steven Tyler, Ozzy, Plant, Eddie Vedder and Jack White.
Did you take any vocal lessons? Or do you take them now?
Yes, I took about 2 or 3 vocal lessons about 7 years ago. And they were educational in teaching me certain things a performer would probably never think of on their own. Such as hydrating on long flights before a gig/tour, different cool down techniques after a performance, etc. But more than anything it helped me with my own teaching techniques while giving vocal lessons as well as vocal production over the past few years. Although I will say, at the end of the day I still believe that not thinking and singing from the heart works best for me. But everyone is different, the voice can be a delicate instrument.
After Anthrax, you joined a band called BlackGates with no one other than Paul Bostaph on drums. Later it was announced that you'd quit BlackGates and it seemed like you reunited with them again. Are you still a member of BlackGates or not?
Paul had asked me last summer about finishing some demos and then possibly recording an album down the line... schedules permitting. So that being said, I don't think anyone is really an 'active' band member in BlackGates at this time. Just four friends who possibly could record some great tunes again in the future if they can all find the time.
What's the status of BlackGates now that Paul is officially back with Slayer?
Paul, Jeremy and Luis are good friends of mine and amazing musicians. I couldn't be happier for Paul that he is back in Slayer. He is meant to be behind the kit of a monster metal band, so he's right where he belongs in my opinion. As for BlackGates, if there's time in the future we would all like to release an album one day since it's something we all both enjoy and believe in. But right now we are all on different paths in our musical careers... but if those paths ever do cross I'm sure all of us would feel blessed to create together again.
Is there a Dan Nelson solo record to expect? If so, what is it going to sound like? Would it be more metal, or more, let's say, alternative rock?
I'd have to say neither and both. I'm all over the place creatively these days... so it remains to be seen, and that's what makes it fun and exciting.
You did a cover version of Folsom Prison Blues. Why have you chosen this instant song?
I've always been a big fan of Johnny Cash's music. I would always jam on that song in rehearsal, so eventually myself and a few friends demoed it up. It was a good time recording a great tune.
We're from the Czech Republic. Do you remember the show at Noc plná hvězd festival in Třinec, on the first leg of your last European tour with Anthrax?
I remember the people and fans of Czech Republic very well, and remember them being awesome... I definitely look forward to when I get the pleasure of going there again. Whether it be musically, or just a vacation one day.
Care to say some last words to the readers and fans?
Many thanks to anyone out there that's taken the time to check out any of my music and art. I appreciate it and you greatly!