25 Feb. 2012

Dinosaurs, birds, volleyball & music: An Interview with The Dapper

It’s a brisk, Saturday night around Fountain Square.  As I travel further down the rabbit hole and end up in this Wonderland of a cabaret, something catches my eye:

A dinosaur and a bird have taken the stage to light applause, ready to perform to the crowd.  No, that’s not meant to be literal.  Rather, it describes an artist’s rendering of local Indiana rock duo The Dapper.

No strangers to the music world, friends Aaron Lucas and Dan Porter started collaborating on various projects as early as 2007.  Since then, they’ve released several EPs every year, played numerous shows all around the area and above all else, are having the time of their lives doing it.  All in all, not bad for band who still don’t see themselves as more than just two friends who write and play music.Impressed by what I had seen during their set, I knew I had to find out more.  So I caught up with the duo after their performance to talk beginnings, songwriting, dinosaurs and birds and more:

Tell me about The Dapper

Dan Porter-We started, me and Aaron were working on a documentary about volleyball.  It’s really random.  I was writing the music, he was doing a lot of research.  By the end of the thing, we were working together on some stuff.  We asked him to come in and play guitar.  Then I moved to Canada.  He stayed in Indiana, and we did some…international collaboration stuff, and then I moved back and then we started doing tracks and then…got going.  So now we’re both in Indy and we’re giggin’ and playing and it’s cool.

You were working on other projects before you actually started on this one?

DP-Yes.  Actually, Aaron hired me as his producer for his record and then we started collaborating and it started going and…we just formed a band and then all that kind of stuff.

Aaron Lucas-I had been playing solo for a while, and just kind of found out randomly that Dan plays a lot of different instruments.  So we started working together after he helped me record a few tunes, and the whole collaboration through via the internet so to speak actually worked out really well for us.  When he came back, it just made it that much easier to do more tunes together.

When did you come back?

DP-I would’ve been 2009.  January 2009.

So about three years then?

DP-Yeah this is the third year.  We’ve been musically dating for a while now (laughs).

AL-Yeah, because that was the year I graduated college.  So that makes sense.

DP-Yeah, I mean it’s not really…super official.  It’s just kind of okay (laughs).

AL-It’s really hard for us to consider ourselves like a real thing.  ‘Cause we still see ourselves as two guys that are just goofing around.   I don’t know.  I guess I don’t know where that line gets drawn, but yeah, we’re here tonight playing, so I guess we’re something now.

Are you working on anything right now?

DP-We have a new EP coming out.  We do all our EPs digitally, and we give all the stuff away for free on our website.  We also do it on iTunes and we do all kinds of crazy stuff.  We didn’t used to do it on iTunes, but then people were like ‘we want to buy it because it’s easier.’  Whereas we were giving it away for free, and it was two mouse clicks as opposed to one, and people were like ‘I’d really rather just do one’ (laughs).  At least try to put it on iTunes, and they started buying it and we were like ‘fine’ (laughs).

AL-We have a deal where we kind of realize that to put…10 to 12 songs together on one album was really hard for us because…it was hard to put that all together and actually get it done and put it out in a timely manner, so we just decided we were gonna do like four or five songs at a time.  So we’ve had good experience doing that, and we’re working on another group of about four or five tunes that should be out before the summer it looks like.

I noticed that all your EPs have been released seasonally. 

AL-Kind of.DP-Pretty much.  Yeah.  I mean, it’s kind of like spring/summer/winter.  Like skip one season out of the four seasons and that’s kind of how it rolls.  Four or five songs at a time.

Is that a conscious effort or is that just how it works out?

DP-We try to do every season.  We actually talked about that.  Like doing four or five songs and just building up a huge catalog, but the way it really works out is…skip one (season).  So three out of four, which is okay.  Statistically speaking that’s not bad.  We also, we’ve started doing some collaborations.  We’re working with some other artists, like working on different…tracks for them, so that’s cool.  That’s a new thing for us.  We’re still kind of working on that.

AL-That’s what I’m really excited about that is we meet more people out and about at these shows.  We started realizing there’s a lot of people that have songs that they’ve written, that they’re just trying to find new ways to build them up, and that’s kind of where we come in.  We like helping people almost produce, but really, we just like to sort of co-write these songs with other songwriters.  So that’s kind of one of the new things that we really like doing.

What’s your philosophy when you’re writing songs?

AL-My philosophy has always been sort of that in terms of writing a tune with somebody else, and this is something that I’ve experienced probably more so with Dan than anybody else because I’ve worked with him longer than anybody else, but the problem that I always ran into was when I would write a song and I would almost finish it too much.  I would have it exactly how I wanted it and then I would bring it to Dan or I would bring it to somebody else that I was working with, and they would want to change something or they would want to do this, and a lot of times you hear about these little disagreements in terms of the way a song gets written and I think most of it comes from the fact that one person tries to do the whole thing and then bring it to the other people, and so in terms of my philosophy, I’ve had to really back off from that a little bit because I was used to writing for myself, and now I have to remember I have a better half so to speak, (laughs) you know?  I have to remember to leave him some space to work around it.

DP-We really write in half-way, so that like a lot of times, it’s really cool working with Aaron because I’ll write something knowing that I don’t really have to write the melody if I don’t want to and I can let somebody else do that, or you know, like I might write a verse knowing that I don’t have to come up with a chorus, and then ultimately we come up with the whole thing together.  It’s collaborative, but the initial seedling comes from one or the other and then we work together and it really becomes like a 50/50 split, and it’s pretty cool that way.  It makes it a helluva lot easier to write songs.

AL-It definitely adds to our sound.  Because I come from a very indie rock background and Dan comes from a classically-trained, really jazz/blues background so to speak.  He’s the real musician.  I just kind of play by ear.  It’s been really cool to see the mix between the two.

What do you have lined up after this?

AL-We have a show in May at Melody Inn with some guys from Memphis, TN.  It’s gonna be really cool.  It’s gonna be up on our Facebook page.  Just search ‘The Dapper’ on Facebook and you can find the details of that show, but it’s gonna be really cool.

DP-Other than that, we’re kind of free wheelin’ it.

AL-We’re saving space for recording this new four or five song EP.

Do you have any target date for the new one?

DP-We have lots of target dates, but we never hit ‘em! (laughs)

AL-I say by summer, and to me, by summer, I guess that means like May/June.  In that area.

DP-I’d like to have it done by March.  We’ll meet somewhere in the middle.

AL-I’m the realist I guess (laughs).

Two weeks?

AL-He says two weeks.  I say two months.  We’ll see how that goes (laughs).

What’s with the T-Rex picture?

DP-Well actually, I am very pleased to say that there is some reasoning behind that.AL-Sort of.  Yeah (laughs)

DP-My cousin (Jessica Felgenhauer).  She’s a very talented artist.  She does kind of like cartoony stuff.  We asked her to do some album art, and for each, EP we ask a different artist to do artwork for the EP.  So…you know…if you put it in iTunes, it shows up with the album.  We’ve had a couple different people do it.  She did this one with the dinosaur and the songbird, and she called me up and she’s like ‘well this is why I did it.  This dinosaur riding the bike…that’s you, and then the songbird, that’s Aaron,’ and I’m assuming because he’s a much prettier musician than I am.

AL-(laughs).  Dan brings the rough element to our tunes I guess.

DP-And so we’re like ‘that’s really cool,’ and she really liked it so she’s started developing it and putting the dinosaur and this bird in lots of zany scenarios like hanging out, and so it’s kind of become a theme.  So that’s that.

AL-One of our album’s is riding the bike.  The dinosaur’s riding the bike.  The card has us in the barbershop.  Hopefully more of those to come in the future.

DP-I’ve seen sketches of the two of us fighting octopuses, or octopi.  I saw something that had…there was a fork involved kind of.  I don’t know what the fork was for, but really random stuff, but I’m 100% behind it (laughs).

AL-If there’s anything we support, it’s randomness.

Want more?  Check out The Dapper on:

Official Site
Twitter (@thedappermusic)


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