Day two of our interview with Dom Brown brings a discussion of his career outside of Duran Duran. There’s much to learn from Dom. He is a multi-faceted guitarist with a wide-breadth of musical experience. We would suggest that before anyone decides that Dom is only a session musician take a good listen to his solo work, available from his website.
“Dom Brown has made music his life. After college he set up a band, with his father, Rob Brown of Gets/z Loose, stepping in as lead vocalist. Dom’s dynamic stage persona developed alongside the extraordinary and bizarre performance style of the older Brown. Together they trawled the London funk and blues circuit, while Dom immersed himself in the raw intensity of the great blues and R&B artists.
Singing was the obvious next step and soon became a passion. Fronting a new band, he toured round Britain and found great success in France, where he played several major festivals, concerts in Paris, and got regular radio airplay. Then he took his songs to the US, got some local musicians on board, and made a name for himself playing at top LA clubs (the Whiskey, Roxy, Troubadour etc). His songs, performance, and guitar style had a twist and an edge that always separated him from other artists in the blues/rock genre.
Back in London, Dom was very much in demand as a session player, and worked with several major label artists.
Dom’s main love is songwriting, and he has never stopped. He fuses singer-songwriter intimacy with electrifying guitar intensity. Though his music still retains a blusey sensibility, Dom has moved on from the traditional blues/rock genre, becoming more experimental and developing a unique and original style.”
Upon first glance, Dom’s background would seem light years away from what fans have come to know as Duran’s style. It isn’t until one spends time and inclination to listen with a fine-tuned ear to Dom’s solo work that it becomes easy to distinguish what Dom brings to the Duran Duran turntable.
It is fair to say that most Duran Duran fans are not necessarily blues enthusiasts. Many may not understand a 12-bar blues progression; and still more may not recognize that rock and roll, and most certainly rhythm and blues (R&B) really draws from those blues beginnings. (Hence the “BLUES” in R&B!) This is no reason to overlook or underestimate Dom’s talent. Take his most recent album from his band Blue to Brown – you can hear the same signature slide guitar that is found at the beginning of Girl Panic, and it is easy to differentiate many of the stylistic guitar riffs that one might hear playing a modified tug-of-war with Nick’s synthesizers on the album. These styles and sounds should not be unfamiliar to Duran fans.
One of the reasons we jumped at the opportunity to present this interview to fellow fans was because we knew that much could be shared and learned about Dom Brown. It is true, he is not an original member of the band. We cannot rewrite history, and we wouldn’t even want to try. It is also true, he follows some extremely talented and well-loved guitar players and had ginormous shoes to fill. However, after eight years, it is time to get to know Dom for who he really is, rather than judging him on who he is not. He is not Andy Taylor. He is not Warren Cuccurullo. Get to know Dom Brown. Embrace him. (Well, maybe not literally!)
Dom Brown on his Career:
Daily Duranie: What is your most favorite song to play live?Not a Duran Duran song, but from your own work.
Dom Brown: Possibly ‘Queen of Spades’ – that is originally a Robert Johnson song, but in my band Blue to Brown we have done a unique version. I start playing the intro to Red House, by Hendrix, and then my dad comes in with the lyric to QOS… it’s a blues progression but we always take it somewhere vastly different every night.
Daily D: We see that you are planning to re-release Blue To Brown in Februrary of 2013, with the plan being to capitalize on more PR now that you have some more time to devote to promotion. What are the plans between now and March when you go back into the studio with Duran Duran?
Dom: Unfortunately Dec 8th has been cancelled (A Blue to Brown gig) but we will have shows early in the new year… just waiting (for) confirmation.
Daily D: How did you become a session musician, and was that something that you envisioned yourself doing forever? There must be positives and negatives to session work as opposed to being in a band.
Dom: I originally wanted to be part of an amazing and very well known, popular band but having come close to that with several projects and not getting the lucky break, I really kind of fell into session work. It originally began as a way of earning a living and a means of survival. I did accept this and began enjoying it for what it is.
Daily D: When you are songwriting – what is your approach?Do you go into the studio and jam until you find something that sticks or do you only write when you have an inspiration? Do you know how to write/read music?
Dom: It depends on whether I am writing alone or collaborating. For example with Duran, we begin by jamming until we find something that gels and sounds fresh and exciting, then the song is developed from there. I have written songs with the lyric first or sometimes just a rough melody. Most often though it begins with a riff or motif or a set of chords that I have found interesting to play around with. I do read music very slowly as it’s something I never need to do. I studied a bit whilst at college but I learnt to play the guitar before learning to read music.
Daily D: The lyrics on Touch the Flames seem to be incredibly personal.Do you tend to draw your lyrical inspiration from your personal life and events that have happened along the way?
Dom: Yes, that particular album does reflect what I was going through personally around that time. That was also around the Buckley phase and I must have been influenced by his style of writing that is very personal.
Daily D: How long did it take to write and record Touch the Flames and Between the Lines? The writing and producing are incredibly different on each album. Touch the Flames listens more like a love story…and Between the Lines seems just a touch more raw, maybe even a bit more mature actually.
Dom: Well TTF took probably over a year to write and record as it was the first time that I’d engineered and produced my own record, so there was a learning curve there. I guess there is a theme of love and relationships in there… well spotted! BTL was recorded much faster as I’d learnt and developed a lot of the techniques by then and I think it comes across more raw sounding due to that reason and that a lot of the songs were recorded with everyone playing together at the same time.
Daily D: What is your new studio like?
Dom: The studio is fantastic and I’m mainly using (it) to record material that I am co-writing for my publishers, Perfect Songs. I am also getting a few paid bookings where I’m hired to record and produce. I am juggling so many different projects down there at the moment and have a lot of unfinished tracks that I’m looking forward to finishing. I feel very lucky as I have found a really great space with two separate rooms all to myself… everyone who has visited so far has said how much they love the relaxed atmosphere and environment there.
Daily D: If you could collaborate on any of your own work with any musician, who would you choose and why?
Dom: This changes a lot but right now David Bowie, Prince or Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age.
Daily D: Do you prefer playing live or writing/recording?
Dom: They are totally different experiences with very different rewards. I love the feeling of playing live when everything is gelling and the band and audience are as one. It’s also amazing when a new song or idea that I feel is special comes to fruition.
Daily D: I’ve read that you got your first guitar at 13 – are you completely self-taught or did you take lessons?
Dom: Yes I was 13 and I had about 5 lessons initially with a teacher named Ray Major. Other than that I am totally self taught, though I did have some jazz lessons as part of my music diploma. We encourage our readers to get to know Dom – Blue to Brown is currently available, as are Dom’s solo albums, Touch the Flames and Between the Lines, from Dom’s website. We believe your ears will thank us!!
Stay with us, tomorrow we will bring our interview with Dom to a close…and hey, if the Mayans were right, we’re happy to end the blog on a great note! Our timing is pretty brilliant!
-A & R
The top photograph is copyright Daily Duranie(Rhonda Rivera). The curse still stands. Please don’t use our photos without permission. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!