for the Derby interview by e-mail January 2001
In QRD #17 I said: "they don't know it yet, but Windsor for the Derby is gonna be the next QRD band." Well it took me longer than I expected to get this interview set up, but here it is. I don’t know how to describe the music in a way that doesn’t end up being slanderous. It’s guitar based & usually has picking patterns & a lot of times it simultaneously sounds minimalistic & massive & overall just good.
QRD – I assume Windsor for the Derby is normally referred to as post-rock, do you like this term &/or have a more accurate one?
Dan – I really can't stand the tags being placed on us or any other project. I’m not one to align myself with any "movement" or "genre" of art or music. Honestly, I wish that there was some sort of camaraderie amongst musicians these days. We’re simply just an american rock band.
QRD – Do the songs you have with vocals usually have vocals from the very beginning?
Dan – We never go into a song thinking – "this should not have vocals.” We just add whatever instrument is handy. The voice is the one instrument that is usually handy &, suprisingly to most, the majority of our songs do have vocals. You may not be able to hear them very well, but they are there.
QRD – So do you want people to be able to hear the lyrics? Do you want people to be able to sing the words to your songs?
Dan – With Windsor there is a certain obscurity that is sort of perpetuated. Lately, I've been more comfortable with vocals & been mixing them up a bit. On The Birdwatcher stuff (my solo project) & the newer Windsor stuff the vocals are fairly crisp & clear.
QRD – I heard you do minimal packaging because you want your music just judged as music, what would be your ideal method to deliver your music to your audience?
Dan – The cover of an album is as important as the music you put on the record. It should project what that record is about & how it feels. We try to do this with all of our record covers.
QRD – What are all the side projects of Windsor for the Derby these days & how are they different from Windsor for the Derby?
Dan – I'm involved with a couple of projects beside wftd. I’m doing a collaboration with Michael Gira (Swans, Angels of Light) called "Ourselves.” It’s sort of more pop based groove oriented songs with some McCartney-ish vocal arrangements. Very different for both of us. Also, I have a project called The Birdwatcher. We just had a record come out in the states called the darkest hour is just before dawn. It’s also kind of more pop based, with a slight, dark twist.
QRD – It seems to me like early Windsor for the Derby was less guitar oriented, is there a reason things have changed?
Dan – Actually the very early stuff, some of which will be on an upcoming rarities disc, was heavy guitar. We were listen to Breadwinner & Don Caballero's first record a lot. We had three guitars with drums & it was total formulated rock songs. When we recorded that first album (calm hades float) it redefined us & mellowed us.
QRD – But on Metropolitan then Poland they're keyboards right? Why did you change to that & why did you move back to guitars?
Dan – That's just an exercise we wanted to do. We were interested in it & wanted to explore that process. We still use those processes, just in more oblique ways.
QRD – What's your favorite silent film?
Dan – It would have to be something by Buster Keaton. That’s what I do to relax, watch Buster Keaton films.
QRD – What's your favorite Swans' song & what one would you most like to cover?
Dan – I have never really been a Swans fan. Never owned a record by them or anything. I’ve heard stuff peripherally through the years but it never really stuck with me. There’s a lot of music out there that while I do appreciate the concept & idea, I don't really go out & buy the record. I guess I would have to cover "love will tear us apart.” (ha-ha)
QRD – Are you currently signed to a label or working on a new album? I know the last album was on Young God, but recent singles haven't been.
Dan – We do things on a record to record basis. The next record will be either on Young God or Aesthetics.
QRD – It's my understanding that the members of Windsor for the Derby are scattered across the country at the moment, is this strictly detrimental to the band or does it end up helping some creatively?
Dan – Windsor is basically myself & Jason McNeely who lives in Texas. I live in Brooklyn which does add to the challenge of being in a band. We’ve known each other for about 17 years so there's a certain energy at work when we do get together. It allows us to work quickly. I think for Windsor it was a good time for us to be apart. It’s added to the already expansive sense of space we were trying to create with our music & it allows for a certain spontaneity that keeps things fresh.
QRD – What influence do you think location has on your music? Do you think you would've ended up with the same sound in New York as you found in Texas?
Dan – Texas is a very spacious, vast place. I think that added a lot to what we ended up with in Windsor. We'd also go out & see a lot of the local country players like Don Walser, Wayne Hancock, & Junior Brown. Those guys do lots of pickin' & tricky guitar work which completely effected us.
QRD – What would you most like to change about the way you tour?
Dan – We really don't tour much. I would like to play more, but not in the states.
QRD – Do you think you will or would like to break the 50,000 records sold range?
Dan – That's just unfathomable. We generally sell around 5,000. I’m sure I would like to sell that many records, but I don't think I’d enjoy what goes along with it.
QRD – What band do you think Windsor for the Derby would never have formed if you had never heard?
Dan – U2.
QRD – Do you think the american music scene is healthy?
Dan – In certain parts of america there are good supportive scenes that help, but overall the arts in america are in sad shape. There’s very little funding or support for the arts in america.
QRD – What music do you listen to that you don't think people would expect you to?
Dan – U2.
QRD – Any general advice for humans?
Dan – Don't forget to look up.