Salesman knocks on all the right doors

Daniel Anderson plays at Coughlans in Cork tonight.

Flogging his album from house to house wasn’t a cynical stab at creating a buzz-on-a-budget,
yet it brought plenty attention to Daniel Anderson, writes Ed Power

DANIEL Anderson never set out to become an internet meme. It just sort of happened. “A friend suggested I sell my album door to door,” says the Dubliner. “I didn’t have the biggest PR budget. The logic was: why not present yourself to people as you are, on their doorsteps, and ask if they want to buy your music?”

To his surprise, footage of Anderson traipsing around his native Finglas cajoling random members of the public into purchasing his debut solo LP, Patterns (released simply as ‘Anderson’) went viral. Was this a cynical stab at buzz-on-a-budget?

“It wasn’t a gimmick,” he says forcefully. “I spent two days walking door to door. The individuals I approached were real people and they had a real reaction to what I was doing. Going door to door was a valid thing to do and the response of the people I met speaks for itself. If anyone thinks it’s a gimmick they are entitled to their opinion.”

The guerilla-style campaign is in contrast to Anderson’s polished, Beatles-esque pop. It’s also quite a step up from the music he recorded over 10 years with his band The Rags, a scrappy crew at one point hailed as Ireland’s Libertines (a designation they understandably shrank from).

The group broke up in 2010, leaving their frontman briefly devastated. He’d put the best part of a decade into the project. For it to just splutter to a halt was a wrench.

“It was one of those things,” he sighs. “We were together nine or 10 years. Everyone had grown up — the pack mentality was at an end. It was as simple as that. Our final album [A National Light] was really strong. I’ve never been content to just make music — I want to do something that is worthy of a place in people’s collections and which doesn’t simply add to all the dross out there.”

As The Rags petered out, it did occur that he might not wish to continue devoting his life to rock’n’roll. He quickly suppressed such thoughts and set himself the new task of hand-building a studio. Running his own recording facility would bring financial stability, regardless of how his solo career fared. It wasn’t a plan b as such. But it certainly provided a comfort as he contemplated his next move.

“Building the studio was extremely therapeutic,” he reports. “After spending so long on one project, I needed a break. Picking up a shovel, digging the foundations was a wonderful distraction.”

As he pressed the reboot switch on his career, Anderson was perfectly aware that nobody in the wider world much cared whether he carried on or not. Audiences were certainly not holding their breath wondering what the former leader of The Rags would do next.

“There definitely wasn’t a sense that people were waiting for my next record. I did play a few solo shows. Those who were aware of The Rags would have known I was making a record. What I wasn’t expecting was the level of response I received. It has truly been across the board.”

Anderson performed on the Late Late Show a few weeks ago and came across as enormously confident. Going in front of an audience has never been a problem. The biggest challenge he faced in his solo career was reaching major creative decisions on his own. This was new territory.

“The biggest issue in terms of my confidence was making big calls without any bandmates. Deciding was this or that guitar part good enough and so forth.

“I came out of the band with very little knowledge of many instruments and spent a good six or eight months learning bass and piano. That’s where I felt most insecure. I’ve never been nervous about singing for people.”

Patterns is out now. Anderson plays Coughlans, Cork, tonight; and Unitarian Church Dublin, Friday, October 16.


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