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Talking with The Dan Gootner Band about Their New EP ‘Ignorance Was Bliss,’ Guitars, Amps, and Pedals

By November 26, 2022No Comments6 min read

Indie-rock/indie-pop outfit The Dan Gootner Band just released their new EP, Ignorance Was Bliss, a collection of songs about journeys.

The musical idée fixe of South Florida guitarist and songwriter Daniel Gootner and vocalist Elie Ganz, The Dan Gootner Band features a rotating lineup of Florida’s crème de la crème musicians.

The band’s sound is difficult to pigeonhole because they blend elements of various genres, including alt-pop, indie-rock, post-punk, Americana, and Southern rock, into innovative sonic concoctions.

InBetweenDrafts caught up with The Dan Gootner Band to discover more about the EP’s inspiration, Dan’s gear, and the band’s recording techniques.

What inspired your new EP, Ignorance Was Bliss?

Elie: As songwriters, we find ourselves exploring different aspects of life and expressing them in song. This little collection is about personal journeys. Some journeys are within, as told in ‘Ignorance Was Bliss,’ some journeys are outward bound and fortune-seeking such as with ‘Bourbon Street,’ and others are meditative, wordless reflections on places we’ve found a spiritual connection with, like ‘Iao Valley.’

Walk us through your mindset as you entered the studio to record the EP.

Dan: Sheer joy! And ambition. When I’m at the studio, I’m in my happy place. I love tracking, always tone chasing, and trying different amps, guitars, etc. And I say ambition because each time I go in there my goal is to create my best work yet. So with this new EP our attitude was, let’s reach new heights. And by the way shout out to the greatest studio in the world, Power Station Studios in Pompano Beach FL, and shout out to Rob Roy and Paul Kronk, they rock!

How did you get started in music?

Dan: When I was 15 years old, my parents told me I should learn an instrument and asked what I’d like to try. I had already been listening to bands like Fleetwood Mac, ZZ Top, Steve Miller Band, Boston, and others, so guitar was an easy choice for me because I wanted to be like those guys. Within the first month or two, I barely knew how to play yet, but I already wanted to be in a band so bad. It seemed like the coolest thing to do. I could never just wait till I actually know how to play guitar to start a band, right?!  So my first few bands were horrible because they were a bunch of kids trying to figure out how to play making noise. But we were a band, and it was awesome. I haven’t looked back since, and I think my current projects are much better!

The line-up of The Dan Gootner Band fluctuates. Why don’t you have a set line-up?

Dan: My whole life I’ve been in all kinds of great bands, but for whatever reason, my friends and family would always say things like, ‘This is great, but when are you gonna start the Dan Gootner Band?!’ And if I stopped and wondered what that would look like if I ever actually did it, I always pictured this stacked lineup of talented musicians around me. I’m not a frontman, so I guess I envisioned myself being the bandleader, producer, and arranger for an all-star lineup of my most talented friends. Once Elie and I started co-writing so well together I realized I needed to bend the rule and keep him around full-time because he’s the man!!

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?

Dan:  It’s hard to pick one lick, but like I was saying, it’s definitely the guitar riffs from the artists I was listening to as a kid. Also, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?

Dan:  Well unfortunately I suffer from GAS pretty severely, Gear Acquisition Syndrome. For amps, I use all of them in the studio depending on the song and what tone is needed. I’ve got a Fender narrow panel tweed Princeton from the ‘50s, a vintage Fender Band Master, Marshall JCM2000 DSL50, Vox AC30, and a Fender reissue Princeton reverb. I use all of these in the studio. For shows, I stick to my Blues Jr. It’s sort of in the middle of everything I just mentioned and can do it all. Plus, it’s a little easier to lug around as I get older. The Marshall stack was easier ten years ago.

As far as guitars, I primarily stick to Duesenberg Starplayers and Fender Stratocasters, but I also recently acquired a G&L Doheny, and I absolutely love it. It’s like if you could wave a magic wand and eliminate any flaws the Jazzmaster has plus some extra bells and whistles. My go-to acoustic is my ’67 Gibson J-45.

For pedals, I’m always rotating them, and some are kept for studio applications. Currently, on my board, I’ve got the Camel Toe by Way Huge, a Jangle Box, Boss DD-6, Boss Tremelo, mxr chorus, and Zvex wooly mammoth fuzz.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

Dan:  I’m always trying new techniques! To me, that’s half the fun. One thing I tried on a song that should be released sometime in 2023, is I had all the amps cranked louder than ever before. I mean so loud you can’t be in the same room as the amp, or you’ll die. But a clean circuit, and on the Bandmaster or tweed Princeton for example. When you push an amp to the brink on its clean circuit, you can get some incredible lead tones.

What’s your definition of tone? And has your tone changed over time?

Dan:  I think my tone is constantly changing because my definition of tone isn’t one answer for everything. Achieving the right tone for a given song, for me, that’s being able to utilize the instruments and tools I have to recreate what I hear in my head.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

Dan: Keeping it simple helps. The more complications, the more things can go wrong.  And saving my settings. Sometimes for example, on my pedals below the knobs, I’ll put a diagram of each on a piece of masking tape, so I can quickly match what I had before.

What’s your definition of success?

Dan: I keep that simple. Play music with great people as often as you can. So we’re successful! We’re recording and releasing music often, playing shows, and having a ton of fun. I think it’s important for artists not to get caught up in the idea of “making it” because they may not realize that where they are at in the present is pretty awesome and may not appreciate it enough. The journey and the process itself, as long as you just keep at it and enjoy the ride, you’re very successful. The only way to ensure you don’t reach your goals in music is to stop playing. So never stop!

Looking at your experiences from the last few years, what have you learned from them?

Dan: That music unites us all. It’s a universal language. I can be in another country where no one speaks English, but they understand Rock n Roll. And even when people seem divided, music can bring us all together.

Follow The Dan Gootner Band Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify

Press photo credit: Liz Dzuro (@lizardbit). Used with permission.

Randy Radic

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