Dan Stuart now resides in Mexico a place that he is more than happy to call home. Musically Dan is still alive and kicking and making beautiful noise. His acclaimed 2012 record 'The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings' which he recorded with the excellent Italian group 'Sacri Cuori' proves yet again his talent for creativity is still strong and his musical appetite is still flowing & flourishing. As a huge fan of 'Green On Red' and the founder of the UK band 'Gasfoodlodging' who enjoy tipping more than a musical hat towards the exploits of 'Green on Red' as the band name suggests, I managed to steal some of Dan's time out the Mexican sun to ask him about the past, present and future.
Dave: What made you choose Oaxaca, Mexico, as the place to reside these days? There seem to be many conflicting reports as to why?, care to set the record straight?
Dan: I came here to finish a book and then kill myself. The book is done but I'm still around so I was only half successful. Really I'm in no hurry but still stockpiling Nembutal which I buy from veterinary supply stores in rural areas. I tell them I have a sick cow at home...
Dave: Your 2012 release 'The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings' is a wonderful collection of songs and has deservedly received much acclaim within reviews. Regarding the influence behind it's creation how long have you been reading the works of German novelist B.Traven's for? I guess many will be unfamiliar with his name but certainly not his novel 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' which in turn was adapted into the famous and award winning film of the same name.
Dan: I've read the jungle novels and researched his life, the different theories about his real identity etc. It's not just Traven, you got Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Cravan and of course Lowry with deep connections here. The Beats loved Mexico as did John Wayne ... something for everyone I guess. There's a Danish writer named Karl Eskelund who wrote a great book about Southern Mexico called "The Cactus of Love." He later set himself on fire after his Chinese wife left him... mine was Spanish but I still relate.
Dave: The Italian musicians that form the band 'Sacri Cuori' which have backed you on this record are very impressive. Have they all been musical friends of yours for sometime?
Dan: Well they are now, it's been maybe 5 years of playing with Antonio and Diego in one form or another. It all happened in a very natural way and really they have spoiled me. I'm trying to keep some distance now because I don't think I've helped them much and they should be putting themselves front and center. It's amazing how much cultural bias is out there, how they get discriminated against because of the amount of vowels in their names.
Dave: How did you enjoy being back in the UK last year with the 'Marlowe Billings' Tour? How did you find the British audience? Are there any plans to return soon?
Dan: I'm not too good at enjoying things, I need conflict and agitation to be happy. One thing I didn't like was playing the so-called "Americana" places, I would rather play the dungy rock piss-hole where the kids play. I realize I should feel grateful that any venue would have me but I don't. I did find it remarkable that Britain is so much more European now, the quality of pub food for example or the revitalized waterfronts and warehouse districts that now have a Continental feel. I'm sure many aren't happy about that but I never thought the insular island mentality was worth a shit.
Dave: 'Green on Red' along with Chuck's and your own solo career thereafter are my biggest musical influence as a musician myself. Did you feel at the time you were part of something special that would be a huge influence to people such as myself one day?
Dan: No, not at all. I always thought it would end one day and it did. I think it's important to remember that we are all fans of something, Chuck and I included. We have our own heroes and villains and lies we tell ourselves to try to get a handle on it all. The creative process is largely about trust and deception... two sides of the same coin.
Dave: Chuck Prophet definitely brought an altCountry/Rock influence to the musical style of 'Green On Red' from your earlier very punk sounding days when he was hired as a guitarist. Although the underlying angst of punk music was retained. Hence, to my ears, the music transformed to what I would term as alt Country/Punk. Was the musical change a gradual one that occurred? or was the new direction defined deliberately in band rehearsal sessions or a bar someplace?
Dan: No what happens is at some point you lose your fear of blues and country and you realize that it's quite okay to contribute to the canon, just follow the footsteps. I think it's a very natural process and a quick glance at the Stones or Dylan or The Clash confirms that. If you're lucky you can kinda go full circle and get back to that innocence but with a sharper focus. I assure you that on a record like Gas Food Lodging we were only trying to record a batch of songs, I'm sure Dylan would say the same about Nashville Skyline if I may be so pretentious.
Dave: I personally think your one of the greatest vocalists and songwriters within music. Do you feel worthy of compliments like that? Do you look back proudly at your songwriting within 'Green On Red'?
Dan: It's an absurd statement but like I said, I'm also a fan of stuff so I understand. As for being proud, there were really three GOR's and all have their moments but I dropped the ball songwriting wise many times. I under-wrote a lot early and over-wrote later... craft's a funny thing and can make or ruin a tune. A song like Brave Generation could have used a re-write or three but I was too terrified to finish the deal.
Dave: What is the 'Green On Red' album you are most fond of to this day?
Dan: You know I don't have any laying around and I very rarely listen to any of it unless I have to remember how to play something live and I can find it on Youtube or something. Here Comes The Snakes was very gratifying but it was never supposed to be a GOR album, it was a solo record that got hijacked by the record business and my own moral failings.
Dave: The 'Green On Red' concert recorded in 1992 at the Town and Country club in the UK is considered by many fans including myself as a fantastic document of 'Green on Red' on excellent form on the live stage. Chuck doesn't agree from what I read the once via Twitter. Do you share his view?
Dan: We had fired the drummer two gigs before and the keyboard player got behind the kit so that probably made for a certain energy. I've actually never heard it though, it was a record company idea that we didn't have the energy or balls to fight. I'm sure that accounts for Chuck's distaste as well.
Dave: Your association with Steve Wynn ( Ex- Dream Syndicate for those who are unaware) has always been productive. Your teaming up with him as Danny & Dusty on 'Cast Iron Soul' from 2005 was especially acclaimed by music critics. Are there any plans to rekindle your relationship with him, musically?
Dan: Was it? I thought it was mostly ignored. Not an easy record to make given the history. Never say never but he's pretty busy and I'm barely a blip on the radar.
Dave: Do you think there will ever be another 'Green On Red' reunion as there was briefly in 2005/2006 or a new record released in the future?
Dan: No, but we remain the closest of friends, brothers is more accurate, the four of us who remain. People really have no idea how deep it all goes...
Dave: What plans do you have for the future musically? Are you writing any new material at present?
Dan: I have a little false memoir book coming out along with a reissue CD called Arizona 1993-95. There's a new batch of tunes that need to be cut somewhere, probably down here in Oaxaca. I'm about halfway through my second book so there's work to be done but it's never easy.
Dave: If you had to describe yourself in 10 words what would those words be?
Dan: Right now? Hungry, hungover and horny.
For further info
Dan Stuart: www.marlowebillings.com
Chuck Prophet: www.chuckprophet.com
Sacri Couri: www.sacricuori.com
Chris Cacavas: www.chris-cacavas.com
Jack Waterson: Jack Waterson Facebook
Green On Red: www.greenonred.net