Conquer Entertainment continues to attract stellar musicians and performers from all across America. One of the most recent is a young man from New York City actively pursuing his musical career. Dan has always been interested in music having played the saxophone in the band during his high school years, but it wasn’t until he came home during one of his college breaks that he really fell in love with music. When Dan found his father’s old guitar in a closet, he began teaching himself how to play by learning some basic chords – but the magic moment when Dan truly “fell in love” with music was “…from the second I played that first chord that sounded right, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.” We enjoyed getting to know Dan and learning a little more about this truly gifted singer/song writer.
Interview by Certified Artist Developer Bruce Swartz
CE: Thank you Dan for taking time out this evening to speak with Conquer Entertainment… and by the way, given yesterday was your Birthday, Happy Birthday. So what did you do to celebrate?
DR: Thank you very much – I actually had a little needed beach day with family and friends on the water and beaches of Long Island.
CE: Since we started off on the subject of birthdays, and I won’t ask you how old you are, when did you first become interested in music?
DR: You know, I have always been interested in music, but back in high school I performed in the Chorus and I actually played in the marching band, I played the saxophone back in the day, but I really didn’t realize how much I enjoyed it until I guess during college when I came home from break one year. I actually pulled my dad’s guitar out of the closet – he used to be in a wedding band, used to be a singer, and played rhythm guitar. The guitar was just sitting there collecting dust and I was like ‘dad, you never told me you played guitar’ and he said ‘yea, I used to play a little bit’, so I grab the guitar and started playing. I actually taught myself how to play the guitar from learning some basic chords and I went from there.
CE: Was there something that happened where you said like “wow” I want to do this – I mean, what was the magic moment?
DE: You know (laughter), I think it was the second I played the first chord that sounded right – I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. Then after college I met up with an old buddy who I went to high school with and began just kind of messing around and then, you know the old classic story, you’re messing around the garage with a couple of guys when it just kind of became serious. I started writing a lot of music during that point in time and my buddy started writing lyrics, and then we got a band together.
I guess I have been playing professionally now for about eight years or so and was in a band called Soundside for about four or five of those years. We had a lot of local and regional success and it was a great experience. I had the opportunity to record five full-length records with the band which is a big deal now days, especially given the fact that it’s hard to find money, to find a budget to be able to record full length records. It’s an expensive process so it was a great opportunity and we had a label backing us at the time which was great. We kind of took it as far as we could; we had some interest from additional labels but we got to a point where the band had run its course with the dynamic we had – that existed – so I kind a branched off and started doing my own solo which has been for about 3 years now.
CE: Who did most of the writing at that point while you were with the band?
DE: Well, while with the band we had kind of a Lennon–McCartney kind a thing going. I wrote all the music and when recording and playing live I would play lead guitar and sang the background vocals – my buddy wrote all the lyrics and was the lead singer. That was the dynamic we had… everything was co-written pretty much.
CE: Looking over your EPK on artistecard.com, you have had, and have, a lot going on. What are some of the groups you’ve opened for and what is the coolest memory or experience you’ve had?
DE: Yes, I actually have a lot of great memories opening for a lot of these bands. Some of the biggest bands I’ve opened for are The New York Dolls, David Johansen’s former band, The Tubes which was a big 80’s band back in the day and Berlin, also a band called Days of the New which was a pretty cool experience. That band was actually pretty big in the 90’s with a couple hits on the radio so that was a big opportunity too. I guess the best experience I had though was playing at the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University in front of 15,000 people. It was an amazing experience and was actually a fund raiser Relay for Life. The whole arena was packed out. It was really an awesome experience. Just connecting with the people that were there and doing a good thing – at that point it wasn’t about making money, it was about contributing to a good deed and charity – so it was a great experience.
CE: Do you enjoy doing charity work?
DE: Yea, I do! I am all for doing things to help others and paying it forward. I think that is important and I think it always comes back – I believe it’s the way the world works.
CE: You really have a great admiration for the Dave Matthews Band and it appears we can detect some of their influence in your music. Is there a favorite story behind any of the songs in your album Can you Hear Me Now? It appeared there was a theme there is that correct?
DE: Yes! That’s a true statement – for a long time he was probably my favorite musician and song writer. I mean, the whole band are all very talented musicians – they are all “masters” of their craft – I mean there really is no weak link in that band if you listen to the way they write and their live performances, it sounds exactly like their record. I really feel like that’s a true sense of musicianship. When you go to hear a band live, and if they can kind of reproduce and sound like they do on the records, that’s a true sign of their ability and their talent. A lot of times, especially these days, you hear these records that are totally overproduced in the studio and you hear them on the radio, but when you see their band live they don’t sound half as good live. You know, everyone can do studio magic – you know what I mean – you can go back and recut a track a gazillion times – it’s not the days of the Beatles anymore where everything was tracked out at one point in time where the whole band would record one or two takes and that was it. I think Dave Matthews is a phenomenal song writer and is a huge influence of mine. I mean, I was borderline obsessed to the point where the first few records he put out I can play every song to a T on the guitar, and really became an accomplished guitarist because of him – the way he writes and the way he plays.
CE: Is there a favorite story behind any of the songs on your “Can You Hear Me Now” album – and also, there seems to a theme running through your albums, am I correct?
DE: There usually is! The way I write lyrically, everything has a purpose and one of the goals in my writing is to write something that really resonates with the fans and people that listen to it. I don’t believe in resaying a refrain like sixty times until it gets entrenched into your mind, you know what I mean. A lot of these pop records and a lot of the stuff you hear on the radio, there’s like a little ditty or saying that keeps getting repeated over and over, but at the end of the day it’s like where’s the lyrical content? What’s the story? What’s the message? Everything I write about is a reflection of either my personal experiences or things that I’ve witnessed – every word, every lyric is genuine. Yea, I don’t know if there is one theme per say, but the writing is definitely a reflection of my experiences. A lot of it would be relationship based, but that’s not everything – but it always makes for good song writing if you ask any musician, (laughter).
CE: Is there a story behind any of the songs on that album?
DE: I think it’s the album itself, it takes you through a journey of my personal experiences – kinda like the highs and lows. I think “Heaven” is kind of an upbeat song; kinda leaves you with an euphoric feeling, a feeling of lust and love and also a positive vibe knowing that things are going to be OK at the end of the day. In contrast, when you listen to “Seldom Sundays”, it’s kinda like a darker place in terms of being more of a somber song both lyrically and melancholy – it (the album) is like the ebbs and flow, where it takes you to the other end of the spectrum.
CE: It’s like in your albums you’re telling a complete story… from good to bad, and back to good again.
DE: Yes, Yes exactly! In fact, the last EP that I released kinda does – there is some coherency, some cohesiveness to the record and I guess every track kinda does take you on a journey which is kinda cool. The new record (Soul Searcher) I am finishing up right now – that I am really excited about – I’m not sure if it takes you through a story in its entirety, but I think each individual song encompasses a different vibe, a different feeling, so there’s definitely defined themes and ideas within those songs. My goal with the new record was to try and write less about myself, but more so about things I’ve observed, and either things I want for the world or things day to day that I’ve witnessed or experienced.
CE: You say your EP is due out at the end of July, would you be willing to debut your EP with Conquer Entertainment on MeetOn like we did with Little Texas?
DE: Yea! I think that would be a really cool idea, a really cool concept. I am definitely open in having GetConquer and Market America market the record and try to push it out I think that would be fantastic.
CE: I see that Lorne Behrman, CMJ, SPIN, THE VILLAGE VOICE, is quoted as saying “Dan once again will take you on a “soul searching” journey that will leave you feeling hopeful and wanting more.” Can you give us a little insight into your new EP Soul Searcher and what was the inspiration?
DE: Sure, I mean again the inspiration for my writing is really connecting with my fans. I want every piece of material and every piece of music that I put out in the universe to resonate with fans, resonate with people. Maybe Bruce, one song King of My World will resonate with you, another song 95 will relate with someone else. I’m not saying every song has to resonate with every person, but I think there’s a message in the songs that apply and resonate with every fan, every person who listens to the music. That’s really the premise behind the record and again, in terms of the lyrical content, it is a reflection based on things I’ve witnessed in the universe and see in other people and society’s relationships. Within the personal component of the title “Soul Searching”, there is a little bit of a search for myself to find some contentment and to find happiness from within which I think is a personal feeling, but it’s also a universal feeling that allot of people search for as well.
CE: “King of My World” – I really enjoyed this upbeat song. What I found most interesting, and a lot of fun, was the song was performed both in English and Spanish (Rey del Mundo). It is the perfect crossover song – tell us what inspired you to perform them in both languages.
DE: I of course cut the song in English first and I was so happy with the way it came out, from soups to nuts, I mean ya know, musically I just felt it was an upbeat song and the lyrical content really came together well. Throughout my musical adventures, everyone has always said “why don’t you do a song in Spanish” because I am bilingual. I think it is a great, and whole other market, that’s untapped. You know, the Latin music market is enormous and it’s interesting because within the Latin music industry, THEY LOVE MUSIC! Sure, we love music in the United States, but they will go out and buy a CD and it doesn’t matter if it’s 2015 or 1985, they’re going to go out and buy music they like to hear. There is just something about that market and that group of fans that really appreciate the music as well so I just wanted to get it out into that universe and so far the feedback has been tremendous. I’m looking forward in getting it onto the deluxe EP and getting it out there in July.
CE: And I have a follow up question to that… will we be seeing more crossover songs from you?
DE: Yea, you know what – I actually have one or two other tracks that I’m considering cutting a Spanish version. I’m in the process of figuring out right now which one I would like to release – it certainly is something that will be out in the universe for sure – I think it’s a great component.
CE: OK, you know I have to ask the biggest question of all, how did you discover Conquer Entertainment?
DE: I actually discovered Conquer Entertainment through someone I work with. He turned me on to the company, he’s a CAD as well, and I started working with him a couple of months ago. We’ve been doing some things and actually I just played at the Mideast Regional Conference in Ocean City, Maryland which was fantastic. And ever since I got connected with JM (Jorgen Bailey, Dir. Conquer Entertainment) he really took a liking to my music and it just seems to have taken off. The exposure has been great thus far, and I’m really excited about continuing to work with you guys (Conquer Entertainment) and work with the company (Market America), especially if we can get something together for the new record – that’s going to be outstanding!
CE: Was there something specific that stood out about Conquer triggering you to “make the move”?
DE: You know, I think the cross integrating in terms of marketing is a really cool scheme. I think the idea of kind-of-taking an artist image, the artist’s lifestyle, and brand and merging it with the SHOP.COM and Market America component is a really cool and innovative idea. So I think that was kinda like the market niche that was the separation. I mean the platform’s great, the website’s great, but you know you can get a website from any company so I think the selling point was having my own Trend Shop, being able to push out products that “I” endorse/that I use on a regular basis, and kind of weave that into my fanbase – I think that’s a really cool platform.
DE: Yes! Not only does it allow for pushing out of my own products and products that I endorse, it’s the other way around too. Performing at convention a couple weeks back was great – it was an informative session for everybody in terms of all that Market America offers, but it was amazing to be the musical entertainment – to be the guy performing as the musical arm of that company through GetConquer, so I think it has dual benefits.
CE: So the marketing aspect really stood out for you – the ability to more easily market yourself and identify your brand?
DE: Definitely, because you know I’m marketing my products and also myself to all of Market America and Shop.com – it’s a whole other fanbase. It’s just another way of putting yourself out there, a great opportunity to be heard and that’s the goal at the end of the day.
CE: In preparing for this interview, I had the opportunity to watch the video of you on stage at the Mideast Regional Convention. We only had sound and video of you on stage so we couldn’t gauge audience participation, how did they respond to you in Ocean City?
DE: They actually loved it… they were all standing on their feet, they were singing along, clapping along. I actually played a few original songs but I threw in some cover songs that a lot of people knew so they were singing along – I think they were really into it.
CE: Before Conquer Entertainment, how were you marketing yourself?
DE: You know, just grass roots marketing through my website and social media sites which I’m still doing, but with GetConquer it’s such a bigger platform, such a bigger target market and a bigger opportunity to get your stuff out there. I would do some of that marketing, some radio promo which is great, but I feel like having Market America on my side that’s a huge plus – you know what I mean? It’s a whole other opportunity with like this interview and other promotional things – it’s all about getting your music out there, getting your name and your brand out there into the universe.
CE: A few weeks ago I was speaking with Walter Finely and Maggie Baugh about their trip to Myrtle Beach. Walter made what I thought was a most profound observation in that to be successful in the music industry, you have to have a “quality team” surrounding you. The one thing that drew him into Conquer was the “Team Work” he saw and experienced within Conquer Entertainment. Do you find that to be a true statement?
DE: I do… I do! I have been in contact with JM and Kirk regularly and obviously my CAD as well, and the goal is the same. The goal is to obviously to get my music out there, to get myself out there as an artist, but you know there is a concentrated effort to create a cohesive brand that is going to basically integrate myself as an artist with SHOP.COM and Market America products so there is that. Everyone seems to be on the same page; everyone has been great in terms of staying in touch, building the momentum and moving forward and everything seems to be clicking now that I am about two or three months away from releasing the record. So we’re really focusing on pushing that as well and it makes me excited as an artist… not only is it cool from the SHOP.COM side and the Trend Shop, but the fact that GetConquer is going to actively push out and promote the music and the new releases is amazing so I am really excited about that.
Conquer Entertainment is fortunate to have many great people both inside and out of the music industry helping corporate and in the field, one of which is our good friends Tony and Michele Molinaro. I knew they were at this year’s Mideast Regional Convention so I asked Dan what he thought of this dynamic duo.
CE: While in Ocean City, did you find Tony and Michele’s presentation was helpful to you?
DE: They’re great! I actually met them at convention and it was a pleasure meeting and working with them. They have been very helpful with clearing up any question that I had, and kinda moving forward with the GetConquer platform as well.
CE: What’s in your future Dan? What are your goals, both inside and out of your music career?
DE: Well as an artist, in the short term my hope is to start touring nationally and to sell enough records to go back into the studio and do it again… and that’s the fun it in. As far as a long term goal, I would probably continue to be a writer, not necessarily putting my music out there myself, but getting it out to different publishers and different artists that could also perform the music and things of that nature and I’m hoping to use Conquer to help facilitate that process.
DE: I think GetConquer is a great platform, I think it’s an innovative platform, and something that every artist should really take a look at and kinda consider using in terms of helping them build their fanbase and increase exposure and, like you said, Get Conquer has a core component where your kind of like being endorsed by a company so there’s that whole aspect too – there’s a reciprocal benefit in terms of building a buzz and gaining exposure.
What a pleasure it was spending time with Dan Reardon. Everyone at Conquer is excited in having him as part of the Conquer Entertainment family, and we look forward in being part of his future success in his music career.
Back in the 70s I loved listening to Casey Kasem on his weekly radio countdown show American Top 40. He always signed off with “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”.
Everyone at Conquer Entertainment continues to work hard assisting these artist’s in succeeding with their continued journey to reach their star!
Interview created by Certified Artist Developer Bruce Swartz
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Never Give Up – Never Quit – Keep Setting Goals
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