Snake Oil & Harmony - Spring 2020
Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn and Dan Reed Network’s Dan Reed are well known for the ventures they embark upon as solo artists. However, the 2 frontmen have now joined forces to create the most wonderful acoustic collaboration. Under the name Snake Oil & Harmony, Danny and Dan have just released their debut album Hurricane Riders, and what an incredible album this is. 10 tracks of acoustic-driven rock that provide the most immersive story-telling elements and singalong passages. Due to world events their Spring European tour has been postponed until later in the year but the new music itself provides plenty for us to get excited about! We catch up with Danny to talk about how this really special project came together….
You first met Dan Reed at the Download festival in 2014. What did you already know about Dan and what are your memories of that first encounter?
Both Dan and I were somewhat amazed that we hadn’t met each other before. Over the years our paths probably criss-crossed a number of times. Dan carries a certain aura about him and fellow musicians often speak of him with a certain amount of reverence. We met in a dusty field behind the stage that both DRN and Tyketto were to play on that night. Right away there was an openness and honest warmth about the man that told me I was dealing with a genuine person.
How did the idea for you both to work together come about?
I had been trying to find the right combination for an idea I had where two lead singers from well known bands that would go out together on a stripped down, story telling, acoustic tour. I had approached many of my compatriots and friends with the idea but it never got off of the ground. It always fizzled out with a, "Sounds great! Have your people call my people", sort of situation. But with Dan he was keen to do it from the start and gave me a time frame he was available right then and there.
You and Dan put together Snake Oil & Harmony 5 years ago but it’s only now that you are releasing your debut album Hurricane Riders. You have such an amazing connection and chemistry on stage and over 2 extensive tours in this time you have delivered the most captivating performances. It was perhaps inevitable that you would write songs together so why has it taken 5 years to create your debut album?
Mostly that’s down to both of us having had extremely busy schedules. (That’s changed a little bit right now!) Also, making an album is a big leap forward in both financial and time commitments so we had to make sure we were on to something good. Before the last tour we wrote one song together, Where The Water Goes, that we both liked and tried it out on the audience to see what the reaction would be. It was decidedly positive and that galvanized our commitment to make Hurricane Riders happen.
Let’s talk about the new album. How did you decide on the title Hurricane Riders?
Dan picked it from the lyrics to the song Damned If You Do. He really liked the phrase a lot. It was an easy choice.
The music you have created together provides the most wonderfully immersive experience and one steeped in storytelling. What was your vision for Hurricane Riders?
I have to admit that Dan had more of a concentrated vision than I did. I am not much of a concept person. I just get to work and see where it takes me. But Dan had a strong idea of how the album would sound before we got started. He did a great job producing it as well.
I’d like to explore a little deeper the storytelling element of your music, whether this be a song is about a girl from Bakersfield called Cannonball or the social observations and personal struggles depicted within the lead single Last Man Standing. How autobiographical are the songs on this album?
Not at all, actually! This was an opportunity for me to let my imagination take flight, lyrically. Each song had a different genesis so there’s a different answer for each one of them. Dan presented me with the music to Last Man Standing and I began to work on the lyrics and melody to that one based on the emotions that the music brought out in me. I immediately felt something a little dark and uncertain in the music and I purposefully left the story a touch ambiguous so that you can form your own conclusions. Did the man in the story choose the dark path? Or did he resist? But then a song like Save The Day, which is totally Dan’s song, is a direct reflection of how frustrated and anxious he was feeling towards America and the terrible, escalating events of mass shootings. He’s wearing his heart on his sleeve for that one.
Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances, the Snake Oil & Harmony Tour for Spring 2020 had to be cancelled. Your fans have of course been hugely understanding but after the momentum and excitement that has built for the album’s release this must have been really disappointing for you.
Incredibly disappointing! I was in London for 3 days before the first show ramping up the press buzz with our wonderful press agent, Claire Lloyd. Every day was packed with either live radio appearances or print interviews but it was all being done under the increasingly looming shadow of Covid 19. We kept watching the news and on the day of the first show Dan and I both resigned ourselves to the fact that a lockout from musical events and public gatherings was going to be inevitable. Neither one of us wanted to give in to the hysteria generated by the media but we also realized that we would be acting very irresponsibly challenging our fans to come out in the face of all this.
However, it’s fantastic news that the UK tour has already been rescheduled for November and December. Starting on the 20th November you will be playing 14 UK dates. That’s quite an extensive tour! What can fans expect from a Snake Oil & Harmony show?
It will be virus free!! Ha ha ha! If you have seen us before then you know that Dan and I perform without a net. We don’t plan our sets; we structure them as each audience dictates and as the spirit moves. We will be playing a fair few from Hurricane Riders at each show, that’s for sure. But by November think of all the stories we will have to tell!
As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on what a great acoustic album this is and how such a strong album could only have been created by the most wonderfully talented artists. Danny and Dan have created an absolute gem!
For more information visit the Snake Oil and Harmony Facebook page. In the meantime enjoy the music video below to the lead single Last Man Standing below.