Wuddup Daniel? This isn’t the start of the interview yet. Hold on bro. Let me get my spiel done first. Who hasn’t Dan worked with? Weezer? Check. Nada Surf? Check. A world renowned college? Check. The Trump administration. Bingo! But Ozma and Sanglorians are, on the other hand, the legitimate and fully child-supported brainchildren of Mr. Brummel. The latter of which has gone through numerous hiatuses…haitusi? Anyway, they broke up and got back together without actually announcing a break up. Like my relationship with Ariana Grande, except that the getting together part hasn’t even been told to her yet. Lolzzz. Anywho, Ozma was a huge influence on the formative years of the Californian millennial generation with Warped Tour (RIP), cool CD compilations (RIP) and rawk shows (RIP for now).
The passion for writing and performing started Dan down the Sanglorians highway in 2013 after the hiatus of his previous band. The genius songwriting continued in their appropriately named debut album Initiation, with anthemic choruses, stick breaking drum beats, heavily distorted guitars and much, much more of that power-pop goodness.
Now, just in time for the second round of Covid quarantine, we have the sophomore album Odalisque, the perfect soundtrack to your bathtub sobs in the fetal position while contemplating your worthless life under a cold shower… It does get better, I promise. Mr. Brummelstein takes a few moments from strutting around his posh LA pad to sit down at his MacBook and type out a few responses for us about the past, present and future of his music. Drum roll please……..It’s DANNY!
Daniel Brummel, can you please tell us the deets of how you got into composing and performing music? Oh, and how Ozma met! Oh, oh and Warped Tour??? Oh god…
I got into writing and playing music essentially because of my father’s love for music. His epic record collection was my lending library. Nowadays we take it for granted having nearly all the music ever recorded at our fingertips, but growing up in the early 80s, if you didn’t have it on vinyl or tape, you didn’t have it. Dad had thousands upon thousands. I was hooked by “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” “We Built This City On Rock & Roll,” and “Johnny B. Goode” at age 4, so they put me in piano lessons and I wrote my first songs when I was 6. Later I practiced violin, trumpet, and a lot of singing. I got my first guitar on Christmas at age 10. I learned everything I could by Dylan & The Beatles and started writing original songs more frequently. At 12 or 13 I started a wannabe garage band with my friend Jes Painter called Porcelain Dream to do Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, and Nirvana covers. Jes’s older brother Owen (“Opie”) had subbed for Van Halen on drums at their Pasadena house parties back in the day, and he was our first drummer. Then, Jose Galvez found me on an AOL profile search and emailed me (this was mid-1995, instant messaging wasn’t even a thing on AIM until 1997) to say his band from Sierra Madre called Paper or Plastic needed a bassist. So, I bought a shitty Hondo bass & Traynor amp and joined the band. Once we started sounding alright and making demos on our Fostex 4-tracks, we changed the name to Ozma, and the rest is history. I always took my music education seriously as well — I attended CSSSA, LACHSA, and UCLA, and finished up with my master’s degree at CSULA.
My favorite memory of Warped Tour 2002 is getting to see Flogging Molly shred everyday. And all the other bands – Black Flag, Alkaline Trio, NOFX, Thursday, Morgan Heritage, Andrew WK, even Anti-Flag — it was a good year for music! But mainly Flogging Molly — I think I wore their T-shirts at least once or twice a week the entire time. I chased down Dave King and told him how much I loved Irish folk music, and that his tunes were among the gems of the canon. He kissed my hand and said “Thank ye, my boy, for saying so.” Then I asked him what part of Ireland he lived in, and he was like, “Sherrrr-man Oaks, in the Valley” — in the thickest Dublin brogue you’ve ever heard. Later that night he got in a fist fight with one of the Metal Mulisha goons who was being rude to Bridget, their violinist. Dave took it to him and popped him one in the face. I fuckin’ love Dave King. My second favorite memory from the Warped Tour is winning hundreds off of Chad from New Found Glory at the Texas Hold ‘Em day table. So they moved me up to the night table, which was in an E-Z Up tent surrounded by the four nicest buses on the tour, parked in a square. It felt like some kind of inside punk rocker’s gladiator arena. I held my own with Dave and the other champs like Greg Ginn from Black Flag and Fat Mike, until the stroke of 11pm when the blinds went up to $10-20 and Fat Mike from NOFX cleaned us all out within a few hands. I suppose that was by design.
Some of your work is pretty intricate, e.g. “Curve in the Old 1-9.” What were your influences when combining such hard hitting rock riffs with those complex, catchy bits?
Funny you’d call that one out. I just watched the Naudet Brothers’ chilling 9/11 documentary, which everyone should see, as it directly documents the firefighters’ experiences that day in real time. As far as the more complex bits in the arrangements, I think they were probably due to all the varied influences we had when we were writing. Bruce Witkin who produced Rock and Roll Part Three told us that we reminded him of Squeeze with their duo male vocals in octave unison, and so we played out Argybargy. That’s a very intricate record. Also, being deeply interested in the angular approach of Shostakovich and the impressionists (Debussy, Ravel, de Falla, Satie) inspired us to try and create indelible melodic signatures.
Since your fondness for “The Land of the Rising Sun” is quite well-known, can you share a story or two of your time there or basically anywhere you’ve been on tour with the many projects you’ve been a part of?
My favorite memories of Japan are going inside Daibutsu at Kamakura visiting Hiroshima, the “City of Peace” whose mayors have sent letters of protest for every single nuclear bomb test since 1968. Also, Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo is one of the oldest in the world, and when they put on Dvorak’s Largo (“Coming Home”) at twilight as you walk out and they close the gates, it’s just magical. Other than that, after seeing all 50 states on tour I will say that while there are a few great towns (Austin, New York, Asheville, ), Europe is more exciting and inspiring to me. Italy, Belgium, Latvia, and Spain are among my favorites. I met my wife in Portugal, and we go back frequently.
My favorite story about Europe has to do with my interest in the harpsichord. I have a 7-foot Zuckerman instrument and for many years in my 20s I lived alone with it in a backhouse on Benton Way in Silver Lake. I was playing guitar with Josh Haden’s group Spain and we booked a 5-day tour starting in Bruges, Belgium. We only had one day in Bruges — the show day — and so my M.O. in those situations is to wake up early, rent a bike, and see everything I can see before soundcheck at 4pm. I biked to a coffee shop where I found a flyer advertising that my favorite harpsichordists, Skip Sempe and Pierre Hantai, were in town and about to perform Rameau at the Concertgebouw at 11:00 a.m. I raced over and met Skip Sempe out front beforehand. (If you don’t know him, his version of Scarlatti K517 is one of the recordings which started my lifelong obsession with Scarlatti.) After their amazing concert, I realized that in the central castle across the street from my hotel, there was a free harpsichord convention taking place, where they had about 40 different period and modern instruments set up, and I was essentially able to jam on late Baroque music whilst my idols Skip & Pierre was also walking around trying out the different instruments. I was on cloud nine for the rest of that trip.
Inform us please, why we should give the sensually named album Odalisque a listen when you already have an extensive repertoire of kick-ass music. What makes this new studio recording different?
I worked on the songs for more than a decade, and the recording for more than 5 years. I got the best players and engineers to work on it. Certain friends I trust more than I trust myself have told me it’s up there with my best work. It’s a super personal, introspective, retrospective kind of record. I love the collage art that my friend Erika Lipkes was able to come up with for the front and back covers.
What do you see in the future for your work? More legitimate children …er bands? Another folk album? Or something new like trap-hop?
Now that this album is out it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can’t say what will be next, but I think it will be a left turn.