Same Six Questions: Danny & The Champions of the World

Having established himself as one of the UK’s most talented purveyors of alt-country, former Grand Drive main man Danny George Wilson co-opted the title of a Roald Dahl book for his current venture. The band spent the beginning of this year acting as main support for Fionn Regan, as well as appearing as special guests on tour with The Duke & The King. The band released single ‘Restless Feet’ in April, followed shortly by their critically acclaimed album ‘Streets Of Our Time’ via Loose Records. Ahead of their gig at Liverpool Sound City on 22 May, we caught up with Danny to ask the Same Six.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
My Dad always played us great music, instilled the romance of great music in us and showed us how beautiful songs can be the backdrop, the soundtrack to your life. My folks told us that you can do whatever you want to do – if you believe in it – ‘Field Of Dreams’ and all that. I became obsessed with blues, jug band music, skiffle, soul and folk music as a young teenager and subsequently became something of a historian about it all. I could talk knowledgeably about Rev Gary Davis, Woody Guthrie, Bukka White, James Carr, Wanda Jackson and Hank Williams – all of the greats and all the so so ones, too. I wanted to be a Buddy Holly, a Gene Vincent. I bought a guitar and taught myself to play. My brother learnt to play piano and Hammond organ and we vowed to be up there with Dan Penn, Willie Nelson, Goffin and King, hey, Springsteen – we wanted to write the songs that meant something to folks, your wedding song, your funeral song, your getting ready to face the world song – THE songs! We made bands, and then made records and here we are…

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
The beauty and the hardship of life I guess – ain’t they all? Love and the way the world turns. Love and the square peg. Love and the path less travelled. Love and the truth. It’s all about the romance of home, the romance of the road, the fire that burns and the River Wandle.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
I write words and music as a rule – that’s what I do in the shed with the hidden bottle of tactical nuclear penguin and the cricket on the wireless. Then at some point, when I’ve got a clutch of songs, I send the word to The Champs and we’ll get together at the farm and pretty much just play em into the machine. It never takes more than a few days – I lost my patience some years back, and never regained it. I love being with loved ones – family, friends, both – and drink a glass to the beauty of it all – that’s how we record, a party, a gathering.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
All the Hanks – Chinaski, Williams, Marvin and Snow. Stax, Motown, Heavenly, Fame. The Charlies – Rich, Patton and Ray. The Jacks – Kerouac, Flash and Elliot (the Ramblin’ one), the Bobs – Zimmerman, Robertson, and Johnson, and of course the three Ronnies – Lane (God rest his soul), Hawkins and Tutt. And Peter Blake – he’s a genius.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
I’d hope it was at a show – it’s the best way to hear, breathe, live music. I’d want to play my heart and soul out and then hopefully get to have a few drinks at the bar with folks. I hate the distance between band and audience that ‘brit pop’ seemed to celebrate – it’s a collaboration, a conversation, a connection, a happening. We’re all a part of a night, all in control, all not in control – fuck being promoted to, fuck smoke and mirrors – let’s live in real time together, what are we doing here? Where are we going now?

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
We’re gonna play in your town – wherever that may be – and then again and then again. We’re gonna write your wedding song or your funeral song or your just getting ready to face the world tune. We’re gonna raise a glass with and to you. We’re never giving up on the good shit and we’re gonna do it all over again. And then I’m gonna leave the building.