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Interview With Dan and Donnie of Stages and Stereos October 22nd, 2013

Dan, Magpie, and Donnie

 

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Daniel and Donnie of Stages and Stereos, a band hailing from Florida.  I met the two dudes outside, and it was hard to ignore the massive line of kids waiting to get into the venue.  Stages and Stereos were one of the bands that drew in a massive crowd for the Glamour Kills Tour, and for a good reason.  Their unique sound and infectious personalities could make anyone into a fan.

When I first heard the band’s name, I had assumed it was a reference to Bayside’s song, “They Looked Like Strong Hands”, and I was right.  “A couple of our guys went through every CD booklet that they had,” vocalist Dan explains.  “It just so happens that a Bayside lyric, “storming stages and stereos”- we were all really big Bayside fans.”

Donnie remarks, “Everyone in every band (on the Glamour Kills Tour) is just really chill and down to hang out; we’re all really big fans of the bands that are playing and the shows have been absolutely incredible.”  “This is the best response we’ve ever gotten (playing their most recent release in front of a crowd),” says Dan.  “I see people singing the words every night in the crowd and it’s our newest release so that’s really cool.”

Donnie “started playing drums when I was about 14 and ever since then, it’s just been nonstop.  I don’t really know what else I’d be doing.”  Dan said the last thing he wanted to do before this was to “be a professional skateboarder, and I was terrible at it.  When I found something that I was pretty good at and loved doing and saw a future in, jumped on board immediately and this is where I’m at now.  I never would’ve imagined it back then but it’s been the drive since I was fifteen years old and I haven’t thought about doing anything else since.”

“I was terrible when I started (singing),” Dan confesses.  “I didn’t take any lessons.  I remember playing a ‘Battle of the Bands’ in my hometown and there were maybe 400 people there and it was so loud- the screams were so loud when we were playing.  It was the biggest rush ever.  That was when I knew.  I was like, ‘I could do this. Maybe all these people aren’t here for us, but one day they will be.’  The thought of that made me want to continue pushing on; I never thought of money or if I was gonna survive or not, I just wanted to make music from that moment on.”

Donnie played his first show when he was “in 9th grade.  It was at this small venue in Jacksonville when all my friends from high school came out and all their friends- there were probably like 90 people there.  I was just like, ‘Holy crap, this feels awesome.'”

The band is incredibly active on social media, specifically twitter, where they respond to fans.  It’s nice to see and makes them feel like not only a band to look up to and love, but friends.

“Social media is the most important part of reaching out to your fans,” says Dan.  “In this era, it’s all anyone does.  They spend their time just staring into their phones and using that as a way to gain fans is cool and all, but being able to see it immediately is so overwhelming and awesome.  I would never ignore that- to reach out to those people who’ve been affected by our music.  The most important thing you can do is let them know you’re grateful for their support.”

The boys grew up on country music, The Eagles, and Donnie used to “have to dance with my mom during parties to the Jimmy Buffett when they were drinkin'” as a kid.  Neither were raised on “too much rock ‘n roll”, but there was some Michael Bolton.  Dan picked up classic rock from his father’s taste.

“It’s really easy for people to live a second life over their phone,” Donnie says, referencing back to talking about social media.  “It’s crazy.  I mean I do the same thing but you gotta draw a line somewhere.  When we were growing up, we didn’t have the internet and the world was a beautiful place, and it still is, but people seem to get caught up in the virtual world too much.”

“Sometimes it’s good to put down your phone and look at the world around you,” Dan reflects.  “Through your own eyes and capture those moments and memories for yourself.”

Asking Dan and Donnie to describe themselves in three words, they joke and ask if they can describe each other.  Dan said, “punch drunk love” to which Donnie said was “pretty dead-on”.  Donnie said, “careless caring sasquatch…we’ll go with that.  It makes sense in my head.”

Donnie’s favorite movie is “The Departed.  We’re about to be in Boston tomorrow so I’m stoked about that.”  Dan’s is “The Shawshank Redemption. I love that movie.  It’s three hours and I’ve seen it like eight times.  It’s a long ass movie.”

Though silly and kind, both Daniel and Donnie had wonderfully introspective things to say, and one in particular stuck with me.

“Nothing is out of reach,” said Dan.  “You don’t have to get a 9 to 5 that you don’t want; never get a job just for the money.  We don’t make anything- I mean we get by, the best that we can, but we’re so happy all the time in just doing what we love doing so much.  You don’t have to fall deep into society and settle down when you’re 20 and have 6 kids and work your whole life just to put ’em through college.  If you do, if that’s your thing, yeah, but don’t do it because you feel like you have to. You only live one life so you might as well enjoy it and make good decisions.”

And boy did the guys in Stages and Stereos make good decisions.  To come as far as they have and still have a huge future ahead of them is admirable and fascinating.  Check them out on the Glamour Kills Tour, and whenever they come around to your area.

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