Danny White

Three-Song Demo With Mellancamp's Bassist

Danny White's career just hit a major turning point. The singer/songwriter just got back from Indiana, where he recorded a three-song demo with longtime rhythm/guitarist for John Mellancamp's band, Mike Wanchic.

Over the years, in his work with Mellancamp, Wanchic has mastered some intensely raw guitar sounds embellishing Mellancamp's home cooked rock 'n' roll. In New Jersey, White has served up the right mix of three-chord rockers to develop a sound with hints of Mellancamp and Springsteen, but all his own.

It's what could be called a near-perfect fit that White and Wanchic hooked up. It's a connection that has produced a three-song demo of melodically smooth, yet tastefully dirty rock.

White, who grew up on Mellancamp's music, was happy to let Wanchic and his cast of Mellancamp band members steer the ship, while he sat back and let his songs evolve. In return, the producer has sailed the Matawan native in a direction that should make industry reps who look to keep the rawness in rock take notice.

How did you get involved in recording with Mike Wanchic?

I recorded a demo of the new song "Before We Touched The Moon" in New York City with Kevin Tooley and Lance Massey. Kevin, in turn, played it for an agent/manager by the name of Dean Lozow. Dean liked it a lot, I met with him, and he suggested we get it to Mike to see if he'd be interested in turning it into a real record and he was interested.

Who were some other producers in consideration before Mike Wanchic?

I had talks with a hand full of producers, two of which have major label credits with big bands. Out of respect for their work I'd rather not mention their names, but once Mike became a viable option there was no real decision to make. I've been a huge fan of his work since I was a little kid.

What does working with Mike and the rest of John Mellencamp's band represent in your career?

Well, again, I have great respect for John's songs, ya know. They mean something to me. And a great respect for the band. Ya know, Mike runs one of the great American rock bands of all time. I mean, I've seen them at Madison Square Garden. I'm having the opportunity to work with some of my rock 'n' roll heroes. I don't know anyone else personally who can say that, so ya know it's very cool.

How will it help you further your career?

Well, I'm not sure. There's a lot of work to be done. But these songs are now records, ya know. I've never made a recording before with real pros, people who know how to make records, and they sound incredible.

Hopefully they'll get in the hands of people who can get them to a large audience, because I believe people will connect with them if they hear them.

What did you learn working with them?

Mainly, that if you know what you're doing in the studio it can be a very pleasant and creative environment and experience, as opposed to pulling your hair out while trying to figure out why you can't get that sound in your head on tape. Don't talk about things, try them. If they work, great! If not, move on.

Can you take us through a little of that recording/arranging process?

I would sit down with my acoustic guitar and play the songs for Mike. He would then make suggestions on how to maximize the potential of the song, especially the choruses. The changes were very minor, but incredibly important. Things that now seem so obvious, but I'd never thought of. Ya know, the difference between a real good song and a great song.

Then, I would lay all my parts down and the band would come in and put their parts around mine. It had to be done this way because of logistics and timing. Doing it that way, though, makes it much easier to focus on the individual parts.

What were some of the feelings you went through when you first began? What was it like listening to the final result?

Well, you know, I'm used to making all the decisions. So the first thing I said to myself is, "Let Mike and his guys do what they do." That's why I wanted to work with him in the first place. He's sold 40 million records, not me. If I felt strongly about something I'd question it. It was just a very relaxed process and fun.

I mean, I remember going home one night and I couldn't remember if I had cut the vocal for "Ooh Yeah" or not. And, I had just done it earlier in the day. That's how enjoyable it was. In the end, these songs I had written on an acoustic guitar in my bedroom, alone, had now been turned into pro records.

What do you plan to do with the new recording? What role will Mike play now?

Dean is in the process of shopping them to major labels. Mike is helping, and hopefully soon he'll be producing a lot more of my songs for a full-length disc.

[ Website: www.dannywhitemusic.com ]

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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