At least as fast as the speed of sound, local band Danfield is breaking barriers. Their disregard for conventional genre styling has connected with music lovers on campus and around St. Petersburg.
The four-piece is made up of front man John Holt III, bassist Sean Fote, drummer Chris Trull and multi-instrumentalist Mike Warren. All avid music lovers from a young age, they started the band with a simple desire to express and enjoy themselves, but people quickly took notice of how they were making sounds that defied labels.
“Like all artists, we hate the idea of being conventional, and by definition genre is a category placed on a piece of art, music, literature, etc. to make it fit within or relate to predetermined traditions and conventions,” said Trull. “That’s just boring.”
The thought of picking one label for a project where so many other influences overlap seems wrong, Holt said.
“But as a band, we realize it’s inevitable, and if we don’t do it, someone else will. We’ve embraced the indie/reggae/soul label, and we’ll go with that for now,” he said.
Danfield opened for fellow local band Mighty Mongo at the Coquina Club last March to a positive reception, and has since developed a following on campus.
“There are some people in this world that hate local bands, music, or enjoying themselves in general,” said Lazar Anderson, Student Government’s Director of University, Community, and Government Relations. “I would not recommend this band to those people. For everyone else, they’re a relaxed sounding band that’s not decidedly peggable to a specific genre, giving them a unique quality people should check out.”
The band cites musically progressive artists like The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, The Dirty Projectors and Paul Simon as major influences. The Beatles were the first band to use reverse guitar and vocal tracks on “Revolver” in 1966. Paul Simon traveled around the world to capture the organic sounds of the Africa and Latin America for his album, “The Rhythm of the Saints”.
The break-from-the-mold mentality of these musicians is something that Danfield has tried to keep alive with constant experimentation. A diversity of music styles is also reflected in the band’s first release, the “Time Machine EP”, which engages reggae, rock, blues and indie conventions.
“There are little bits and pieces of everyone’s influences that come out in Danfield so it makes for quite an interesting blend of sounds,” Holt said.
The rhythms and history of reggae have a particularly strong presence in their music, as many of the members grew up on the beach.
“That chilled out vibe is something we’ve always been exposed to growing up skateboarding, skimming and such,” Holt said. “It’s really just where we come from more than anything.”
The band lives, hangs out and performs in St. Petersburg. They have been embraced by venues around the city, and received an ideal reception from the local music community, especially places like Ale and the Witch, the Hideaway Café, Ruby’s Elixir and Mandarin Hide.
“It’s pretty cool to have the business behind what you do as well,” Trull said. “Not every town is like that, so we appreciate it.”
In their eyes, the arts scene in St. Petersburg is still young and evolving, and they are happy to be a part of the process.
“I guess you could say it’s simmering but not quite boiling yet. Hopefully, with time and unity, we can make St. Pete known for its mass amount of talent,” Holt said.
Performance is a big part of the band’s character, and Trull and Holt described playing shows as one of the most rewarding parts of being in the band. Rarely do they fail to get people out of their seats.
Holt said Danfield’s fans often connect with them off the stage as well, describing a recent run-in when the band was on local radio station WMNF.
“A listener called in to let us know she just had the best bike ride of her life, and ‘everything in her life was golden,’ which are lyrics to one of our tunes. You really can’t beat that feeling. That’s why we do what we do,” Holt said.
Danfield has kept up a hectic schedule. On Halloween they performed live on WMNF’s Center Stage radio program, which features local musicians. They average at least one show a week, and they are almost done working on a new release entitled “The Golden EP”.
The band says “The Golden EP” will have a more cohesive sound than previous albums—an evolution and maturity but not a dramatic change. It will feature four songs and be available by the end of 2012, with another EP in the works for spring.
The band’s name and fan base is growing, but they are still self-managed. Beyond writing, there is a lot that goes into maintaining the band.
“We are all full-time musicians, and this band is our job; every day from the minute we wake up we’re at work, Trull said. “We have rehearsals, booking, marketing, promotions, merchandising, networking, cool interviews and all the other countless things we must do to run a band as a business. Basically the band comes first, any outside work we do is usually to benefit the greater good of the band in some way.
“It can be tough to get four people in the same room at once, but we are all so passionate and believe in our music so much that we find the time.”
Until the new EP’s are released, Danfield has plans to post acoustic and band versions of songs performed for WMNF on YouTube. More information on the band, shows and tickets is available at facebook.com/danfieldmusic.