Sunday, May 5, 2013

Interview with Art Daniels, Current Merch Man for GypsyhawK

The other day I had the good fortune to talk to Art Daniels. Recently Art moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles to pursue a full time job as a road dog. He is the current merch man for the hard rock band, Gypsyhawk. Not only was Art fun to talk to but he was open to any questions I had!  
How long have you been working merch for Gypsyhawk?
Just a short while. I've been on one tour with them so far. I'm hoping it's the beginning of a long gig.

How did you get the gig?
I knew one of the guys in the band, Erik "Ron Houser" Kluiber and he had asked me to fill in at the end of their tour with The Sword in December but I couldn't get out of work because of the short notice. So when this opportunity came up, I wasn't letting a crappy retail job get in the way. I was interviewed by the band and they asked me to go. I quit that job and I'm not looking back.

Hoping to become a lifer?
Yes, although I have my sights set higher than where I'm at now. I've been on tours with other bands but this feels like a good spot to be in right now.

What other bands' have you done merch for?
Before I moved out West, I would go on tour with a metal band called Jameson and right before Gypsyhawk was a band called Future Villains.
End of tour with the Future Villians (Art is second from the left)
What's it like going on the road with people you don't really know?
It's scary! I mean with Gypsyhawk I only kind if knew Erik. I had never really heard their music before and I had heard Eric Harris was kind of a handful. I mean we all talked for 10 minutes to decide that we were all going to live together for the next month. It's lots of pressure and you don't want to get too drunk or say the wrong thing to a new boss who you can't get away from at the end of the day. We are all together almost all the time.
"Eric Harris with his trademark 'Smile.'" - Art 
That's intense. At the end of the night is it hard to party with the people you ultimately work for?
If you're doing a good job, no. I was working hard, helping out wherever I could and the band saw that and realized that I wasn't going to be some guy only doing the bare minimum. As soon as they saw I was there to make everything easier, they took me as one of their own and made sure I was as messed up as they were.
Enjoying a day off in Austin with Ian Brown and Andrew Packer
Without going into too much detail have you ever heard of a band and merch person "breaking up" during tour?
Of course! It's really easy to be a distraction and just do whatever you feel like doing. The key is to listen and learn. Some bands have very specific ways of doing things and you're only going to look like an ass if you come in and ignore that. If you want to change things you have to learn how they work first. You can't just guess you know the better way. That's a good way to get tossed off with no ticket home.

DAMN! I'm so naive. I had honestly never thought about how things could go sour between the merch person and the band. But you're right. How many years have you been working merch?
On and off for about the last five years. It only really got serious this year. I moved out here to work with bands and it's finally taking off.
Erik Kluiber and Art Daniels
Since this is obviously something you love to do, could you tell me what you enjoy most about being on the road?
It sounds so corny, but I love to travel and see America. I've seen places that I would have never thought to go to and I've done things I never would have done. A great example is that on my birthday, I was out with Gypsyhawk and we were in Seattle. We decided that we should go see Kurt Cobain's house, you know the one where he died. Andrew Packer came up with this awesome idea that we should shotgun beers on his front yard, so that's what we did. That's something I would have probably never have done!
Art shotgunning a beer outside of Kurt Cobain's house
Holy shit, that sounds like an amazing birthday.
I don't know what I can do to top it. Next year will be rough.

Yeah, that's going to be difficult. haha!
Well luckily, I'm up for the challenge.

Other than extremely awesome moments like that, what is a typical day on tour like for you?
Well any day starts off with us waking up out of our drunken states and inventorying the people and seeing who is missing. Then we locate and reclaim the missing. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it's not. Once we get everybody back in the van we get to the next gig. Sometimes it's a few hours sometimes its a lot of hours. The rides are usually filled with stories of what happened the night before and Netflix. Once we get to the venue we all get into work mode. I find a spot to set up and get organized and the band gets set up. Then we wait until show time. Sometimes light drinking is involved. When the show starts its pretty fun. You get to meet people who tell you how awesome the band is. It's always great when people tell you how far they came to see you. After the show its time to pack up and get drinks and figure out where to crash that night. Then its time to party, then pass out. Then the process starts again.
End of tour with Gypsyhawk and Mothership
I feel like people (myself included) see the merch person as the face of the band, that's why we're always chatting ya up. Does it ever get to be overwhelming?
Sometimes. I have to be sure that no matter how annoying somebody might seem that I have to be nice. It's rare but I do get people that just want to talk about something completely unrelated to anything or somebody asking for a discount. Sometimes they want an autograph or to get a picture and I try to make that happen as best as I can. I want to be sure they leave the table loving Gypsyhawk more than when they walked up. Like I said before, most people just want to buy something to remember the show and tell you how great the band is. I want to be sure to not change that.
Blake Anderson from Workaholics stopped by for a show!
That's a really good attitude to have. I know it must get tiring being on the road, driving for hours, and then dealing with (presumably) drunk people.
Being on the road is tiring at times but it's all worth it. My worst day on the road is better than my best day working a regular job.
Art with Andrew Packer and Erik Kluiber of Gypsyhawk
When I saw Gypsyhawk in NYC I not only enjoyed their music but I really liked their style, especially Erik's badass bellbottoms. Do you feel like you have to up your style game with those guys?
Well Erik does rock those pretty good. I don't think I could pull it off. One of the things that's cool with Gypsyhawk is that I feel like I fit in. We all look like we should be around each other with the long hair and denim. Eric Harris has been coaching me on what to wear next tour. I never thought I would be wearing cowboy boots but its happening.

You do all have beautiful long hair! Gypsyhawk should be sponsored by Pantene!
I'm sure that it would be considered!
End of tour with Gypsyhawk. Seriously though, you all have gorgeous hair. 
If you could tour with any band dead or alive, who would it be?
Great question. I think it would be wild to be on tour with Mötley Crüe back in the 80's. I mean a lot of bands party and it's crazy but I don't know if there's ever going to be that level of partying ever again. I would be fascinated to see how that all went down.

GREAT ANSWER! Funny too, cause I just finished, "The Dirt" and I can't stop thinking about all the shit they did!
Yes, it's amazing they are all still alive

THANK YOU THANK YOU ART! I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. 
No problem! See you at the Merch Table!

You can meet Art for yourself when Gypsyhawk goes on tour this Summer with Vailent Thorr and Ramming Speed. Below is a link to Gypsyhawk's FB page where you can find cities and dates for their upcoming tour