Indie403 is thrilled to present Danny Vacon as our Featured Artist of the Month for December!
Danny Vacon is a man of many hats. With four bands on the go (for now!) and a list of talents that seems to go on forever, he is completely unstoppable. Currently the frontman for The Dudes, The Dojo Workhorse and HighKicks, as well as guitarist for Roaming Storms, Danny’s recognizable and unmatchable voice have made him a household name in Calgary and beyond. Despite his success, though, Danny has stayed humble, hilarious and driven, and that is why he deserves to be Indie403’s Featured Artist of the Month!
The Artist, Influences and Style
Much like his music, Danny is really cool, sweet and funny, and maybe a little weird. The Calgary native comes from a long music background, starting his career at a high school talent show with his fellow Dude Bob Quashnick. First place wasn’t theirs – they didn’t even come close – but the competition ignited a fire in Danny that would only get stronger over the next few years, although the confidence to perform didn’t come right away.
“I never thought I was good enough to perform in public,” says Danny. At least, that’s how he felt until he joined The A-Team at age 19. “My friends in The A-Team were a huge influence. I learned fuzz bass and how to let myself go. They helped me to be wild and confident.”
Wild and confident is right, and it soon became clear he was meant for a life of music. Nothing stood in his way, “not even being broke.” In fact, says Danny, being poor led to his wild side and the fun personality he’s known for. “My family is rad. They love fun. They love that I love fun. I grew up poor as heck, raised by a single teenaged mother. I learned that fun is cheap, especially when you can manufacture it on your own in a filthy basement with your pals.”
Combining this aptitude for fun with actual musical talent, Danny found real stride in Calgary’s music scene, first enjoying the success he got with The Dudes, a band he’d drop anything for.
“When we started playing shows as The Dudes, there was a bar on 1st Street called The Werx. We lived in Vic Park in a house we dubbed “Rock Central” and The Werx would call us up whenever a band would cancel, because we lived close and were always ready to drop everything to play rock on demand. They paid us in beer and popcorn. We loved it. [They] made us feel like champs back then and now we really are. Champs, that is.”
Now way past the days of beer and popcorn (although Danny stands by his claim that cheap beer tastes better than imports), Danny, the Dudes, Dojo Workhorse and HighKicks are still willing to do anything for music. He finds inspiration everywhere – risk, romance, everyday life – and has a whole lot of feelings.
“I feel feelings, then I try and relate those feelings in a feeling manner,” he jokes. But by “saying yes to a lot of things”, taking risks and getting into trouble, he’s able to create some great music.
For each of his different bands Danny has a slightly different style. “[My style] is hard to pin down. I play catchy rock tunes about partying and matters of the heart when I’m with The Dudes. I play soft rock tunes about partying and matters of the heart when I’m with The Dojo Workhorse. When I play with HighKicks, it sounds like fuzzy triumph after fuzzy triumph.”
It’s not easy to do, but playing in so many bands (not to mention weekly DJ gigs at Broken City and other venues) shows the diverse musical talent Danny has and the reason for many of the bands’ successes.
Accomplishments and Successes
In the 15 years since he graduated high school, Danny has spent a lot of time performing and recording. With The Dudes, he’s been part of a team that’s recorded five albums and toured all over the world. With Dojo and HighKicks he’s done a lot too, and there are no plans to slow down any time soon. He’s played both large festivals and small venues and loves playing anywhere he can. “Playing anyplace where folks want to hear you play is my favourite place to play,” he explains, and with all his bands he’s been able to do that a lot.
Despite his success, however, Danny is modest, amazed at how much his bands have accomplished and proud of everything he’s done. “I’m proud that I’m still going,” he reflects. “It’s crazy to have songs in films and on the radio and all that. I’m proud to have defeated cynicism.”
Above anything, Danny is down-to-earth, something fans and friends really love about him. He’s got a great smile and a solid attitude toward life and what really matters: “I love my bicycle and my lady,” he says. He’s someone to admire and with his attitude and talent he’s going to go even further.
Danny never seems to stop. His plans for the next year include promoting the new Dojo Workhorse album (released November 23), releasing the first HighKicks album in the spring and heading into the studio with The Dudes later next year. Add on festivals, touring and lots of high-fives, and Danny’s got a pretty solid year ahead of him.
Beyond that, anything could happen, and he maintains a great attitude about planning for the future. “I just do my thing and see what happens,” he says. “It’s safer for your heart. It’s kind of like when Luke Skywalker had that blinding helmet on and that flying ball was shooting at him. I just want to put my faith in rock and try to deflect as many lasers as possible.”
There is one possibility still out there, though, and it all comes back to that failed talent show performance in high school. “The girl who won is the same gal that does the anthems at Flames games. Sometimes when I watch hockey I think, ‘damn, if we’d have only practised harder, that could’ve been me.'”
Danny Vacon is everything a musician should be. He’s humble, dedicated and way too talented, and that is why he is Indie403’s Featured Artist of the Month! Check out The Dudes, Dojo Workhorse and High Kicks, and watch for him in the future: you never know where he’ll end up next.