Interview By: Andy Stern
Known as Dan Vapid by most fans of Punk Rock, Dan Schafer has been a driving force of both Screeching Weasel and Riverdales since the early 90's. REAX was lucky enough to catch up with Vapid prior to his triumphant return to Florida. Vapid will be performing with Screeching Weasel on June 11th at Hard Rock Live and Riverdales on June 12th at The Social.
REAX: With 20+ members over the years in Screeching Weasel, how hard is it to keep writing in the same consistent style?
Dan Vapid: Ben has always been the prominent writer of Screeching Weasel which has always given the band that consistency.
REAX: The line-up for Screeching Weasel and Riverdales is essentially the same at this point. Do some songs start off meant for Screeching Weasel but end up working better for Riverdales or is there a clear divide?
Dan Vapid: There usually is a clear divide but not always. The Riverdales is meant to be more stripped down and minimalist. In the Riverdales I try to think of how Dee Dee Ramone would write a song. My goal is to make a song that is dumb, funny and clever in equal parts. I think in order to play this style you need that. Otherwise, in my opinion it comes off flat. Screeching Weasel did not take that approach nearly as much as the Riverdales. Screeching Weasel has that Ramones influence but with different elements. Ben developed that trademark lead, mixed with style of vox and lyrics which in the end makes it sound like Screeching Weasel. I write some too but my job is to add a dimension or color to the song through backing vocals, etc..
REAX: Do you enjoy playing with Screeching Weasel as opposed to your other projects such The Methadones & Noise by Numbers where you do the majority of the song writing?
Dan Vapid: Yeah, I really like the songs Ben writes and always have. I love singing back vocals too. I think it's really fun. Lately, I've been having lots of flash backs when we play the songs live. We'll be playing a song from the set and I'll remember when we first started playing it at rehearsal or what was surrounding us at the time. I have lots of people come up to me and say that Screeching Weasel reminds them of high school. I have lots of memories attached to the songs, too. I think that's a pretty cool thing. More importantly, I think they still sound good and have aged well.
REAX: I remember listening to “My Brain Hurts” in college on vinyl. Now I have digital versions of all the albums and there’s definitely a difference in the overall feel of the songs. Do you have a preference when it comes to Vinyl vs. mp3 when it comes to your releases?
Dan Vapid: I haven't listened to any of our records on vinyl in years. It's probably been since the early 90's, so I don't know... I do like vinyl and own a ton of it. I'll have to compare and contrast.
REAX: Are you enjoying playing bass again after playing guitar when the Riverdales started playing live last year?
Dan Vapid: Yes. I'm surprised but I have been enjoying it a lot lately. I thought I was done playing bass when the Riverdalesbroke up. I sold all my gear thinking I wouldn't play bass ever again. I was wrong.
REAX: Screeching Weasel is banned from playing House of Blues in Orlando due to the bands content. How do you feel that your content came into question when bands like Bad Religion etc., are still welcomed there?
Dan Vapid: Yeah, we got a laugh out of that one. We thought the same thing.
REAX: What are your expectations for Screeching Weasel after so many years together?
Dan Vapid: To continue to play well live and make a great record.
REAX:Will you be playing with The Queers during either of the Orlando shows?
Dan Vapid: I have played as a guest for a few songs with them before but they haven't asked yet.
REAX: What have you been listening too lately? Are there any current bands that are influential in your songwriting?
Dan Vapid: I'm not genre specific anymore. I like lots of music but songs must have good hooks or pop sensibility. I look for good singing, vocal melodies and lyrics mostly.
REAX:The new Riverdales album is coming out in July. Do you have plans to tour for the record? Typically, I know the band tends to do one-off shows, but are plans any different this time around?
Dan Vapid: We're doing the one-offs but should be able to cover a lot of ground by the end of the year.
REAX: How does Tarantala differ from Invasion USA and earlier releases?
Dan Vapid: It's similar in spirit but there's some differences. We took some liberties that we didn't take before. There's a track of Ben's that has a bit of a rock element to it. The song sequencing on Tarantula is non traditional too. Side one is really punk and side two has lots of pop.
Screeching Weasel & RiverdalesWe've got a pair of tickets to see both Screeching Weasel on June 11th at Hard Rock Live and Riverdales on June 12th at The Social.
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