By Zach Collier
Last February, Provo’s resident singer/songwriter Drew Danburry released an album with his latest project: Like, Listen To. Danburry has been actively releasing records since 2002, and is known for works such as Becoming Bastian Salazar and his huge, hyper-local collaboration 70 Love Songs. Reach Provo was privileged to speak with him about his extensive musical career, his new life as owner of Danburry Barber Shop, and his recent release.
Tell me a little bit about your new project Like, Listen To. How did you get inspiration for the name, and what does it mean for you?
Like, Listen To was a band name I’ve been wanting to use for over a decade. I liked the idea of people talking about the band in ways that made them sound silly, for example: “Do you listen to Like Listen To?” or “Do you like Like Listen To?” etc.
Also, I feel like it kind of covers what every band wants all in the title. To be liked and listened to. It’s honestly kind of shocking nobody named their band that yet. Maybe I should’ve looked on google or something. I hope I don’t get sued. Either way. Jesse [Quebbeman] and I thought it was funny. We like funny. A musician who takes himself too seriously is silly.
In your career as a musician, you’ve released an incredibly extensive body of work. How is Like, Listen To different from all of your prior musical projects?
I would be more interested in hearing what other people had to say about if it is different and how. I imagine there’s always a continuity to everything I do which I wish I could avoid but regardless, whatever. We intentionally limited the scope of the album to a string quartet and acoustic guitar to make it more interesting for us. In general, it’s hard to be objective about one’s own music so I don’t really bother trying. I just like to make things.
In your YouTube performances, I’ve noticed you’re playing with Alyssa Pyper and Stuart Wheeler. How did you get in contact with them, and who else was involved in the project?
Sydney was gonna be there too but she was sick. Jesse Quebbeman was there as well as Eric Edvalson and Branden Rosenlof. They helped film and capture sound. The project started with me contacting Jesse and asking him to collaborate with me on an album (like I described previously – limited to a string quartet & guitar). I wrote a bunch of demos and gave them over to Jesse to write the string arrangements. He enlisted the help of Stuart Wheeler and then recruited Sydney, Alyssa, Sara and Maia to play the string arrangements. I convinced Stuart to play guitar on the recordings so we could avoid any similarity in how I play guitar.We basically tried to distance myself as much as possible from the recording process outside of singing the songs themselves. I like writing songs and I’m more interested in seeing where other people take them. I’m pretty much bored with myself but can’t stop writing songs. It’s what I like to do. But it seems pointless not to share them with people if they’re interested. So I record them.
Where was the album recorded, and who produced it?
It was recorded by Michael Greene at MetCom Studios in Salt Lake City. I pretty much love him and think he’s amazing.
You posted in February about how different it is to release an album without a ton of hype or a big media push, and how that’s both disheartening but also kind of nice. Do you still feel that way? Could you elaborate a little bit more? How has your career changed since you first started performing?
It’s pretty bittersweet to release something like this way late in the game. I feel like it’s some of my best work but I don’t have the following that I used to. It’s nice to just release an album and have it be free of expectation and hope, but it’s also kind of a bummer to release something so good and wonder how it would have been received if you’d of released it 10 years ago – before your friends and family got tired of hearing your voice.
Mostly, though, I just like writing songs. I have no pretense about who I am or where I belong and I certainly have no interest in putting myself on a stage. I’m quite content with where I’m at in life.
Overall, what would you say the album is about? What message (if any) are you hoping to convey? What do you hope your listeners take away from it?
It really doesn’t matter what any of us are trying to say. People will put their own interpretation on things anyway based on their own experiences, etc. So consequently I don’t bother trying to convey a message or wasting time hoping anyone takes anything specific away from it. I can’t stand art that’s trying to convince someone of something or change the world with a message because it’s never gonna happen. At least not in the way the creator of said art is hoping. Every song or movie that was made to stop war hasn’t worked. What did “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles do to change the world? And can one define the impact it had? In any quantifiable terms? Even if a group of people decided that they should love better, what does that even mean? And what if their idea of love is offensive to another person? One person’s compliment is another person’s insult.I’ve placed plenty of meaning and nuance throughout the album but I wouldn’t assume anyone would receive said information in the manner in which it was delivered. I’m far more interested in other people’s insight anyway.Oh wait, I meant to say, “this album is about love.”
Are your regular barbershop patrons familiar with your music?
I don’t know. It’s not something I bring up and I generally don’t discuss it in too much depth if they bring it up. If people want to talk about music I’m totally open to it, but I think most people don’t really know where I’m coming from with music so it can get awkward really quick.For example, a lot of times when people find out Jimmy and I play music (Jimmy is the other barber in the barbershop). They usually think it’s pretty cool and say so. Which is weird to me, because there are so many awful bands out there making awful music. And for all either of us know, I might be one of those awful musicians to that person depending on their particular taste. And nobody should get a free pass for being awesome just by playing music. And I usually say so. So then it just gets awkward and weird.
[Laughter] So how has the response to your album been overall? Do you ever plan on performing or touring in support of it if it finds a large enough audience?
I don’t know. That’s what is great about the internet. I can release an album and have no idea how or if people are receiving it. I am completely out of touch.I doubt it. But it’s a nice thought.
How has the Provo music scene changed since you started playing here in 2003?
I think nowadays a lot of local Provo bands play music with the goal of being financially successful and maybe even famous. I don’t think any of the bands that I knew in 2003 were playing for any other reason than simply because they loved to make music. They, of course, didn’t really have any previous Provo successes to tie their hope to, so in a way places like Velour have changed a lot of aspects in the music scene whether for the perceived good or bad. I kind of think it’s relative and I don’t want to glorify it or vilify it either way. Things change and that’s just the way it is.
Do you have any suggestions or wisdom to impart to the current musicians in the scene?
Have fun and make the most of it while you can, because for all the success stories out there, there’s always a chance you might just end up being a barber with a weird sense of humor.
Make sure to like Like, Listen To on Facebook. If you’re looking for a haircut, visit Danburry Barber Shop at 55 N University Avenue, Suite 145 downtown. Stream the album East of the Sun and West of the Moon on Spotify and watch their awesome live performance of “What I Avoid” below!