steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

20 questions
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with a sunny day in glasgow's ben daniels

With one highly-touted album under their belts, and another full-length on the verge of being unleashed upon the world, the many members of Philadelphian dream-pop collective A Sunny Day in Glasgow may very well be on their way to indie rock ubiquity. Their music is a smart blend of the challenging and the resplendently melodic, worthy of nothing less than listen after listen after listen. Core member Ben Daniels (one of three siblings in the band) took the time to answer our tremendously insightful questions, describing the various ins and outs of band life, as well as recounting a couple of near-encounters with the rich and famous. Read on...


1. Introduce each band member and one interesting thing about him/her.

This is more difficult to do than it may seem. There have been a lot of people in the live version of this band and so if I mention any of people who aren't me I feel like I should mention them all because they've all contributed a great deal. Here goes:

Ben Daniels: I love peanut butter and I make my own peanut butter

Josh Meakim: josh has the same vocal range as my sisters. It's so wrong

Annie Frederickson: Annie is a classically trained cellist and pianist

Robin Daniels: once nearly died of some bizarre fever in a Nicaraguan jungle

Lauren Daniels: now lives in Colorado. I have never been there, so that is somewhat interesting to me

Brice Hickey: Brice broke several bones in his leg in several places this fall by slipping on a leaf

Mich White: Mich's name is pronounced "Mike"

Jason Trill: Jason is a professional photographer

Pete Leonard: Pete makes his own instruments with weird notes

2. Why dream pop? Why not, say, thrash metal?

I have no answer to this. I suppose at some level it is as arbitrary as you suggest.

3. How did you react to all of the positive buzz surrounding "Scribble Mural Comic Journal"?

It's actually kind of strange to me when people say that album had a buzz around it. I've always kind of felt like this band has had such a strange trajectory. The first thing we ever put out was this EP called "The Sunniest Day Ever" and we didn't even "put it out." I mailed maybe 8 copies to some college radio stations and then people started to write to us wanting to buy it and then labels would write to us and call us and it was so weird. We didn't even exist as a band. It was just me and my one sis recording stuff in my bedroom. I kind of feel like it's been all down from there.

That being said, I'm always surprised and genuinely flattered that anyone would take any interest in our music. I would still be making music if no one had ever heard of us, but it's really special to know that people might want to hear it.

4. By that token, where did the name "Scribble Mural Comic Journal" come from?

My head. It seemed to fit the music.

5. You finished recording "Ashes Grammar" recently, and it's expected to come out in early June. What can we expect?

The release date is actually up in the air at the moment, it may be September actually before it comes out. I think it's a lot crazier than SMCJ, or maybe there is just more of everything on this record? I don't know what to think of it at the moment. Recording it was really difficult and took a lot out of all of us I think. But I think if people liked SMCJ they will probably like this one. It's different, though, in that SMCJ was recorded all with samples in an apartment. There are no live drums and very few live instruments at all on that one - it's mostly samples. The new record has a lot more live elements to it, and everything, including the samples, was sent out into a room first. There was nothing direct-in on this record. We had a PA system we would play synths and samples through and then we would mic the speakers. So it might sound a little more "roomier". Lots of people singing on this one too.

6. Is there anything quite like having your recordings put out in vinyl editions?

It's only recently that I've gotten really into vinyl. I've lived a very nomadic lifestyle over the past 5 years and haven't had a place where I could really keep a record player and records and stuff. But I've been in a more stable place for the past year or so and I got a record player last year and it's so great. We did this 7" for Slumberland of a Pastels song and I remember that was one of the first things I listened to on my record player and it just sounded so much better than the mp3. Since then I've been spending all my money on records. CDs just seem so pointless nowadays, you know?

7. Along the same vein, how is "Ashes Grammar" going to be released? What record label will have the honour, and will there be any special editions issued?

Definitely on CD and digital download and very very likely on 2LP. It's a long album, so it needs 2 records. No special editions or anything like that in the plans right now.

8. How does Philadelphia compare to the UK?

I lived in London for a couple of years and that is what forms my impression of the UK for the most part. I think it's similar in some ways. People in Philly are largely miserable and everyone hates everyone else, and that's kind of how I remember London. But in London there's just a million more things going on. I think that music is a larger part of everyday life in the UK and I really miss that. There were so many TV shows about music when I was there, like Top of Pops, Jules Holland, etc... It just seemed like everyone was into everything over there and it was really great. But I really like using a bike as my means of getting around and Philadelphia is perfect for that, while I would be really scared to do that in London. I like being able to wear sweaters all the time though, so the UK wins on that one. Also, Philadelphia has the worst public transportation in the world (seriously) while London's is amazing.

9. Tell us some strange or outrageous stories about the band!

I think we are the most boring band ever. Um... I don't think we do anything outrageous and I don't know that I have any good lies... I didn't meet him, but apparently U2's accountant was hanging out backstage after our show in Dublin this summer. Josh and I had some adventures on the recent Europe trip, but nothing that crazy. We didn't realize when the metro in Paris stopped running and we missed the last one, so we had to wander around Paris super drunk trying to find where we were staying. But we didn't get mugged or have anything crazy happen to us. Ooh! We played this festival in the south of France on this trip, and at the festival this girl flashed Josh. it was really bizarre, he didn't know what to do, kind of freaked him out. Yeah, seriously, we are super lame.

10. What is your guilty pleasure?

I don't do anything that makes me feel guilty.

11. What was it like it putting out the Pastels cover on Slumberland Records? How did you choose the song, and how did it feel working with such a historically significant label?

Mike and Slumberland are fantastic! To be honest, I had heard of Slumberland, but didn't really know that much about them when I met mike. I had that black tambourine record and I knew he had put out some Lilys records, but that was about it. He said something like, "You know, I'd love to put out anything you guys have" and I was more flattered by that than the fact that it was Slumberland. I still get kind of amazed people would want to put out our stuff. But then I started to learn more about Slumberland and it was really kind of crazy. Switched on V1 by Stereolab is probably one of my top 5 favorite records of all time, and he put that out (my copy isn't a Slumberland copy, so I only recently realized that). We played shows in California last spring and Mike took us for pizza in San Francisco and I told him how much I loved Switched On and he was like, "Yeah, that's a good one" - so cool, that guy! Haha.

But I picked a cover song because I didn't feel like I had any new stuff that was ready. A cover seemed like a good idea. I picked that song because I thought I could do a decent cover of it and everybody always covers "Nothing to be Done", which is a wonderful song, but I wanted to do a different one, and I really love "Sometimes I Think About You". It's kind of funny, but when we played in Glasgow this summer Stephen Pastel apparently came to the show (we didn't meet him though). We had accidentally left all of the Sumberland 7"s in Dublin the night before and I felt sad we couldn't have them for people at the show but I was so relieved that Stephen Pastel wouldn't be able to hear how I ruined his song and I wrote to Mike telling him this the next day. Mike wrote back saying, "He owns a record store and I know he has the 7" there". So I guess he heard it and still came out, so that is kind of extra awesome I guess.

12. What is there to do in Glasgow?

It seems like lots. Glasgow is probably our favorite place in the world to play. Everyone is in band there and everyone goes to shows or dance nights or parties or other fun stuff. I guess it rains there all the time, but people seem to know how to have a good time despite that. They are also so nice and incredibly supportive of us. xoxo Glasgow!

13. Two sisters and a brother in one band. Is there any behind-the-scenes sibling rivalry going on?

Haha, no, not really. I wish my sisters would try to outdo me writing some crazy songs, but they don't really write anything. We can easily get on each other's nerves in seconds though. And Robin and Lauren usually only communicate with each other by yelling.

14. Would you rather have sex with a leopard or a leper?


15. Explain your relationship to Mis Ojos Records.

This label from Brooklyn, Notenuf, put out our last record and was gearing up to put out our new one. But apparently sometime in 2008 things started to go bad between the folks who ran that label and Notenuf more or less died I think. We only ever dealt with this one girl from the label and when Notenuf died, she started her own label-- Mis Ojos, so we just stayed with her because it seemed like the natural thing to do. She reissued SMCJ and is putting out the new record.

16. What projects were the band members involved in before A Sunny Day in Glasgow (I saw Persons mentioned). Are there any secret archival recordings?

Well, ASDiG is the first band my sisters have been in. I used to play in this band called PERSONS. We have two records that were put out by the wonderful Black Bean & Placenta Tape Club. (I think we have a box of these somewhere; if someone wants one just send us an email. I know i've at least got the mp3s somewhere). People said we sounded like a more 4AD version of XTC all the time. I also currently play in band called King Kong Ding Dong. We are putting out a new record this year as well. This band is pretty much all my friend Leroy and I just push buttons here and there. It's really good stuff though.

Josh always has a million projects going on. he used to play in band called Dragon City that was fairly well known in Philadelphia a couple years ago. He also has these really awesome projects going on right now called Killed by Ghosts (kind of like really dark ukulele music. really composed stuff), Fantastic Imagination (kind of dreamy music), Rap Time (hip/hop rap music done in the character of French people who live underwater), and he also plays in King Kong Ding Dong. He used to play in the bands The Blueberry Dewdrops and Tea & Girlie Cakes. T&GC had a song called "Angel in a Minivan" which is my all time favorite song written by someone from Philadelphia.

Annie is currently playing cello in a high school production of Sweeney Todd and she sings and plays cello/piano with folks around Philly all of the time.

17. Who is your favourite philosopher?

I never read much philosophy. Do Erving Goffman or Emile Durkheim count? If so, them.

18. What record should everyone on the planet own?

Hmm, too many to list probably. Here are a few:

Buddy Holly Anthology

Trans Europe Express - Kraftwerk

Chill Out - The KLF

Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square

Today - Galaxie 500

19. What is your favourite colour? Justify your selection.

I like black &/or white because it's really simple and classy.

20. Where will A Sunny Day in Glasgow be in 20 years?

Somewhere where I can wear sweaters year round I hope.

interview conducted by Michael Tau
March 2009



all content copyright 2009