Sunday 8 November 2015

Interview with Dan Wallbank

Artist Dan Wallbank interviewed by Alexandros Plasatis

Dan Wallbank
AP. Many thanks for creating the doodle that we use for our logo, Dan. I’ve seen you, I’m afraid, creating your doodles while at work. Why then did it take you so long to make this one for the blog, was it busy in the library? How did you end up being a doodle-maniac? Tell me about it, and, anyway, I hope you have joined the Union.

DW. I’ve always been a bit of a “doodle-maniac”! I’ve always loved to draw, and as a kid I found it a great extension of my brain, although I could never get things to look quite the way I wanted them to. I’ve always been very into comics and used to create my own – largely based around Sonic the Hedgehog, for my sins.
Punk Clown by Dan Wallbank

I could ask you, Alex, why it took so long to come up with these interview questions! Was I not second choice of artist? The Library is a great job and I enjoy it very much, but around the start of term it does tend to get just a little busy. I’ve curtailed my work drawing habits in the interests of being a good employee – I might need to change my blog title…

AP. I was a bit slow with the questions because I had to visit my auntie in Papua New Guinea. I like this project of yours, taking photos of and archiving graffiti around Leicester. Why do you do it? If those people came around your house with the purpose of covering it in graffiti, what would you do? Would you punch them and spit on them, go on, say it, what would you do?

DW. I think it’s important to say that I don’t take photographs of all graffiti, just that which I find unusual, artistically pleasing or funny. It’s a very subjective collection of work, I must admit – there are other blogs I’ve found since starting my own (such as the great which archive less selectively. It has to be said that I don’t condone unauthorised graffiti – that just often tends to be the most interesting stuff… About graffiti in my place – well, I suppose it would depend on how funny I found the graffiti, but I don’t think I’d be a fan. I do abhor violence in all forms unless it’s part of a computer game, though, so I might challenge them to a round of Halo – and probably lose.

Graffiti in Leicester

AP. You wrote music for a wrestling league. Do you find violence inspirational? Do you get into fights? 

DW. This was one of those examples of it not being what you know, but who you know – a friend of mine used to be a semi-professional wrestler, and when one of his cohorts announced that he was setting up a wrestling league and needed walk-on music for 15+ wrestlers, he got straight in touch with me! It was interesting to me as I’m not a fan of wrestling, so I really had to study the sort of music that gets used at events in order to create the right sort of stuff. It was a real workout in terms of my creativity and I really enjoyed it.

AP. Tell me about your band, when was it formed, how often and where do you play live, do you all take drugs before and/or after gigs, but also tell me about you and how you feel being a member of this band, about things that you like and things that piss you off, about any dreams that you might have about the band’s future.

DW. In terms of bands, at the moment I only play live as part of some cover bands – Pin Up for the full band experience and Two Feathers for the acoustic side. I’m looking to form a new band, though, so if anyone’s interested…
Two Feathers

I’m literally the least rock and roll person ever, as I’m teetotal and really quite boring. My dreams for the future of any band I form would be to play in a dingy club to ten people, as I like to keep things realistic.
AP. We are doing very well, Dan. This is the only interview where the questions are longer than the answers. Can we listen to one of your songs now?

DW. There you are:

AP. Ah, lovely… You are very much into photography, and many of the photos you take are of musicians. Does being a musician yourself help you to identify the right moment to take a photo or, I don’t know, does it help in any way?

DW. It really does, but not necessarily in the ways you might expect – it’s not about feeling or mood a lot of the time so much as counting the beats and thinking about how a person is likely to move when you’re at each beat. If a song has a 1, 2, 3, 4 beat, then people are most likely to pull the best moves on the 1!

Charlie Tidmas - photo by Dan Wallbank

AP. How did the Commentary at Phoenix go? I read a very positive review about it in The New Fork Times. Was it really that good?

DW. Commentary was a real experience, and one I’m proud to have been part of. It’s an event in which comedians, musicians, dancers and poets all perform in front of a constantly-playing collection of silent footage – so there are some sections where the comedians will do new voiceovers to the films, or the musicians new soundtracks; some of the footage has been created especially for the event. It’s a really excellent show and one that the audience have loved twice now. It’s all new material every time, and the next one is February 18th – tickets are actually on sale already!

Oh, I looked up “New Fork Times” and I found a food blog – I feel you may be misleading me…

AP. There are rumours you’re about to perform your own poetry at some event with Brand Kit and Tom Bruise. Is that true?

DW. I am indeed, yeah – this is the first time I’ve ever performed poetry in earnest, and I’ve written a seven-minute long piece about two of history’s greatest inventors and their ridiculous fight. It’s really better than it sounds… It’ll be at Heard of Mouth on November 12th, which is a night run by the excellent and disgustingly talented Andrew Lee, who is also part of Commentary!

AP. Thanks for this, Dan. Can we listen to one last song now?  

DW. If you insist…

About the artist
Dan Wallbank is a man who refuses to be put in a box, mostly because he is quite tall and won’t fit. Equal parts Clark Kent, Sylar and Jemaine Clement, Dan has turned his hand to illustration, photography, comedy, poetry and writing, but he’d probably say he was a musician, if pushed. He is 29 and lives in Leicester with his partner and they spend their time together watching endless episodes of Pointless.

Dan’s Doodles:
Music stuff he makes for fun:
Music he wrote for a wrestling league:
A collection of interesting graffiti around Leicester (NSFW): and twits at @GraffitiOfLE
Photography Facebook page:
Example of his photography is the header image:
Commentary - a mixture of film, comedy, spoken word, music and dance (part of a larger group)
Twitter and Instagram: @natchdan

About the interviewer
Alexandros Plasatis lives in Leicester and had short stories published in Overheard: Stories to Read Aloud (2012), Unthology 6 (2015), and Crystal Voices: Ten Years of Crystal Clear Creators (2015).

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