Jason Setnyk

Interview with 88 Fingers Louie – Dan Precision (ex-Rise Against)

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88 Fingers Louie

Ottawa Ontario – 88 Fingers Louie, which consists of Dan Precision (ex-Rise Against), Denis Buckley, John Carroll, and Nat Wright will be playing along side Belvedere and others at The Brass Monkey on October 6th in Ottawa.

After the legendary Chicago punk band broke up in 1999, members went on to play in Rise Against, Break The Silence, Alkaline Trio, and Explode and Make Up.

Ten years after the initial break-up 88 Fingers Louie reunited in 2009. The success of this reunion was a catalyst for the band to get back together permanently.

“Back in 2009, we decided to do a 10-year anniversary show – it was 10 years since we broke up in 1999, not from our formation in 1993. We got an amazing response from that show, and then other festivals, clubs, and promoters started to contact us to play in their cities,” Dan Precision noted.

88 Fingers Louie signed to Bird Attack Records, a record label that feels like family, and that puts music ahead of profits.

“When we were looking for a new record label, Bird Attack really appealed to us because of the “family” vibe we got. They definitely care more about the music that they are releasing, instead of only focusing on “markets” and “sales.” It’s sad when record labels, especially ones that consider themselves punk, are looking first and foremost to the almighty dollar. Bird Attack is not one of those labels,” Dan Precision stated.

It’s been nearly 20 years since 88 Fingers Louie has released a new full length album. ‘Back on the Streets’, the bands last full length album, was released in 1998. Dan Precision was itching to do a new 88 Fingers Louie album since their reformation, however due to family commitments, that wasn’t an immediate possibility.

“I’ve always wanted to record a new 88 Fingers Louie record since our reformation in 2009, but it was tough for all of us to get together to write due to jobs and family. Towards the end of 2015, time had opened up for us, and we decided to start writing again,” Dan Precision explained.

The new 88 Fingers Louie’s album is set for release on June 30th. The title of the new album ‘Thank You For Being a Friend’ is inspired by the lyrics of a 1980’s sitcom theme songs. The phrase also encapsulates the bands feelings towards their friends, family, and of course fans.

“As far as guilty pleasures, one of mine is the TV show “The Golden Girls,” from the eighties. The rest of the band indulges in the show’s “wholesome” depravity once in awhile, and we are all familiar with the show’s soundtrack song, which is also entitled “Thank You For Being a Friend.” On a trip up to a show we had in Toronto, we discussed album titles and that was one that jumped out for all of us. Beyond the connection with “The Golden Girls,” we really felt that it encapsulated our views towards our fans, who have stuck by us over these two decades. Without those “friends,” we wouldn’t have reunited and recorded a new album so many years later. For that, we thank you,” Dan Precision responded.

The new album was recorded at Dan Precision’s Bombshelter Recording Studio. Dan Precision has been recording full albums for 17 years, but this is the first time Dan Precision will be engineering, mixing, mastering, and producing an entire 88 Fingers Louie record.

“Being back in the studio was definitely different for all of us. This was the first time that I would be engineering the new record, as well as mixing, mastering, and producing it. I think the other guys might have been a little hesitant with our decision because they weren’t sure of my capabilities. The last time I worked with 88 Fingers Louie on the recording side was 1998, when I was just learning the basics of recording. We were at Sonic Iguana studios recording our album “Back On the Streets,” and I was assisting our producer, Mass Giorgini, by comping vocal takes, and that’s about it. Once we got into my studio, The Bombshelter, and they witnessed how much I’ve learned in the last 18+ years, we quickly started working together like a well-oiled machine. During vocal tracking, Denis and I even laughed about the fact that if I gave him vocal direction in the studio 20 years ago, he would have told me to f-ck off. It was quite amazing to be able to give my direction as a producer, and not just a band member, and have everything flow as smoothly as it did,” said Dan Precision.

It’s tough for Dan Precision to single out a song he is most proud of off the new album, however songs like “Turned to Grey” and “Our Tired Vices” stand out.

“It’s tough to single out a song that I’m most proud of. “Turned to Grey” is a song where I wrote the verses and choruses over a decade ago, yet we all got together and added an intro, bridge, and solo to the song in 2016. I’m proud that we could collaborate on something and still make it sound seamless. On the opposite side of things, “Our Tired Vices” started at a practice where I was goofing around with a ska riff. John had asked me to play it more straightforward. With everyone’s input on parts and structure, we turned that into a full-fledged song in one practice. That’s something we are all proud of,” Dan Precision added.

Earlier this month fans got a sneak peak of the new album when the song “Catastrophe Awaits” was released. The song has some jaw dropping guitar work reminiscent of Break the Silence, the band Dan Precision formed after his departure from Rise Against.

“First off, thanks for that compliment. Your reminiscence makes total sense since that was a song I wrote about a year after I left Break the Silence. Beyond that one song, all of us have been in other bands during the interim of 88 Fingers Louie. We all have grown musically, and I think some of that technical knowledge is heard in the new album. What we didn’t expect was that in getting back together, we have actually grown organically, and that is definitely something I can hear on this record; especially on the songs that we wrote together over the last year,” Dan Precision replied.

The new album has more polished sound, without being over-produced. It also shows the growth of the band members as musicians. Simply put – this is not the same 88 Fingers Louie of the mid-1990s. They were an amazing band back in the 1990s. However, they are an even better band now.

“With all of our organic and technical growth, coupled with my personal and ongoing experiences as a producer, we definitely have a more polished and refined sound compared to our earlier releases. However, we took great care in not over-producing or sterilizing our sound. In this day and age, with recording capabilities so readily available, many bands and producers are releasing music that lacks in dynamics and feeling. As a band, we wanted our writing process to be natural, and with all of my recordings, I stray away from processes and techniques that can make a recording sterile,” said Dan Precision.

2018 will be the 25th anniversary of 88 Fingers Louie. Is there anything special planned to celebrate the quarter century mark?

“We’ve been putting so much of our energy into writing and recording this new record, while playing as many shows that our schedules permit, that we haven’t even realized our 25th anniversary was so close. Nothing has been planned, but I guess we should get on that, right?,” said Dan Precision with a laugh.

Long before 88 Fingers Louie, Dan Precision was a young teenager learning to play guitar for the first time. In his formative years he was influenced by a variety of bands such as Queensryche.

“I started to play guitar at age 13. In my teenage years, I listened to everything from Def Leppard, Queensryche, Metallica and Slayer, to Minor Threat, The Misfits, Screeching Weasel, and Naked Raygun. I think Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo (Queensryche) were influences very early on because they had a highly technical playing style while still keeping things musical and melodic. On the flipside, the latter bands may not have had a great deal of the technical aspect, but they delivered strong and hard-hitting chord progressions that would make me clench my fists and grit my teeth. In most of my writing, I strive to blend those styles together,” Dan Precision explained.

Dan Precision saved money to purchase his first guitar, a Carvin V220.

“My first electric guitar was a Carvin V220. I had saved up money from my 8th grade graduation, as well as money I earned from mowing lawns. I also received some money from my high school for a high score on my entrance exam. That money was supposed to go to my tuition, but since my father was a teacher at that school and we didn’t have to pay tuition, I wrote a letter to the principal, asking him for that money so I could buy my first guitar. A week later, I got a check, so I placed my guitar order!,” said Dan Precision.

When did Dan Precision know he wanted to become a professional musician? It was in 1993, after 88 Fingers Louie released their first DIY record.

“When 88 Fingers Louie released our first hand made 7″ in 1993, and started playing shows, that’s when I realized I always wanted to play music. I don’t think I ever thought of myself as a professional musician, but I definitely love playing on stage and basking in that hour-long symbiotic relationship with the crowd. Nothing beats that feeling,” Dan Precision reflected.

Dan Precision is also well known for his guitar work on Rise Against’s debut album, the ‘Unraveling’. It was a grueling experience recording that album, but the results were an amazing album that took the music world by storm.

“I have many memories of writing and recording that record, but the one that sticks in my head was during the fifth and last week of our recording. The performances took a lot longer than we expected and we were running out of time, so instead of our typical 12-hour days, we had to run the studio 24 hours each day for that last week of tracking. The daily schedule started with Joe tracking bass from about 8am to 3pm with an assistant engineer. Then from 3pm to midnight, Tim would track vocals while I engineered. Then, after a quick bite to eat, I would track guitars from midnight or 1am until 8am with a different engineer. When bass started again at 8am, I would actually sleep on some sound-deadening foam in the guitar booth, trying my best to pass out while the bass frequencies seeped through the sliding glass doors and my ear plugs. It was definitely a brutal week,” said Dan Precision.

His departure from the band was a sore spot, but these days it’s water under the bridge.

“I think my departure has been a little bit of both a sore spot, and water under the bridge over the past 16 years. It was definitely a sore spot immediately after I was let go, but once I got back on my feet and into another band, I viewed it as a learning experience and moved on… Time heals all wounds, and throughout that experience, my love of music grew, and my hate for the music industry doubled. It’s been water under the bridge for a long time now,” Dan Precision disclosed.

Dan Precision is looking forward to playing Canada again. In recent years 88 Fingers Louie has played Amnesia Rockfest and Pouzza Fest.

“Both Amnesia Rockfest and Pouzza Fest were a blast. We always enjoyed playing the Sno Jam tours, and just Canada in general. I remember during the Snow Jam in 1999, we were playing right before AFI. At one of the shows, we played a large roller skating rink, and that was the first time I tried doing my guitar spin… backstage of course, since I didn’t want to attempt it in front of an audience. After a bunch of bruises, I finally got it down. I believe it might of been Le Hangar, which is where we are playing on October 7th. It’s kind of surreal to be returning to the same venue more than 18 years later,” Dan Precision reflected.

88 Fingers Louie are looking forward to re-connecting with fans in Canada this October.

“Canada has always welcomed 88 Fingers Louie with open arms and have really gotten into our music. I remember when we were touring in the nineties, I would always comment how a decent amount of show-goers in the states seemed to only attend shows to try to “hook up” with someone instead of actually going to experience the band and the live music. In Canada, it was like every single person was a fan and was there to immerse themselves in the music and the show. We have played in Canada several times since our Rockfest experience, and I can say without hesitation, that the energy and love of music from each fan is still at 100%. We can’t wait to get back to Canada!,” Dan Precision concluded.

Spectrasonic and www.punkottawa.com present The Bird Attack Records Tour with 88 Figers Louie, Belvedere, Such Gold, and Sled on Friday, October 6th, at the Brass Monkey (250A Greenbank Rd). Doors are at 7pm, and tickets are $25 in advance. Tickets are also available at Vertigo Records, both Compact Music Inc. locations and online. For more info about the show visit the Facebook event page.