Interview conducted August 06 2016
Interview published August 09 2016
"Ideas are always formulating
and go into different areas."
The melodic rockers of Dare put
out their new record, Silent Ground, on July 15th. The band's inner core
and main man Darren Wharton is out on the
road for a while this summer and playing a couple of shows as the keyboarder
of Thin Lizzy again and since they had Skogsröjet festival in Sweden
listed on their itinerary, Metal Covenant was able to seize the opportunity
and get a few moments with this indeed polite and nice gentleman.
"It was just one of those
things. I was in the right place in the right time."
Tobbe: Your new record, Silent Ground, was
released just a couple of weeks ago and what does that record bring to
the overall Dare catalogue?
Darren: Well, you know. I mean, it's been very
well-received. I've been really happy with the way, you know, the fans
have listened to it and then enjoyed it. I don't know why it's been
so well-received with the fans really. I think it's probably just because,
you know, we've kept the guitars. I mean, I try to listen to the fans.
get a lot of people saying "Oh, they want this, and too much keyboards,
and too much of that.", so we do listen, but I mean, I didn't want
us all compromise the Dare sound by just making it into a little guitar
album. So I've tried to sort of stay in between that area where it still
sounds like Dare, but we've obviously gone back and getting the guitars
a little bit more edgy. But hopefully I don't jeopardize the songs,
The songs to me are the most important thing.
The production side is obviously important, but as long as the songs
Something that people can sing along to, you know. I
mean, that's always the important thing.
Tobbe: You know, most artists tell me that
they kind of don't listen to their fans and that they try to follow their
heart and soul
Darren: Well, I do. You've got to follow your
own heart. I mean, that's very true. You do. But you can still lean
you know, you don't have to compromise the songs to make
an album sound a bit edgier and to be a bit rockier. And to turn the
guitars up in the mix. You know, it's easy to do that. But I hope we
haven't sort of gone too far away from the Dare sound, but I think,
you know, when listening to what the reviews have been and the fans
and everything, I think this is what they've been waiting for, so I'm
happy with that, you know.
Tobbe: So what does this album supposedly
have that can bring back some of the old fans that haven't listened to
Dare for a while?
Darren: You know, it's strange the amount of
people that don't realize we've done so much work since Out Of The Silence.
Everybody says, you know, "Out Of The Silence this" and "Out
Of The Silence that", but we've done so much work in between that
and I sort of wish a lot of the fans would listen to those albums, 'cause
I think there's some great music on those albums and I'm very proud
of all the albums.
So I think it's just a learning curve. Hopefully
now people will listen to the new record and then start to look back
over the last couple of albums and start to introduce themselves to
the older stuff, you know Beneath The Shining Water, Belief, Arc Of
The Dawn, Calm Before The Storm. They're all great albums, so
well, I think they are. [Laughs]
Tobbe: If we look at the lyrical content.
What inspires you today and do you have subjects that you want people
to kind of pay some extra attention to?
Darren: No, you know, I'm quite a sort of romantic
guy really. You know, I'm not known for spending too much time on the
road. I mean, I like, obviously, playing live shows and we do and we
have a great boost doing that. But at the end of the day I think everybody
has a place where they feel comfortable and where they wanna be and
where they wanna be around the people they love. You know, their loved
you know, for me, where my sort of home is, where I live in North Wales
It's a beautiful area. It's just gorgeous. You know, with the mountains
and the sea. That's my sacred ground, you know. So that's what it's
about. But I'm sure you've got your own part of Sweden that's beautiful
to you. And that's important. You know, everybody has that sort of special
place where they call home and that's basically the theme of the album.
Tobbe: But is there something you try to
kind of avoid when you write a song, both musically and lyrically?
Darren: Well, you know, I avoid
[Laughs] You know, I don't think I'm ever gonna swear in one of my albums.
You know, I don't condone foul language or anything like that in songs.
I mean, a lot of bands sort of tend to do that these days, but, you
know, I don't think I'll ever do that. But no, there's nothing in particular
I stay away from, apart from the obvious things, you know.
To me, the most important thing is it sounds
like a Dare record. I'm really proud of some of the new stuff, like
Strength and Every Time We Say Goodbye. There's some great songs on
the new album and I'm proud of them. And we're doing a new album. You
know, I've got a new album almost ready to go for next year, so. So
it won't be 4 years 'til the next one. [Laughs]
Tobbe: You know, a lot of bands, late in
their career, try to recreate what they did early in their career and
would you ever consider doing that?
Darren: No, I don't think so. You know, I might
get tempted to write a heavy album one day, but just for the sheer fact
to just sort of blow the steam out a little bit and maybe call it a
little bit of something a bit more aggressive. Just so the Dare fans
that do like the heavier stuff got something to listen to, you know.
But I don't wanna alienate the people who loved Belief, so it's difficult
to keep everybody happy, you know.
Tobbe: About the development of the band.
What initially led up to your decision to bring in some Celtic stuff or
some folk music into the rock'n'roll music?
Darren: Well, I think that was mainly a part
of my Thin Lizzy roots. Out Of The Silence was quite Celtic in some
of its stuff. You know, The Raindance and King Of Spades. You know,
I spent my early career with Thin Lizzy, so that rubbed off me a great
deal, working with Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham. And those Irish roots
and the Celtic roots, where I live in Wales
You know, it's a very
similar type of genre of folk music.
I always felt a sort of connection with that sort of music. And I am
half Welsh, so there's a bit of Celtic in me. Yeah, but it's nothing
that I do intentionally. I just find that it suits my sort of the way
I feel inside and rather than be a city boy I'm more of an earthy country
type of guy. That's the way I like to feel, you know.
Tobbe: Besides thinking about doing a little
bit more "aggressive" record, what will the future of Dare look
like, in your mind? Do you have a set plan or do you take things as they
come more or less?
Darren: I tend to just take the music as it
comes out. You know, if I could listen to, say, Belief now, and I love
the album, but it does sound quite mild to me, compared to where I've
gone now. You know, you're always sort of getting different ideas. Ideas
are always formulating and go into different areas. So I think maybe
the next album will be a progression of this one. Slightly more rock
oriented maybe, but it will always maintain the songs, because that's
what I work most on to get right.
Tobbe: So will there be any touring activity
to support the album?
Darren: Not really touring. Hopefully we'll get
a phone call from Sweden Rock [Festival] and we've been asked to do
some shows in Sweden. But we are playing a big festival [Leyendas Del
Rock] in Spain next week and also Germany next year. So we've got gigs
coming up, but not tours as such, you know. More like festivals. It
makes more sense, you know. Going to play in front of 10000 people,
rather than go to 10 clubs and play in front of 300 people every night.
It doesn't make sense, you know.
Tobbe: You're participating on this tour
with Thin Lizzy, obviously, and what will your relationship be to Thin
Lizzy in the future?
Darren: You know, I'm always very proud of my
days with Thin Lizzy and it's always nice to come back and play with
Scott and the guys. It's always a great honor for me. So I find it very
difficult to say no to Scott, if he asks me to do it, because we have
a great deal of fun and it's great to play Thin Lizzy songs. So I will
probably always do that, but my main sort of thing is Dare. But, you
know, it's nice to be asked to do it and it's nice to have a little
bit of fun and come and play the songs.
Tobbe: And this tour with Thin Lizzy coincides
perfectly with the release of the new Dare album, so that will probably
give you some more attention for the album as well.
Darren: Yeah, I think so. It certainly hasn't
done me any harm. [Laughs]
Tobbe: So when people meet you, are you
the guy in Dare or the guy that used to be the keyboarder in Thin Lizzy?
Darren: Well, it depends where I am, you know.
But even now, even when in Thin Lizzy, a lot of people obviously know
me from Dare. And I like that, you know, 'cause I do like singing. Obviously
that's not my role in Thin Lizzy, but I do like to be known for Dare,
rather than Thin Lizzy, because that's, you know, it's what I spend
my time doing. But yeah, a lot of people are aware of Dare, you know.
Are people still in general asking a lot of questions about Phil?
Darren: Well, people always inevitably ask about
Phil, you know, and my answer will always be: He was a fantastic guy
to work with. You know, a genius. And I was very honored to have worked
with him. But yeah, I mean, everybody is always gonna ask that, and
there's nothing wrong with that. It's a natural question to ask, you
Tobbe: When you were about 15 years old,
what were you aiming for with your music?
Darren: I can't say I had any set, sort of,
ideas of where I wanted to be musically. You know, I just didn't think
like that. I was more concerned about learning my craft as a keyboard
player and making sure I was good enough as all the greats that were
out at the time, you know.
So I didn't really have any sort of preconceived
ideas about where my career was gonna go. All I knew is that I loved
performing live and I loved playing the piano and that, for me, was
all I needed and my passion for that sort of just took me to the right
places. It was just one of those things. I was in the right place in
the right time.
Tobbe: You've been active since 1980 and
if there's one thing that you have learned over your career, what would
Darren: Well, one thing that I have learned
is: Be in control, be the man who makes the decisions, really. And I
do like that with Dare. It's my label. It's my band. I do enjoy writing
the songs and it's a lot simpler, you know. You can be your own boss,
you know, so to speak.
You can be your own boss and that's excellent,
you know. It does not always work like that, but if you can be, and
you can get your own studio, which I have, and if you can record your
own albums without having to spend thousands of pounds, and you don't
have to ask for people's permission to do this, or that, or that, you
know, and that is what I would say is very important in the music industry.
So, definitely, keep control of your own destiny.
also: review of
the album Sacred Ground