Many know Daryl Hance as the right hand man to Mofro frontman JJ Grey. Now, Hance -- the quiet and sincere dude who sits calmly on stage, eyes closed with his Fender, weaving its electricity masterfully through the band's deep, front porch soul grooves -- has embarked on his first solo tour which stops at the Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton on Friday.
The solo project is a big change from anything Hance has done before. The 20 or so shows he's played thus far have been his first experiences singing for people outside of his garage, and the gigs have been of a different sort than the large club and festival gigs he's become accustomed to playing with JJ Grey and Mofro. Recently, New Times had the chance to chat with Daryl about the experience of going solo thus far, the downside of the loop machine, and his relationship with JJ Grey and Mofro.
New Times: How's the road, man?
Daryl Hance: About the same as it always is.
How are y'all traveling?
Right now I'm traveling by myself. Just doin' solo shows. Playin' with a band [when the shows are] within a few hours of Jacksonville. It's a little pricey to carry people on the road. Once I have a record out and get a little more polished up on my act, I'll have a whole band thing goin'. It's actually pretty easy to travel by yourself, though. Just throw everything in the pickup truck. I've got a looper that I've used to liven things up a bit. Some stuff I play just straight up with a guitar.
I was looking at your myspace page and it looked like you were traveling with a band. Are those the dudes from Jacksonville?
Actually, the bass player is from Jacksonville, Shane; and the drummer is the Mofro drummer, Anthony Cole. I also use this other Jacksonville guy, John Farmer, on some gigs too. I'm just basically doing these shows here to get out, away from Jacksonville a bit. The only way to really do that right now, and to present the songs in a tangible form, is to kinda go do it by myself. When it's closer to town, it's a lot more doable with a band. Ideally, it's supposed to be a three piece band.
So is it just going to be you at the gig in Boca?
No, that will be with a three piece band. That will be with Shane Platten on bass, and John Farmer on drums that night.
Yeah, it's a lot easier with a band too 'cause you hit a wrong button with the looping machine and it doesn't sound too cool (laughs).
It's a whole new kind of excitement.
I've seen Mofro a handful of times and it's very organic, "front porch" music. The image of someone plugging in a drum machine on their front porch strikes me as funny.
So, how have the gigs been going so far?
It's had its ups and downs. I just started performing. I've been writing songs for about twelve years and I've just now had the time, being off the road with Mofro this past year. I'm still kind of new to this. I'm just trying to get my feet right now. But, yeah it's goin' alright. You end up in some strange places and then you hit a spot that's good, which is good (laughs).
Have the ideas you're working on now ever been incorporated into the Mofro project?
Early on, when Mofro was first getting going, JJ and I collaborated. I'd come up with some music, and he'd put lyrics to it. But as time has gone by, he's kind of more honed in to what he's doing. I'm just kind of there to support him now; play the songs that he writes.
Is that where the name change came from ("Mofro" to "JJ Grey and Mofro"), when it became less of a collaboration and more of his project?
I wouldn't say so, no. All the songs are the novel of his life, so he attached his name to it. Mofro is just a word. It doesn't mean anything. And these are songs that he's been playing for years. People would come up to him when he would do solo gigs and ask 'why don't you play your own stuff? Why are you playing Mofro songs?'. I guess they don't even fuckin' realize that he wrote all the songs; that the songs are stories of his life.
So it's all still good with JJ and the Mofro thing?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. He's the one that told me 'Dude, you need to get out and play some gigs. Start playin the songs.' 'Cause I've been wantin' to do a record for a while. It was kinda him that lit a fire under my ass to get out and start doing this. And I'm all about doing both of them. Because, you know, I wouldn't be where I'm at right now if it wasn't for playing with JJ and Mofro.
Are you going to join up with JJ Grey and Mofro for some of the summer dates?
Yeah, I'll be at Wakarusa and pretty much every show over the summer.
Mofro has played some pretty large gigs, how are you enjoying the smaller venues you're playing on this tour?
I really dig it. It's a whole new thing for me -- a whole new experience.
I read that you're doing mostly three and four minute tunes. Should we expect some extended jamming as well?
Yeah, definitely jamming out some. When I'm playing live, especially with a band, I just kinda let it fly. Keeping it short and to the point, but definitely opening up songs and rockin' 'em out a bit.
Through these live shows, are you starting to get a good idea of which songs you're going to include on the record?
Yeah, definitely. I've honed it down to a certain group of songs. I've got enough stuff for about four or five records. I don't know if I've got enough stuff for four or five good records (laughs).
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Well hey, I'm looking forward to the show.
Alright, we'll see ya there, man.