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Drew Danburry of indie folk-rock band Drew Danburry/Fatal Fury and the Lasercats grew up in Orange County and has played more than 500 shows in the past few years, but he'll be performing his first OC show later this month.
So you recently went from playing as Drew Danburry to Drew Danburry/Fatal Fury and the Lasercats?
I'd been touring for two years and playing for four years under the name Drew Danburry just by myself. I didn't want to come up with another brand-new name because I've been working so hard getting my name out there already. I didn't want to call it the Drew Danburry Band because everybody knows that sucks. So we call it Drew Danburry/Fatal Fury and the Lasercats.
Is there anything to that name?
I don't know how to explain it. It's not that I wanted to get a new name so much as I wanted to credit the guys who are playing with me. I didn't want people to think it was a solo act anymore because it wasn't. The rest of the guys are the Fatal Fury, and whoever is singing along and clapping and having fun at the shows is a Lasercat. It all makes sense. It just doesn't seem like it does. The music in and of itself is really similar to that idea. There really is a reason to everything we do.
You play acoustic guitars and have a banjo player, but you're not exactly folk.
The song structures and melodies don't follow typical folk at all. It's more of a . . . I don't know how to describe it without sounding dumb. It's awesome. And I don't want to describe it bad, so I won't.
You mentioned touring as a solo act for years.
I started the band when I was living in Utah. We recorded, and we had a demo, and it seemed logical to start sending them around. It wasn't like I had any big aspirations or anything. It's just something I wanted to do, so I did it. When it came time to tour, everyone in the band just kind of bailed. I ended up just going by myself. It was like that for three years, where I was touring completely DIY, doing all my own booking, doing all my own promotion, everything. In the past two and a half years, I've played more than 500 shows . . . at least. Some of that was in Europe for a couple of months, but most of it has been in North America.
Since you were touring just as a guy with his guitar, did people expect you to be a folk musician?
You definitely get stereotypes of whatever kind of music you're playing. So when you see this guy with an acoustic guitar and a big beard, you just assume he's really a hippie, psychedelic dude or whatever. So from the get-go, people didn't take me seriously because I didn't have a band. I couldn't get into certain venues because I wasn't on a label. A lot of venues have relationships with labels, and if you're not on a label, you must not be too serious . . . or good.
Has that attitude changed lately with increased online distribution of music?
I have a lot of friends on labels, and I hear their stories about it, and it just seems ridiculous to even be on a label. I have tons of friends who do really well, and they're really well-known, and they're really popular on an independent level, but they're not even making money. They'll get thousands more plays than me, but they still haven't made a cent off of their sales.
You said you started playing music in Utah. Did you grow up there?
No, I grew up in Huntington Beach. After high school, I went to Costa Rica for a couple of years, and then I moved to Utah to go to school. Then I hit the road for years straight.
How is the reception in Orange County for your music?
To be honest, I haven't really played around Orange County . . . at all. I don't think anybody in Orange County really thinks twice about the amount of consumerism and capitalism that goes on here. Everyone either goes with it and/or loves it. They love how convenient and comfortable and well-off it is here, which is great. It really is a wonderful place to live, but in regards to that affecting music, I think the most lethal thing that hits music is capitalism and/or consumerism because people just view music as a product. People don't start a band for art's sake. Maybe not everybody thinks that. I wouldn't presume to judge the whole county by any means, but all my interactions tend to make me feel like it's a bubble. As great as it is to live here, it kind of worries me in some regards, as well.
DREW DANBURRY/FATAL FURY AND THE LASERCATS, UMBRELLAS, LYDIA, ZOOKEEPER, AND CANDLELIGHT PLAY AT THE ALLEY, 140 W. WILSHIRE AVE., FULLERTON, (714) 738-6934; WWW.THEALLEYCLUB.COM. SAT., SEPT. 29. VISIT WWW.MYSPACE.COM/DREWDANBURRY FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BUY PRESALE TICKETS FROM DREW.