This week Cloture Girl interviewed Danny Ross. Congressional staffer by day. Indie rocker by night. I was able to snag a few moments of his time for an interview this week.
Cloture Girl: How does a Long Island-bred Congressional staffer become an indie rock star?
Danny Ross: How do you cut a rainbow with a fork and knife? Well, it’s strange. I graduated school with degrees in both Government and Music. I studied one semester in Washington interning for Ted Koppel, and another in London learning jazz piano. Ironically, political campaigns taught me counterpoint, and Julliard taught me Tort Reform.
CG: Finish this sentence: If you like ______, you’ll like Danny Ross.
DR: Soft cheeses. Transit and infrastructure. The Glenn Miller Orchestra.
CG: You’ve performed with “Obama Girl,” organized a benefit concert for families of firefighters killed on 9/11, composed your own Broadway musical and you’re a self-taught musician. Way to make the peasants feel unaccomplished, Renaissance Man.
DR: Hey, that’s Doctor Renaissance Man. I didn’t spend 8 years in the Da Vinci School of Geniuses for nothing.
No the way I see it, I’m working two full-time jobs between Congress and music, and I recently turned 27. Giants like Amy Winehouse just tragically past away at that age along with Morrison, Joplin, Hendrix, so I haven’t done much of anything yet. I mean Paul wrote frickin Sgt. Pepper at 25!
CG: So who or what influences your music?
DR: This is a Cloture Girl exclusive tidbit, but between you and me… I basically channel the energy of my cat Max to compose instant pop classics. When he purrs, I hear symphonies. Either that or it’s time to clean the litter box.
Primarily the great pop composers (McCartney, Wilson, Simon, Costello, Newman, Gershwin), 60’s r&b legends (Cooke, Redding, The Band), masters of folk (Dylan, Bruce, Cash, Seeger), country and jazz alongside a new interest in world music (bossa nova, afrobeat) and classical.
CG: You had your DC debut last week. How do DC fans compare to NYC fans?
DR: To be honest, we walked into Arlington’s awesome venue Iota with our nine piece band and horns, and we didn’t know what to expect. But to our relief, DC folks know how to let loose! Maybe you guys are just so wiped from the partisan whirlwind by day, but that was one of the most enthusiastic, fun audiences we’ve ever had. In NYC, dudes tend to stand around with hesitation before deciding it’s okay to have fun, it’s a slightly more self-aware audience.
CG: You get to collaborate with someone on your next album. Who do you choose?
DR: Easy. Barry Mannilow, the 90s boy-band, Five, or the legendary Bay City Rollers. S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!
CG: Your boss asks you to play at his grand daughter’s wedding. What’s on the play list?
DR: Hm okay, let’s see. I know the Congressman loves folk music so I’d probably do a set of Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie classics about coal mines and union wages. Though I can’t really see anyone lifting chairs and doing the horah to “If I Had A Hammer.”
CG: Mets or Yankees?
CG: Giants or Jets?
DR: JETS! (For all y’all southerners, these are the Long Island, middle-class approved teams for suburbanites with an inferiority complex to city folks. For more, see Billy Joel’s “Big Shot”)
CG:You’re playing a club: the President and First Lady walk in and take a seat in the front row. What song do you dedicate to them?
DR: Oh that’s tough. Probably Billy Joel’s “Big Shot.”
CG: Want to catch Danny in person? Check out where you can find him next and stream the new album One Way free at www.dannyrossmusic.com.
Thanks Danny Ross. From nine to five, Ross lives a very different life as a staffer for US Congressman Jerrold Nadler. And he credits his day-job for providing him with the organization needed to be a successful DIY artist. He’s also furthering his compositional studies with Grammy-nominated composer, Ed Green, and wrote a 10-minute musical staged on Broadway in June 2011. With all that he’s accomplished so far in his young career as a performer, composer and rising presence in the national music scene, Danny Ross is riding one way to the top.