An incredible cast

Since his sophomore album Dan Mangan has expanded from a solo artist to having a full band

Dan Mangan wrote Oh Fortune while touring, using soldier shell-shock and societal manipulation as inspiration.
Dan Mangan wrote Oh Fortune while touring, using soldier shell-shock and societal manipulation as inspiration.
Supplied by Jonathan Taggert

Dan Mangan’s accommodations on tour don’t revolve around couch-surfing anymore.

“It’s a step forward in terms of my own progression in music and my life,” Mangan said.

“Touring has never been better for me. I have this incredible cast of musicians to lean on and I’m very fortunate to have the guys in my band that I have.”

Mangan got his start as a solo artist in 2003, selling copies of his acoustic EP All at Once while he studied English literature at the University of British Columbia.

Mangan expanded and started touring with a band in 2009 after the release of his sophomore album Nice, Nice, Very Nice.

The Vancouver native said performing alone and performing with a band both have advantages.

“When you play with a band there’s just more opportunity to be big and dramatic and sweeping,” Mangan said. “I really appreciate the kind of intimacy of a solo performance, but sometimes it’s nice to take people on this musical journey and have lots of different textures and sounds.” His foray into music started as a teenager, writing hundreds of what Mangan referred to as “terrible, terrible songs.

“It was sort of in my blood from the get go,” he said. “What was a very, very involved hobby kind of eventually became a very committed career.”

Oh Fortune, released last month, is a departure from his upbeat 2009 album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice.

“There are lots of references to death, but I certainly don’t want it to come across as an overly morose record,” Mangan said. “The overall message of the record is life is heavy, but that’s no reason to not have a hell of a time with it.” When asked what he spends his time doing when not creating or performing music, Mangan laughed and said he doesn’t have much free time.

“I like to read good books and watch good films and eat good food with good people,” he said.

Mangan claims to have thousands of influences, including Bon Iver and Beirut. But, he said his bandmates have helped expand his musical interests to include jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler.

“It’s been nice these past couple years having these jazz guys in the band because I’ve been introduced to a lot of old jazz musicians,” he said. “Just some really fantastic folks that I don’t really think I understood in the industry and that I kind of missed.”

Dan Mangan plays Sydenham United Church tomorrow at 7 p.m.

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