On August 28th, Daniel Rodriguez (co-founder/guitarist of Elephant Revival released his debut album called “Sojourn of a Burning Sun.” Released via BMG’s newly formed label Renew Records, this is his first full-length record since Elephant Revival announced their break-up two years ago and played their last show in front of a sold-out crowd at Red Rocks.
“Sojourn of a Burning Sun” is the culmination of Daniel’s two-year journey towards healing and catharsis. In 2018, he saw in rapid succession the dissolution of his critically acclaimed band and the end of a 14-year romantic relationship. While much of the album was written in the wake of those personal and professional partings, Sojourn isn’t so much a breakup record as it is a chronicle of rebirth and redemption, a forward-looking ode to the endless possibility that comes with letting go of everything and starting anew. It’s a deeply vulnerable, sometimes painful reckoning, but the songs are never without hope, locating beauty and resilience in even the darkest of moments. Sojourn was recorded with his longtime friend an Elephant Revival band-mate Darren Garvey and includes special guests Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange and Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass. Over the past two years, Daniel has toured with Josh Ritter, Mandolin Orange, Birds of Chicago, John Craigie, and Fruition among others. Daniel plans on supporting The Lumineers on their US tour next year with special guest Gregory Alan Isakov.
Connect With Daniel Rodriguez Online Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Daniel Rodriquez in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time. Given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical day look like for you? How have you adjusted to these times?
My pleasure. Because I am releasing this record – a big part of my recent days have been being attentive to whatever needs to get done before its released to the world. Normally I would be out on the road while a record is being released and wouldn’t be able to give it very much attention. Not the case now. It’s been nice in those regards.
The other parts of my days are sprinkled with writing songs, gardening, hiking, cooking, snuggling, reading etc..
I also wrote another records worth of songs over the downtime and am continuing to write. I have been pretty consistently on the road touring for more than a decade, so the downtime has been great for creativity while being in one place for longer than a couple weeks.
I can’t say I’ve fully adjusted though to the social conditions surrounding the pandemic. It’s a little tough to swallow that I was suppose to be playing arenas with the Lumineers right now and over the next couple months. Not to mention all the civil unrest, public uncertainty, and political upheaval… These are very trying and challenging times. Those are just things I don’t want to get used to.
What has been the hardest/most challenging part about being quarantined? Is your city starting to open up more now?
Personally, the hardest part about being quarantined is not being able to see family and friends, to hug those people, and of course playing shows.
The city of Boulder has figured out certain ways to let businesses be open while following safe guidelines. I wouldn’t say it’s completely open. The university in town has opened flooding the streets with young party people. That poses a bit of a conundrum. But we’ll see!
How have you been able to use social media during these unprecedented times? Are you finding that you use it even more now to stay connected to fans and other musicians?
I have been able to use it to the advantage of staying connected to my fans and by staying aware of the social world – from a ground level perspective.
Of course with anything, you can have too much of it, and there’s a beautiful analogue world right in front of us.
What has it been like having to reschedule all your shows this year? What shows in 2021 are you are already excited for?
It’s been a bummer having to reschedule shows, and to watch shows just disappear. Not only for me, but for agents and managers. Hopefully the venues and festivals survive this economic drought so that all shows can get rescheduled.
I was supposed to be on tour right now opening for The Lumineers and playing shows with Gregory Alan Isakov. I believe those shows are being rescheduled for the same timeframe next year, and I look forward to those dates probably the most. I ‘m a sucker for basketball, so to be playing NBA arenas is a bit of a thrill.
Since we are all desperately missing live music, can you recall a favorite show of yours from the past? What do you think ultimately makes for a great show for you? What about a favorite show of someone else?
My favorite shows so far have all been playing Red Rocks. I’ve probably played that stage six or more times. The second or third time headlining Red Rocks were probably the best, where I could just relax into the music because it was an experience I was building on – and could work out the mental and technical kinks over the prior times playing that venue.
What makes a great show for me is when the band is in a frenzy of the moment. Where something larger takes over. It’s almost like an outer body experience. It becomes contagious to the audience as well. I guess you could call it achieving flow state. Sounds cliché, but its cliché for a reason.
A couple summers ago a friend bought me a ticket to go see David Byrne at Red Rocks. I wasn’t the number one fan of his music going into the experience. I respected his music and enjoyed it, but It never found it’s way onto my playlists. But, holy smokes, that was by far the best all around show I’ve ever been to. I was blown away. The whole experience was mind blowing.
Let’s talk about your new single “Brother John.” What was the inspiration for this track? How does it compare to anything else you have put out? How creatively involved with the making of the music video for it were you?
The inspiration for Brother John is how music has the potential to melt the most hardened of hearts. I did originally write it about someone in particular – and then I changed the name.
It’s one of the more fun songs I’ve put out, tempo and progression wise. A lot of my songs have a minor chord that holds a bit of gravity. Brother John mostly contains major chords in a 1/4/5 pattern, so it’s not a mysterious or sad song.
For the music video, I called on my friend Ian Glass. We had a few phone conversations about creative vision. We kind of collaborated on the vision, where I came to him with some ideas and he storyboarded what he thought would be a practical way to make it within these socially strange times. I’ve found things run pretty smooth, if you trust someone’s capabilities, to let them run the show. If I felt strongly about a certain thing, I’d speak up, but mostly I tried to just serve the momentum of Ian’s directing.
How would you say that “Brother John” prepared listeners for the rest of your solo debut album, “Sojourn of a Burning Sun”? Why is Renew Records the right place for you and this music?
The album has a really interesting arc to it. I don’t think Brother John necessarily prepares you for the record but that song has a specific bounce to it that is welcoming to the listener. The first single we released (“As I Am”) might have represented more the breadth of the album. Though Brother John sits perfectly within the arc of the album. We are assuming here that people still listen to full albums. I certainly do, and I’ve listened to this album from front to back without skipping a song, which is a good sign as the author of it.
We talked to a few different labels after the album was mastered. Gave a couple weeks for people to sit with it. David Hirshland over at Renew Records was clearly excited about the material. I could hear it in his voice. We had a bunch of phone calls with everyone over at Renew to get a feel for the team, and it all just felt right. I think we were all mutually feeling each other out as far as if it will work or not, and luckily it’s been working great. Renew is part of a much larger major label, BMG, and David Hirshland has taken it upon himself to carve out a label within BMG which caters to the music he’s most passionate about. We’re all happy the album found a home with Renew.
How do you think future music is going to be influenced by this incredible and absolutely necessary Black Lives Matter movement that the US has been going through? How exactly is it inspiring you and your music?
It’s tough to tell how it’s going to effect music in a general way. I know for me it has influenced my writing and been thought, action and conversation provoking. I assume it’s been that way for other musicians. I have confidence that the music industry will be outspoken and support voices that need to be heard. Musical events can also be great fundraisers for organizations that support the disenfranchised. I know BLM raises money so that people can have strong legal representation that they couldn’t otherwise afford. Having to afford justice or buying your innocence is an aspect of the systemic problem and a severely broken justice system.
If you could get into the studio with any artist today and collaborate on a new song for you, who would it be and why?
Bob Dylan, Jason Isbell, Billie Eilish and her brother, Q –Tip, and many more…. Because they are all rad. But you can admire someone as an artist and the chemistry could be off. Collaborating can be easy or tough depending on a few things. So this is all ideally speaking.
What would your dream music video look like right now?
It would be an abstract piece about the idea that we are simultaneously creating and being created at the same time. It’s tough to put into words, but I might be able to provide images.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
I’m really excited to get this new album out for a few reasons. The first is that I really love the songs and the sound that we achieved on the album. My friend and band mate Darren Garvey produced it, and he did a wonderful job in doing so. The second is that its tough to start recording a new record- until you get the one on deck out… I just love my job and journey and can’t wait to get back in the studio.