Daniel Fang or "D. Fang" is one of the busiest guys you are ever gonna run into in the punk and hardcore community. He currently plays drums for Turnstile, Praise and Angel Du$t, and was also in Mindset who recently played their last show on May 14th. Add to that resume the newly formed Pop Wig Records which he recently started with some of his close friends and members from the various bands he is in. The 26 year old Maryland native got his start in his first hardcore punk band at the age of 14 and each year seems to put more on his plate. We caught up with Daniel via phone on June 11th as he stood outside of the Sound & Fury Fest in Los Angeles. You can catch D. Fang out on tour right now with Angel Du$t as part of the Life And Death Tour with Terror, Power Trip, Harms Way and more which runs through July 30th throughout the United States.
GRAPHICS BY: BAS SPIERINGS
IE: What’s up Daniel? We know that you are out in Los Angeles right now outside the Sound & Fury Festival and you and Angel Du$t are wrapping up a short tour to support the brand new A.D. record. If you weren’t playing this festival would Angel Du$t still have gone out west to play this tour?
Daniel: Yeah, I believe so. It was just planned as a headliner tour to play off of the new record that came out like 2 weeks ago and it just happened to line up really well with Sound & Fury and it’s the perfect place to end the tour at.
IE: The tour started off with a show in Tijuana, Mexico. How was the reaction to you guys there and have you ever played in Mexico before?
Daniel: It is the first time I have ever been to Mexico personally and it was cool. I didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t like a crazy big turnout or whatever but all the kids that were there were going crazy. I mean we were only like an hour away from San Diego where we have played before but it was almost like going to some very foreign and faraway place. Kids were really excited about Angel Du$t which was really cool and a cool way to like invigorate the whole tour with that being the first show of the tour.
IE: How did the rest of the tour go? With the new album being only a few weeks old do you find that the crowds kind of stand back for the newer songs kind of feeling them out or did they know them already?
Daniel: All the shows were really cool and actually the new songs that we were playing had the most people singing along to those. Equal or even better to the older stuff so that is exciting. We put out a music video for “Toxic Boombox” and we put up a couple of singles before the record came out and people just really seemed to be hyped on them and hyped on the record since it has come out.
IE: Prior to this interview you were telling me that you and your singer Justice headed out early before this tour started in a rental car driving across the country ahead of the rest of your band. Why did you leave early and what stops did you make?
Daniel: We were actually in Seattle before this tour. I was hiking and kind of vacationing in the area and Justice was playing Rainfest in Seattle with Trapped Under Ice. We were both hanging out in Seattle and making the most of being in that city with a bunch of friends. It was cool to hang out without any pressure of playing like a bunch of shows before the tour started.
IE: Can you tell us what happened to your rental car outside of the venue at Rainfest?
Daniel: (Laughing) Oh man! So, the car was parked right outside the venue called Neumos which is in a very busy late night part of Seattle. When Trash Talk was playing the singer ran outside and the whole show just kind of poured out on to the sidewalk and into the street. Kids were jumping off of my car which happened to be parked right there. People were doing flips off the car, jumping on to and out of trees and branches were falling off of the trees and stuff. It was pretty crazy.
IE: Did you get hit with a bill from all of that from the rental company?
Daniel: When I took the car back I preemptively started a claim on my personal insurance. Hopefully they will just take care of it but I don’t know yet. Either way I support people doing crazy stuff so I am not upset about it at all.
TURNSTILE IN AMITYVILLE, NY AUGUST 31, 2015. PHOTO BY: JC PHOTO MEDIA
IE: The list of bands that you are in up until recently included Mindset who played their last show less than a month ago. Who made the decision to call it a day with Mindset and what were some of the reasons behind ending the band?
Daniel: The decision to end the band was a collective decision and it was made long before that last show. I don’t know exactly when but it was made over a year before the last show. The reason for it was that everyone in the band is getting to a point in their lives where they have lots of important things going on. Mindset is a very important thing but everyone is busy and that’s the way a lot of hardcore bands go where you can’t play as many shows as often because you have other priorities, people get married, have a kid, get a house, have other bands, have careers. We didn’t want the band to just fizzle out and we wanted to go out with a bang. We put out a 3 song 7” EP and put our all into that record as well as playing a last show as well as a few small tours before that. We did a California thing, a weekend in the south, we went to Europe for a weekend, and just tried to end the band on our own terms rather than let circumstance kind of dictate how the band might fall apart as time went on. That’s how any band would naturally go, especially with a hardcore band where things are usually intense and passionate bursts. They are not like these long term sustainable career professions. It’s a thing you do for fun fueled by a passion and at some point it will stop or change in some way so we thought why not end it the way we want to. Right after that last show there was a very bittersweet feeling where everyone was very sad to play the last show. The show itself seemed like more than just a show. It was a culmination of years and years of playing, putting out records and touring. We had friends from all over, people I haven’t seen in years, people from all over the country and from other countries come out so it was really a special thing. It is sad to say goodbye but it made me really happy and feel accomplished with what we did with the band and I know everyone else in the band felt the same exact way.
IE: Within hardcore music drummers always have seemed to be in high demand. When you were first deciding to play an instrument was this factor part of your decision to play drums and what exactly was the spark that got you behind a drum kit in the first place?
Daniel: I grew up in PG County (Prince George’s), kind of the suburbs of Washington DC. A popular music there is go-go which is this music that is very unique to the Washington DC area and it is very percussion oriented. So drums were the cool thing at my middle school and my high school. If you had drums or were a drummer you were some hot stuff. If you had some chops on the drums, then that was a really cool thing and I always looked up to drums as being the most important instrument. I guess that is why I gravitated towards drums even though I kind of messed around with guitar and bass a little bit. I hit some strings but never took it too seriously. But once I got rolling and started my mom got me a drum set and I started playing Misfits songs, and Minor Threat songs in the basement… that just felt really special and I was just hooked on it. I had mononucleosis, so I was home from school sick a whole lot. I would just stay in my basement and play drums and that was the most important part of my life at the time.
IE: When you were first starting out what drummers did you look up to and get influenced by?
Daniel: A lot of different stuff. When I was really young stuff like Minor Threat and the Misfits, but also stuff like Green Day and Blink 182. When I got more into hardcore in middle school or so I would hear Mackie from the Cro-Mags, the Bad Brains. I wouldn’t know what they were doing but I knew it sounded cool. All the Sammy Siegler bands like Youth Of Today, Side By Side… those were very inspirational, but also I took a lot from the go-go drummers from around my area. It is kind of like hip-hop, kind of like R&B, very rhythmic. So I took a little bit of everything, some basic punk stuff, some NYHC stuff, R&B, funk, groove, I have always been interested in a variety of drumming styles.
IE: The new Angel Du$t record is the first release on the newly formed Pop Wig Records which is the work of yourself as well as Justice Tripp and Brendan Yates who are also in other bands with you. Why did you all decide to start this new label?
Daniel: We started Pop Wig because… it is kind of hard to answer that question. We started Pop Wig because to be 100% in control is a very exciting thought. Me, Brendan and Justice all do music full time, we don’t have jobs other than playing in bands and our whole lives are dedicated to that right now. It just makes sense to also be in control of the process of putting out a record and coordinating with every part of the process. It’s cool to be hands on and we are really excited about that plus we wanted to create something new, like a new vibe. It’s very natural when hardcore labels start and create like a roster of bands and over time they kind of embody a certain style or even a sub-genre of hardcore. Whether it be like an OG NYHC kind of style or a Youth Crew thing or whatever different eras of hardcore. The label usually ends up having an identity that is tied to a certain type of sound and we feel it is really exciting to be able to create something and be in control as to what bands will be on the label, what the label will sound like, what it could look like, and what kind of identity it could have and possibly inspiring kids or giving them some sort of impression of what hardcore/punk is.
IE: Are you guys planning on putting out releases by bands that you are not directly tied to or in?
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. It did make a lot of sense to put out the Angel Du$t record first because it was kind of the catalyst for Pop Wig Records starting. Then we are going to put out an Odd Man Out tape which is a cool straight edge band from Washington and then we are going to do a Turnstile 7” and we have more stuff planned after that. It’s cool because we don’t have to be constrained to doing only a certain style of hardcore like only doing straight edge bands or only doing bands from this area or bands that sound like this particular type of music. We definitely plan to put out a lot more stuff and there is absolutely no plan on what kind of stuff it will be other than that it will be music that all 3 of us are 100% interested in and passionate about. It can be a rock record or it can be a straight edge hardcore band, it can be whatever.
IE: Where did the name Pop Wig come from?
Daniel: It is just a name that has been thrown around for the last several years. There is no real story behind it. It is just kind of a cool name and Justice’s girlfriend created a logo for it that we thought looked really cool. It just sounded interesting and not like a typical name for a hardcore/punk label.
IE: You have been on numerous records over the past few years but now YOU are the record company putting out your own music in the case of Angel Du$t. What kinds of things may have surprised you about the whole process and what were some of the things you had to get hands on with to get the new Angel Du$t record released?
Daniel: We all anticipated a good amount of work being required to put out a record and we have had some help along the way from playing in bands and putting out records with different labels with our bands. Over the years we have made a lot of friends who do their own record labels and friends from record stores all over. It is all very interesting to be involved in the process. I had never been involved with the behind the scenes work it takes to put out a record. Coordinating with a plant, the artwork, the masters, how to distribute the record, how to promote it, it has all really been a lot of fun and it really hasn’t felt like work. I hope that feeling lasts. (Laughing)
IE: We will keep Mindset involved with this next question because things just kind of wrapped up with that band but within the realm of playing in Turnstile, Angel Du$t, Praise and Mindset which band has the easiest set for you to play and which band has the hardest set for you to play and why?
Daniel: Oh man, that is hard to answer because every set is radically different and I actually set up my drums and cymbals differently for each set. I want to feel different and I want to play truly to each different style of each band. It is hard to rank it from hardest to easiest… Turnstile may be the easiest just because I have played the songs more than any other band because we tour a lot and some of the stuff is like a slower tempo. They all deserve 100% of my effort where I want to make the song sound like I think it should sound.
IE: Sticking to that same idea with all the bands involved do you ever or have you ever forgotten how a song is played?
Daniel: (Laughing) Yeah, I definitely play it safe and listen to all the songs before like every show or like every tour just in case so I don’t mess up or forget something. I definitely get a little anxiety around that. Once I am on tour and play the first show I am 100% good to go. Leading up to the tour it is more of a mental thing where I think “I haven’t played these songs in like a month and something might go wrong so…” (laughing). Just having that doubt somewhere in your head is enough to mess you up. Even if you do know the song 100% having a little bit of doubt can mess with me so I try to listen to everything real quick so I can be confident playing everything. There was only one time where I really messed up. It was at a show in Baltimore a long time ago. It was a big show that my friend Anton put on with Mindset and Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile came up to play one song as a little surprise and I wasn’t prepared for that. It was sort of a last minute decision. My parents were at the show, and a ton of my friends were at the show. My ex-girlfriend was at the show and I was really nervous and thinking about a lot of other things so when Turnstile got up to play that one song for this one section… I just completely blanked and stopped playing. My brain just emptied out everything on to the floor and I just froze for a minute. It was the most embarrassing thing. Thankfully other than that I have never messed up in a really bad way.
IE: With the release of Turnstile’s “Non-Stop Feeling” and the crazy amount of touring that followed the band was sort of propelled to another level in regards to popularity throughout the hardcore scene. It is not like Turnstile was unknown before that but that album definitely put you on everyone’s radar. When you guys were writing and recording that record did you feel like you were about to put out something that was going to transform the band the way it did?
Daniel: No, we never thought about that like what this or that record would do for the band. During the whole time with the writing process we were just very focused on writing a good record because we all appreciate good song writing but more importantly we wanted to write something that sounded really fun and interesting to all of us. We are passionate about every single song. Some of the songs might sound a little bit different than your average hardcore song but we like that and we were definitely not scared to do anything that might have been received in a bad way or might have had people say “oh, this isn’t hardcore” or Turnstile is trying to be this or that. Everything that went on during the song writing process was just out of genuine inspiration and motivation to write something that we love. I guess that is a simple answer but that is how we went about it.
IE: How many new Turnstile songs are there since that last album came out in 2015?
Daniel: There aren’t any complete songs but there a bunch of ideas floating around that Brendan has. Brendan is definitely the mastermind behind coming up with the basic idea for a song and then we get together and jam it out and just try and refine it. When I get home from this summer’s touring and Brendan’s home we are going to jam and hopefully have 5 or so songs. I am real excited to hear what he has. Brendan is the creator as far as how Turnstile songs go.
IE: Out of these 5 new songs you will write will a few of them become that new 7” that you were mentioning that you were going to put out on Pop Wig?
Daniel: No, these are post 7”. The 3 new songs plus a cover song that’s coming out as the Pop Wig 7” are already done. Those 5 or so new songs we are working on will be for the next LP or whatever we do next.
IE: What is the cover song you are going to be putting out on that upcoming 7”?
Daniel: Ummmmm…I am not sure if I am at liberty to say. Is that cool? It is a contemporary band. We are actually covering one of our friend’s bands.
IE: Can you talk a little about the new Praise record that recently came out? In the review we gave it here on In Effect our guy Core Junkie said that Praise has “evolved and matured” with these new songs. When you guys started writing the new Praise stuff was it something that was talked about and done purposely or was it more organic?
Daniel: I think a combination of both, because we’ve grown as individuals in the years since the first few records. Our tastes in music have evolved and the way we approach life in general has changed, I’m sure. So it makes sense that collectively, as a band, we approach songs a little differently now than when we wrote the previous records. It definitely was a deliberate choice to open up and put out music that is something we all love, instead of confining ourselves to some specific style of hardcore. I’m very happy with how everything came out. I think the record is a great reflection of how we have grown as people and musicians and how Andy has grown in his experiences. I think the lyrics to “Leave It All Behind” will always give me chills.
PRAISE PROMO SHOT, 2016. (DANIEL ON LEFT)
IE: How many months out of last year were you actually home from touring with all of the bands you are involved with?
Daniel: If I had to give an accumulative number of how long I was actually home I would say I was home for maybe a month out of the whole year. Maybe up to two months.
IE: With that much time away do you often wake up and have to think about where in the world you are?
Daniel: I mean, yeah. Actually it is crazy, but yeah. I woke up the other day and had no idea where I was. I was pretty sure I was in America and I looked at my phone and saw texts from all different times. I am always kind of moving and trying to keep track of where I am. It can be a little difficult sometimes.
IE: I would bet there would be a line of people who would sign up to do what you do with the bands that you are in but when it comes down to it two months home for the entire year is really not a lot of time. Do you find it hard or something that doesn’t really faze you?
Daniel: Yeah man, absolutely. I was just thinking about this the other day because Turnstile is going to do a headliner tour later this year and we were thinking of what support bands to take with us for the tour and we have so many friends who put out amazing music but so many of them can’t tour because people have lives and other priorities so it’s actually incredibly hard to find bands that can take 3 weeks or so to go tour. People tell me that I am living the dream because I am touring constantly and doing music stuff but sometimes it is hard and it definitely takes a bit of sacrifice.
IE: When you are out on long tours what are some of the things that make it the hardest to not be at home?
Daniel: That is a good question and it all ties into the disposition or attitudes that people can have. When you are on tour of course you are not going to be able to eat exactly what you want when you want, you’re not going to sleep where you want, when you want. All these factors are very inconsistent so it really takes the right attitude or the right reason to be touring to enjoy what you are doing. Fortunately I am surrounded by my best friends in all the bands that I play in and I am really happy to be playing music in cool places all around the world, in rooms filled with passionate and cool people. I could make a long list of things that are inconvenient or that are just a pain on tour but I wouldn’t rather be at home or doing anything else. I suffer from a gastro intestinal disease which makes my eating and my bodies whole being very volatile and hard to predict and hard to handle so that can definitely be an issue for me but at the end of the day I think attitude makes the biggest difference for someone on tour. I know when I am not going to have sleep, I know when I am not going to be eating the food I want to eat or the food that is good for me but in the end if I have a good attitude that kind of makes everything better and makes up for anything that may be considered hard or like a sacrifice.
IE: We already touched on how long you are away from home and last year there were only 2 months when you were home total. When those 2 months are upon you what kinds of things do you like to do?
Daniel: One of the most important things when I am home is just to catch up with my family and my dog and really just be present at home. When I am home that is also the time to write, that is the time to practice and to record the next record. That is when I should be working a lot to facilitate putting out new music but it is also the only time I have to be around my family. I try to make the most of it and do that kind of stuff and it is kind of a mix where I will go to dinner with my dad or go see a movie with my mom, take my dog out for a walk, and then hunker down and do a lot of work I guess or whatever you want to call it. Pop Wig stuff or just sit down with one of the band members and try to write new material. I am very busy when I am at home.
IE: Do your parents support your choice of playing music full time and with being away from home so much?
Daniel: They are extremely supportive. It is kind of shocking actually. I did go to college and I think in freshman year of college this band I liked from Maryland asked me to join their band and do a bunch of tours they had lined up. That meant dropping out of school, at least temporarily, and I thought to myself that I can’t do that and that it wasn’t even an option. I brought it up to my mom just to see what she thought. Of course I thought she was going to say no but she said she thought it sounded cool and if she was me she would definitely do it. I asked her if she was telling me it was ok to drop out of school right now and she said yes and said it was an amazing opportunity. I wasn’t sure if it was reverse psychology or what. It made me think that I am really fortunate to have parents that are just so down with me doing this especially with the older that I get. I am not advancing at a career or anything like that… I am playing in punk rock bands. I am sure there is some concern on my parents part as far as what I am going to do with my life every year I get older and I am still playing music. The fact that they still support it… maybe more than ever is really amazing and I am just really lucky to have such cool parents.
PHOTO BY: ELANA DE SOTO
IE: That is pretty much all we have question wise. We started off by mentioning that you were out at the Sound & Fury Fest while we are doing this interview so is it possible for you to give us a little run down of what your day has been like and maybe give us a quick D.Fang festival overview?
Daniel: So far there have been a ton of great bands and I can’t even list all of them. The coolest part has been getting to the show and seeing so many friends because pretty much every band that is playing this entire festival are all close friends. I have toured with almost every band that is playing this festival. It is cool to reflect with everyone on past tours we have done, and past shows we have done. It is also a very social thing where a lot of people with similar passions and interests get together and can just hang out, watch bands and enjoy a cool city like Los Angeles. Back to the question though, yesterday was great. Angel Du$t played our set and it was a whole lot of fun, especially playing the new songs and seeing so many kids get down with the new songs off of “Rock The Fuck On Forever”. Today I just watched a new band called Free before doing this interview and they killed it and I am looking forward to so many more bands at the fest today and the after shows too. After this I am going to just chill and hang out in L.A. for a couple of days and then fly directly to Europe for a month to do a tour with Turnstile.
LINKS: CLICK IMAGES