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Interview With Jeff Duncan of DC4

By Muriel Penoty, Contributor
Thursday, March 28, 2002 @ 1:28 PM


DC4's Jeff Duncan Talks About

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Ever wonder what happened to some of the musicians that were part of a big band in the 80ís? Some of them have found other interests, some turned to a solo career but in the case of Jeff Duncan, he just decided to get a band together, and like the saying goes, ĎIf at first you donít succeed, try againí. After a first project that didnít garner much attention, Jeff is putting all of his efforts and talents into DC4. And to avoid any of the usual conflicts that musicians encounter between each other, Jeff is now playing with his two brothers, Shawn (drums) and Matt (bass). To complete the line up, they chose Church Highland to play guitars.

Together since 1997, DC4 started to spark interest especially in Europe with ďMood SwingsĒ the bandís first EP.

After taking a break from DC4 for the recording and touring of Armored Saintís ĎRevelationí, Jeff went straight back to work, writing and recording ďVolume 1Ē, DC4ís first full length album which is set to come out in March on Rising Sun.

He agreed to tell us his adventuresÖ

JEFF: Well, I started to play with my brother Shawn a long time ago in a band called Oden. We always played together as a matter of fact. After Armored Saint in 91, I put together my band Bird of Prey and that was with Shawn. That band folded, it kind of wasnít going anywhere musically and I took about a year off after, just writing music.
Matt was busy doing some other stuff at the time but by the end of Bird of Prey he was playing bass with us. But he didnít like it, he had a problem with the singer, he just filled in when we had to part ways with our bass player, he just did us a favor. And since musically it wasnít where we wanted to go anymore, we broke up and I just wrote for about a year. Once I had all the music and I was ready to put a band together again, of course the logical choice was to play with Shawn and Matt. As for Highland, I had seen him play many times before and I knew that the day I was going to put another band together he would be the guitar player because heís just great. We didnít want to look for a singer because I had written all the songs at home, and I sang on them and the guys pretty much insisted that Iíd be the singer.

KNAC.COM: How did you feel about that?
JEFF: I love it. Iíve always sung, I just never fronted a rock band, but it was something I was ready to do. I especially love it because they are my melodies, my lyrics and I just didnít want to deal with getting a singer. The only singer Iíve never had a problem with is John Bush, with everybody else, Iíve had nothing but problems.

KNAC.COM: Do you feel itís easier to be in a band with your brothers because theyíre family?
JEFF: Weíre so close in age, we grew up together, we always did stuff together, playing in a band is just another thing that we do together.

KNAC.COM: Do you have any other siblings?
JEFF: Yes, we have a sister, her name is Ginger and sheís into music too. She is the Webmaster for our site DC4online.com

ďIf anybody is listening to DC4 and expecting to hear Armored Saint number 2, theyíre going to be disappointed... I mean itís not as if we sound like Matchbox 20 or something -- itís still hard, in-your-face rock music.Ē
KNAC.COM: Your first EP ďMood SwingsĒ started the ball rolling in EuropeÖ
JEFF: Yes, we had put this EP together, just so that we would have our songs on CD. So, we financed it ourselves and Rising Sun told us they were interested to distribute it. When I went to Germany with Armored Saint on the last tour, I met with them and gave them a bunch of CDís. I guess the EP did pretty good and got some good press reviews. So, then they told us theyíd be interested in shopping a full-length album for us, not financing but distributing. So, we went in and recorded ďVolume 1Ē ourselves, and they are going to market and distribute it.

KNAC.COM: You actually had to take a break from DC4 to go back to the studio with Armored Saint and then on tour to support ďRevelationĒ how did your band feel about that?
JEFF: My band, they understood, it did nothing but help what we were doing. I got to associate with fans not only in the U.S but in Europe as well and talk to them face to face and say ĎHey, hereís what Iím up to.í I actually sold a lot of DC4 CDís while touring with Armored Saint.

KNAC.COM: So, how is the response to DC4 so far?
JEFF: Well, weíve been getting a lot of positive feedback. I donít expect everyone to like it, because it is different from Armored Saint, which is good. If anybody is listening to DC4 and expecting to hear Armored Saint number 2, theyíre going to be disappointed. But the response has been really good. I mean itís not as if we sound like Matchbox 20 or something -- itís still hard, in your face rock music.

KNAC.COM: So is Armored Saint a closed chapter of your life?
JEFF: Armored Saint is something that I always want to be involved with, if thereís something to do. Itís a special thing for me to be included with. Iíve known the guys for so many years, I mean they are my buddies and being on the road and playing Armored Saint music is very special, we have so much fun together that I would never not want to be involved with. Itís like my other family.

KNAC.COM: Your album is entitled ďVolume 1.Ē Is this an epic album that calls for a second chapter down the line?
JEFF: Not in that sense, but I hope thereíll be more coming. We actually called it ďVolume 1Ē because itís like the first chapter of what weíve been doing. Plus the title fits the album cover.

KNAC.COM: I donít have the album cover, what is it?
JEFF: Itís a Marshall cabinet, and instead of the Marshall logo, itís the DC4 logo and it says ďVolume 1Ē.

KNAC.COM: So, when did you find the time to write the songs for ďVolume 1Ē? I mean you just got off the road with Armored Saint a few months agoÖ
JEFF: Well, thatís actually a really good question. I guess Iím just always writing songs. DC4 actually has been together for a while, so we had a lot of songs to choose from. We had some 40 songs or so to choose from. There are some songs weíve been playing for some time and some that are newer and a couple of them are actually brand new. So itís a variety of what we do.

KNAC.COM: Do you write all the lyrics and melodies?
JEFF: Iíd say I write about 98% of what we do. On the album thereís a song called ďJack and JillĒ, itís Highland who brought that song of the table, I made a few adjustments here and there. Otherwise itís pretty much my job to do the writing.

KNAC.COM: Is that your choice to do the writing?
JEFF: Well, I just naturally write so much, that the other guys just donít worry about the material, Highland writes as well, so itís pretty much the two of us who bring the music to the band, Iím just the only one who bring complete songs.
Everybody takes part in the arrangements and the feel of the song, everyone has a say of how they want to do the songs.

KNAC.COM: Your songs are different one from another, what inspires you?
JEFF: Iím glad you think so, because thatís what I wanted when I put DC4 together. I wanted a band without having to worry about being ďheavy metalĒ or ďalternativeĒ or ďprogĒ or anything. I didnít want to be concerned with that, I just want to be able to write songs the way they feel and which ever are the best songs out of the lot, we keep them and call them DC4. And thatís it just DC4, thatís what we are and thatís the only label that fits.

KNAC.COM: Hard rock is not so much a trendy style of music these days; donít you feel pressure to writing differently?
JEFF: I donít concern myself with that stuff. If I should try to write something a certain way it would just not come out right. I like to sit down with my guitar and the songs just come out. Iíve seen bands do that, try to write a certain style because thatís whatís going on at the time but by the time they finish writing, recording, rehearsing and getting their album out, that trend has already passed. I figured, I would rather continue to make music that I like, because there are always people who are going to like it. We may not become the next platinum band, but weíll be doing what we like and as long as we get to make the best music we can and put out records, Iíll be happy.

KNAC.COM: You had Joey Vera produced the album?
JEFF: Joey is very talented and heís my friend, two good reasons to have him produce ďVolume 1Ē. As you know he produced Armored Saint Revelation and Nod To The Old School, and an Armored Saint ďbest ofĒ that came out. We actually recorded some new tracks on that album and he produced that. He was just a logical choice because I couldnít imagine having a stranger starting to tell me how my songs should go, and you know it happens. But I really didnít want to bring a stranger into the element of my band; Joey as a member of Armored Saint and Joey as a producer are kind of two different persons. His intentions were to catch the best representation of DC4; it didnít want it to sound like Armored Saint. And it happens to be very convenient that my good friend Joey Vera is an excellent producer/engineer. We had a lot of fun making the album. But because heís such a good friend, I was open to the suggestions he made in trying different things, some we kept and some we left out and it worked out perfectly. We did the best DC4 record that we could put together. So I do feel that ďVolume1Ē is a true representation of DC4.

KNAC.COM: What does DC4 stands for?
JEFF: Itís actually really simple. The D stands for Duncan, the C is for Church, our guitar playerís last name, and the 4 is just for the four of us.
Originally we were called Human Nature for a year or so, but we decided that it sounded too much like a boy band!
We didnít want to spend a bunch of time on a name and actually I think it was Shawn that thought of naming the band after us and somehow we came up with the name in probably 15 minutes. I canít even remember who came up with it. But itís cool because itís catchy and everybody seems to remember it.

KNAC.COM: Tell me who inspires you musically?
JEFF: Iím into a lot of different things. Of course some of my earliest influences include Black Sabbath and I am a huge Beatles fan. I think any musician who learning how to write should learn a bunch of Beatles songs because thatís the caplet on how to write songs. Iím also into the early Van Halen, although I donít think it transcribes too much in my music. I also started to get new influences when I started singing. There are a bunch of singers that I respect and that inspire me. Iíve always been into Dio as a singer and heís such a nice guy. I think heís amazing. Iím a fan of the The Colour and The Shape album by the Foo Fighters, I found it very inspiring at one time.

KNAC.COM: What inspires you lyrically and what do you like to write about?
JEFF: I write about people I meet. I write about myself. I tend to write realistically about the human condition, the way people think and the crazy things they do. Iíve always had an interest in humans and how they are and how they behave. So, my lyrics usually come from a very personal opinion or viewpoint based on things like spirit.

KNAC.COM: Do you know if youíll tour Europe to support the release of ďVolume 1Ē?
JEFF: Iíd love to go. Iím not sure yet, but I hope we get to play a couple of the festivals there.

KNAC.COM: If you had the choice, who would you like to go on the road with?
JEFF: I think it would probably be Stone Temple Pilots that I think would be general choice.

KNAC.COM: When you were with Armored Saint, the music scene in L.A was a little different than what is it now with DC4. How do you feel about it?
JEFF: The L.A scene has changed so much it is really nothing like what it used to be. As far as Iím concerned there really isnít a scene anymore like it was in the 80ís. Itís a lot harder to play in L.A these days. Back then L.A was the hot spot -- thatís where everybody got signed: Poison, Warrant, Motley Crue. The record companies were mostly here looking for the next platinum seller. It just got completely saturated. I think L.A is still in a healing process from all that.

KNAC.COM: How do you think the scene has changed so much?
JEFF: Itís harder now because the major labels are not into developing acts as much as they used to be. And I think itís also harder because we donít play todayís trend. But Iíd rather do that than be unhappy.
Also, now itís not so much about helping the band grow, itís all about making a quick buck. If you donít sell enough theyíll put you on the shelf and youíll just be the next tax write off.
On the other hand, on an independent level I think youíve got a better chance. If DC4 gets to tour the clubs and gets moderate success with our independent label then Iíll be happy.
Iíve been doing this for such a long time; I have a very realistic outlook on what it is that Iím involved with. Iím not going to convince anyone that Iím supposed to be some kind of huge Rock star.
The way I look at it is that with the records that Iíve made already and the things that Iíve done, I got a lot of opportunities that a lot of people who play music never got the chance to have.
I got to see the world with Armored SaintÖ I feel that Iím lucky already.
But I still have all the faith in the world in DC4 and Iím thankful for our fans and also to your magazine for doing this interview.


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