Daniel Graves: A Rock And Roll Fables Conversation

Aesthetic Perfection is back with their first new record in almost 4 years and we’re ecstatic! In fact, you can read how excited we are by clicking on our review of Into The Black here.

But I digress.

Fresh off a successful European tour introducing audiences to a fresh new line up (Which you can read about below) with a North American round of touring slated to kick off in September, AP mainman Daniel Graves was kind enough to chat with us via email, amidst all the excitement, about the new record, line up, and so much more:

Firstly, congratulations on the new album! To start things off, and I know you’ve touched on some of this on social media, but why was Patreon the way to go to release new music? Beyond that, why go Patreon versus something like Kickstarter or (gasp!) Pledgemusic?

I chose Patreon over other platforms because its main goal is to keep ARTISTS afloat, it’s not just funding a single project. It’s more about community and interaction rather than just completing a financial transaction. We’ve built a tremendous collective there and I’m incredibly grateful to have supporters who value my work enough to contribute to it financially. That’s amazing in a climate where entertainment is (mostly) free. 

Speaking of Patreon again, what are the advantages and disadvantages of going at it alone versus working with a label? 

I’ve worked with some fantastic labels, some not so fantastic labels, and some downright shitty labels. Those experiences helped me figure out how *I* want to do business in this turbulent time. I learned the importance of being a business savvy artist who is his own advocate. There’s really no other way to survive these days. The Patreon model feels like an extension of that. It’s a model that allows artists to take control over their own work and create a sustainable career. 

It’s been four years since your last full-length, what have you been up to in the interim? How long did Into The Black take from conception to finished product?

I’m always writing. There’s never an official start date for an album. I’m constantly pulling ideas from the past and combining them with inspiration in the present. I really have no idea how long this album took. Years? I know that when I sat down with the intention of finishing it, what I thought would take 1 month took 6. I think I got a little too comfortable just releasing singles between “’Til Death” and “Into the Black”. I naively thought finishing a record would be easy this time around. Reality came crashing down pretty quickly, tho. An endeavor like this costs a lot. Time. Energy. Emotion. Relationships. You have to sacrifice a lot of yourself to bring this stuff to life. It was nice being reminded of that. 

With several albums under your belt now, there is definitely this sort of Daniel Graves signature vocal style! How do you maintain your voice over the years and do you prefer once vocal style of yours over another?

Singing is so much more difficult than I ever imagined when I started. I thought it’d just be a couple lessons and I’d have that “gritty pop vocal” style I’d been longing for. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, and this has been a decade long journey that doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. I’ve studied with multiple instructors, employed multiple techniques and methodologies… it’s tough, but rewarding. Every year I grow, I stumble, I get up, I try again, I get better. Singing is really about finding a compromise between what you hear in your head, and what you can reliably produce without hurting or exhausting yourself. It’s both calculated and improvised. It’s complicated… like most things. 

With a discography as diverse as yours, how do you build the perfect set list for fans on a given tour? What would be your perfect kind of set list?

After 5 (technically 6) full-length records, picking a setlist is insanely difficult. Especially when you refuse to play over 75 minutes like I do. On this run we’ll be rotating setlists to make sure we cover as much of our discography as possible. Translation: attend multiple shows to make sure you hear all your favorite songs! 

Speaking of touring, you’ll be hitting North America this Fall. Can you speak a little about the line up you’ll be bringing on the road this time out?

The full line-up is myself, Elliott Berlin and Joe Letz. Unfortunately, it was the loss of long-time drummer Tim Van Horn that I realized the importance of Aesthetic Perfection as a BAND and not just a solo project. I may be alone in the studio, but the people who join me onstage are as critical to the success of the show as I am. Aesthetic Perfection needs to be a stable unit, not a revolving door. I’m super grateful to have such talented and capable musicians by my side for this tour! 

Joe is, without a doubt, a phenomenal drummer but has had his share of troubles/controversies over the years. How did you come to the decision to hire him and how do you handle any potential negative detractors at that decision (A recent <PIG> tour comes to mind where the pitchforks were out after it was announced he’d be the touring drummer)…and this is coming from a fan of him and all his previous outfits.

If there’s any single narrative to be traced through Aesthetic Perfection’s history, it’s certainly one of a desire for redemption. I’ve spent my entire life trying to escape my past and find solace in a better version of myself. Joe has always felt like a kindred spirit in that regard, which makes him a perfect fit for this band. He’s driven, hardworking, and one of the kindest and most sincere people I know. 

In addition to the tour and new album, is there anything else that fans can look out for in the near future from AP?

Shit, I’m already up to my neck with touring and the album. Do I need to take on more stuff!? 

And there you have it! Into The Black is out now via Close to Human Music and you can get yours by clicking the Bandcamp stream below. Graves and Aesthetic Perfection will be hitting ONCE in Somerville this September. Tickets for that show and the rest of the upcoming North American tour can be found by following AP here and here. To subscribe to the Patreon, head on over here.

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