Updated: Aug 16, 2022
The first thing one might notice about Dan DeMarco [Admiral Fox], aside from his unassuming nature, is the ease at which he paces himself. This placid demeanor is not only evident in casual conversation, but also in his presence as a performer. This afternoon I had the pleasure to speak with him on the phone for a quick interview to gain insight on his musical creations - which have been a local favorite of mine for the past few years.
Hailing from West Chester, Pennsylvania, Dan began composing short stories from an early age. Dan recalls opening word documents on his father’s computer and writing book titles followed by content tables detailing every chapter - “…because that’s how books are made, I thought!”
Enthusiasm for writing as a form of self-expression carried into Dan’s college years. He attended the University of Iowa, well-known for its writing program, in pursuit of a degree in English. As we spoke of his time in college, Dan soberly remarked “Well, I also had this shiny new MacBook - and it had its own microphone and a program called GarageBand.”
Dan began recording original songs directly into the computer, “an inch from the microphone,” with his Alvarez acoustic guitar, the same guitar he plays today in his four-piece band. After college, he describes his life as a road trip. When listening to the music of Admiral Fox one could almost glean a thematic constant in what Dan describes as “indie with an experimental edge”.
Eventually, the storyteller-turned-songwriter settled in Minneapolis where he found himself attending J.T. Viele’s infamous Tuesday open mic at Moto-I [presently Mondays at Sociable Cider Werks; www.openmicmpls.com]. Anyone who has entered the doors of Moto-I Open Mic knows that the transition from solo artist to collaborator is often a relatively short journey, as the small Japanese restaurant has served as a hub for many expressive exchanges in our community. Admiral Fox was no exception and through a series of collaborations with videographers and other creative professionals, the current permutation of the band was soon formed.
During my cursory research prior to my conversation with Dan, I was immediately struck by the raw-edge sound of Admiral Fox. The music takes us to a time before the self-absorbed trend of social media and gives us an honest - almost mournful - look at the trajectory of art from the early to mid 1990s. Dan describes the 2020 recording of “Nowhere is Safe” as the band “getting our 90s worship out” as they found the quirky, experimental element that would become their signature sound.
“The songwriting process has become much more democratic since then” says Dan, as he recounts the evolution of collaboration with his bandmates. “Me letting go of control brought us to a new level…you write a song and feel like you know it…and you hand it to someone else and it turns into something completely different than you could have imagined.”
The growth of the group has only worked to their advantage. They continue to write, rehearse, and record. You can listen to their new single “Begging for Our Lives” as well as all other material on Spotify and Apple Music. Dan DeMarco’s “Winter in Limbo” is among the most notable collections available for streaming, and a personal favorite of mine.
The group retains their performance momentum, with upcoming shows at Underground Music Cafe on August 18th, Dayblock Brewery on August 25th, and of course at 331 Club as special guests of The Common Practice residency.