Producer, songwriter, and bassist Dandy Brown is a rock ’n’ roll transplant from the Midwest who has taken root in the artist community of Joshua Tree.
He has developed a reputation among his peers for crafting riff-driven, hard-rock compositions, enticing some of stoner rock’s most-innovative players to help him complete his vision. In the late 1990s, with a handful of freshly written songs, he enlisted the gritty, soulful vocals of desert rock icon John Garcia (Kyuss/Vista Chino), the Supafuzzed guitar riffs of David Angstrom, and the unrelenting rhythms of drummer Steve Earle (Afghan Whigs) to found the band Hermano. Later joined by guitarist Mike Callahan (Ear Shot), the group created a musical canvas for Garcia’s penetrating melodies and haunting lyrics.
I asked Brown how he put Hermano together.
“In ’96, I began producing the first Supafuzz album, and John and Dave had known each other through the deals they had through Electra Records, back in the days when there were a ton of labels, and all of them were putting out diverse music,” he said. “John sang on a couple of tracks on that album, and we vaguely got to know each other through that.
“In ’98, I broke my ankle while playing a pickup game … and while I was recouping, I ended up writing a handful of heavy blues numbers that went on to become the tunes for Only a Suggestion,” Hermano’s first album. “From there, I just brainstormed an album, and called the folks I thought would sound best together on the collection. … Luckily, they all liked the stuff I sent them and agreed to come onboard.”
In 2000, Dandy made the move from the Midwest to the desert. Once here, the expansive landscape and change in environment triggered a productive writing spree which inspired a second music project, Orquesta del Desierto. With the help of native desert-rocker Sean Landerra Carrillo (Waxy, Lakota), Brown connected with some of the desert’s most-sought-after players and recorded two full-length albums. ODD featured vocalist Pete Stahl (Goatsnake, Wool), guitarist Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson), drummer Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Yawning Man, Brave Black Sea), guitarist Mike Riley, guitarist Country Mark Engel and others. As a writer, Dandy explored new territory and created something completely fresh. Psycho-Western rock fueled by acoustic instrumentation and Latin rhythms provided the backdrop for Stahl’s devilish lyrics and sultry vocals. The music of ODD was reflective of the extreme desert environment where it was created.
In 2014, Dandy signed with Little Brother Music to support his new solo record, Damned to the Heels of Success. He will also be part of a compilation recording featuring the cream of the original desert rock scene, also being released by Little Brother. The Genuine West Coast Desert Sound will also feature John Garcia, House of Broken Promises, The Freeks, Vista Chino, Waxy, Lakota, Crusade and Fever Dog.
Damned to the Heels of Success features guitarist Mark Engel, bassist Tony Mason and drummer Jamie Correa, as well as guest artists Mike Riley (Parosella) and Brandon Ray Henderson (The Pedestrians, Parosella). It’s a cohesive collection of straight-ahead rock, unpretentious and stripped bare, exposing thick acoustic rhythms and grungy stoner-rock grooves. Brown has deviated from the ultra-heavy, electric hard rock of Hermano, and the rhythmic psycho-pop of ODD, landing somewhere in between. Deep, pensive lyrics combined with powerful rock compositions create acoustic-stoner rock bliss. The record can be downloaded directly from Dandy Brown’s website.
“The objective behind recording this batch of songs that I had written over the last couple of years was to keep it as simple as possible,” Brown said about the new record. “It was definitely my goal to make the collection sound as stripped-down and rock ’n’ roll as I could, and I also wanted to do something on analog tape once again. I think it had been well over a decade since I had recorded to tape instead of in the digital realm, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.”