Amplifying Dissent with with Dan Spencer
We spoke to ex-Nashville musician Dan Spencer about black metal, DIY spaces and tolerance.
This interview is part of a series discussing mandates, restrictions and censorship with musicians and music fans—read more of these interviews here.
Dan Spencer is a Cookeville, Tennessee based singer songwriter with an affinity for black metal music, making excellent country music that we enjoy.
Most recently he's released an album Bursting With Country-Fresh Flavor. Listen here:
MFA: We spoke about being disenchanted by Nashville — I'm still new to the middle TN area and trying to find some experimental music for weirdos. Please tell us about Cookeville music scene, is DIY music secretly alive and well there?
Dan Spencer: Cookeville actually has a pretty impressive music scene for how small the town is. It's a college town, so I guess there's always been a fresh crop of young people making weird stuff, but also people born and raised here seem to float towards the more avant-garde. We have a brewery that hosts shows that is very cool to the local bands. I was actually able to book and open for Texas alt-country legend Adam Carroll there back in May.
There's also The Wherehouse which is a skate shop with a proper venue and BYOB bar space in the back where we've been able to host some really fun shows. It's ran by old head skate punks who literally just do it for the love of the game. They have legit PA, run sound, and aren't looking to make a dime off the shows, so we just set out a bucket and pay the bands out of that. It's always a great time.
If you're looking for more Cookeville/Upper Cumberland bands, check out The Hosemobile, Holy Mountain Top Removers, Silver Kit, The Dog's B0dy, Worm, Faraway Dogs, Commander Keen, Nose!, Sheep Bella Tine.
MFA: I find the current lack of tolerance in the arts exhausting and I've just been avoiding scenarios that seem like they could be high conflict. I wonder if a scene that is intolerant of intolerance is a solution? Where everyone is forced to be nice to people with different ideologies. Do you have any advice navigating indie music scenes in these divisive times, as it were?
Dan: Haha if you're referring to things like vaccines and masks, then I can't agree with you more. I'm sure some bigger venues were or are still making people show vax cards, but what always made me scratch my head was all of the DIY punk types who had a real authoritarian field day over the past....oh I guess 6 years or so.
Tolerance for anyone with a political opinion to right of Mao or for someone who says one of the forbidden words truly doesn't exist. I've definitely had some experience with that and may not be able to attend, much less play a couple spots around town but that's why a thing like your blog is so important and made me want to reach out.
MFA: What inspired your Bursting With Country-Fresh Flavor album? It is awesome, was it recorded recently?
Dan: Glad you liked it! It was actually recorded in February, 2019 right before the big shit hit. I kinda just shelved it and didn't give a fuck about releasing it while I was in Nashville, but once I got situated out here I realized I wanted it out; if for no other reason than I had other material that I thought was better that I wanted to release.
My EP I Like To Worship the Devil was actually recorded way after the album, and I have a new record that is not in the slightest bit country or folk or whatever that will hopefully be out this year. I'm a Nashville native and in highschool the local music scene was my life.
My favorite bands at the time were all locals. I felt well represented on a national level, when Rolling Stone or Pitchfork would cover bands from Nashville it made me incredibly proud that these bands were born and raised where I was. Fast forward 5-10 years and 95% of the local bands are people who moved here from Philly, and all the people covering those bands just graduated from Belmont.
So what you had was a local scene made up of journalists who moved here 5 minutes ago covering bands who moved here 10 minutes ago. I didn't recognize anyone and I certainly didn't recognize my city. So this record was a big ol' goodbye to the Nashville I grew up with.
MF: Your logo and album artwork is really cool! Did you make it yourself?
Dan: The cover for Bursting was done by my buddy Sam Jacko. He came up with that pentagram logo that I also use for the EP that I'm getting a lot of mileage out of. My first two releases were country music nodding to my love for black metal, and on my next album there's some black metal nodding to country music. Sam is really good at capturing that idea with visual art.
Thank you for reading!
More from Dan here: