CanCulture’s Jack Lawson spoke to Dan Mangan about his new album, Oh Fortune, his inspiration, and the “poetry” in his lyrics.

CanCulture: Oh Fortune was just released, and the reception has been very positive so far wouldn’t you say?

Dan Mangan: It’s been great. I feel like the most exciting part is that people are getting it. It’s not as easily accessible as Nice, Nice Very Nice and takes a little bit more time to get to know. I feel that people are giving it that time, that attention to actually let it affect them.

CC: Well you do have a pretty dedicated fan base.

DM: Yeah, but you’re still challenging your audience and giving them something that’s not immediately palpable. We’ve put in endless amounts of work to make this record happen. It’s lived in my brain for so long and it’s very cool to be pushing it out the nest. I guess we’ll see what happens.

CC: So now that’s done, where are your thoughts?

DM: It’s all touring. We’re going to be on the road for the next couple of years. This is how we’ve always done it. We’ve always been a hard-working band. Hopefully after that we can get some time off and do some more writing and make another record.

CC: How was creating Oh Fortune in comparison to your other albums Postcards and Daydreaming or Nice, Nice, Very Nice?

DM: I just felt so young, trying to get this band together. I toured for years after that and gradually got other musicians on board. I feel like for a long time it was very much a solo singer, songwriter sort of project.

Oh Fortune is very much the product of a lot of people, not just myself. I was conducting the whole thing, I still wrote the songs – but I feel like it wouldn’t be the same without these incredible performances from everyone else.

CC: “Row of Houses,” the first single off of Oh Fortune, was inspired by the movie Stand By Me. Are we going to be seeing more tribute songs like that?

DM: [Laughs] I don’t know. That movie just hit me one day. I was on a plane and in the span of the flight I wrote down the words to that song. I write slowly usually and I don’t have a pointed narrative attack on certain things. I just sort of let the universe speak to me. Generally if you’re listening hard enough, you’re open to things.

CC: Even if you’re trying to stay open to source material, is there anywhere you draw particular inspiration from?

DM: Well everywhere. Conversations, books, films, music, the news. It’s all part of this massive, chaotic, bottomless pit of humanity. There’s a lot to pull from and you’ve got to be like a sponge. Soak up the world and ring it out through your music.

CC: Personally I’ve noticed that your work uses colloquial language, which I think a lot of people find appealing.

DM: Sometimes colloquial language can be more poetic than given credit for. I steal things from conversations. Sometimes people will say something and I’ll be like, “oh I like that.”

CC: Okay, going back to touring for a minute. The last big show you played in Canada was the Hillside Music Festival in Guelph. You’ve just come back from touring in the states, so how did that compare?

DM: We started in small bars, so going back and playing them feels very familiar. I love playing big shows, but the dingy little bars are good too. It’s all just a matter of making that show special. Every single night.

CC: What are the favourite songs off of each of your albums so far?

DM: Ah jeez. “Maybe So Much For Everyone,” “Basket” and “So Darwinian.” [Postcards and Daydreaming, Nice, Nice, Very Nice and Oh Fortune respectively].

CC: If you could send a shout-out to any band back from Vancouver, hometown hero sort of style, who would it be?

DM: I’m a big fan of Aidan Knight, Apollo Ghost and Black Mountain. All great bands.

– Photo courtesy of Davoud D.