Posted: April 15th, 2008
"I think Satan is a dollar bill."
Interview by Eric Shea | Photos by Giovanna Descoteaux
Pronounced "Dah-Nuh-Vuh," Danava is defined by ancient Indian scripture as a race of demons that banded together to fight a revolution against the gods, but after a bloody battle they were finally defeated and then banished into the ocean's depths for the rest of eternity. Fitting moniker if you're heard the heavy-leaded, sci-fi, space-rock of the band by the same name. But if you haven't heard Danava yet, you will. Kemado records (home to Saviours, Dungen, Vietnam, etc) recently dropped UnonoU, their debut album that sounds like the aforementioned demons were also the children of Hawkwind and Zolar X who rose up from the sea to wage war against the false idols of generic stoner rock. More importantly, Danava are putting heavy riffs back where they belong: in outer fucking space! No shit. No shirts. No dice. No band since Deep Purple has sounded so space truckingly awesome. Frontman Dusty Sparkles resides in the soggy city of Portland where we conversed over flat root beer, cold hotdogs and packets of mustard.
So tell us who is in Danava and what do you all play?
Dusty Sparkles – Vocals, guitar and synthesizers
Dell Blackwell – Bass guitar
Buck Rothy – Drums
Rockwell – Synthesizers
How did the band form and how long have you guys been playing together?
Well we just came to Oregon from Illinois and started jamming again and that was that…been doin' it for almost five years now.
Rad, so all of you migrated from Illinois? I thought you came from a solar system south of the second Venetian moon. Why did you initially choose Portland? Was it because of all the rad skateparks and restaurant bars?
I was with a ladyfriend at the time who wanted to move back there and kinda told me about it. So I just threw it out there to the guys…
How did you come up with the name Danava?
Rosy Cross, our beloved ex-synthesizer and theatrical whiz named us after a race of the most ancient Hindu demons. Long story on those guys…
Demons, eh? Well what do you think Satan looks like? Someone told me he looks kind of like Steve Bacon, but not so skinny. Do you think Steve Bacon is Satan?
I think Satan is a dollar bill.
You guys seem to be influenced by older recordings fused with new innovative ideas. What kinds of music do you listen to and what (if anything) from your music collection seeps into your sound?
Well we definitely are, but we listen to so much different shit that it's hard to make a list. We just really wanted to have a band where each member really held his own ground in such a way that it might sound as if we're all trying to outdo each other, but not really.
Is the Danava Logo a spaceship beetle like Journey's?
Nope, it's an eye.
OK, but if it were a spaceship beetle, would Danava become allies with Journey or space pirates that take over their ship after beating up Steve Perry?
Well I don't care much for those Journey dudes, but I wouldn't go around trying to fuck 'em over. Besides, they have way more money than us. Our ship would break down miles before we got to them anyway.
Your album art for UnonoU is fucking awesome. What's the story behind it?
Hey thanks, it's actually some old work from the legendary visual futurist Syd Mead who is most famous for designing sets for Blade Runner and some of the shit for Tron. He worked for U.S. Steel and GM Motors in the '50s and '60s and he was basically challenged to design the future. So obviously this was presented to the upper class and this record is about discovering happiness and self discovery, so I decided to use these images in a manner would use their useless products to define their lives. Our record is a product so I wanted it to look very catalogue like. It's kind of a joke, really, but it felt right and Syd Mead is my favorite.
Do you approach making the new album conceptually? I remember a couple years ago you said that you had it all mapped out in your head. Did it turn out the way you had it blueprinted in mind before its inception?
Sort of. I like what it became but I'm always trying to figure out how to do things better and at this point the album is super old to us…it came out like six months after we finished but yeah, to answer the question: sort of.
What kinds of different things are you looking forward to trying out on the next record?
Shorter songs as well as leaving the keyboards out a bit more. But we're not 'trying' that, it's just how it seems to be turning out on the new stuff we're working on.
Your music video for "Where Beauty And Terror Dance (http://tinyurl.com/24gsm7) is also amazing." What's going on in the video's story and what was the concept inspired by?
Well the story is vague. It's slightly based on the title, the battle of good and evil. Why's there gotta be a fucking battle? They both exist and always will.
So it's more of a yin and yang thing coexisting?
Absolutely. That shit makes the world go round, buddy.
That's a pretty wise revelation for a bunch of war mongering space demons without any shirts. Why do you guys hate shirts so much? Every time I see you play you guys rock out sans shirts. Is the rocket fuel on stage burning too hot?
Yep it is. That's why we are generally shirtless. It gets hot up there and as far as photos, we just do it to be gross but at the same time, to present each other as equals. We don't tend to like obsessing over clothing for a photo.
What does Danava aspire to bring to a live show that can't be recorded?
A more human approach. Raw and loud. The way we sound in our practice space. But hell, with all the rocket surgery sound that's developed, we don't get that either. Sometimes putting a mic on anything but the vocals really sucks. It becomes artificial again. Stupid shit.
Do any of you guys skate or have any good skate related stories?
Well I used to skate in the '80s but I never got very good. Plus I lived in a seriously weird little town and got pulled over for riding in the street whenever I did. Then I broke my wrist and eventually everybody discovered drugs and women and I did the same but also figured out how to play a little gee-tar too…skateboarding is just fun period. And so is music, so they go hand in hand.
Yeah, they do! Hey, do you remember what kind of board you rode back in the day?
I had a few. The only ones I can remember right away are that Fred Smith III board with the head on it, this Jeff Kendal Board with an alien holding the earth, Mike McGill, Gator, shit I had a few others I can't really remember. A G&S was my first one but what one is beyond me. However I do remember my very last board was a Peanut Brown deck from H-Street.
Any shout outs or one-time hollas?
Syd Mead! Piper Mattson! Eric Shea! Thrasher Magazine! Niko Krokus!
Download Danava albums and songs from the iTunes store here.
2/22/2017Converse and Babylon LA teamed up and released a limited edition Chuck Taylor featuring the artwork Babylon LA is well known for, which meant it was time for a shoe-release party! Check out some photos here.
2/22/2017The House of Vans in Chicago is opening their doors with a two-day celebration featuring a photo exhibit, artist workshop, open skate night and performances by Future Islands, Digable Planets and Noname. RSVP here.
2/22/2017Maseo took some time while in Argentina to discuss the new album, performing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and whether or not working with Prince Paul will ever happen again.
2/22/2017The top-three list for SOTY was all tuff no fluff: Figgy, K-Walks and Evan Smith. While he don’t mind not being the “guy,” he’s just stoked to be on planet Earth having the time of his life. Listen to Mr. Smith talk about the road and the mag on the airwaves. —Jake Phelps
2/22/2017Descendents were the background music to so many sessions and they contributed to the soundtracks of some of the most-watched skate videos of all times. Thankfully, they’re still cranking out the tunes with a brand-new album. We caught up with their front man, Milo, to see what makes them tick year after year.
2/22/2017The "LA Stories" collaboration between Snoop Dogg and Mark Gonzales connects skateboarding, music and art.
2/22/2017They’re like a dash of punk, an ounce of metal, but really just some of the best speedy rock ‘n’ roll in ages.
2/22/2017With rock stars dropping like flies nowadays, we are really lucky to have Alice Cooper still out there going full throttle. Welcome to Alice’s nightmare.
2/22/2017Metallica played their album release show last night to a lucky crowd at the House of Vans in London.
2/22/2017Metallica is be debuting their new album Hardwired... To Self-Destruct at the House of Vans in London today. Tune in to the live stream at 1pm PST/ 9pm GMT.