A Day in the Life of a MusicianPart of: LA , Music
This was originally published on Lukeford.net a year ago. Some of the people mentioned in this piece wanted their names taken out, and Dan was stressing me out, so I just had Luke take it down. I am running it here with the edits.
What Luke Ford Wants to Know About Dan Zweben
Dan Zweben on: Judaism, acting on the West Wing and sleeping your way to the top
Interview with Dan Zweben
By Tiffany Stone
Disclaimer: I wanted to interview another non-famous person. Luke Ford agreed that my friend Dan Zweben was a good subject. I have known Dan for 3 years. Dan makes me laugh. He has a quirky sense of humor, random speech patterns, and is very cute. Dan is a soulful, yet rocking singer-songwriter who has come a long way since the first time I saw him singing live in New York City with his eyes closed. We even wrote a song together (Dan never plays it out) at a beautiful Malibu house. The song is called, “I Watch the Ocean as the World Goes by.” Dan’s single, “Leave,” can currently be heard on MTV’s The Real World-- Las Vegas. To check out more of Dan’s music go to: Zweben.com
Dan Zweben, singer-songwriter for the band, Zweben, called me from his cell- phone. “There’s some kind of block party on your street. I can’t find parking.”
Huh? Am I deaf ? A loser? I couldn’t hear anything. No one had told me about a block party. What the hell was he talking about? I walked barefooted to the street and stepped into a muddy puddle. Yuck. I wiped my feet off on a patch of grass and looked right and left. There were no moving or stopped vehicles. There was not a soul outside. Just silence. I took a deep breath of fresh air. .
“Dan, I don’t see you,” I yelled into my cell.
“Oh, I’m on 18th Street.”
I lived on 19th St. There was a synagogue on 18th Street and they were celebrating Purim. Dan was Jewish. Shouldn’t he have figured that out? It was Sunday, though. I was always out of it on Sundays. Dan eventually found me.
We started walking towards Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, our brunch destination.
Dan Zweben: I was thinking about a title for our interview. What about “Breaking From Obscurity?” Well, this is the thought I had when I first woke up. I turned on the news, and I realized that we were going to war, and I first thought: (if this makes me narcissistic or self-absorbed, then so be it) how is this war going to affect my daily quest to attempt escaping from obscurity? [laughing] If I’m shallow for that, then fuck it! [laughing harder]
Dan: [seriously] Are we doing the interview right now?
Tiffany: Yes, so let’s go back to the war and its affect on your music. What lengths would you go to in order to become a famous musician?
Dan: I wouldn’t ever attempt to go on reality TV. I don’t believe that kind of fame sustains your career.
Tiffany: Would you sleep with someone to further your career?
Tiffany: Are you past that?
Dan: I would never say I’d sleep with someone to further my career. [laughing] Have I slept with people who work in the industry? Yes.
Tiffany: Well, your girlfriend works in the industry. Does that help you out?
Dan: Not necessarily. I mean it’s opened doors for me, and it gives me some sort of indie- punk-rock credibility [laughing] in my own world.
Tiffany: Do you have groupies?
Dan: Yeah, like women in their mid-20’s who…[laughing]
Tiffany: Does your girlfriend feel threatened by these people?
Dan: [laughs] Nah. There are definitely attractive women who come to my shows, but let’s be realistic and say that most people in America aren’t that attractive. I want to sell as many records as possible, so I am not trying to gear myself toward the most attractive crowd in this country. I would rather reach millions of people who are not so attractive.
Tiffany: Do you think becoming famous would change your music?
Dan: When you get famous and you get all that money thrown at you, where is the pain? How are you supposed to write? I wonder this myself everyday. It’s like, “Feel sorry for me. I just got a check for $75,000.”
Tiffany: On Dan’s ride to the top, he’s worked short-term jobs to sustain his music career. Dan has also worked teaching children music. Like most attractive young people who move to Los Angeles, Dan was eventually lured into the film industry, though he never wanted to be an actor. He signed up with an agency to do extra work. Dan’s film credits include: The Man Who Wasn’t There and American Pie.
Dan: I have a funny story. I did it for a while [extra work on the West Wing] and me and my friend would get high at lunch time or whenever. We just got so bored. We’d be sitting on set for 8 hours a day not doing anything. One time, I went out and got high and went back, and I was doing crosses (crossing in the West Wing)
We both start laughing.
Dan:…and I just got high and he totally knew I was high. I wish I could show you. I was just walking around like a zombie. They pulled me out of the shot. There are no bad tensions between us. There just came a point where I was like, I can’t do this for a living. This is a fucking joke.
Tiffany: Doing crossings is just walking across the set?
Dan: Yes, they are like in a room, and you see someone walk back and forth.
Dan: There are a couple of good sequences [of other scenes] though, if you want to put up a little link.
Tiffany: Oh, really?
Dan: Yeah, that would be cool. Like a good scene of me in the oval office with the President, Martin Sheen.
Tiffany: We could do that. Was that your best role on the West Wing?
Dan: That one and then also in the Roosevelt room with Rob Lowe. [Also,] being the assistant to a politician.
Tiffany: Rob Lowe was still on the show? Do you think he has sex appeal?
Dan: Uh, yeah. I think he is hot. You can put that on the record. I mean he is. You know-- he has the perfect chiseled features and perfect hair. He didn’t have the make-up person do anything.
Tiffany: Really? And that’s rare?
We take a few minutes off and Dan contemplates.
Dan: And here I thought we were going to talk about my music, about what my band’s going through, and how we’re trying to get signed, and all you want to talk about is Rob Lowe’s chiseled features.
We cross the street and are almost hit by a Lexus SUV with a family in it.
Dan: Chill out!!! People can’t drive here, and it’s driving me fucking nuts!!
Tiffany: Do people drive like this in Silverlake?
Dan: No, it’s a different attitude there.
Tiffany: Not like the agro Westside? (We’re on Montana and 14th street.)
Dan: And everyone looks like they just finished a script that they’re shopping. And everyone looks like they’re so obsessed with their baby shower they have to go to on Wednesday. [Dan was invited to a baby shower with his girlfriend that he has no intention of going to. Guys don’t want to go to baby showers!]
We make it to a French restaurant, and there is an outside table available.
Tiffany: So, how do you want to be described?
Dan: [ponders this for a minute] A Jewish philanthropist…
Tiffany: You were noticing a carnival on the street earlier. You didn’t figure out it was for Purim?
Dan: [seriously] Is Purim starting today? I didn’t even realize it. I live on the Eastside. No one called and reminded me. I miss [religious] holidays—the big ones. Do we have to talk about this? It’s boring...[funny voice] “Oh, Dan Zweben forgot about Purim.”
Tiffany: Dan recently got a very sharp haircut. Why are regular people under the impression that men’s haircuts don’t matter? Dan traded in his floppy boyish hair for a shorter style with edge. Think Jimmy Fallon from SNL.
Tiffany: Let’s talk about your hair. Your new haircut is great. Are you getting a good response?
Dan: Yeah, I think I modernized my look. I get it cut at Sandy’s barbershop in Silverlake.
Tiffany: Does Sandy cut your hair?
Dan: One of Sandy’s assistants.
Dan Zweben: I’m glad I came out here even though I have to go to the Westside again tonight for a party. It’s a surprise party for Jay Ruston. He’s a Canadian record producer.
Tiffany: What people are going to this party?
Dan: Managers [and] other musicians related to Jay. He works out of this studio up Laurel Canyon at Leslie Howe’s house. Leslie produced all the early Alanis Morrisette. That’s where [my band] is recording our tracks.
Tiffany: Are there going to be any famous people there? That’s all people care about.
Dan: Probably famous in our [music industry] world. Up and coming musicians like Abandoned Pools. Is that what people care about? Famous people?
Tiffany: Yeah. People don’t care about [the band] Abandoned Pools.
Dan: Toby Maguire was at my show, but he wasn’t there to see me.
Tiffany: Who was he there to see?
Dan: Another band--- a friend of his.
Tiffany: Did you meet him?
Dan: I asked him to stay for my set and he said, “Uh…no.”
Dan: Yeah, it was kind of embarrassing.
Dan: I don’t think this part should go in the interview.
The tape stops. Dan and I sit outside at Le Marmiton and both order salmon eggs benedict. I have a café au lait and he has black coffee. Dan is disappointed that we don’t get to tape our lunch conversation. I am pleased that I get to enjoy my food. I think I will do walking interviews from now on.
I talked to Dan the week after the party. Dan got some Goth girl fans after he hammed up, “Material Girl” by Madonna during karaoke.