BIMM tutor and Tindersticks bassist Dan McKinna

6 June, 2016

Dan McKinna is an active figure within the music industry.

He balances life as a bass tutor at our Brighton college with a successful music career as the bassist for the legendary alt-rock group, Tindersticks.

Earlier this year, Tindersticks announced the release of their 11th studio album ‘The Waiting Room’. This superb 11-track LP, which has a short film commissioned for each track, has already received praise from the music press.

“The Waiting Room is a rich triumph… how innovative and impressive they’ve become” read one review from Q Magazine.

Dan was instrumental in the record’s production, co-writing it and taking care of the album’s string arrangements while also playing bass and keys. We caught up with Dan recently to find out more about the album. He explained the inspiration behind it:

“In some ways the album is more focused on the band as a five-piece, yet we also have a history of collaborating with others. There is a duet with Lhasa de Sela, guest vocals from Jenny Beth from Savages, as well as some interesting brass arrangements from British jazz saxophonist Julian Siegel. This is by no means a ‘straightforward band album’, but an uncompromising blend of styles, approaches and arrangements.”

On the album’s unique inclusion of short films, Dan explained:

“This has also added a new dimension to some of our live shows, where we have been performing the whole album with the films projected on a huge screen behind us”.

You can watch the video for ‘Were We Once Lovers’.

Following the album’s release, Tindersticks set out on a mammoth tour of Europe. The band have played shows in countries all over the continent, including Denmark, France, Spain, Greece and Turkey as well as a selection of UK dates.

In July the band have various festival dates coming up across Europe, and they’ll be busy with that through to the end of the Summer. Reflecting on his time on the road, Dan explained:

“There’s been a great deal of variety, from clubs in Prague, theatres in Germany and a super modern concert hall in Copenhagen. It’s always special playing in London, and the sold out gig at The Barbican was no exception.”

On his advice to other touring musicians and new groups, Dan told us:

“I’m lucky enough not to be scraping by living out of a splitter van now.  But whatever level you’re at it is important to remember that you’re touring to play your music to different people every night, so the music should always come first.”

“Taking time in soundcheck to get used to the venue, to be able to hear each other and be comfortable in that space is really important.”

One lucky BIMM student received the chance to tour recently with Dan and the rest of Tindersticks. Will Amey studies Drums at BIMM Brighton. He was invited on the road to work as a backline technician for the group while also lending his talents to the lighting and front of house sound.

“He’s been great, with such a positive attitude. Hopefully Will has gained a better picture of what it takes to put a band on the road and have a better idea of what everyone’s roles entail,” Dan revealed.

Speaking about the opportunity, Will explained: “I’ve always been interested in discovering a new side to the touring industry, and this opportunity was perfect to expand my knowledge and experiences of the music industry.”

We also got Dan’s thoughts on teaching, while being active within the music industry, he told BIMM:

“It allows me to stay fresh and enthusiastic, and enables me to develop as a musician – I’m a very different musician to the one that started teaching at BIMM many years ago. The industry – as is well documented – is rapidly changing, so it keeps me in touch. It’s also a two-way thing; I learn a lot teaching and from the students so I take away some of those ideas into my own music making, as well as sharing my experiences.”

Dan’s active music industry links and experience have been invaluable to all of our BIMM students. It’s this experience and enthusiasm that has helped inspire all of our students to follow a similar path.

We wish Dan and Tindersticks all the best with their upcoming festival dates across Europe, including their highly anticipated appearance at the Green Man Festival. We can’t wait to hear all about it!

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