Boston transplant Dan Biederman talks music and sports in Australia
From September through December, SI will be speaking to musicians of all genres about the intersection of music and sports. This week, SI sits down with Dan Biederman, who plays piano and organ for the Adam Eckersley Band.
SI.com: Before we dive into sports, can you give us some basic background on yourself.
DB: My name is Dan Biederman. I’m 38 years old and from Holliston Mass. I am the organist and pianist for the Adam Eckersley Band in Sydney Australia.
SI.com: Seeing as you're from the Boston area, do you have a take on Roger Goodell and Deflategate?
DB: I think Commissioner Goodell should be looking at the bigger fish he has to fry instead of some balls that may or may not have been deflated.
SI.com: How would you describe sports in Australia as compared to the U.S.?
DB: There’s a lot less celebrity involved with sportsman in Australia. Not to say athletes aren’t celebrities, they are, but not to the same degree as in the US. Whereas US athletes are akin to rock stars and A-list movie stars, Aussie sportsman are considered ‘normal’ hardworking blokes, digging it out on the pitch for the love of the game, not the for the fanfare or salary. As an example, Johnathan Thurston (arguably ruby’s most popular player) was at one of our gigs, just hanging out with his mates. No mob scene of rabid Thurston fans or Tall poppy syndrome. He even bought the band a round of beers because he liked our music. It’s impossible for me to accurately compare Thurston to a US sports star, but lets just say I’ve never had Tom Brady come to one of my gigs, let alone just hang out with the audience.
SI.com: Do people know who LeBron James is?
DB: Of course. American culture has made its way here in many ways, including sports. I’d say the Australians know a lot more about American sports than vice versa. Jarryd Hayne has created more interest in the NFL as well, even the nightly news leads off with him.
SI.com: I know you were in a Grateful Dead cover band in college. How'd the come about?
DB: I was playing piano in the student union at Arizona State and this hippie girl came up and told me I had to check out a Grateful Dead cover band called Xtra Ticket. So I went to check them out and thought they were great. I introduced myself and asked if I could sit in, and they just let me keep coming back. I ended up playing with them for almost 10 years. The main dude from Xtra Ticket (Dave Hebert) is now filling the Jerry role in Melvin Seals and JGB.
SI.com: And how'd you get from there to where you are now?
DB: In 2003, I visited Sydney and saw a funk band playing at the bar in front of the Sydney Opera House and thought that this would be the coolest gig ever. When I was back in the States I met a girl who was moving to Sydney. Me and the girl got along real well. She left for Australia as planned and I followed shortly after. 10 years later, she’s now my wife and the mother of my little boy so it worked out well. I had always wanted to go back to Australia since 2003. I was just taken by the country and really loved it.
SI.com: How'd you continue your music career when you moved there?
DB: The first thing I did was get back to practicing. I had saved enough money so that I didn’t have to work right away. I used that time to practice, get a lay of the land and see as much music as I could. I didn’t want to worry about finding the next perfect band or getting myself set up for teaching. Over the past 10 years I’ve sort of waxed and waned between teaching and playing in bands. Whenever one is busy the other one tends not to be. I always knew I’d be in a committed band, and teaching music is really just talking about what you love to people who are interested.
SI.com: Did the Adam Eckersley Band exist before you joined?
DB: Yeah, kinda. Adam had been playing under his name for a while. Things shifted gears a bit in 2012 when he got a record deal from Universal. Adam had been playing with a bass player named Scotty, who was also a friend of mine. Scotty called me coincidentally on Thanksgiving in 2012 and asked if I’d be up for a jam with the Adam and the new band. At our first rehearsal we played through a bunch of their original tunes as well as the Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want. It was great! I was in, we’ve been going hard since then, Hammond organ and all.
SI.com: How would you describe your band's music?
DB: I’d say we are a Southern rock band somewhere in the middle of The Allman Brothers, Zac Brown Band and Dave Matthews Band.
SI.com: How many albums have you released?
DB: Two have come out. The second album, titled The Second Album, just came out. Nick DiDia was the producer. He’s worked with Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and a bunch of other fantastic artists. Making this record with him was an amazing experience.
SI.com: I know it's a bit of a cliche, but are you still hoping to make it big?
DB: I don’t necessarily know what 'making it big' means anymore. I can say we took a trip to Nashville this past June and met with William Morris, Paradigm and other industry people. We learned a lot. It’s just very, very hard to break the US market. It’s still a goal of ours and something we’ll chip away at it each year. In the meantime, things here in Australia are going great and we’re having fun working hard in the sunburned country.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.