Monster Mash with Marc Vale

OK, so, there’s the cat, man. A groovy cat. “Dracula’s cat?” Maybe, but right now I’m talking about Dance Monkey Dan, man. You know him as Marc Vale. The Man, the Myth, the Legend! Writer and drummer extraordinaire! Horror addict and bon vivant! He’s humble, too. As he puts it, “I’m a drummer, started off a drummer and still say, ‘I’m just a drummer.’ My music is personal; it can be complicated or very simple. It just depends on why I wrote the song. Did I want to try something rhythmically challenging or did I want to set a mood with one note.”

The song we are featuring is in fact “Dracula’s Cat” which is a really groovy, jazzy, Zappa inspired piece.

Marc currently lives in Phoenix, AZ, but is originally from Ohio. “I grew up in Ohio, but then moved to Venice Beach, CA. RUSH was big in Ohio and I took to their music really early in my teens.”

Dance Monkey Dan is his solo project, but he’s played with bands in the past. “I’ve been in many bands, in many different genres, jazz, blues, metal, country, big band swing, reggae, and classical. Places I’ve played: Venice Beach, Long Beach, LA Strip, Ventura, North Canton, Massillon, Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, and others. Places I’d like to play…the rest of the world!”

Were there any gigs that stand out? “It depended on what band I was in, most people, mainly other drummers, would hang out with me and we’d talk drums, some would ask me how I learned certain styles and stuff. The drunker the fans, the better they loved us, and the more the clothes that came off, but that’s another story.” Ah yes, drummers.

So of course, I had to know the origin of “Dance Monkey Dan”. “My kid asked me to do something and my wife said, ‘Yea, Dance Monkey.’ I took that part and added Dan since that’s a term used in Japanese martial arts, like 7th dan or 10th dan. So I envisioned this kick-ass monkey pulling off a round house kick and thought, that’ll work.”

Then I asked him which of his songs was his favorite. “Right now… ‘King Lord Fudgy’.” Dude. How could you not dig a song named “King Lord Fudgy”?

His favorite groups and musicians includes: Frank Zappa, RUSH, TOOL, Van Halen, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Rage Against the Machine, The Police, Aaron Copland. “Everything but stupid–I left my wife for my pick-up truck–country music.”

He was intentionally nebulous when I asked about how long he had been playing music. “Playing for lots of years, writing songs a little less than a lot of years. I don’t mean to answer like an ass, I just don’t want people to know how old I really am!”

As he is a podcaster himself, I know he listens to podcasts, but wondered if he listens to any that focus on music. “I haven’t yet, but I haven’t been looking either. I think I will, just to see what people are talking about.”

As a creative cat, I wondered if he had any other artistic pursuits. “I write my stories. Other than that and music, I’m pretty booked.”

Does he have an album of his work available to listen to and buy? “Nope, never really thought about it. I don’t sing and instrumental music doesn’t sell much.” That might seem odd, but I know at least one other musician who is just happy to make music and maybe, someday, he’ll produce an album as well. Or sell it online. Eventually.

So then, what is next for this dance monkey? “Continue writing studio music scores, like movie soundtrack type stuff for my podcast stories, or for people that want my music in their podcasts.” He also added, “I’d like to get together with some jazz fusion players and see what we could put together.”

Finally, I’ll leave you with his sage advice. “Remember, ‘No one wants to hear your shit,’ so market yourself well, stay in control of your art, read your contracts well, don’t get screwed by the music business, and don’t spend all your money on sex and drugs.”

You can find Marc Vale online on his blog at www.marcvale.blogspot.com, and he has some tracks available to listen to on Reverbnation.