Here’s who I ripped off while writing Super Dan – And you can win cool stuff!

Super Dan by Phil Johnson and Roadside Attraction. Art by Jeff Sornig of Sornigrafix.It’s be a year in the making, but we’ve finally released Super Dan!

When I sit down to write each day, I often don’t have any good ideas to start.  The proverbial blank page stares at me until I put something on it.  One of my triggers to get started is to spin random songs and start writing variations on the lyrical themes until I get to something that has absolutely nothing to do with the original song I was listening to.

On the day I started writing Super Dan, I flipped through tons of stuff. I specifically remember hearing some Hendrix in the mix and writing down a few ideas. But nothing that inspired me.

Then I happened across “Synthesizers” by Butch Walker.  Honestly, it wasn’t one of his songs that I’d paid a lot of attention to yet. Love it now, of course. But as I listened, I started picking up on the them of “get out of the house and have some fun”.  And certainly, as a live performer, that’s a message I like to hear spread about. 🙂

Take a listen to Butch’s song below to hear where I was starting from.

So started riffing on that idea. It always starts with things that are closely related. Different takes on going out, having fun, hanging with friends. Then I latched onto the idea of going out in the middle of the week. That sort of “throw caution to the wind” Wednesday night that you may regret the next morning. So I started writing something with the working title of “Party On A Wednesday Night”.

Nothing came out of it that really turned me on. And I must have just erased most of what I wrote, because I don’t have any record of it that I can find except for the title in the filename.  You can see a little bit of that leftover idea in this lost verse from Super Dan that I didn’t end up using:

You can always find Dan at a bar named Alligator’s
It’s his favorite place for getting unhinged
Friday night’s a bit too normal and Saturday’s too formal
So he’s better on a Wednesday night binge

So I got around to thinking about what kind of stuff happens on a Wednesday night at the bar and who you’d meet there.  Here’s where it started to get good.  I wrote the first line.

The sun has gone down and Dan is having drinks with friends
Nothing awfully crazy, just one or two

Dan’s just a guy grabbing a drink with some buddies and trying to not regret it the next day.  But that word “crazy” made me think that there was a reason he was being careful…

Cuz something always happens when he gets too loaded
That lands him on the six o’clock news

Now we’ve got a story! Those are the crazy bar stories that the barflys tell on a weeknight to anyone who will listen.  But I didn’t want him to be just some dipshit that got into trouble.  And I also started thinking that those bar stories always place the teller in the hero and/or victim role. Someone done them wrong and they got the upper hand.

And that’s where I happened upon the idea of turning regular ‘ol Dan into Super Dan.  In the long run, I completed the arc by bringing him back down to Earth as a teller of tales in a bar, but he gets some exciting flights of drunken fancy on the way.

I think you’ll agree “Super Dan” turned out pretty darn different from “Synthesizers” and that’s what I shoot for. Though I think there’s an echo of Butch’s “For once…” in my “Oh-Oh’s”  But I kind of like those little links back. 🙂

So yeah… I sometime start by ripping off someone else song, but keep tweaking and changing and playing with it until it becomes some totally different and mine. 🙂

If you’re a member of my free VIP area, then you can download the song and video for free in there.  Otherwise you can click “Buy” on the player below and get it for just 89 cents.

When it came time to think about a video, I started thinking comic books, obviously.  I’m not a big comic book guy really. But I love animation art. Particularly concept art and pencil sketch type stuff. I’m always amazed by how much life can be created with a few pencil strokes.

So I contacted my friend Jeff Sornig of Sornigrafix and asked if he wanted to collaborate on the video. We emailed back and forth. He brought some concept ideas to a show I was doing out in Michigan near him.  And we were off and running.  It was a ton of work on Jeff’s part.  You have no idea how long it takes to do this many drawings.

And I think the finished product came out really great.  And you can see it below.

 

And don’t forget to enter the Super Dan Giveaway! Jeff Sornig and I are giving away two giant prize packs with some really cool stuff.  Winners will be announced on October 7th!
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