Our latest Inquisition focuses on Brian McGee, bassist of the Danzas, part-time Punksburgh interviewer, and punk rock dad extraordinaire. Fun fact: Brian is the person who suggested I start a music blog in the first place, so if you like what Punksburgh is doing, give him a high five. Or buy his album. These Inquisitions were also his idea; he’s just rad overall.
List the names of every band that you’ve ever played in ever.
Ok – chronological order:
What was the artist, album, or song that inspired you to play/write music?
Oh man, that’s so hard to pick. I’ve been playing music in some form since 4th grade…. so it’s hard to pinpoint where that starts. I guess some of the first bands that really started me down the path were They Might Be Giants, Violent Femmes, The Dead Milkmen, and The Cure. As far as a passion for playing and writing though, I think I have to go with Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. That first album, God Fodder, was the exact right album at the exact right time for me. And there was something about their “nothing is cool” attitude and aesthetic that I remember connecting with in ways that I hadn’t before. I distinctly remember thinking, “I want to be them… I want to do that.” It might be their fault that I cut off the mullet and started growing a skater flap. Ned’s would also become part of the reason I would later switch from guitar to bass.
What is your favorite piece of merch that you own?
I’m not really that big of a merch guy. I am a big guy, though, so wearables can be challenging. I don’t know if this counts… but back in ’98 The Bosstones had done a song with Count Von Count from Sesame Street for some Elmopalooza thing. They were doing press for it and through my job at the time I was around for some interviews with The Bosstones and the Count. I was lucky enough to get Jerry Nelson (aka The Count) to sign my Sesame Street 1 cast recording album. Does that count? Whatever – it counts. (1 piece of merch… ah ah ah…)
Tell us one thing about the Pittsburgh music scene that could be better and one thing about the scene that you love.
We really like the sandwiches.
The best thing though is the people. The Danzas started playing shows about three years ago and nearly every single person that we’ve met has been very cool and open and accepting. I can’t stress that enough. If you’re cool to everyone there’s a place for you in this scene. There are places for bands of all levels to play and people willing to help you play them. It’s kind of crazy. That said, there’s still plenty of room for this scene to grow. We just need to keep supporting each other in whatever ways we can. I’m blown away that on almost a weekly basis I find some other band in PGH that I wasn’t familiar with and they kill! I mean you can’t swing a music genre around this city without hitting a ton of amazing bands…
What’s something about you/your band that you think people should know that maybe they don’t?
A few years ago evil robot Danzas came back in time from the future to defeat our rise in popularity and our chances of creating a future Utopian society. They managed to trick us with tasty sandwiches and locked us up. They then succeeded in playing a few terrible shows as us before we could escape. After defeating them in a crazy kung-fu punk rock battle we sent them back to whence they came. So, just be aware, if you ever see us play a bad show it’s most likely that it’s the evil future robot Danzas and you should fight them. That, and sometimes we make stuff up.
If you had to pick only one of your songs for people to listen to, which one would it be?
Who would you cast in the movie of your band?
Oh, I’m pretty certain we would try to cast ourselves as ourselves. I would kind of want Bottle Rat to play us tbh, but I think we all know that Tony Danza would put in an Oscar worthy performance in a triple role as every member of the band!
How does your mom/family react to your music? Do they come to your shows?
My Mom is a big supporter on the social media! If you’re lucky you’ll see a “That’s my boy!” comment on Facebook. My brother and sister have both made it out to shows which is very cool. My parents might not be into our music really, but they’ve always been supportive. My high school band (Envy) practiced in our basement and my Dad even cosigned a loan for that band to get a PA. Crazy, right? Anyway, moms love The Danzas.
What band or artist have you seen live the most number of times?
They Might Be Giants.
I’ve been listening to them for almost 30 years now. They’re currently working on their 20th Studio album and are still putting out good, relevant music. It’s hard to compete with that… and their live shows are always entertaining and fun. They are masters of their domain… some might say giants.
What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you at a show as a performer or spectator?
Probably not the craziest, but this one time… in Butler… it was Rex Manning Day and we convinced this punk rock lady who likes to bake cookies and do puzzles and go to shows to join us and be our Renee Zellweger while we played Sugar High. Good times. Someone should start working on a whole Rex Manning Day show for next year… just saying.
Make sure you catch Brian with The Danzas at their next show: Saturday, 9/16 at The Smiling Moose. And definitely make sure you save the date for their Fallout Shelter debut on Saturday, 10/28 at the 3rd annual Half Covered Halloween where they will be playing some Taylor Swift tunes in addition to their own music. Finally, make sure you check out their new album Don’t Quit Your Day Job!
Check out Punksburgh‘s past Inquisitions, too!
Andy Mayer (Eternal Boy)
Jenn Jannon-Fischer (The Park Plan/Garter Shake/The Freshes)
Jimmy Bastard (The Bastard Bearded Irishmen)
Joseph Stephen (Eternal Boy)
Tim Little (Playoff Beard / Nightmarathons / Lansbury / The Shutouts)
Rishi Bahl (Eternal Boy)
Donny Donovan (Dinosoul / Hearken)
Ray Kolcun (Crooked Cobras)