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Wednesday, February 28th
The Hot Sweat
Justin Nozuka
Hana Pestle
Featured in Alternative Press Magazine’s “100 Bands You Need To Know” 2008 edition, National Product has taken the world by storm, touring not only across the United States to Alaska, but to Japan and Mexico as well. With eight months of straight touring under their belt, the Huntington Beach-based band has finally come home to California, ready for a few months of much needed rest and relaxation. We recently had the chance to catch up with their lead singer after their second to the last show of the year at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood.

Carly: So for the record, state your name and what you do in the band.

Danny: My name is Danny, and I sing in the band National Product.

CV: Okay, so you have a bumper laying on the floor…
DC: Yeah…

CV: What exactly happened there?
DC: Uhm… Well, basically we’ve been out on the road for the last eight months. We’ve run not only ourselves into the ground, but our van and our trailer, and that’s why one of our axels is completely separated right now. The bumper is to the axel so…

CV: And it just came off?
DC: Yeah it came off. There was a lot of debauchery that took place on the road so…

CV: Oh… Well… Ouch? *laughs*
DC: *laughs* It happens.

CV: It happens, yeah it happens. So Luna came out a little more than a year ago today. How has the reception for the CD been, and how do you think you’ve changed since then?
DC: The CD’s been amazing! The CD reception has been amazing, and kids have loved the record. We’ve sold millions of records. *laughs* I’m just messing with you. No, honestly though, it’s been a great, great year with the record. We’ve had… [interruption from Rob Caveney, National Product’s drummer] … Okay, sorry. We’re uh… we’re handing over millions of dollars in cash right there…*chuckles* No, uh, the reception has been awesome. Our publicist has gotten us out to everywhere so the press response has been great too. We’ve been getting great reviews, and I think it’s awesome! It took like a good six months for the record to get into people’s hearts and minds, and then we started noticing a real change in the way kids were at our shows, so it was cool.

CV: Really? Personally, I didn’t buy it until I saw you last December because I didn’t have any money, but I listened to it non-stop for a month.
DC: I’m glad! I’m glad that you do… Who do you listen to more: us or All Time Low? I know it’s All Time Low!

CV: Ouch! *laughs* No, but as of recently, you guys.
DC: Oh, that’s cool!

CV: My All Time Low craze has sort of uhm…
DC: Slowed down?

CV: It’s gotten to the point where I really like hearing them live as opposed to their record.
DC: You know, I just saw All Time Low at South by Southwest, and they were amazing! Iwas so excited to see them live because I was like “This is great.” And there weren’t a lot of people, but it was like… That’s how SXSW is, you know? You play for.. You do like secret shows or whatever, you really don’t announce them. But I was so glad I got to see it, because man, they were awesome.

CV: I know that Luna is basically your first big CD release, but you’ve got to have some more amazing songs up your sleeve! Are there any new plans for a new record soon?
DC: Uhm, yeah! I’m actually doing a solo record here in January. I’m gonna go out and record it, I’m not sure when it’s going to get released… But National Product will be not recording for the next like four to six months because right now, the main thing is we’re taking a very much needed break from music and just being on the road and all that. And we do have a lot of… We have enough music right now to record probably one or two more records, like as-is right now, without even writing, so I think we just wanna take time because the music’s already there. And then we’ll go back in and mess around with new songs and let everyone be creative again, you know?

CV: So I’ve basically been a fan of the band for about five years now, and I’ve noticed something different. What made you guys want to re-record “Where Do You Go” ?
DC: A lot of people ask us that, and it wasn’t a matter of us wanting to re-record it. It’s like when you do a record, there has to be continuity within each of the songs. There has to be… You know, not similar in sound, but similar in production value. So it wasn’t like we could throw “Where Do You Go” from the demo that we did onto the really produced record, and so the producer was like, “You know I have a vision of how I want this to sound.” And we have kids that really really love the new version or they really really love the old version, but they appreciate both, and that’s what’s important.

CV: Personally, I like the old one because it’s the one I’ve grown up with.
DC: Yeah! And that’s the thing too, because it’s like if that was the one you heard first, then that’s your jam, you know? But for people who have never heard National Product, they’ll hear “Where Do You Go” the produced version, and they’re like, “This is my jam.” They’ll hear the older version and be like, “It’s cool, but I like the newer version.” You know what I mean?

CV: Yeah… So like you said earlier, you’ve been touring for eight months straight, right? What did you miss the most about home when you were gone, and what’s one thing you always have to have with you?
DC: I always always miss my dogs so much, and I miss my friends. It’s like, I’m really close to my friends, I’m like a friend guy. And I’m a family guy, so I miss my family and my friends. And then the one think I always have to have is my MacBook Pro, everywhere I go, so everywhere… Except for tonight, because I know it’s waiting for me at home.

CV: So how did the change of location from Hawaii to California impact you?
DC: You know, I was really homesick at first, but then I think once I got into the swing of being in California, I fell in love with the culture and the people and everything, and as long as I don’t think about home, then I don’t miss it. I can always go back.

CV: How would you describe your sound for someone who has never heard of you or your music before?
DC: I would just… I would encourage anyone to listen to National Product and don’t make a judgment off of one song because every song on the record is unique in its own right. We have songs that are like really fast-paced and then we have mid-tempo and then we have really slow, ballad-y songs, and so the cool thing is that I think that there’s something in the record for everyone.

CV: You’re the main songwriter for the band, right?
DC: Correct.

CV: Where do you draw your inspiration?
DC: Uhm, usually Cocoa Krispies… Michael Jackson and Buddhism! *chuckles* No. No honestly, it’s like anything that happens in my life. But I gotta give credit to my boys because they’re all great songwriters too. It just so happens that a lot of the songs I wrote, or that I wrote initially and then the band came in later, happened to make the record, so it’s not like… You know, I wanna give them credit because they’re great song writers too. But I think that any and all of our inspiration just comes from our experiences that we go through in life.

CV: So I know that some songs actually take years to make while others simply take a couple weeks, even a few days. What songs took the longest and the shortest to make?
DC: The songs that took the longest to make, I think, were songs like “Sean Song”… Well no no no… I mean those took the longest to make a produced record, but we wrote “Sean Song” in ten minutes. We wrote “Sad Excuse” in ten minutes. And I mean that, like sincerely they were fast! “Paper and Ink” was written in a day. But then certain songs took a lot more development in time. When I wrote “Love Me,” “Love Me” took like two years just because I wanted it to be perfect, and it felt like such a really good love song, and so it took a while. And even “Where Do You Go” took a little while. It was just kind of more or less writing it a lot in your room and feeling it out, and then it’s really exciting to see the progression of a song and how it develops into its final product. But it’s also cool to re-record it in a different fashion and hear it from another perspective.

CV: Like “Where Do You Go.”
DC: Yeah, like “Where Do You Go” or if you’ve heard the acoustic version of “Love Me.”

CV: Ah, yeah.
DC: We have three different versions of “Love Me,” and I think they’re all cool, you know?

CV: How did you guys meet? I read that it was actually you, Nate and Robby who started the band, and then later Dan Niles, Jeff and Stan came. So how did that actually all work out?
DC: Uhm, that’s actually incorrect.

CV: Really?
DC: Yeah, so it’s all cool. It’s no problem.

CV: I’m sorry…
DC: No, no, because a lot of people mix it up. Originally me and Robby grew up together in Kailua with a guy named Joey, who played bass in our band, and Stan came and joined as well. But originally, there was a guy named Kevin that we started the band with who kind of didn’t wasn’t like really… didn’t really wanna be a band guy, so we were still just kind of jamming. Then we found ourselves in ‘04 when we moved out to California, Jeff joined as the lead guitar player, and then Joey ended up going and playing for Ashlee Simpson. Nate came and joined us… And then Nate joined the band and Danny joined the band after the record was done, and so that’s kind of how the progression of it all took place. *laughs*

CV: I know that this past year you’ve gone through some line-up changes like Danny Niles leaving and Nate also leaving the band. What’s the back-story to that, and how have you dealt with all of the change?
DC: With Dan… With all due respect the guy’s very very talented. He wanted to be a graphic designer, and he’s really in love with his girlfriend so he chose to do that. And he… he wasn’t… he didn’t write anything on the record, and he didn’t record on the record. Once the record was done, we thought it would be cool to have a keyboardist so we brought Dan on more as a temp thing. And even though we took pictures with him, people were like he’s an official member, which for a part of time he was, but it just worked out to where we all decided that it was best that we kept the line-up. And then after a good six months of being on the road, I mean we’ve been on the road with Nate for two years straight, but then after a long time of, I guess, being on the road, Nate was given an ultimatum of to be with his girl or not, and we all supported him with sticking to with girl because he’s our best friend so we didn’t want him to lose an opportunity with a girl he that felt he would spend the rest of his life with.

CV: Oh, okay. You’ve also been selling personal things on eBay to help raise money for your trip with Faceless International. What is that about, and how did you become affiliated with it?
DC: Faceless International is a charity I’m a part of, and basically what it is is a lot of musicians, as well as non-musicians, who are a part of ending the sex trade. So we fly to all types of different countries and basically help rebuild the schools and educational areas for them and give them an environment to learn in, give them an environment to learn trades so that they don’t have to sell their bodies and instead they can use the skills that they’re learning through us to make money and to make a living.

CV: What’s your philosophy on music?
DC: My philosophy on music? From a musician or from a listener?

CV: Either one works.
DC: Uhm… Whoa we got tagged up! Damn, for real? Someone tagged us, yo! [referring to the tagging on their trailer as Stan Moniz, National Product’s guitarist, backed out of the Knitting Factory’s parking lot trailer first]

CV: *laughs*That’s what you get for being in Hollywood! Hollywood’s ghetto!
DC: I know!… I would say, from a musician’s standpoint, music is a very special thing, and it should only be played if you absolutely love it, you know? Like, if you’re just doing it because you wanna be famous or you wanna make tons of money, I think those are the wrong reasons. From a listener’s standpoint, I think… My philosophy on music is that it’s a life-changing, personal, almost spiritual experience for me, so without music, I don’t know where I would be.

CV: James replaced Nate as your bass player. How did you… or how did he come into play with National Product?
DC: Basically, we were in Plano doing a festival and Nathan and James became really… Wow… okay, wow. Haha, they almost crashed our van… Nate met James and they bro’d down. So after that when Nate had told us that he was thinking about settling down with his girl, he said, “I suggest James because James is a really cool guy,” and we met James in Wilmington, and James is rad. He’s a great musician and he’s really funny, so we were like this dude kind of fits in well. And Nate gave his blessing on James, so we tried James out on the road, and he just picked it up really well - he’s a pro musician. That’s kind of what happened.

CV: And lastly, what’s one thing you would like to say to your fans at Musiqtone?
DC: I think the one thing I’d like to say is thank you so much for supporting our band. It really does mean a lot when there are moments when we’re on the road for very long periods of time and we’re not sure why we’re doing this, it feels good to know that there are people out there that love and support us because it’s really hard being a band. *chuckles* So that’s what I would say.

CV: So I know you’re itching to go home and that you’re sick. So welcome home, first and foremost!
DC: Thank you!

CV: And get well soon!
DC: *chuckles* Thank you very much! I’m gonna go home and sleep.

CV: Okay, thank you!

Rachel DodsonCarly Veneracion is a staff writer with the West/Southwest region at Musiqtone. You can reach her at carlyveneracion@musiqtone.com.

(C) 2008 Musiqtone. All Rights Reserved. Any part of this interview cannot be used without written express consent from both the representatives of National Product and Musiqtone.
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