After six years on the road, playing music and recording four albums, winning Junos and Polaris Music Prizes, Vancouver singer-songwriter Dan Mangan decided to take a break at the peak of his success to stay home and raise his kids. But after a six-year break, he is glad to be back on the road with his fifth album, “More Or Less,” and a big tour which brings him to the Yates Theatre for a special Geomatic Attic show Feb. 10 with Shaye Zadravec.
“It’s been really nice,” said Mangan from Halifax, after opening the tour solo in St. John’s, Newfoundland before joining bandmates drummer Don Kerr, Mike O’Brien and Jason Haberman for the rest of the tour.
He was a little worried if anybody would remember him after such a long break.
“Definitely. There was a little apprehension. In 2011-12, the phone was ringing off the hook and I thought that would continue. But I needed to take a break. I’d been touring non stop for seven years. So I very purposefully decided to take a break. Things changed. I got married and had a kid. I’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was then. So I was worried people might not want to hear my songs,” he mused.
Even though the phone did stop ringing, fortunately his fears have been somewhat assuaged by already having a lot of shows selling out in advance.
He is playing a lot of theatres on this tour, which can be daunting.
“A lot of that is just due to what is available in the towns I play in. But I like playing theatres. You know the microphone is on and people are listening to every word I’m saying. The lyrics stand out. But it’s scary having a such a rapt audience,” he said.
“Bar shows have more of a potential of turning into parties, which can be fun, too. I’m playing some of each. So it’s nice. You don’t get in to same groove throughout a tour, when it’s theatre, bar, theatre, bar. I’m playing some of the bigger bars on this tour like the Marquee in Halifax and the Palace in Calgary,” he continued.
He is proud of the new CD. He even met Paul McCartney, who heard an early version of his song “Lay Low” and even offered some feedback.
“We’re not buds or anything. I have a feeling I’ll be telling that story a lot. I was recording the album in L.A. I’d just been robbed the night before. I was going through dumpsters, looking for my things and dealing with the LAPD and Canadian Consulate to get my passport back, so I’m in a weird headspace. I’m thinking, ‘this is my big chance, I’m recording in the same studio that Pet Sounds was recorded.’ Then Paul pokes his head in the door to see what’s going on because he does that. I told him ‘My oldest son is named Jude.’ A little later I run into him and he says I was just thinking of your song, you should add a cello and a low piano. I’m like ‘Wow, Paul McCartney is thinking about my song,’” Mangan related.
“And we didn’t even use that mix. We re-recorded the whole thing and the cello and piano didn’t fit. When I told my mom about it, she said, ‘You’re crazy. If Paul McCartney gives you a suggestion for your song, you do it,’” Mangan chuckled.
“More Or Less” reflects Mangan’ reflections of coming back and trying to fit in the music scene.
“When I was starting out, in my 20s, I fit in with the college, indie rock scene, now everything has changed. I’ve changed, I’ve raised a family and everything is different. I’m a different person now. Being a dad isn’t cool in these circles. So the CD is about that,” he said.
He is glad to be back on tour.
“Having hundreds of people who want to hear your songs is addictive. It’s like a drug,” he said, adding he loves playing with his band.
“We had a great three days of rehearsal. It’s a new kind of energy, a new kind of feeling and a new beginning,” he said.
“It’s been ages since I was in Lethbridge. I think I played the Tongue & Groove solo several years ago. And around 2016, I played a lot of smaller cites in B.C. And Alberta and played in Lethbridge then.
The show will include music from all of his albums.
“When I toured on ‘Nice, Nice, Very Nice,’ I didn’t play a lot of that album and I got a lot of flack at the merch table for it. So this time I’ll be playing a lot from the new album. ‘Nice, Nice, Very Nice,’ changed my life. So I’ll be playing that and other songs people are familiar with. Usually I end the shows with songs from my very first album because people grew up with that album. Maybe they remember it because they were in college then or with their girlfriends,” he said.
He has a busy year. After this tour, he has some American dates booked, plans to do the festival circuit for the summer and go to Europe in the fall.
“My wife isn’t too happy about it because she’s outnumbered at the homestead,” he said, adding he has no plans to take his kids on tour with him.
“No. I have no interest in that. Kids thrive on routine and it is unsettling being in a different city every night,” he said.
Dan Mangan and Shaye Zadravec play the Yates Theatre Sunday, Feb. 10. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $46.