Dan Sartain is a sexy man. He’s a sexy musician, too. This is all we need to formulate a Valentine’s-themed feature. And look! Here it is. Efficiency, it’s not our middle name. That’s James.
Alabama-based punk-rocker Sartain took ten minutes or so out of his hectic touring schedule earlier this month to talk lurve with DiS at London’s famous 100 Club venue; what we didn’t see coming was a disarmingly honest opening of a stranger’s heart.
Sartain’s latest LP, Join Dan Sartain, is out now via One Little Indian/Swami; it’s the follow-up to his well-received debut Dan Sartain Vs The Serpientes. Both albums have picked up excellent reviews, and DiS focused its critical ears the way of Join… here.
But onto matters of the heart…
What does St Valentine’s Day mean to you, if anything?
It used to just mean… I’m not gonna get to be with my wife this year, and I wasn’t with her last year either, so I’m yet to spend a Valentine’s with my wife. It always seems like I’m alone on it. Halloween’s my favourite holiday.
Do you have a favourite Valentine’s memory at all?
I guess I got drunk in the park this one time, with these other young people that didn’t have boyfriends or girlfriends either at the time. We were too young to drink, 16 or something like that. But it was like the anti-Valentine’s Valentine’s Day.
What do you like to receive on Valentine’s Day?
I guess those little heart candies, Love Hearts. I like ‘em. But some of them don’t make no damn sense! They say stuff like… I mean, some of them say stuff like ‘Be mine’ and you know what that means, but some say weird shit like, ‘Meet you at 12’! I could say that to you!
What’s the most romantic thing someone’s done for you on Valentine’s, or that you’ve done for someone else?
Well boys are usually the instigators, but… we are always the ones doing something wrong and having to make up for it! Mostly I’m the one doing the gesturing. The old lady treated me good after Christmas – I got her a telescope, and some shawls and shit from this Indian store in New York, and some cool pictures of Indian art. So I was the mack daddy for Christmas this year, so that went well.
Does touring abroad have a significant impact on your relationship with your wife?
I was touring too much when my wife was my fiancée – I was away for five months – and she left me. She started hooking up with this other dude, who lived up in Chicago, and that hurt hurt hurt. It was like I know that kind of feeling is… that feeling is… um… what’s the… I lost my train of thought. So, she left, in the summer, and I had about three weeks off in Alabama, and I was just real lonely. That kind of heartache lasts for a long time. That shit lasts for a long, long time – I’d only had my heart broken like that once before, and that’s going on ten years ago now, and I’m like 25 so that was when I was really young, but I still think about it and get gutted. It doesn’t take much to open up those wounds. It doesn’t take a whole lot to make me still think about that old situation and that old girl and make it hurt. Then when my wife left me, cos I was gone too long, it hurt the same way as the first time, and I knew that pain was gonna be there for more than ten years. The thing was, when I had that time off, those three weeks, I had nothing to do. I was like, ‘Where’s my girlfriend? My heart’s broken.’ So I just got on a Greyhound bus and called her, telling her I was on the way to Chicago. I said: ‘I’m coming up there, and I want you back’. And she was like, ‘Don’t come, don’t come… I’ll come there’. But I was on the bus already, so I told her to meet me there and she showed up. She wasn’t planning on kissing me straight away or anything, but when I got off that bus I saw her and started bawling my eyes out. I grabbed her and gave her the most passionate, movie-style kiss, and it was like, ‘You’re coming back to Alabama with me and we’re getting married’.
That’s more romantic than buying someone a telescope by my reckoning. Sidestepping a little, what would you write for a Lonely Hearts ad?
65-year-old single dad, 300 pounds, cross-eyed with receding hairline. Raises pitbulls, so you must love dogs. Must have own transportation… ha ha ha, and at least three limbs.
Finally, is it really better to have loved and lost rather than to have never loved at all?
It’s better to not love at all. Really, yeah. You’ve got to take a gamble, admittedly – you can’t dictate what your heart does. I’ll put it to you this way, and my wife knows this: before I was with her, I was with this girl. I’ve always liked older women, and I was like 22 when I was with this girl who was tall, skinny, long-legged, blonde… she was 35, played bass in a band. The band was good and she was good. She had a real job – she was a parole officer – and a degree and stuff, and I was getting on with her and everything was going fine. If I was to place an ad for a woman, it’d probably be for someone a lot like that. She was totally skinny like me, so we looked good together, but then I met the girl I wound up marrying, and it was like… On paper, I would have chosen the other one, but when I met my wife I was like, ‘I love you’. Y’know? That was a choice I had to make, and I do dearly love my wife. She came after me. She was one of the few pursuers. I was like, alright, you win. I asked her to marry me, though. We’d talked about that really early on.
Dan Sartain’s Join Dan Sartain album is out now; check out Dan’s music on his MySpace page, here. He is currently on tour in Europe, dates as follows:
15 Copenhagen Loppen
16 Gothenburg Pustervik
17 Stockholm Debaser
18 Oslo Garage