Paul Jackson and VonDee – two members of the UK based Southern Rock band Lonely Dakota join us today. Lonely Dakota are off the heels of releasing their single “End of Days” music video just last month.
Bob Rider: Let’s start with the album artwork. Where did the idea come from?
PJ: We really try and set the scene as to how we want to portray the band through the imagery we use. Firstly, we try and stay away from anything too metal, or pictures of us posing – it’s not America’s Top Model! Taking inspiration from the Pacific Northwest, we try to use images of solitude and the wilderness. We tend to use forests with a bleak ghostly outlook, or as with Dead Stories, a farmhouse with echoes of faded glamour. The crow image is a theme we have been using for a while and is becoming symbolic within the band. There are crows on all sorts of things now, even my guitar neck! Sepala is going to have one on his drum skin soon, he doesn’t know this yet.
Bob Rider: Who created/ the artwork for your EP End of Days?
PJ: Well in my life outside music, I work as a Graphic Designer. I do all of our artwork, including the EP cover for End of Days.
Bob Rider: Which track was the most fun to create from beginning to end?
PJ: End of Days was a good one. Despite being such a simple song, it just wasn’t happening, so it was put on the back burner. We’d dust it off every so often and try to breathe some life into it, but it just didn’t sound great. When Sepala joined the band, we had a jam and decided to try ‘the new one that never sounds good’ and boom – straight away we had that sound. His playing style really matches what I have in my head. That was it, we took it out live just a couple of weeks later. There are smiles all around the room when something just clicks into place like that. It comes across to an audience as well!
Bob Rider: Was there a song that was more difficult than the others to write?
VonDee: The hardest song to write, at least on this EP, definitely had to be Overdrive. Ask any songwriter and they’ll tell you that putting a song together isn’t easy, at least if you want people to listen to it. By writing a call and response song you really give yourself a handicap because the two vocal lines have to be distinct, but they also have to flow. Getting the vocal lines to work together but also add to, and continue, the story of the song took quite a bit of trial and error. It’s been re-written more than once, but I think we are all happy with the final result. The best indicator that a dual vocal song works is when the crowd sing PJ’s parts at gigs, which happens a lot! It’s definitely a fan favourite, it’s a great way for everyone to take some ownership of the song. The live set always gets kicked up a gear when we start Overdrive!
Bob Rider: Do you feel that you have matured as a band during this process?
PJ: We’ve matured a lot over the past year. 2018 was a strange time for the band and we lost our way and our sound. With a rejig of personnel we’ve finally found the sound and the vibe that VonDee and I have had in our heads for so long. We no longer bring ideas to rehearsal or share demos only to find the outcome is a big compromise to the detriment of the original idea. Our sound has evolved as well, we’ve started to sound like Lonely Dakota instead of a band where people say, ‘Hey you guys sound like Black Stone Cherry’. We all pull the same way, writing songs is easy with these guys – everyone has a say. Especially me (joke)
Bob Rider: Is there another song off End of Days you would like to do a music video for in the future?
PJ: We’re talking about production for the song Victoria. We use a great director in the UK called KEBV. He recently did the video for End of Days and we had a creative meeting about what we could do with Victoria. There was talk of a narrative throughout with soldiers and explosions. Sounds awesome, not sure how it fits into the budget! Or any legalities of blowing things up… That’s the idea though. We might do it. We currently self-fund everything so it’s a question of do we record an awesome video or go back into the studio.
Bob Rider: Do you each have your own music style you would like to achieve?
PJ: I know what I like to listen to, and the other guys know what they like. Working with VonDee, we both share the same idea and beliefs of what a good song should sound like, so the process goes hand in hand, it’s quite organic. He might come up with a riff, and I think ah! I can get a nice Van Halen style run over that, or some Vai style whammy harmonics to create layers and colour. Sepala might do a drum fill that sounds like John Bonham to me. It’s all very subtle and although we’re influenced by certain artists, we don’t sound like anyone in particular. Don’t come to a show expecting me to play like Van Halen!
I like to think we fit alongside bands like Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, Blacktop Mojo, etc. I think we would all agree that’s where we’re headed. I’d like to add a synth in sometimes, but I’m alone on that one!