Dan Tedesco Contemplates Parenthood, Large Questions With ‘American Darkness'

Nov 30, 2018

Raised in Chicago, Dan Tedesco fell in love with the sound of guitars at the age 11 after hearing the music of Edward Van Halen. Later, he came to embrace a wide range of sounds, including the jazz of Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass.

In recent years, Tedesco has made his living as a touring singer-songwriter, which was documented in the 2017 film, Chasing the Lightning … The Working Musician's Life.

Tedesco, who performs Friday at Barleycorn's, recently spoke with KMUW about his upcoming album, American Darkness (due in 2019) and how becoming a father changed his life and art.

Interview Highlights

Over the last year or so you've issued a series of singles. What's been the thought behind that as opposed to releasing an album?

Those singles are actually from an album. The reason we chose to release them as far in advance as we did was really more for the sake of having some regular, fresh content to serve to my listeners. As you know, things these days move very quickly and something goes from being new to old in about five minutes! If even that long.

I wanted to let people know that I had new material coming. Those are three tracks off an album that I'll probably release next spring.

You sent me the track "American Darkness."

That's actually going to be the title track of the forthcoming album. That song, in many ways, embodies a little bit of every song on the album. It was written in the summer of 2016. We were in the middle of some very crazy things, not just politically, but as a country. We were expecting our first child at that time. I was in a place thinking about what it meant to have a child in the first place and looking at the world and thinking about if that was a good thing to be doing. It was already going to happen, but it started to make me think about some deeper philosophical questions. I sat down one afternoon and wrote that song, in many ways, as a message to my daughter.

What changed when your daughter arrived?

We could talk about that for a very long time. It really just changes everything. It's an amazing thing because it happens, literally, in an instant. Your perspectives and priorities and that the things that you thought mattered, it just all completely gets realigned in a way I don't think you can really prepare for. I mean that in the most positive way. I was pretty nervous about what it was going to mean musically, what it was going to mean for me as a touring artist, as someone who works on music during the day and who needs a certain amount of space and time. There were a lot of questions about what that was going to look like in the future. When she came along, I didn't even want to touch my guitar for a week or two.

Has becoming a parent been finding its way into the songs that you're writing?

A lot of American Darkness was written before she was born. It was written with her influence, looking forward with all the question marks and different things that I went through in the six to nine months leading up to her arrival.

Since then, there has definitely been some influence on the things that I've written, things she's made me think about. If you're a creative person I think something like having a child can't help but dramatically impact your output. At least for the first few months if not for the rest of your life.

Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.