Tales from the Invisible Man

Moments before Danny Michel calls the Gauntlet office, I’m in a panic. Some last-minute rescheduling has put the interview at the same time, and on the same phone, as another interviewer and another band.

Simultaneously, Michel is in Vancouver frantically trying to organize his band. Already behind schedule due to a late flight, he’s missed some interviews and will likely be late for some more. In a sense, it’s fortunate I’m able to speak with him at all, but it would be nicer under more relaxed circumstances.

"Everyone wants my credit cards now," Michel explains as some voices yell for him.

Does that mean his rising popularity is also leading to rising wealth?

"No, not at all, that’s why it’s a credit card. We’re just racking up the bills," he explains. "The guys are just yelling at me now because we’re at the hotel trying to check in.

"Oh God, I need a nap."

Michel is feeling a little worn-out from touring in support of his newest album, Tales from the Invisible Man. Continuing in the vein of 2001’s In the Belly of a Whale, the album is an eclectic mix of whatever genre happens to tickle his fancy at the time. It’s "all over the map," as Michel puts it, from pop-rock and folk to the shuffling title track that has drawn numerous comparisons to Tom Waits. Michel chalks that diversity up to his wide range of influences.

"Missy Elliot, that’s what I’ve been listening to a lot of lately," he says. "I listen to a lot of hip hop, I love that stuff. I grew up on Run-DMC and Public Enemy and Grandmaster Flash. I’m a huge Clash fan, and I grew up on the Sex Pistols. I have Beethoven records too. I love it all, so I think that carries through."

This is Michel’s third visit to Calgary in the last year or so, but this time he has a few new tricks up his sleeve. His previous shows relied solely on his uncanny stage presence, heartfelt vocals and a guitar pedal that lent new meaning to the phrase "one-man band." This time, he has a full contingent to help flesh out the sound. So what will happen to the intimate feel some fans are used to?

"I think it’s pretty much the same" says Michel. "I still do part of it solo, we really mix it up. It’s not like a totally different thing and I love it. After a decade, my songs finally sound the way I wish they sounded all this time. It’s not pretending to be anything it isn’t. It’s for people that like real songs and don’t want all the bullshit."

He’s had a long time to perfect the show. From humble beginnings "doing that whole tennis racquet in front of the mirror thing" and "sneaking into bars underage just to play," Michel has evolved into one of Canada’s best-kept musical secrets. This time, the secret might be let loose.

"I’m really just excited about reaching more and more people with this, and my music connecting with them," Michel enthuses. "This record has given me a lot more people now, we got some radio play and video play. It’s really exciting, and I look forward to making new fans. That’s what’s really great about it, the fans."

Danny Michel plays Mount Royal College’s Liberty Lounge Sat., Oct. 25.

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