Published on February 18th, 2016 | by Chris Butts0
Bonus Prepares to Release Second Album
As the frontman of his new project Bonus, Kieran Danielson has spent the last several months writing, making, and recording new music in various Oxford locations. He carries with him the help and knowledge that he has collected from his involvement with several local bands over the last half decade. Later this month, Bonus will release a music video for his new single “Alrighty,” filmed by Zack Grossenbacher, and he plans to release his second album in the next couple of months.
In Bonus’s recorded music, Danielson sings, writes all of the music, and plays all of the instruments. “It’s not as hard as it sounds. The drums are so basic,” Danielson explained. He later noted Sparklehorse as a band that helps serve as inspiration for Bonus’s music, which he described as “Happy Apathy,” with soft vocals and a musical structure comparable to country.
While outlining the creation of Bonus, Danielson explained that he had been playing in Oxford band Fevre Dream and was writing a lot of the guitar. “After that kind of went away, I had all of this leftover guitar stuff that I thought was really cool, and so I just decided to make a new band. I wanted it to kind of be only my thing.”
Danielson described periodic bouts of nostalgia, depression, or hyperness as motivating forces throughout his music making process. One or a combination of these feelings, mixed with a few beers, yields guitar riffs that Danielson records on iPhone voice memos, forgets about for a few days, and then resurrects when it comes time to record the next instrument or put the song together. The finished product is relaxed, easy, and comfortable, like lazy Oxford summers when you don’t have to set an alarm clock in the mornings or keep track of what day of the week it is.
Kieran is excited to perform alongside his girlfriend Kate Teague’s band Reels at Ajax on February the 18th, but admits that he generally doesn’t like playing lots of shows and doesn’t want to tour. For Danielson, the feeling he gets listening to a freshly recorded song on his Beats by Dre with a few beers and no one else around is the whole reason that he is in music. “It’s such a chilling high,” he revealed in our interview at the Blind Pig.
Danielson later explained “Ultimately, I want to put music out in the world so people can listen to it and buy it. My end goal (as Bonus) is to have a following of people who like my music where I don’t have to really work hard.” Danielson also works as a warehouse manager in town. “I just want to be low-key and happy.”
Speaking about his path as a musician, Danielson describes his current space as the completion of a full circle. Danielson first started making music for fun by himself, and then started to take himself more seriously. “I followed these formulas to sound like other people’s bands. Then I was in a lot of other people’s bands,” he explained. Eventually he felt like he was always trying to break out of these molds that came with being in bands. “That’s when I went back to just messing around with stuff that I liked and made songs that I wanted to listen to. Almost 90 percent of (Bonus’s) songs are under 2 minutes. Almost like punk songs. People want them stretched out. And that’s why it’s full circle, because I’m making music ignorantly again,” he explained.
I spoke with the director and creator of Bonus’s new music video, Zack Grossenbacher, about his experience making the video. After deciding at the Volta Christmas Party that they both wanted to make this video for “Alrighty,” Grossenbacher and Danielson brainstormed together on ideas for the video. They recalled that their original idea would have been too scripted, and decided to go in the opposite direction and hosted a music video party in their cul-de-sac on a Saturday afternoon in late January.
“I think (the video) is related to the song in vibe. It’s got the right feel,” said Grossenbacher.
“It’s just like really laid back day drinking,” Danielson added. “And there’s this old ass Southern house.”
I was able to participate in the festivities, which were blessed with 67 degree weather, burgers, frisbees, hula hoops, and a visit from Danielson’s favorite mailwoman. “We all have the biggest crush on her,” he proudly admitted before elaborating on small details of her life he has learned from her daily visits to his mailbox.
“I’m never awake when the mail comes,” Grossenbacher replied. He has yet to declare whether she made the final cut for the video. Grossenbacher acknowledged that the “party video idea” is common for film makers who are starting out, but he said that the video he created has a twist. “There’s another element to it that I kind of want to be a surprise. It’s an animated portion,” he revealed.
During Bonus’s upcoming show on Thursday, February the 18th at Ajax, Adam Porter will be on lead guitar, Danielson will sing and play guitar, Mario Martinez will be on drums, and Jordan Peters will be on bass. At Ajax, Bonus will be accompanied by Oxford band Reels and St. Louis band The Brainstems. In April, Bonus will perform again with Oxford band Nadir Bliss and New Orleans band Feverish, who is also on Grace King, the label that put out Bonus’s first album. Bonus will be performing a combination of new songs and music from his debut LP Bonus, which can be found here.