Danny Bryant: "I feel like a caged animal that just wants to get out and run"

Danny Bryant
(Image credit: Blackham)

Danny Bryant is among the second generation of great British blues guitarists. He never played in any of John Mayall’s bands, but you feel he should have done. His mentor Walter Trout and his dad, the late Ken Bryant – who played bass in his first band – schooled Danny in the deep traditions of electric blues. 

Bryant's twelfth studio album The Rage To Survive – a collection of new songs with a rich, blues-rock provenance – is out now, while the Rage To Survive tour is currently in full swing – for dates check Danny Bryant's website

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Congratulations on The Rage To Survive. Which have you been doing more of, raging or surviving? 

At first more surviving and now just raging. I’ve had all my jabs. I’ve been careful. I’ve worn my mask. I’ve stuck to the rules. Now I’m ready to get back out and tour. I feel like a caged animal that just wants to get out and run. 

I consider myself very fortunate that I live to work rather than work to live. I just love my job. I love every aspect of it. Now – if you quote me on that when we’re six months in and facing a seven-hour delay at an airport, I’ll probably give you some profanities and deny I ever said that. 

You wrote all the songs on the new album. Have you studied songwriting in the same way that you studied playing the guitar and singing? 

Yes, very much. I listen to a lot of John Hiatt, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen. I’m not interested in playing or hearing a guitar solo that isn’t in the context of a good song. I usually start with a lyric which will dictate whether it’s a ballad or something rocky and up-tempo.

Rain Stopped Play is a very English idea for a blues song. Was that about the cricket, or the tennis? 

I was actually thinking about the tennis. But it’s really about how everything was going my way and then this pandemic came along. It was kind of an analogy for that. I woke up this morning and something had stopped it all. 

Is there a big difference between American and English blues players? 

Obviously there’s a huge difference between me growing up in the south of England and someone who has lived in the American south. We took the blues from the Americans and then people like Eric Clapton and Zeppelin gave it back. The interesting thing is that if you look at Albert King and BB King and then all the way back to Robert Johnson they all came from one small area of Mississippi. And then you look at the UK and you’ve got Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck and they all come from Surrey. 

John Mayall is retiring at the age of eighty-eight. What do you make of his contribution? 

He’s the Duke Ellington of the blues. He is such a great band leader because he is never shy to let somebody else in his band shine. Which is a really good example to follow. Don’t lock your musicians in a box. Let them shine too and people will remember next time you’re in town: “That was a great evening. I’m gonna go again.”

David Sinclair

Musician since the 1970s and music writer since the 1980s. Pop and rock correspondent of The Times of London (1985-2015) and columnist in Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines. Contributor to Q magazine, Kerrang!, Mojo, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, et al. Formerly drummer in TV Smith’s Explorers, London Zoo, Laughing Sam’s Dice and others. Currently singer, songwriter and guitarist with the David Sinclair Four (DS4). His sixth album as bandleader, Apropos Blues, is released 2 September 2022 on Critical Discs/Proper.