Danny Chauncey's interview
by John Molet - November 2002

Hi Danny, we're really happy to be able to discuss with a 38 Special member. I believe french fans 'll appreciate to get some infos from you and the band.

Before we talk about 38 Special, can you remind us how and when you started playing the guitar?
I started playing the guitar when I was 8. I was just so knocked out by the Beatles I just had to learn! I bugged my parents to the point where the were either going to shoot me, or buy me a guitar. Fortunately, they chose the latter.

Who were your main influences?
Early on, I wasn't really into the guitar as a solo instrument. Even when Hendrix came along, I wasn't moved to be a soloist. I was usually the most confident player in the bands I was in thru High School, so I usually had to, somewhat reluctantly, play the leads. After that, I loved Freddy King, Pat Thrall, Mick Ralphs. Off the top of my head, I'd have to say those three were catalysts for me. I

I discovered you while you were playing with "Billy Satellite", can you tell us about the years you played with this band and the greatest moments you had?
Billy Satellite was a real good band I thought. We had a cool sound live and there was some good songwriting as well.We had a good following around San Francisco and we always had a blast at the shows.One of the coolest moments was playing The Bammie awards show in SF with an orchestra behind us doing"I wanna go back".There were many great moments in that band.

Before you joined 38 Special, what did they represent to you?
Really liked the sound of the band from the first time I heard " Hold on Loosely ". The tight guitar arrangements were very appealing to me and the melodys as well. Great band.

When you joined the band, you had to work on Don Barnes's guitar parts who just left 38, then Jeff left and you had to work on his parts. It certainly wasn't that esay, on a musical side. Can you tell about your feeling at that particular time ?
I felt accepted from the first day. I played quite a few of the solos on Rock and Roll Strategy and from the first day in the studio, it was clear to me that I was going to be playing an equal amount of the parts.It was difficult live to play what Don played. His solo stuff was off the top of his head and very spontaneous sounding. Jeffs playing was a little more worked out and therefore easier to play. My style is more like Don's though. Don had to learn some of my stuff when he came back too so I know he knows the feeling of trying to to faithfully perform something created by someone else. When Don came back he let me continue to play a bunch of his stuff live. When Jeff left, we just kind of shared the extra guitar duties. In the studio, whoever has the first idea for something plays the part and if he struggles, there is always the other guy to step in and help out. Egos aren't well tolerated in 38 and everyone is pretty un-selfish and team oriented. It could have been hard for me but it was really an easy transition. They are a great bunch of guys to be working with.

For the french fans, Jeff and Don are considered the founding members of the band, would you have liked to keep on playing with three guitars, as you did back in 1995?
Actuall Don and Donnie are the founding fathers of 38 but Jeff was a big part of the band from the earliest days. As much as we miss Jeff, I don't think any of us would look forward to doing 3 guitars again. It was kind of a mess actually.

How would you define 38 Special's music?
Traditional southern rock with a healthy dose of good commercial melodic rock. We have had a lot more success at radio with the melodic stuff.

Which songs do you like the most?
I like playing Rebel to Rebel and Caught Up In You if I had to pick two favorite live songs.

For many fans, the best years were with the albums "Spécial delivery", "Rockin' into the night","Wild eyed Southern boys" and "Spécial Forces". What do you think of this ? To you, would it be possible to write songs such as "Back alley Sally", "Hittin' and Runnin'", "Twentieh century Fox", "Take 'em out", "Back on the tracks", "Rough housin"?
Those are great records and great songs there. We try to write the best stuff we can and I think we still write great stuff. Unfortunately, Top Forty radio could care less these days so it doesn't get the same exposure as before but we try to get better every cd we make.

Photo by Suzanne Clyatt

what southern rock represents to you?
Its an energetic music best typified by The Allmans and Skynnyrd I think.

I understand you appreciate Gregg Allman as you've been touring with him. If you weren't playing with 38 Special, would you be playing in a southern rock band?
That is a good question. I never set out to be a southern rock guitarist. I started in SF playing blues and rock in the clubs....doing mostly original music. Every time I turned around though, I was playing with a band that had its roots in the south so I guess it seems likely that I would be doing something similar if I wasn't in 38. Hard to say really but I'm glad things worked out the way they did.

Don't you believe this music is not really well played and expoised by the medias, who prefer to give credit to other kinds of music?
We still get played a lot on the classic rock stations but its very difficult to get anything new played on big stations in major markets. You would never know it by the crowds that still come to the concerts though. They have been getting bigger and better consistently. We played almost 100 shows last year.

What do you feel when you see fans hanging the dixie flag?
Being from the West Coast, itdoesn't mean the same to me as it does to some of the fans down here. I know that there is a lot of pride in the south and for good reason. Souther culture is worth experiencing first hand. The south is home to the friendliest people in the country and some of the best food too!

The southern flag is often assimilated to racist ideas in some european countries. What is your feeling about that?
I think that it is not only europe that has that view. I think that it is unfortunate that some people who hate have used the flag as a backdrop for their views, and in reality, it is just a symbol of pride for a lot of southerners but unfortunately it has also become a symbol of something else to a lot of people.

38 Special doesn't come that often in Europe (1981 in France). Is it because you don't have the opportunity to come overseas or you prefer to stay and play in the USA?
We have had offers to come to Europe but we have been so busy here touring and recording we haven't had the time. We will hopefully get the opportunity again soon,

Sept 11th had an enormous impact in the whole world. Without bing too political, what is your feeling?
I don't think I have adequate words to describe the horror and sense of loss that we felt that day. We were touring and happened to be in NY Sept. 11 2001 and watched the whole event unfold on the TV. I think every american was heartened by the overwhelming support of the people of the world. I believe that in times of great tragedy, the best qualities in people always seem to rise to the surface.

It's been a long time we've been waiting for a 38 Special album, but nothing seems to come. Do you have fresh and good news about your new release?
We are currently working on a new cd due out this spring. We recorded a Christmas cd last year and we had a blast doing that but I"m not sure if it was released in Europe or not.

Traditional question : Imagine you had to spend the rest of your life on a desert island. Which albums would you take with you ?
I'd still take my Beatle collection over all the music recorded since then.

Thanks a lot Danny for your precious time talking with us. We really hope to see you and the 38 Special play in France.


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