A good friend of mine first introduced me to this band. We were sitting on my couch if I remember correctly and he asked me to check out some random band from Chicago. I listened, I liked, and the rest is history. Thanks to Chris Nanney I discovered a band that I would later learn every word to every song and desire to see live even to this day. But that didn’t stop me from introducing myself to the band and setting up an interview. These guys understand what it takes to to make it in this business and have produced some polished work. Their lyrics are fitting to their sound and they play some of the best venues in the Midwest like the Metro in Chicago. They boys are funny, a hoot to talk to, and are just out there having the time of their lives. So sit back, relax if you can, and get to know the boys in Treaty of Paris.
I have to know where you guys got the name.
I was helping our singer Mike clean out his parents’ attic one day, and we found this weird, old history book from a library. When we opened it up, someone had written “TREATY OF PARIS” on the inside cover with a pencil. We thought it would be funny to call our band that. Or it could mean something else entirely.
I have spent a lot of time in Paris, actually. Have you guys ever been there?
I have never been, but I would love to go. I want to go to the Louvre! And hang out with Anthony Bourdain. But I guess I would have to open a sweet restaurant to do that.
Where did you guys meet?
High School, through various Chicago bands, mutual friends; take your pick.
How long have you been performing together?
Well, when you factor in all the time-travel we have been doing, I would say about twenty-eight years. But if you take all those quantum physics equations away, I think we have been a band for about six.
Where do you guys practice?
At The Stained Glass Palace – the nickname for my house. It’s quite the pad. It’s a mansion with forty-two rooms and a miniature golf course in the backyard. Plus we have this system rigged up where you push a button in the kitchen and a random Taco Bell item comes down a chute and onto our kitchen table! That was there when we moved in.
What is the biggest crowd you have ever played for?
I think we once played for 3,000 – 5,000 people playing at the Lincoln Park Zoo a few years back – opening for none other than Collective Soul. That was an interesting evening. Almost as interesting as playing at Bamboozle a few weeks ago or opening for U2 last year playing for 50,000 people a night. They actually asked if they could open for us but we said, come on guys. You are getting all the money. Don’t ask us to play for two hours if you are only going to be paying us with Panera Bread coupons. At least give us Chipotle coupons. They said no, so we finished off the rest of the tour playing first just like we planned.
We played a show recently in Little Rock, Arkansas for about eight people. And we brought the rock! Before that, we were messing around with this experimental laser gun my dad had set up in the attic, and accidentally shrunk ourselves! Oops. While we were trying to figure out how to unshrink ourselves, we came across this hidden village of this weird blue people who all dressed the same and were all guys, except for this one girl with blond hair and an old guy with a beard. They had miniature instruments and were fans of Treaty of Paris, so we played a show for them. Then one guy tried to give us a gift, but it was really a bomb. So we got the hell out of there.
Do you guys have a favorite venue?
Outside of Chicago, we always have a great time playing at The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, and Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey was great too. Gabe’s in Iowa City is pretty awesome/gross in an awesome way. Anywhere on the West Coast is great too because, well, it’s California and everything is better there. There are so many great places to play in Chicago and I feel like we have played most of them. Chicago shows are always fun no matter where we play because we are playing for our friends and our best fans. The energy from the crowd is always the best at our Chicago shows.
What do I have to do to get you guys to Indianapolis?
What do we have to do to get you to see us in Columbus or Cleveland? We’ll come to Indianapolis, but you have to pay us $1,000 in Chipotle gift cards. No more Panera cards! We still have a lot left over from the U2 tour and they all expire next month! I have to eat Panera Bread three times a day!
How do you know Chris Nanney?
This is an odd question…Chris and I grew up on the same street together and went to the same grade school, middle school and high school.
Who writes all of your lyrics?
Mike and I write our own lyrics for our own respective songs, and when we get stuck, everyone else helps out and offers ideas/critiques. I am trying to get Lady Gaga to write some lyrics for us. She still hasn’t gotten back to me. Every time I try to leave a message, it goes straight to this voicemail of someone named Doug. I think I entered her number wrong on my telephone. My, my, my telephone. My, my, my telephone.
Where do you get inspiration for a new track?
Anywhere. I could pick up the guitar after not playing it for a while, play something random and become inspired by it. Then get sick of it a day later and let it age on my hard drive like a fine wine or a moldy cheese, depending on how good the idea was. Most of the time, I will revisit it later and try to make a song out of it. As far as lyrics go, we take whatever we have going on with our lives and write about that. No one knows this, but most of Mike’s songs are about yoga and Whole Foods. Mine are about Deb from the TV show Dexter.
I’m sorry but you will never record a song better than Waking up the Dead. What is that song about?
Well then we better give up right now! That’s the end of this band! We peaked! Might as well go start a Rage Against The Machine cover band!
Who did the album artwork for your debut album?
Some artsy LA kid. We were going for a Roy Lichtenstein/pop art look and I think he succeeded at conveying that.
You guys play the Metro a lot. That is actually one of my favorite venues. Do you guys live close to there?
It is one of our favorites, too!
Are you fans of the White Sox or the Cubbies?
Will the Cubs ever win a World Series?
I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. Like the Sox winning a world series.
Where can I get some Treaty of Paris merchandise?
From our website! Or from our online merchandise store. Or come to a show. We usually have great merch deals.
You guys are songwriters. Most songs are stories and have a meaning to someone. So, having said that, tell me a story.
Once upon a time, there was an island. A plane crashed on the island. Little did the survivors know, the island was already home to some scary people and two feuding gods who made up weird rules on the island, like women couldn’t have babies and no swimming until an hour after eating. The survivors later learned that one of the island gods created a series of events that caused their plane to crash to bring them to the island so that he could hold a series of job interviews for his job. He wanted to retire and needed a replacement. The job was to protect a golden cave on the island from harm, and from the other island god, who was his jealous twin brother who could turn into black smoke and kill people. But not the people that the first island god was interviewing. They had immunity. In the end, the first island god was killed by one of the scary other people already living on the island who was tricked into it by the jealous brother god, and the plane crash survivors found the golden cave, turned off the lights in the golden cave, which briefly turned the evil god into a human, killed him, and then turned the power back on. Some people died, some left the island, some stayed and then after everyone had died, they all met up in the afterlife and lived – er, died happily ever after. The end.
Dan, when did you shave?
You guys are on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace. Which is your favorite social networking service?
I think YouTube is the greatest source of entertainment on the Internet. That’s where we post all of our goofy video blogs and homemade music videos. And that is where I watch that Wife Swap video of “King Curtis” over and over and over. Bacon is good for me!
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Nothing embarrassing ever happens to me onstage. I am a Golden God.
I am actually chatting with a new fan of yours on iChat. He wanted to know what your future goals are. Where do you want to be and when will you guys consider yourselves a total success?
Our goals are to take over the world, learn how to make a casserole, consistently release new music every year, win a pie eating contest, travel to Three Floyds Brewery to try their Dark Lord Ale, get one of our songs in a commercial, hear a contestant on American Idol try out with one of our songs, sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row, and try every burger on the menu at Kuma’s Corner. When I am waking up in the morning to go surfing by the beach near my house in California, I will consider myself a total success.
Why isn’t Phil on AOL Instant Messenger?
Maybe he is avoiding you!
You guys have a ton of big name sponsors. How do you keep them all straight and make sure they are all happy.
Well, let me tell you. It’s hard to keep those folks at Pepsi happy. Do they think that just because they pay us 100 million a year that they can tell me to wear a Pepsi t-shirt at every show? What if I want to wear a Coke shirt? What are you gonna do, Pepsi? Take away my Mountain Dew supply? I dare you!
Why are you not headling Warped Tour yet?
I do not have the answer to that question. Perhaps you should interview Kevin Lyman and ask him.
I saw that you are friends with the band fun. How good are those guys?
What are you drinking on stage?
At our last show, it was purple Gatorade. But it’s usually straight vodka poured into a water bottle. By the end of the show, we sound great to my ears!
Do you guys have jobs outside of music?
Yes, of course we do! We love being in a band but it’s hard to pay the bills on our mansion and sports cars without making some extra cash on the side! Ever watch Breaking Bad? Those guys have some great ideas for earning additional income. I saw a girl with a lemonade stand the other day and I was like “Pssssshhhhhh, yeah right!” And she was all like, “Buy some lemonade!” and I was like, “Aw naw HELL naw!” And she was like, “Fine.” And I was like, “Yeah whatever.”
You guys are too good to be unsigned. Is there anything in the words in regards to a record deal?
You will have to ask the record labels if any of them plan on signing us anytime soon. There are only like four left or something, so you won’t have to ask too many people.
What is the best concert you have ever been to?
Too many great ones to count. I saw Metallica last year and that was a really epic concert. Most recently I saw Muse play in Las Vegas and they were phenomenal.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
I can’t see myself in five years! Five years from now hasn’t happened yet, silly!
What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?
That we wrote great songs and were nice people. And had fun with interviews.
I always let the artist get the last word. Go.