“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon.” - Dr. Seuss
by Tyler Mangrum
- The Capitol Hill Times -
“I’ve overdrawn my bank account more times than I can count. I sold everything I could that had any value. I would’ve sold my car, but I owed more than it was worth.”
This was Daniel Kirkpatrick as he made his bones in the early days of his current band, Daniel Kirkpatrick and the Bayonets. Yet, despite the hardships he would eventually endure, his career in music had begun in a way that seemed like success was guaranteed. At age 18, Kirkpatrick had gotten a substantial kick-start from his first performance in his hometown of Longview, Wash. where he performed in front of a crowd of 950 people.
“That kind of experience really kind of spoils you,” Kirkpatrick said. “I went down to San Diego for a show and I’ll never forget listening to ‘Born to Run’ and thinking, ‘This music thing is gonna be great.’ But then you find yourself in a bar with the only people in the audience – your girlfriend, your bass player’s girlfriend, and one drunk asshole hitting on both of them.”
Soon, Kirkpatrick was working retail, and trying his best to find a way to support himself while still trying to find an outlet for his musical aspirations. With no band behind him, Kirkpatrick decided to simply take to the street and perform for people at Pacific Beach, walking drunken couples to their car while serenading them with songs of their request. After years of trying, he still couldn’t find a way to make his ambitions match up with reality.
“Sometimes it’s even more powerful to know what you don’t want,” Kirkpatrick said. “I desperately wanted to believe I was the next Thom Yorke, but I came to find out that I’m not a musical genius at all. I just write simple pop songs; that’s all I do. So I just got fed up with where I was musically, and I just quit it altogether for about four or five years.”
After a half-decade away from playing, he found himself sitting on his couch and, in his own words, “bored out of his mind.” If for no other reason than to just see if he was even capable of making music anymore, he began to write his new album. Originally, the album was going to be a solo project, just so Kirkpatrick would have the freedom to be entirely creative on his own, and “not have to answer to anyone” in his writing.
“When a band is a democracy and you’re writing the lyrics, it can be a little restricting,” he said. “You can’t just be writing from your own heart, it has to be something cohesive to them as well. I just try to listen to my gut. I don’t know how to write a song for anyone else but me.”
Yet, during his hiatus from music, Kirkpatrick still found himself wondering what it’d be like to work with other musicians again. When he began working with Jordan Cassidy and Spencer Booth, both who came from similar musical backgrounds as himself, he was able to still feel comfortable taking the lead in songwriting. But when it came time to bring the group together, that’s when Kirkpatrick found himself sacrificing as much as possible in order to get the band off the ground.
Central to that effort was simply getting them all in the same place at the same time. Since Booth was living in Bellingham at the time and an affordable practice space in Seattle was nowhere to be found, Kirkpatrick found himself helping Booth pay for multiple trips from Bellingham to Seattle and eventually to Port Orchard, where they were forced to practice. In six months, all before the band ever played a live show, Booth had travelled over 10,000 miles.
But the countless hours of travel, hardship, and couch surfing, all spent while Kirkpatrick bordered on financial ruin finally began to pay off for them. Now, Kirkpatrick and the Bayonets are finally preparing to release their debut album. But first, they’ll be whetting the appetite of their growing fan base with a listening party and burlesque show on Aug. 17 with the help of the Fancy Ladies Burlesque Troupe and DJ Marco Collins, the man who first broke Weezer, Beck, and Nirvana.
Despite the success that Kirkpatrick has begun to see at last, his arduous experiences have left him with a sense of humility and gratitude.
“I’m pretty fortunate to just be able to walk on stage and play for anyone,” he said. “I’m just lucky to have anybody that wants to listen to it at all. Whether it’s two people in the audience or two thousand, I just have to play for them, play for the band, and play for myself. That’s it.”