By Andrew Ellis, Editor-In-Chief
There was a dirt road by where Anderson Daniels grew up that holds many a memory. It wasn’t on a map so it was perfect weekend fun with friends. Its discovery was almost like a rite of passage. You could even see the tire tracks that gave the road its unique character over the years.
That road is now paved.
It’s not marked on a map, but Daniels is afraid that may soon change, too. He’s not a fan of the citification of his hometown and it’s addressed on the song “Cutting Down and Building Up.” He’s not alone, either.
“There has been so expansion in these third-tier towns outside the Twin Cities,” he says alluding to the non-stop construction that residents in the town have grown used to. “It upsets me a bit to have a way of life I grew up with sold out for a quick buck.”
Hunting and fishing. It may sound like cliché country to many, but it was real life for Daniels. And as he would ride with his dad to their favorite fishing holes they’d sing along to the songs of Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, and more. That’s where he caught the music bug.
“The artist thing didn’t come until later,” he says. “I always loved entertaining but I didn’t quite know how to get there.”
It started out with his older brother teaching him a few chords on an acoustic guitar. He practiced and practiced until he started going to college at St. Cloud State University – that’s when he really started putting his boots to the concrete.
“I knew I wanted to start playing live shows so I headed out to the open mics in town,” he says. “And started to learn how to be a live performer.”
As he honed his stage presence he started writing his own songs, too. He admits they weren’t very good to start, but each one gave him more confidence. As he was building his own sound he took a lot of inspiration from country-rockers such as Jason Aldean, Eric Church, and Brantley Gilbert.
“These guys put the rocking edge into country music while also keeping solid country roots in their writing,” he says. “Which is what I wanted people to see in my own music.”
The defining moment came from a legend. Daniels was at one of Garth Brooks’ concerts during his comeback tour, and it blew his mind.
“Seeing him up on stage and seeing 20,000 people sing every word to every song back to him was flat out incredible,” he says.
He’s released his first statement as an artist through his debut EP, Heartland. The title song was written as a love letter to country music. It’s the music he believes gives a voice to those living in the fly over states.
“The majority of this country are everyday people like you find here in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and all across the Midwest as well as the people down south and out to the Rockies,” he says. “These people never seem to get the recognition they deserve. They are hardworking people with strong values and that’s the kind of people I grew up with and I felt like they needed an anthem.”
He also chose the song to be his debut music video, which he recently released. That itself was a brand new experience, and a lot of hard work. But he loved the end result.
“Our ultimate goal for this video was just to come together with something that met the meaning of the song,” he says of the video directed by Spencer Nelson. “I knew when I wrote this song that it needed a music video to to fully engage listeners in the image I was painting when I wrote it.”
Putting a spotlight on what many refer to as the fly over states is a theme through many of the songs on the EP. “Middle of the Road Town” is about a high school reunion in Daniels’ hometown of Champlin that takes place every year on the eve of Thanksgiving at Clive’s Bar.
“It gets packed and rowdy,” he says. “And the night gets a little fuzzy for a lot of us.”
Daniels likes to get rowdy and loud in his music, too. “Call Me Back” and “Fix a Broken Heart” are songs that allow him to bring out his edgier side. And he was able to let it all hang out during his first release party at Le Musique Room at St. Michael Cinema.
“The sound and lighting there was phenomenal and I was thrilled that fans were able to get that experience added to the show,” he says. “My band came out and laid it all on the line for everyone who came out and it was a fantastic turnout.”
He’s reached another milestone, too – college graduation. He walked across the stage and flipped his tassle, ready to give another generation of people in the fly over states a voice that will last long after all dirt roads are paved.
“This record was put together to start out my career and give me a direction,” he says. “I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. I hope fans realize that this thing is for real and it’s just the beginning.”