Posted on: December 31, 2013 Posted by: James McQuiston Comments: 0

Hello, Dylan. What should we know about you?

Blood Like Fire (Songs for Syria) is my fourth official release as a solo artist. Previously, I released three albums as front man for San Francisco based power pop band M.Headphone. As it stands right now, I am the only American singer to release an album of original songs about the crisis in Syria. I have no Syrian background, but I am married to a Syrian woman, and I have traveled and performed there several times. I live in Stratford, CT and teach Latin during the day, where I often bust out the guitar and sing songs about Latin grammar and red pens.

Which artists have influenced your music and how much do these influences play into your creative process?

  1. Neil Young. I grew up with Neil Young playing on the turntable in my house. I feel so close to his music that I refer to him as “Uncle Neil.”  Like Neil, I often oscillate between rocking out heavily with my band and playing mellow, solo acoustic shows.
  2. Guided By Voices really changed the way I look at rock n roll… They saved rock for me in the 90s like the Replacements did in the 80s. Robert Pollard of GBV taught me that I could write songs that are stream of consciousness, one minute long, and record them in my basement with out of tune instruments. So, because of him, I did a lot of 4-track records where I played all of the instruments.

How has your approach to creating music changed over the period since you first started performing and today?

The biggest difference today is probably my voice. I have learned that I don’t have to push so much in order to rock. In the old days I would shred my voice at almost every gig, and now I sing with much more control by getting out of my own way. The other thing that has changed a lot is that I edit my lyrics a lot more these days. I used to make a point of NOT revising the lyrics because they were purer that way… but now I find myself reworking the lyrics again and again.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

Van Halen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Prince, Tom Petty, The Ramones, the Lemonheads, and Ben Folds.

What role do politics and current events have in your music?

A big role. This new record is very political by chronicling the Syrian uprising/revolution, and the resulting crisis we see today. I am on the side of the people of Syria who want to be free from the oppression and brutality of the Assad regime. I am against the regime of Syria and the extremists who are hijacking what was once purely a peoples’ revolution. Most of all I am stunned and infuriated by the world’s inaction, as the superpowers stand aside and let this massacre continue.

Why should fans purchase Blood Like Fire (Songs for Syria)?

Fans should by this record because it looks and sounds mint. The record was engineered, produced, and mixed by Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Phish, Nada Surf, Lemonheads) with my full band, The Epic Poets. Proceeds from sales of this record will go directly to aid displaced Syrian children through Karam Foundation ( This record is the first political, protest record I have ever done – it is essentially a concept album. 

Social media is a major part of activism and the organic dissemination of news and culture. How has social media impacted your career, and how does it compare to traditional (word-of-mouth) methods?

I rely heavily on Facebook and Twitter to connect with fans. Especially now, since my music videos are playing on Arabic satellite news stations, I get messages on Facebook from new fans every day. It is a beautiful feeling to connect directly with Syrian people who are in the thick of it but take the time to express gratitude for my songs of solidarity. Also, the way the Syrian uprising got out to the world was through Youtube – people on the ground were posting videos of peaceful activists being gunned down by the regime. The first song and video that I did for Syria was made of these amateur video clips. It was amazing how quickly the song and video connected through the use of social media. Without social media, these songs and this new direction for my music would have not been possible.

How would individuals find out about you and purchase your album when it comes out on January 14th? is my website. is another resource. The album will be available through all major on line retailer, such as iTunes, Amazon, Cdbaby, Spotify, Pandora, etc.

Aside from your impending EP release, what else will 2014 hold for you?

I will be doing CD release events in major US citites, NYC, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco etc.  I will also be doing a lot of fundraising concerts for Syria. For example, I will be performing at the National Conference for SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) in San Diego in February. More importantly, I will be traveling with a delegation from Karam Foundation to work with Syrian refugees in Jordan in the summer.

Do you have anything else to tell NeuFutur readers?


Leave a Comment