Dan Bryk Honest Asshole

Dan Bryk Honest Asshole
"What Canadian music needs is a rigorous smarty," Dan Bryk muses. On his provocative, and much-delayed Scratchie debut Lovers Leap (on Teenage USA in Canada), this caustic computer geek from Mississauga is working on it. Bryk is nothing if not extra large — from his size 40 jeans, to his piano-driven pop melodies, to his opinions (on the "evil cartel that runs the music business," the "leverage boyfriend/girlfriend theory" within the Toronto rock scene, etc.), to his love/hate of himself. This is a man who called his 1995 indie disc Asshole.

On Lovers Leap, he lays out the particulars of his private life in the Billy Bragg/Loudon Wainright III tradition — when not crooning elegies to highways that never got built ("Spadina Expressway"). "I Love You Goodbye" is the catchiest bit of candour you'll hear this year, while the falling-apart falsetto on "Memo To Myself" marks his coming of age.

"It's a break-up record, like [Dylan's] Blood On The Tracks, [Costello's] King Of America, or [Richard and Linda Thompson's] Shoot Out The Lights," says the 30-year-old Bryk. "It's tough. You're always balancing your own self-interest for the sake of art. And sometimes I worry that songwriting is the only place where I can be really honest."

But does the art make the asshole, or the asshole make the art? "I think it's both," he adds. "Part of it is a willingness to say things that most people wouldn't say, and part is autobiography or self-therapy. People get mad at me, when they figure stuff is about them. That's fair, but it's kind of a first-person record — very much so."
The amiable Bryk has also taken some flak for being a "careerist" — foisting his demo off on his idols, including Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger (a partner in Scratchie, along with ex-Smashing Pumpkins James Iha, and D'Arcy). "What the fuck else am I going to do? [The industry] is designed to keep people who aren't making the processed-cheese type of product out of the loop," he rants. "In a business where there's no A&R to speak of, the best you can do is let other artists know about it."