Sitting on a tufted leather sofa in his barbershop in downtown Provo, Drew Danburry looks content. His warm and genuine nature shines through as he interacts with his clients. This refreshing candor has also helped make Danburry one of the most admired people in the Provo music community.
From an outsider’s perspective, Danburry’s life seems quite enviable. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that at one point, Drew Danburry didn’t want to be Drew Danburry anymore.
Abandoning his own persona, however, proved to be Danburry’s biggest musical inspiration.
Understanding Danburry’s present state requires some knowledge of his past. So let’s briefly go there.
In 2002, Danburry wrote his first song, and over the next few years he became one of the most prominent acts in Provo. By 2004, he had booked his first tour. For the next four years, Danburry sporadically traveled the world, playing music everywhere he went.
Although it’s every musician’s dream to play music for audiences across the globe, the experience began to wear Danburry down. In 2008, as he was adjusting to the newfound responsibilities of married life, Danburry realized music had lost its appeal.
“When I got married, things kind of slowed down,” he said. “I got sick of playing shows, sick of touring, sick of not making money.”
Danburry’s desire to make money, however, wasn’t based in greed or selfishness. In fact, it was his admirable devotion to his wife that helped him finally decide to take a hiatus from music.
“I was searching for something that I could do other than music because music to me was stressful. It was frustrating, it was all sorts of effort and it wasn’t paying bills,” he said. “When you love somebody … you want to show them you care about them. That’s kind of why I opened a barbershop, so I can afford health insurance for when my wife gets pregnant, stuff like that.”
Danburry began focusing on a career as a barber in 2009, but music was still in his blood. He continued to record songs, which, for him, had always been a stress-free and enjoyable process. Out of these sessions came a notable experience, which then became the inspiration for Danburry abandoning his notable persona.
“The ‘Lynette, I Love You’ song came out in 2008 and we got nothing but comments for years from girls named Lynette saying, ‘Oh my gosh, my name’s Lynette, I love this song!'” Danburry said. “I figured I should just write love songs for all these girl names and put them on YouTube and then girls would search their own name — which is what they do — and they’d all have their own love song. It’s a never-ending project because there is a never ending amount of names. I thought it would just be the funnest thing.”
Danburry didn’t want his reputation, however, to play a part in the reception of his new songs. Enter Damien Fairchild, an anonymous alter ego Danburry created for himself. Danburry’s Fairchild character is a 13-year old boy from Provo with a mature voice and a penchant for punk-pop love songs.
“I invented Damien and initially thought I wouldn’t tell anybody,” he said. “It was going to be this really awesome way of finding out if my music is good at all. I didn’t like how validated the music of Drew Danburry was just because I had toured Europe or played shows all over the world. I just wanted to see what people would think if the music came from a brand new person.”
Danburry said the creation of Damien was an extensive, creative process.
“I’ve been very careful in the craftsmanship of Damien’s character,” Danburry said. “He’s just a young, innocent kid. He’s still gold. You have to create a whole world and a backstory. You have to know who your character is. I thought about who Damien is, what he likes, what his home life is like and things like that.”
Creating Damien as a teenager was a natural choice for Danburry, considering the subject matter and frivolity of the songs.
“I just thought these songs are really silly and kind of go back to my childhood,” he said. “It goes back to that feeling of young love and I wanted this character to have roots in that.”
As Damien’s character became more certain, Danburry created a Facebook profile for the young songwriter. Even though Damien isn’t a real person, he has more than 500 Facebook friends, and his band, which Danburry calls For All The Girls, has more than 280 “likes” on their page.
Although the For All The Girls project was originally shrouded in secrecy, Danburry insists his intent was pure.
“I didn’t do this project to play a prank on the world or try to trick people online,” he said. “I just wanted to do music and I didn’t want to do it as Drew Danburry. I just didn’t want to be me anymore. I didn’t want that pressure, I didn’t want that expectation. I just wanted to write songs and have it be completely brand new.”
To put the album together, Danburry enlisted the help of his friend Travis Bunn, who did some production work and recorded most of the rhythm section. Bunn, who also toured with Danburry in 2007, witnessed the positive change that this new endeavor provided Danburry as a songwriter.
“In the past he’d write songs and it would take him weeks,” Bunn said. “With this, the creative output practically increased a hundred fold.”
Danburry’s wife, Lynette (of “Lynette, I Love You” fame), also noticed the benefits her husband received from his new creative outlet.
“I feel like in the past, music was a stressful type of thing because he was worried about making it work financially,” she said. “Now he just spends Sundays recording and he has more fun with it. Since there’s no expectation he can do whatever he wants.”
Danburry agrees that this project gave him new life as a musician.
“I wouldn’t be doing music if I hadn’t done the For All The Girls project,” he said. “It was a concentrated effort to enjoy music again, and once I started enjoying it, I realized I don’t need to be stressed or feel pressure or never record another Drew Danburry album again. I can do it and I can have fun doing it and I don’t need to worry about it.”
And that’s the bottom line for Danburry; that he finds joy in what he does.
“That’s always my goal with anything I do,” he noted. “With touring and music or whatever, I just want to be happy. I have a barber shop because it makes me happy. I provide for my wife because it makes me happy. I make music at home because it makes me happy.”
The self-titled debut from For All The Girls will be released on Valentine’s Day on iTunes and CDBaby.