MT: How did you get your start playing music?
DH: When I was young, around 4 years old, I remember my parents had put me and my siblings to bed and I was still awake. So I went out into the living room where my parents were watching TV and I told them “I just wrote a song” and they didn’t know what to make of it. I had wrote them a lullaby and called it “Good Night, Sleep Tight”. Ever since then, I’ve always been able to write songs and sing. When I was 15, I decided I didn’t want to be a lead singer that didn’t play an instrument because I’ve always found it lazy when lead singers don’t play instruments. So I went to guitar center with a little money I earned from umpiring girls’ softball and I was all set to buy a guitar. Then I saw that keyboards were ten bucks cheaper than a guitar, so I went with that instead. From there, I would work nonstop to learn how to play piano and kept going and going until I was playing concerts and releasing albums and I’m still going.
MT: How would you describe your style of music?
DH: I describe myself as the last bastion of rock and roll. I’d call it rock and roll or piano rock. Kind of like Elton John or Billy Joel. Call it baroque pop. Every once in a while, you’ll get a synth song out of nowhere and that’s just me wanting to rock or have a pop song. It’s hard to say what I fall into. I’d say it’s more like pop or rock and roll, but not really like today’s pop.
MT: Where do you find inspiration?
DH: Lots of times I’ll come up with a melody while I’m doing something. If I’m in the shower or at work cleaning something. If I’m driving, I’ll come up with something in my head. Taking a bubble bath- I’ve written a lot of songs in there. The best place for me to write a song is after midnight when everyone’s gone to bed. Just me at the piano taking in the silence of the night. There’s something so peaceful about that and so inspiring. I just think about everything that goes on in life. I think about the good things, I think about the bad things. I think about love and life and why we’re here. I think about everything. Eventually, these chords will turn into a song. And the ones that turn out to be something substantial, those are the ones I play.
MT: Can you talk about some influences as well?
DH: The biggest by far are the Beach Boys. Ever since I was really little. When I was two years old, I had this Fischer-Price microphone/cassette player. I found a cassette of “Best Love Songs” and on it was the song “Surfer Girl” by the Beach Boys and I would pretend to have a radio show and I would play that song over and over again. Every birthday I would get Beach Boy cassettes and CDs and I was listening to them more and more. Their music means everything to me. Their songs means as much to me as mine do to me. It just touches me that much.
MT: Clearly, you are a showman. How important would you say showmanship is to music as an art form?
DH: It’s very important, depending on what you’re doing. Even if it’s not that important. I think that everyone needs to have their own way to do things. People who don’t stand out and do their own thing and they don’t be themselves with their music, I just don’t see the point in that. There’s something wonderful in being the music. Not just writing the music, being the music. You can have these songs, but you can’t wear jean shorts and a t-shirt on stage, you’re not being the music. If you want to be someone who plays at Madison Square Garden you need to act like you belong there. You need to act like your music is worthy of that. And if you think your music is worthy of that, you have to be. And to do that, you need to be a showman. You have to make yourself more than what you can be alone. You have to make yourself what you can be with your music.
MT: What would you say your biggest achievement as an artist is?
DH: I’ve had a few big moments. I played piano with Brian Wilson in Atlantic City. I played Barbara Ann with him. That’s something nobody’s parents will tell them they can do because that’s too big of a dream, it’s impossible. A few months later after that, I was award New England’s Artist of the Year by the Deli Magazine due in part to a stunt I pulled drinking root beer in a snow bank wearing a thong. Later that month, I was performing a concert in California on my Show Me Your Cities tour. I was playing a show in Hollywood and one of the people that showed up happened to be someone who was running a benefit concert the weekend of the Grammy’s. It was a Beach Boys tribute show and I was asked to be a part of it. So they put out the bill and it’s people from The Monkees, REM, it’s actual Beach Boys. Wilson Phillips, The Muffs, The Bengals. Then me. And so I flew out there and performed to a sold out theater the weekend of the Grammy’s. It was probably one of the coolest experiences of my life.
MT: Do you have words of advice for other aspiring artists?
DH: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Just keep going. If people tell you that you can’t do something, don’t even give them a response. Just keep going. My sister was told by 100 doctors after having a stroke that she would never walk again. She doesn’t care. She works 4 days a week at physical therapy and is walking with the help of a walker after all these doctors told her she would never do it again. She doesn’t care, she said fuck ‘em and she’s walking. Anything can happen in this life. Never doubt yourself. Keep going. Please keep making art. That’s what makes life beautiful and that makes change and that makes progress. So please keep doing it and thank you for doing it.