For the (Pete) Best? The Deep Cut, Part 2 | Solid State

For the (Pete) Best? The Deep Cut, Part 2


(Editor's Note: And now, the dramatic conclusion of my interview with ex-Nocturnal Bryan Dondero. -DB)

SD: Not to dredge up and "he said, she said" stuff, but I am curious as to how it all went down.
BD: To be fair to Grace, what happened between us is a personal thing;. But I also felt a sense of holding her accountable. And that's where I've been struggling. Because someone says something, you don't necessarily have the right to go spreading it around and throwing mud and trying to get vengeful. And that's not my style.

The one thing that bothered me, and I still don't know that I completely understand it . . . and these are her words, and the ones I feel justified in holding her accountable for, is that she said something along the lines of, "Bryan, you have so much integrity. You are integrity personified . . . and that scares the shit out of me. Because I feel like I might have lost mine." Those are pretty much her words exactly. And I was like, "What? What the hell does that mean?"

But for what it's worth . . . whatever. That's for her to think about. I think I understand what in essence she meant by that. There's one way just to take it at surface level. But there's another way to take it as someone who has known me for five years to say something like that . . .

I don't know that  she completely understood why she said it and what she meant by that. And I don't know that I completely understand some of those things that she was saying. But that's for her to decide.

SD: Do you feel you were forced out?
BD: It felt a little forced. There was pressure. Not pressure to quit, pressure to make a choice. Pressure to say, "This thing that you stood for is no longer going to be that. And I'm forcing you to choose whether or not you're willing to accept what this is going to become."

And I didn't think that was fair. I still don't. It's like, why couldn't I have decided on my own terms? Why was I forced, especially now? It just doesn't make sense to me. Why would you force someone to make a choice now, being like, "Dan, you don't know where you're gonna be tomorrow. But you need to decide right now." How about I just go through it and then decide on my own terms if I'm comfortable with it? Which seems like a much fairer — more fair? — choice. And that's the one thing that really upset me. I felt pretty pissed that I wasn't allowed to decide for myself. Even though I was sort of deciding for myself. As I said in the letter, I'm not afraid to eat a peach. I'm gonna choose and I'm going to accept the consequences of that.

Do you know the whole Neil Young story with that? He was on tour with Stephen Stills. And I'm sure you know they hated each other, fought tooth and nail all the time. And I love Neil, he's one of my favorite artists. So, I guess after they got done playing a show, Neil's in his tour bus and Stills is in his, and they're driving. And all of a sudden Neil's like, "Take me home." And he tells his driver to turn around. (Laughing) That's awesome.

So he sent Stills a note, and all it said was, "Some things that start spontaneously, end spontaneously. Eat a peach. Neil."

And there's a Duane Allman line, right before he died, which The Allman Brothers' Eat a Peach album is named after. Right before he died he said, "There ain't no revolution. It's all just evolution. But every time I'm in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace." And then like a week later he died in a motorcycle accident. Shit like that appeals to some sort of weird clairvoyance that people have. I don't know.

Those two things come from that T.S. Elliott poem: "Do I dare, do I dare eat a peach? I grow old, I grow old. I shall wear my trousers rolled and walk along the beach." And I think both those guys were very well aware of that. That that's what that "eat a peach" thing comes from. This whole question of, "When am I gonna choose?" And you get so caught up in this web of your mind that you start becoming afraid to choose the most simple, mundane things. Like eating a bloody peach. But it takes balls to be like, "You know what? I'm gonna fucking do it." And that's how I felt. I'm like, "I don't care. I'm gonna eat this thing and we'll see what happens."

But that's . . . I felt like in the past few years I was caught in a lot of indecision. And it makes a lot more sense to boldly make the wrong choice than to not choose and have shit hit the fan and then be like, "Oh my God. What am I doing?" But we'll see, you know? Don't have much money to my name right now . . .! (Laughing)

SD: Yeah. You kinda picked a bad economy to quit your day job . . .
BD: (Laughing) My dad's like, "Well, stocks are doing really well, you idiot!"

Naw, my dad's been super supportive. My whole family. A lot of people. It's like, when shit like this goes down you see who your friends are. People rise to the surface. And people I didn't even expect to. And you know, I've made some friends along the way, so I feel taken care of.

Peggy [Potter, Grace's mother] brought this horoscope from the day that I quit. Friday the 13th, go figure. And it basically says, "You're all right. You're formulating right now and putting the pieces together. But you're going to do something cool with it." And that's kinda how I feel right now. I'm putting some pieces together.

And I feel like I'm happy to be home, working with band like Farm. And Aya [Inoue, girlfriend] has a new CD coming out with The Leaves. And I feel like there's a lot of great music around here that I'm excited to help out some of my friends that are doing cool things in the local music scene. There could be some cool things that come out of it.

SD: So what was the choice? Grace Potter and the Nocturnals becoming more of a commercial entity, or . . .
BD: I don't know. I don't think I have an answer for that. I think she's struggling with that right now. I think that's why she was confronting me. It's almost as if she was confronting herself. Do I dare eat a peach? And she didn't know.

It's weird, because in some ways she bashes [the band's commercial side]. And she knows how I feel about it. You know, the "One Tree Hill" thing and all that. And I've grown up through all this. I look at it and I'm like, "If you're happy doing it, go for it." The people who matter to me, know me. And they are not  going to judge me because my band has this ridiculous video advertising soap operas for "One Tree Hill." Whatever I don't care. Because I'm happy getting on stage and playing music for people, living the rock and roll lifestyle. It's great. Who wouldn't want to do that? Not a bad day job.

But I think in some ways she was confronting herself. I don't know why I got singled out in all of this. it's kind of weird. But I was struggling with it at the same time too. It forced me to make a decision.

I'm still in very much of a piecing together mode right now. But I'm excited to have some down time. I mean, I don't even want to call it down time. I feel like I'm gonna have to work my ass off this summer. But excitedly so. I'm excited to get down and dirty and start digging a garden, you know?