Dani Bell and the Tarantist


Dani Bell and the Tarantist are hitting up the festival stages this month at the Joshua Tree Music Festival, followed by Bottlerock Napa.

Originally a duo with Alfred Howard, in late 2017 Dani Bell and the Tarantist developed into a full band of masked instrumentalists consisting of Austin Burns (guitar), Ian Owen (keyboards and guitar), Aaron Hook (bass), and Dylan Jones (drums). ListenSD reached out to new addition Ian Owen and Dani Bell before they headed out on the road.

Dani Bell performing at last year’s Bottlerock in Napa, CA.


A lot has changed for you in the past year. You already played in Cardinal Moon but you started playing in three more Redwoods bands. . . 

IAN: Yeah a lot has changed over the last year.  I’ve been playing with more of the Redwoods bands and working on some new records that the Redwoods will be putting out. It’s been a really great experience.

How do you feel about taking the stage at the Joshua Tree Music Festival and Bottlerock the next two weekends?

IAN: I’m really looking forward to both events.  I’ve played the Joshua Tree Music Festival in the past and it’s a great time. I also went last year to Bottlerock to watch the Redwoods crew and it was so much fun. I’m really looking forward to getting out on the road a little bit with Dani Bell and the Tarantist.

Dani Bell of Dani Bell and the Tarantist


You played Bottlerock last year. Was there anything you learned from last year that you would do differently this year?

DANI: I think last year I was so nervous and only had enough time to play 4 songs, so I feel I didn’t put on the show that I could’ve. This year I’ll have a lot more time on stage, so I plan to use it up good.

Anyone you met last year that was notable and anyone you would want to see or meet this year? 

DANI: I had the privilege of meeting Charles Bradley in the Artist Lounge. He was the only band I was really looking forward to seeing, so I was overjoyed to actually get to hang out and play cards with him. This year I’ve made it my goal to see Snoop Dogg, Billy Idol, and Dhani Harrison.

IAN: Bottlerock is a great time and I’m looking forward to the whole experience.  I’ve never seen Billy Idol so I will definitely be sure to catch some of his set.

Who was you biggest musical influence as far as guitar playing style when you were learning to play.

IAN: When I was younger I was a big Stevie Ray Vaughn fan. I was really into all the blues guitar shred guys.  I used to go to some of the blues jams around town and play.  It was a good time and I’m sure most of the guys at the jams thought it was pretty funny seeing a 14-year-old kid playing Freddie King tunes.

How is playing in the Tarantist different than other bands you are in?

IAN: I play mostly keys and just a little guitar in the Tarantist.  Austin [Burns] is a great guitarist, so it’s always cool hearing what he comes up with for the songs. It’s also a fun challenge since keyboard isn’t my primary instrument.

Is the mask inhibiting? 

IAN: What mask?


Dani Bell and the Tarantist


So, seriously, how did the mask idea come about?

DANI: Well, you see, I really shouldn’t be disclosing this information with you, but fuck it.

A few years back, I was actually an undercover agent. While on a case, I had a near-fatal accident which left my face and skull horribly disfigured. Thankfully, my work had attracted the attention of a multi-billionaire, Mr. Wilton Knight, who was insistent on paying for the facial reconstruction surgery. Everything went as planned, but I am under legal obligation to never reveal my identity, unless permitted by Knight Industries.

Does having a whole band backing you now feel different than when you were just a duo?

DANI: It’s a whole different thing. I think it feels so much better to have a live band playing with me. It’s a lot less like singing karaoke to my own music this way.

The band just released their first single “Driving Me Crazy”, which will be on their upcoming sophomore album Wide Eyed, to be released in late summer.

Interview by: Kristy Walker