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They Won't Win or will they?
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2019-07-01

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Local independent gay band They Won't Win is made up of friends Danny M. Cohen from London and Greg Lanier from Wisconsin. The Chicago-based duo have just released new music with their first album, Lost At Sea. The full length studio album combines folk with rock and covers topics such as domestic violence, mental health and the LGBT community.

Windy City Times: Where did the name of the band come from?

Greg Lanier: It's from the Crowded House song "Don't Dream It's Over" and the lyric "to build a wall between us, we know they won't win." There's something about that wall and our love for Crowded House.

Danny M. Cohen: It was a close connection when we realized we were both songwriters and both loved Crowded House.

GL: We love the irony in the name. Are we talking about ourselves or others?

WCT: Where did you meet each other?

GL: Boystown. We both have daughters. We were walking down the street and got the vibe that we were all gay dads. We met, became friends and realized we all loved music.

DMC: We auditioned each other later.

WCT: How long have you known each other?

DMC: For 10 years this summer.

WCT: How many songs have you written together?

GL: We about 20 songs that we have written together over the course of nine years. Before the name we have now, we were Danny + Greg. We liked the gay thing and the simplicity of it like Sonny & Cher. We would do coffee shops and open mics to workshop our songs.

He wrote a novel and I started a business called Cowboys and Astronauts in Andersonville with my partner. There have been ups and downs. The last two years is when we got serious about putting out an album.

DMC: Some of the songs on the album are from when we first started and some were written really recently.

GL: It's about half and half I would say.

WCT: I saw people can purchase your album on vinyl at Rattleback Records on Clark Street.

GL: Yes. The owners came to our record release party. They are such good guys and super supportive!

WCT: Describe the process of making a record in Chicago.

GL: We realized we wanted to make an album, so we at first wanted to translate what we did at coffee shops to the studio. We met Julian Stacey, who became our producer at place called Gravity Studios in Wicker Park. We started studio session with him.

DMC: We thought it would be acoustic, so guitar with two voices and really stripped down. A couple of the songs really needed cello almost as a third voice. Eventually we kept adding session musicians for bass and drums. We found a piano player after playing a benefit at Center on Halsted.

WCT: There was a release party recently?

DMC: We did a silent disco style listening party.

GL: Everyone had a private moment with the music. They had headphones, so we could talk at times into their ears and say what the song was about. The music is pretty intimate and we wanted people to hear it.

We didn't want a live show and instead wanted people to hear the record. We didn't want to be sitting in front of speakers with people talking. We had heard about this and it really worked well.

WCT: Do you have favorite song off the album right now?

DMC: It changes every day. "If the World Were Mine" is the one where we experienced songwriting together.

GL: "War" was such a tough song to write. It was about an abusive relationship I was in. People have been responding to it and that is gratifying.

WCT: The word abuse can mean a lot of different things. Can you explain more?

GL: For me, there was intimate partner violence. It was something I didn't talk about and was ashamed of. Male on male violence is not usually talked about. That was the most honest moment for me in this whole process. I had something to say about it.

This happened many years ago and something I have healed from and had therapy about. I didn't realize there was some stuff still there that I wanted to get out. Songwriting was a way to talk about something really tough.

Visit TheyWontWin.com for more information on their projects and music.


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