When Dan Hunter was a freshman in private high school in Ft. Worth, Texas, he got kicked out for bad behavior. Things got worse as a sophomore at public school and he eventually enrolled in rehab for alcohol and pot abuse for four months.
Fully recovered, the PlayRadioPlay! mastermind started writing and recording his debut EP, “The Frequency.” Now, at age 17, the optimistic songwriter is signed to Island/Stolen Transmission with that effort having debuted at No. 27 on Top Heatseekers, No. 20 on Top Internet Albums and No. 6 on Top Electronic Albums.
“I guess you could say I’m doing O.K.,” a smiley-sounding Hunter tells Billboard.com. “I haven’t showered in a week, I’m eating pretty badly, and not enough, and I’m not sleeping much — but I’m having a really good time.”
Hunter says this whilst on the road, currently touring with Under The Influence Of Giants. Acts like Fall Out Boy, Anberlin and Daphne Loves Derby have also tapped PlayRadioPlay! for their tours. Hunter and his touring crew will also be performing during the first half of this summer’s Warped Tour.
Such achievements are rare for somebody who only began playing out a year and a half ago. After his formative and intense period in rehab (“I listened almost exclusively to Smashing Pumpkins during that time.”) Hunter devoted his time entirely to PlayRadioPlay!, recording analog synths, guitars, drums and nearly everything else himself and inundating MySpace and PureVolume with his pop songs -– and completing high school via online courses.
His twee electronic backing riffs and his emotional, pubescent yelp simultaneously herald groups like Postal Service and Dashboard Confessional. His Texas drawl all but disappears within swirls of polished effect pedals and glitchy beats. Ultimatley, the bubbly tempos and major keys turn even the most endearingly earnest admissions into dance-friendly pop tunes, whether he addresses romance or death (or even his take on the Killers’ “Mr. Brightside”).
“My general songwriting style is a brighter outlook on darker themes,” he says. According to the songwriter, part of that perception is inspired by his Christian faith –- though he declines that he’s a Christian artist. “I’m a musician who just happens to be Christian.”
The artist has finished work with producer Garrett Lee (Bloc Party, U2) on his debut full-length, originally due early next year, but may be bumped up to an October release. “I guess people are getting too excited about it,” Hunter says modestly.