Over the course of the last decade, quite a bit has changed in the world of music. Artists began bending genres more than ever before, unannounced “surprise” music releases have become a trend, vinyl has made a comeback and CD sales have been on the decline as streaming platforms like Spotify have become the primary way listeners enjoy their favorite songs. The world of music is a much different place now than it was when The Dangerous Summer formed in 2006. Now, more than a decade later, The Dangerous Summer is starting fresh as an independent band — and they’re doing it in Denver.
Formed in Baltimore in 2006, The Dangerous Summer slowly built a fanbase in the pop-punk scene, when the genre was at its peak. These were the years when Vans Warped Tour served as an annual celebration of all of the greatest pop-punk and emo bands, with fans flocking from all over the country to the nearest tour date. Having the genre tag attached to your name was often a one-way ticket to success within the scene. Early in their career, the band signed a contract with Hopeless Records, a staple label within the genre.
Now, more than 15 years later, The Dangerous Summer is an independent band for the first time in their careers — and they’ve selected Denver as their new home base. “We’ve always had a decent, supportive following in Denver — and always had the best shows. We’ve been playing here for over 10 years,” songwriter and guitarist Matt Kennedy told 303 Magazine.
However, it wasn’t the fanbase or local music scene that brought The Dangerous Summer to Denver. “[In 2018]] I met, at the time my girlfriend, Tiana here at the Marquis.” said Kennedy. Then, just one year later, Kennedy moved to Denver just as the pandemic hit, where he then got engaged and eventually married. Despite the pandemic keeping many local’s favorite activities on pause, Kennedy already feels that the city is a good fit. “I love it here. It’s a really rad city. I haven’t been able to do a whole lot, but I can tell that there’s a great music scene here.”
Along with the move to the Mile High City, The Dangerous Summer has made some other big changes. After more than a decade, they’ve left the safety net of their contract with Hopeless Records to try and make it on their own — so far it’s going incredibly well.
“[Hopeless Records] were good family for a while. They helped build us up,” explained Perdomo. However, The Dangerous Summer was no longer a band formed of teenagers in high school and they realized that they were now able to do everything they needed to be successful on their own.
When the pandemic hit shortly after they’d made the decision to become independent, The Dangerous Summer felt even more sure of their decision. “Most of the time, and what people don’t realize, is that musicians mainly make their money from being on the road because the labels are taking so much off the top of [the artist’s] profits and whatnot. So, we got to a point where, yeah, we were lucky enough to leave and I think that if we didn’t leave we’d be in a lot harder position this year,” explained Perdomo.
While leaving the record label, in some ways, felt like “leaving the Illuminati” according to Perdomo, it also provided them with a new kind of freedom. No longer focused on spending the money the label provided to make an album, The Dangerous Summer was free to create the art they wanted — and they were able to do it with help from their friends.
“We called in all of our favors. We called our producer friends, our mixing friends, the person who mixed our album actually mixed all of our older albums, and the one who produced it was his intern at some point. So, we ended up spending like one-tenth of what a label spends on a record, because we know the people, we have good relationships and we worked out deals where it was like ‘hey, let’s go in, let’s have fun, let’s make the album for the art.’ It became less about spending some big sum of money.” said Perdomo.
Along with creating the album independently, The Dangerous Summer built their own website and merch world — all of which is based right here in Denver. The duo prints all of their merch locally, storing it at their base in Denver before being shipped to fans all over the country.
Taking their own experience working with a record label, The Dangerous Summer also used their new freedom to form their own record label. So far, released songs for Brian Swindle, formerly of Have Mercy, as well as their own EP which was released at the end of 2020.
As of now, the label is still a learning ground for the band, but it’s one that they hope to grow someday. “We’re talking with a few artists about signing on the label, and yeah, just kind of creating an almost fair record label. Something that is fully profit splitting, something where people can come to us with a simple situation like we have and we come up with good solutions for it. That’s the thing, we’re just kind of learning as we go.”
Much of the learning, was done as The Dangerous Summer produced and recorded their first independent EP, All That Is Left of the Blue Sky. Working with Aaron Gillespie from Underoath, the EP is not only their first independent release but also poises the band as an alternative rock duo — breaking them out of the pop-punk genre, which they’ve often been pigeon-holed in.
“We’ve always been trying to break through to the mainstream in a lot of ways. I think with the song ‘Fuck Them All‘ the really awesome thing was that we entered top rock songs on Spotify, we got thrown on the biggest rock playlists, and you know, typically, they throw us on pop-punk stations and emo stations. So, I think we’re slowly getting in there,” said Perdomo.
With a strong start as an independent band, The Dangerous Summer seems to have nowhere to go but up. As a new addition to the local scene, the duo is excited to see all that their new home base has to offer — including returning to one of their favorite local venues, The Marquis, once live shows return.
Even before relocating, Denver held a special place for the band who made a tradition out of inviting all of their fans to party with them at One Up on Colfax, often after playing shows at the Marquis. “That place is the best – one of the best barcades in the country, truly,” vocalist and lyricist AJ Perdomo told 303 Magazine. “Yeah, we always love going out after. Everyone in Denver is so young, hip and people feel alive there. I love how progressive Denver is. Everyone feels like us. We feel at home in Denver.”