The Life Of... a Multi-intrumentalist, Songwriter and Radio Presenter

By Dan P Carter, presenter of BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show.



Dan P Carter is best known for his work with band ‘A’ and as the presenter of BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show.

To begin with, could you tell us about how your career in music all began?

I started doing artwork for bands in the punk and hardcore scene having studied an Art degree. I ended up joining one of the bands I was working with, who were signed   to Roadrunner records. We supported Korn’s first ever UK show and toured with Sick Of It All.

When that band finished I thought I would carry on doing artwork, which was how I met the band ‘A’. They had just finished recording in California when I met them – we all got on really well, we had similar music tastes and we hung out all day. When their bassist left soon after this, they asked me to join the band. I did that for 8-9 years, I was really lucky that they were already signed to Warner Bros. That was when I felt that my career in music was happening.

We got to tick things off the band bucket list, such as playing at Reading Festival, touring the world, Top 10 releases, TV shows etc. There was a brief period where it was all going really well. Then it got to the point where there was a big shift – it suddenly became a career, which changes your whole perspective on things. Initially you start a band just to make music with your friends. With the birth of my son and a mortgage, this was how I was paying my bills. You start to do things that in the beginning you would have said ‘no way’ to. When it got to that point, we decided we needed to stop doing it.


How did you become a Radio presenter?

Through touring you meet so many people, and I feel like I was always the annoying guy in our band that got talking to everyone and shared suggestions on what music to listen to. I think I annoyed enough people that somebody thought I would be good for this job!

So I got a phone call from a production company who asked if I would like to present the Rock Show on Radio 1…I did three pilot shows and eventually I got the gig. I’ve been doing it now for 10 years.


How much of the music played on the Radio 1 Rock Show is your choice, versus being playlisted?

I curate everything. Rock music is so broad, so I try to cover as much as possible across the three hour show. The Rock Show comes on after the chart show, so the first 35- 40 minutes need to be a smooth transition. I try to make it so the whole thing flows, with my show finishing and Phil Taggart’s starting. It’s like creating a good mix tape.


As the presenter of the Rock Show, do you feel a certain amount of pressure to fly the flag for heavier music, or are you starting to see more of this music cross over in to other Radio shows?

Yes certainly. It feels like a marginalised genre and that’s how a lot of people see it. Rock music is pretty healthy regardless of whether people say ‘rock music is in a bad place’. You just need to go and see the shows and then you realise how healthy it is.

Everything comes in cycles. When people are super passionate about certain genres of music, it becomes more than music, it becomes a lifestyle choice. Sometimes fashion pulls the mainstream in the direction of subculture, and then it can shine a light on a genre. Regardless of this though, music carries on and subcultures generally endure.

With the music we play on the Rock Show there can be a trickle-down effect with certain tracks. My team fight our corner in playlisting meetings to have certain rock tracks played on daytime radio.


What would be your top tips for bands to break into music and be heard in the age of streaming, and is there anything you look for in a track when picking music for radio?

  • The opportunities for new artists now are incredible. The tools for bands  and  artists  just  starting  out are so strong – you just need to make sure you use them properly.
  • Finding your own identity is important. You have to find an identity that is of real worth and artistic value.               
  • Community is the key to everything. Form a community, as creatively it’s better for everyone. Social media now means that everyone can reach a vast amount of people as long as they have the right ties to others. Certain genres have particular ways of reaching their audiences, and understanding this is important.
  • It’s all about the songs. The songs need to be wicked. I try not to let the production side of things dictate my opinion. I am fully aware that there are truly terrible bands that can’t play live, but they can send you an amazing sounding record.
  • I record my own music at home, and when I do         I want it to sound as good as it can. Everyone has  the ability to make and record music in a way that sounds fantastic. However I love early records that sound terrible. With a garage rock band, you want the record to sound like it was recorded in a garage. That’s the aesthetic you are looking for. It needs to be distinctive and sound like itself (i.e. you can tell a band from just the sound or style of its record).
  • Some bands do fall through the cracks, but generally, the really great bands do get found! 


You have a career which has spanned many areas of the music industry – performance, songwriting, producing, presenting – how vital do you think it is for musicians in the current climate to be adaptable?

It’s everything. The most important thing, is just don’t be a If you are the person that is a pain for everyone, you won’t be the person who gets the job. Opportunities arise for those who are cooler – everyone wants to work with nice people. When I played in ‘A’, we were always the band that wanted to chat to people.


Will we ever see a band as big as Slipknot again in the heavier music scenes?

When Slipknot came out it was an explosion. They became big fast. You do question  where  the  new  headliners  are coming from though. Bring Me The Horizon will be headlining festivals soon. Royal Blood are doing huge tours. Promoters have to play it safe as it’s their own money involved, but people do need to take a punt on bands more often. Sonisphere Festival took the first punt on Biffy Clyro headlining their festival, and they proved themselves to be incredible headliners (which lead to headline slots at Reading and Leeds and Download Festival). Slipknot and Marilyn Manson were a total phenomenon. It affected culture at that point. There are always bands that break through, but everything has to be right for a band to have such a cultural effect like those.


How important are radio pluggers?

It really depends what a band/artist is like and what their expectations are. If it is a specialist show you are looking to get on, for example if you are a hip-hop artist wanting to get on radio, reach out to Semtex. You are part of that world so you should know those avenues. If things start blowing up its good to have the ‘machine’ on board where things start to happen that you couldn’t do alone, and you reach people that you might not necessarily reach otherwise.

If you are just starting out there are plenty of other ways to get your music to people. The BBC uploader and social media are good examples.


What do you think the future holds for rock music?

There will be a brief period where rock music is in the sun again. Bands like Foo Fighters keep the presence of rock music felt, but there is always going to be an amazing scene of sub-genres and subcultures to keep the whole thing going, and every so often the mainstream looks at one of those bands and declares that ‘rock music back’!

Daniel P Carter

Multi-intrumentalist, songwriter & radio presenter

By Dan P Carter, presenter of BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show.


Dan P Carter is best known for his work with band ‘A’ and as the presenter of BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show.

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