By Jerome Stuart Nichols
The road to pop stardom is a rocky one. If you’re going to make it, you need five things: a YouTube page, great hair, abs, drama and, of course, a little sass. Luckily for Westland musician Dani Rice, he’s got all three.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s also brimming with actual talent. All of those pop star qualities will be on display when he takes the stage at Motor City Pride at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 2.
Rice, now 23, took his first steps toward becoming the hip-haired pop singer he is today at 19 when he picked up his first guitar. Inspired by the neo pop-punk sounds of bands like Flyleaf and Paramore, Rice began playing to express himself.
“I wanted to be able to sing and play what I wanted,” Rice says. “I didn’t want to depend on anyone else.”
He was also a big fan of Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams’ funky orange and yellow hair. “I actually bought a headband that was almost the same color, so I could be just like her.”
Rice’s first try at being a professional musician was in a band. Unfortunately, as tends to be the case in many bands, drama quickly ensued.
“I got into a band and we started to play acoustic indie music, started doing shows,” Rice says. “It was really fun. Then we had a little fallout.”
After his band crumbled, he continued to create new music. He even recorded four songs with the help of one of his former band mates.
“I have recorded about four songs,” he says. “Me and my ex-band member still kind of collaborate on music but not like we used to. We wrote about six songs together, like a little EP.”
Although he’s had a bit of experience with performing live at three paid events and numerous open mics – viewable on his YouTube channel – his upcoming performance at Motor City Pride will be his largest crowd yet. Although it’s a big step up, the rookie is showing some veteran-like confidence.
“(It) will be the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of,” he says. “I’m not really nervous because I’m a natural at doing what I like doing; I’m sure people will enjoy it too.”
He’s playing it cool, but he does admit that he’s worried about making sure his performance is as flawless as possible.
“A lot of people will be listening, so you kind of have to make it pretty perfect,” he says. “But I like playing, so I’ll just have fun.”
He may not be nervous about his performance but he is excited about attending his first Pride event. With his expectations for the event as high as they are, excited is probably a bit of an understatement.
“I’m expecting to see people in underwear, naked and drunk,” he says.
Pride events being the party that they are, Rice is guessing that he won’t have to do much to help keep the party rolling.
“I’m just going to show up because the party don’t start ’til I walk in,” he said. “I’m a party animal, don’t get it twisted.”
He’s planning to do more than just show up when he’s on stage. For his performance at Pride, he plans to do several covers of popular songs from Paramore, Sia, Lady Gaga and Flyleaf. While he’s not planning to outdo Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way Ball,” he’s prepared to tease the crowd by getting a little wet and wild to keep things exciting.
“I could pour some of my water bottle on me,” he teases.
He’s also considering taking it a bit further and going shirtless to show off his requisite pop star abs. Although, he hopes his voice will be enough to satiate the sweaty, half-naked and probably slightly drunk crowd.
“I’m planning on my voice but I guess you got to look pretty while you perform,” he says, pausing for a moment. “I don’t know, should I take my shirt off on stage? I do have abs.”
Rice’s performance at Pride promises excitement, for both the crowd and himself. And if he walks away with a few groupies, even better.
“No sexual favors yet,” he says. “But I’m always up for that.”
6 p.m. June 2
Motor City Pride
Hart Plaza, Detroit