As a journalist, I was taught to never write in first person. Present the facts, be objective but never to attach it to me, personally. Today, I break that rule. On occasion, a story comes along, that is so incredible, touches a person so deeply, that it would do the story a disservice to not tell it from a personal point of view. Thus, was the case yesterday, when I had the privilege of speaking with Dan Spitz.
Dan Spitz is a founding member and songwriter of Anthrax. One of the big four. His history is riddled with crossing boundaries and innovation. As the first metal band to cross metal and hip-hop, Anthrax pioneered a sound that the industry has yet to be able to replicate.
Dan has this incomparable understanding of the world and his space in it. When it was "time", Dan left Anthrax, moving into a seemingly unrelated field. Watchmaking. Just as with his music, he exceled. He is a Master Watchmaker, holding the highest credentials available from the highest Swiss watchmaking authorities. He is a problem solver; one of a select few in the world that is qualified to solve problems for what he describes as, "the Jimi Hendrix's of watchmaking".
Recently, he has gained notoriety in yet another field. As the father of "mirror image" twin boys, who also happen to be Autistic, Dan has worked tirelessly in multiple arenas to heighten awareness to this epidemic. His current project is a synergy of his beloved music and his passion for increasing awareness of this condition which has so deeply affected his family. Although he is quick to add that he,"will not preach, am not a doctor and will not answer questions regarding the disorder itself". He speaks of how Autism affected his children, his marriage, his music and him as a human being.
This new project is "quite different from anything else out there, breaking barriers as usual". This new project, DII, consists of only Dan and Don Chaffin. Don on vocals and Dan on this extraordinary instrument. The Pogreba Baritone Weissenborn lap slide is a sight to behold. Beautiful, intriguing- to call it a "guitar" would almost be an insult. It gives an ethereal sound that seems very becoming of the project at hand.
Dan consistently gives praise to those who have helped him along the way; from his best friend Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) who encouraged him to come out of semi-retirement, to Don who he describes as "this incredible singer who is able to just weave in and out of the music so beautifully, like its blessed, which it is". Dan also credits his fans, for whom he deplores the word "fan".
Dan describes his fans as "part of the band, kind of a Grateful Dead Syndrome, they are part of this, they are part of my life, they are walking it with me". But Dan's greatest praise goes to a higher power; "I am driven by faith, I am a Christian, I walk under His blood, under His blessing. I take no credit for this, it merely comes through me."
Dan and I go on to talk about OCD, the Autism Spectrum, his new project and the instrument that he describes as "part of my soul'. Dan is adamant that he is not endorsing or raising money for any particular group. His focus is purely on his ability to heighten awareness.
"We can change lives, to help others. Historically, this was the case, it's what we are supposed to do. Beethoven would perform in these concert halls and people would come together with purpose. They came together, formed societies to help humanity."
As Dan and I continued to talk, I am repeatedly humbled by how this "RockStar" has such direction. Even this interview seems so simplistic compared to the actual conversation. The complexity of his thoughts, the passion that resonates in his voice and his ongoing battle to create this world of connectedness for his family; both biological and musical.
The first video "Little Voices" mirrors this man's journey of the soul. It is powerful, moving and beyond anything I ever expected. In the mere moments I spent in conversation with him, my worldview changed. There is a determination in his voice, a juxtaposition to the frailness of a love so binding. His vision for what 'could be' may seem improbable to many, yet it is his unshakable belief, that will make believers of us all.
Thank you, Mr. Spitz, for forging forth, for having the courage of conviction that inspires us all.