Danny Hartwell

Highlight Reel

Plaque Award Winner – Outstanding Guitarist at 9th annual LA Music Awards

From band “Dry Cell”

Dry Cell was an American nu metal band formed in 1998 in California known in earlier stages of the band as Impúr. They have had a steady line-up having only one former member, that being Dave Wasierski. The consist members have been Jeff Gutt, Danny Hartwell, Judd Gruenbaum and Brandon Brown. They are possibly best known for their song “Body Crumbles” which was featured in numerous third party media, such as the Queen of the Damned soundtrack and Madden NFL 2003 among others. As of 2012, the band has released just one studio album, Disconnected in 2002. That album was followed up with “collection” album

Tattoos, piercings, baseball caps, and screaming girls: all the right ingredients for today’s rock band. But the guys in Dry Cell and the music they make together are anything but typical. Described by singer Jeff Gutt as being, “edgy hard music that’s easy to listen to,” the songs that comprise their debut album Disconnected are mad but melodic, edgy but engaging. The music is played by virtuosos, but without virtuosos’ penchant for endless “look at me” solos.

Dry Cell ol` Promotional Photograph

Even the story of how the band formed is unique.

In early 1998, guitarist Danny Hartwell and drummer Brandon Brown both happened to be at the Ratt show on the Sunset Strip. It was there that they were introduced by a mutual friend…of their dads. “We started jamming in the pool shed behind my house,” Danny recalls, “and when we decided to form a band, we started calling guitar teachers to find a bassist.” This eventually led them to Judd Gruenbaum, who impressed the duo by being, as Judd puts it, “the only person who showed up.”

Calling themselves Beyond Control, and with Judd on vocals, the guys hit L.A. stages like The Roxy and House Of Blues. They caught the attention of a Warner Brothers A&R Executive, who signed the band to a demo deal. He also found just the singer the band was looking for while on a routine trip to Jeff Gutt’s hometown of Detroit. “He said he knew this band that was looking for a singer,” Jeff recalls, “so I flew to L.A. to audition, and just never left.” A couple name changes later, Dry Cell was born.

But while these recollections describe how Dry Cell came to be, they don’t explain why Jeff Gutt was drawn to the band. “Because they were very disciplined in the way they worked,” explains Jeff, “and in the way they rehearsed. And I saw that they wanted to write their own music.”

Such professionalism extends to the way these guys play on their own as well. “When Brandon plays,” Jeff continues, “he lets all his emotion go into his playing, and that’s hard to find in a drummer.” “And when Danny plays,” Brandon says, “he doesn’t go half-way on anything, he’s playing to impress himself.” “And Judd’s definitely one of the reasons this band is heavy,” notes Danny, to which Judd adds, “but it’s heaviness with melody. And then there’s Jeff, who has an amazing range, but he’s also a great frontman.”

Of course, you don’t always expect such professionalism in a rock band. But what makes it really impressive is their ages. Jeff is 25, Judd is 17, Brandon is 16, and Danny is just 15. Although this may not impress bouncers – “Every show we play,” Judd laments, “we get one security guard who asks, ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘We’re in the band.’ ‘No you’re not.'” – it should. Especially when you consider that the guys have won L.A. Music Awards such as Guitar Player Of The Year (Danny), Drummer Of The Year (Brandon), Teen Musician Of The Year (Judd), and Best Hard Rock Band. “A lot of people will probably think that we’ve been spoon-fed what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it,” Jeff says, “but we did it ourselves, and we did it our own way. We write our own songs, and we have a say in every aspect. This isn’t someone else’s contrived idea.”

Such maturity is best displayed in the way they argue – or rather, don’t argue – when they’re writing songs. “We’re not afraid to have the other guys tell us they don’t like something,” Judd explains. “With the relationships we have, we can say, ‘No, that sucks,’ and the other guy will be like, ‘Oh, okay.'”

“Since there are different personalities in the band,” Jeff adds, “people have different ways of expressing themselves. Danny will come in with ten or fifteen little guitar parts that we can write a song around, and Brandon’s good at coming up with lyrics and melodies. At the same time, I’ll come in with a whole song set-up, and Judd will do the same thing, though with heavier stuff.”

In fact, the guys admit that the Dry Cell sound didn’t really come together until all four members were in place. “We didn’t have our own sound until we found Jeff,” Judd explains. “Everything we had before was very ’80s influenced, or very punk influenced. We just sounded like what we were around. But when we got Jeff, it all came together, and we ended up writing the entire album after that.”