In 2013, Bryan Dixon was living the dream. As frontman and chief songwriter for the young, talented and hard-working local band Softsilence, and with the help of a respected music management company, he had just landed a legitimate publishing deal. Dixon was encouraged to head to the music hotbed of Nashville where co-writing opportunities would be plentiful. Joined shortly thereafter by his bandmates, some of whom had just finished high school, Dixon could feel rock stardom right around the corner.
According to the prolific and gifted songwriter, it was more of a wake-up call to the realities of the music business than the destiny-fueled dream come true he had, perhaps naively, envisioned.
“We were ready to go. We had filmed two videos. Recorded an EP everyone was excited about. We were the tightest we’ve ever been, but we were told to not play any shows,” recalls Dixon. “They [the companies representing Dixon at the time] were always ‘setting something up,’ always ‘working on something’ and we would wait and then nothing would happen. We literally never played one show in public as a full band in Nashville.”
While Dixon had the publishing deal that gave him a monthly paycheck to cover the rent and even afford the payments on a brand-new Mustang, the other band members did not have the same backing or deal, and the scenario played out as might be expected.
“Guys started dropping off. One by one they left. Everyone was like, ‘What the fuck, Bryan? We followed you out here and now we can’t even play.’ They realized how stupid it was to be there. I felt like shit. I had three human beings move out on a whim. I lost my band’s trust. I lost my band. It was a lot to go through.”
Around the same time, multiple national social controversies were brewing, from police brutality to mass shootings. Dixon had a personal epiphany that the music he had been making with Softsilence wasn’t what was really in his heart or in his mind.
He called a meeting with his publishing company and shared with them a new song that exemplified the more socially conscious direction he wanted to take. According to Dixon, less than a week later he was unceremoniously dropped from the publishing deal and told that the monthly payments would be stopping as well. Almost instantly, Dixon was literally homeless and living in his car, ironically, the same one that the deal had enabled him to buy.
After getting some part-time work at a boutique store and trying to figure out what to do, not only with his music career but with his life, Dixon became close friends with another Nashville area musician, Brian Patrick. Together they began to collaborate on a new direction in Dixon’s songwriting.
This past summer, armed with a new name, Monte Xannic, and a reinvented musical direction, the reinvigorated Dixon put Nashville in the rearview mirror and headed back home to the West Coast, a place where he believed his vision would be better appreciated and accepted.
So what does his new music sound like? Well, he’s only released one song so far, “New Prescription,” but it does not disappoint. The single is an anthemic, piano-driven rocker complete with, as Dixon promised, a message.
The still incredibly young musician, who turns 26 this year, has no intention of performing solo, but sees Monte Xannic as more of a collaborative effort where, at any given show, the lineup could range from a “guitar, bass and drum power trio to a 10-piece with three French horn players.” Such variety is perhaps fitting; he describes the new music as “Billy Joel on acid at a Run DMC house party.”
What the future holds for the ultra-positive and passionate Dixon and his musical rebirth as Monte Xannic certainly remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: His definition of success has changed dramatically.
“I’m happier than I’ve ever been,” insists Dixon. “I’m grateful, too. I don’t look back with bitterness. I’m stoked I got to experience what I did, but success for me now is really about how much empathy I can have for people. How much love I can have for absolute strangers. Success is love. I’m finally awake . . . and so is my music.”