Dennis Hirdt has a known reputation in the world of modeling, having posed for names like Diesel, Cesare Paciotti and Roberto Cavalli. In addition to his runway modeling; recently developed clothing line and collection of photos including steamy nudes, underwear ads, German clothing ads and many more, Hirdt also adds his stage persona, Don Gator, to his resume.
Inspired by his appreciation for spy tunes, world traveling experience as a male model and desire to add pep to some of the songs in his collection of over 100 sets of lyrics, Hirdt began his “spy rock” album on a flight from San Diego to New York.
“I listened to an old song and was thinking, ‘How do I make this song exciting’,” he recalls. “So I tried writing about being undercover in the jungles of Colombia.” From this experiment, Flor Oscura, the first song written for the Naked With a Loaded Gun debut album, was born. Upon hearing Flor Oscura, Hirdt’s co-producer and guitarist, Justin Gild, encouraged him to continue with the spy idea. Following second song and now album title, Naked With a Loaded Gun, what started as a compilation between Hirdt and Gild took on a theme and focus.
As new songs were composed for the album, some earlier compositions, including Flor Obscura were cut to make room for improvements the guys made over time. In addition, another songwriter, Jonathan Stranger, came into the mix and even pitched a song to Gator as his nemesis, Benedict Mauvais.
“Jonathan Stranger chimed in as Benedict Mauvais,” explains Gator. “He said I want you to write a song about Benedict Mauvais being your arch-villain, and here’s the melody.” Gator then launched into a brief breakdown of the melody, and yes, it is caught on tape.
Since release of the album on June 21, Gator and his band, The Kings of SpyRock, have busied themselves with performances at various well-known venues including New York’s Piano’s as well as Los Angeles’s Viper Room and House of Blues. Gator and the Kings of SpyRock take immense pride in the progression they’ve made in the past year.
“We’re very happy that we can say that we could play with anyone right now. It’s a testament to how hard we’ve worked and how much we’ve rehearsed and how much we’ve grown as a unit,” Gator maintains. “In about one year we went from playing obscure basements to playing some really great venues: Viper Room, House of Blues in LA, Piano’s, Highline Ballroom. In one year we’ve come a pretty long way, and we hope to continue but to take it to the next level.”
Perhaps one aspect of the show that makes Gator and his band stand out is their dedication to the secret spy persona they’ve created and embody with their music.
“It’s about the back story of Don Gator and his trials and tribulations,” Gator explains. “So it adds a fun element to the music and to a live stage show, because I actually have a spy persona on stage. I have a gun, a prop gun; sunglasses I wear on stage and the gun holster. My guitar player has the ammo strap for his guitar. My other guitar player is a little bit of a secret agent on stage too.”
Though this stage presence makes the live show memorable on another level, Gator has run into trouble with his props from time to time.
“I have a prop gun, but at one show I failed to mention that to the security at the Viper Room,” he laughs. “They came up to me after my first song and I had to calm them down.” Seems appropriate for a secret spy.
Gator’s first album was released under his name, but since the compilation of his band, the next CD, estimated to drop in 2013, will be a collection of music performed by The Kings of SpyRock and will be released by Don Gator and the Kings of SpyRock. Keep an ear out for this seductive sophomore album and check out the band’s page for preview tracks that will undoubtedly surface as the album comes together.