Danny Diamonds

Danny Diamonds - September 2014

Danny Diamonds Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: July 23, 2014
Posting Date: September 12, 2014
Artist Hometown: Denton, TX
Links: Facebook, Bandcamp
Recorded by: Michael Briggs @ Civil

Hot Summer
Give Up
Like Life
ONE: With your new album “Danny Diamonds” you seem to take on a new moniker or persona (changing from ‘Danny Rush’ to ‘Danny Diamonds’); along with arranging a slightly different band. Where did the inspiration for the change come from and how has it influenced the music?
Daniel Folmer: I wouldn’t say I ditched ‘Danny Rush’. My birth name is Daniel Rush. Danny Rush was more of a conceptual representation of the person I was during those albums. Danny Rush recordings began in mid 2008, when that phase of my life in Denton was wrapping up. In 2009, I moved to a little lake house in the hill country and took a job. Living in Canyon Lake provided some of the most enlightening and frightening years of my life. During that time, I wrote a lot of the songs included on Danny Diamonds. To be honest… a lot of the Diamonds songs were composed in a haze and cast aside. It wasn’t until I returned to Denton in January 2012 that the songs were brought to fruition. The frightening aspects of my personality followed me back. The person who I was in the hills and the person who I am when in organized society are not the same. Being surrounded by friends, family, and other artists is such a saving grace. But, enough of the sappy bullshit. Danny Diamonds was a character created during a 2011 tour with The Paper Chase and This Will Destroy You. When I played piano, I had a series of rings for each finger. It was a lot of green knuckles and arthritis but I felt like Liberace. Our first night of playing with TWDY, at some point, I became agitated and began throwing diamond rings at the band and yelling ‘diamonds, bish!’ …It became a running gag and the name stuck. The album, Danny Diamonds, was recorded during a time (summer 2013-summer 2014) while I was beginning to shed the mindset of self-destruction and began to focus on renewal and production in a positive way.
Brent Frishman: What’s the writing process like with you and the Designated Drivers? Do you demo the songs before bringing them to the band?
DF: My songwriting process has been pretty fluid over the years. When I was a younger man, I used to sit down at the piano or the guitar and attempt to squeeze songs out. Thirty minutes banging four to six chords around and hoping for the best. Though it produced some wonderful material, it is not always as natural or smooth as one would hope. As I’ve gotten older… eh, more mature, I have become a satellite instead of a radio tower. It’s as if the signals of song come through and I merely accept them. I will hear a melody or a lyric in my head, transcribe it or record it quickly. This is when the fun begins. I scramble to find an instrument or begin to sing and the words come through. It’s kind of an unconscious expression. Half of the time it’s gibberish or no words come through, but I snatch them when they do. However, the songs I write are autobiographical. It always ends up that way (at this point). For this album, specifically, we spent more time preparing for the studio. Most of the Designated Drivers albums were products of the absolutely awesome Justin Collins experience. We show up at JC’s home studio, play the songs together a few times, JC would hit record on the tape machine, and magic would flow. It was harrowing, breakneck, and wildly creative. However, with these songs, I wanted a more rehearsed and orchestral arrangement. These songs’ topics nearly cost me everything, and I wanted to give them the respect I felt like they deserved. Justin’s influence was instrumental in the formation of my sound as well as the creative process. He was a great help with this album as well: playing, arranging, and producing. He is a master.
TWO: The video you shot recently for ‘Hot Summer’ with Daniel Rodrigue is really great/special… how did the idea come about and what was the process like?
DF: Rodrigue is an old friend of mine. We’re both Brookhaven college alumni’s, both named Daniel, and both in love with photography & the people who produce it. One day, he presented this idea of making a video with a kind of ‘crank camera’ as I called it. It was a little plastic box with a handle that looked like a jack in the box. He would crank the handle several times and it would take thirty frames. For more detailed information you should check out the Central Track write-up. The original concept of the video was for Danny Rush to leave the Dallas county jail and engage in total debauchery around town. As we progressed filming (we had to re-shoot three times because the film was faulty), the video became less focused on my asshole persona and more a juxtaposition of imagery and lyrics. The song centers itself around suicidal ideation, planning, and intent. While editing though, the video became an exquisite series of bright colors and an expression of enjoyment in life. Mr. Rodrigue is a wizard.
THREE: As a North Texas native, and an established artist in the local music scene, how do you feel about Denton, specifically, compared to the rest of the country?
DF: Hmmm. That’s a tough question. Being a primarily Denton-based artist, I love Denton’s artistic community. I do hate the FRISCOization or whatever that is occurring under the very watchful and attentive eyes of ‘your friendly city council’. I hate the Rayzor Ranch development. I hate the consumerism that has taken the place of many local businesses. However, with all cities… things must progress. Austin is a great example. Everyone in my family besides me was educated there. You always hear ‘ah man AUSTIN JUST AIN’T THE SAME’ from the townies that grew up there in the 70’s. You even hear it from the mustached men who moved there in 2009. And while both of them are right, it’s fucking annoying and trite. I see Denton heading that way and already hear that kind of talk. I have frequent conversations with my friend, who has achieved worldwide success as an artist and songwriter, about the ‘glass ceiling’ in Denton. In his mind, you can only achieve a certain level of success in this town. However, I disagree. The bands I worshiped early in my Denton years (Lift To Experience, Little Grizzly, Centro-matic, the Baptist Generals) all achieved the success that I strive for – national/global touring. To me, succeeding as a musician is being able to bring your art to new and fresh ears. Josh Pearson (LTE) is a monster in Europe. George Neal (LG) is now fronting Hares On The Mountain, a blender full of talent and a local secular praise and worship machine. Centro-matic is still putting out great albums. Will Johnson is touring and collaborating with other great writers. The Baptist Generals just released a terrific album and have been touring. All of these bands were seeded and grown in Denton. All of them are achieving what I would define as success, either on local or national terms. Go to Austin, Chicago, or Portland. Try to get a half decent gig where people give a flying fuck about the art you are presenting. It’s tough, and sometimes defeating. That being said, I’ve been playing in Denton for ten years now. There have been plenty of tough/defeating opportunities, but what I love about Denton is those shows are sometimes the most intimate. Playing in the basement of J&J’s for six people with no PA and being provided total silence in a room to present your art is a blessing. Sound is the canvas for song. It is difficult to paint when the canvas is muddied. But as far as Dallas and Fort Worth go, I love both cities, but finding good gigs is hard. I love, love, love playing the Kessler. From production to the busboys, the staff is friendly and as kind as anywhere in the world. I love what Dallas has to offer as a city and a cultural hub. I love Fort Worth for the history, the musical arts, and the Texas tradition. Being given the opportunity to tour Europe and the US a few times has given me such love for my town. One day after returning from a tour, I star struckenly ear fucked Matt Pence. We talked about coming back from tour, being exhausting, and a bit of a nightmare in terms of psychological adjustment. He said, ‘man,… I’ve lived all over the country, but there is nowhere like Denton.’.
– Email interview by Brent Frishman.