Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers

Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers - July 2012

Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: May 21, 2012
Posting Date: July 9, 2012
Artist Hometown: Denton, TX
Links: Facebook
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

Hold On Steady
Shut Your Fucking Mouth My Darling
Without You
ONE: Out of the songwriters in Denton, you’re one of the most prolific. How do you maintain your songwriting momentum?
Danny Rush: I don’t know. I did an interview the other day and they were asking me the same question, and I said, ‘Well, I kind of arrange my life around the music, you know? If I need to write, I’ll make something happen.’ But then I thought about it and I was like…it’s more like things happen naturally, like I go through a lot of phases or cycles, as most people naturally do, and I tend to write either on the upside or the downside. Everybody has upsides and downsides. It’s just about being able to capture those in words and then putting music to them, or writing music and then putting words to that.
DJ: So your songs are an expression of things that you’re going through? Or are they separate from you and your real life?
Danny: No, it’s usually…Well, it goes both ways. Sometimes it’s…sometimes it’s very close to the bone, and sometimes it’s…
Tony Ferraro: About boning.
Danny: Yeah, about boning, and food. It’s about thinking back on boning. All the boning you’ve done and the food you’ve eaten, and the fruits—
Tony: Metaphoric and literal!
Danny: —the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that you’ve tasted.
DJ: What would you say is the most important food to your songwriting?
Danny: Chicken…Like Jim Morrisson says in ‘Roadhouse Blues,’ or no, in ‘Back Door Man,’ ‘You eat your dinner, eat your pork and beans/I eat more chicken than any man ever seen/Hey hey, I’m a back door man.’ You know what I mean?
DJ: Yeah, I’ve heard that song before. How has having a steady band affected your songwriting?
Danny: Well, you weren’t in there when we played, but my guitar was out of tune, and I was like, ‘I should probably tune this,’ and then this motherfucker Tony plugs my guitar into a tuner. So, basically, these guys are driving. That’s why they’re called the Designated Drivers.
Tony: The guitar was drunk.
Danny: The guitar was shitfaced. They drive what’s going on.
Tony: I gave it a cup of coffee, which biologically works.
Danny: We’ve been playing together for a little…Justin’s been drumming for me since like 2006.
Justin Collins: Off and on, yeah.
Danny: Tony’s new, Taylor’s been with me for at least two years…
Taylor Sims: For life!
Danny: It’s for life. It’s a lot easier when you’ve got a steady group of people who know you. And, we’re all friends, so…you know, we…
DJ: Do you ever find yourself writing with the band in mind, or are you still writing the same way you were before?
Danny: No, I’m writing the same way I did, and then I think, ‘Would this sit with the band?’ And then if not, I put it on the solo shelf and I record it by myself. We have a whole fucking album that’s just solo shit. That stuff we did with Jeff, that wouldn’t qualify as a “DDs” record. It’d be more like a solo record, so…There’s songs that I write that I’m like, ‘Man, this would sound badass with the fucking Jackson Browne over here behind me,’ and there’s songs that I write that I’m like, ‘This is more on the solo tip.’
Tony: When are you going to release that record?
Danny: When I pay J.C. off for the last record. Which, I’ve got a job! I’ve got a job!
Tony: This boy’s got a job!
Danny: You’re gonna get paid! I’m also going to pay off Dave.
Justin: I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Danny: You’re going to take a girl to the Rangers game. We need to have a double date Rangers game!
Justin: I’m in.
TWO: You just released a new album. Can you tell us about it?
Danny: It’s called Brown and Blue. It was written…while I was gone. Most of it was written in Canyon Lake, and…it’s about loss, it’s about despair, it’s about fucking and drugs and…food. [Laughs]
Tony: Fuck yeah.
Danny: What do you guys think it’s about? I don’t know.
Tony: When I listen to it…
Danny: In all seriousness. No fucking monkey jokes here.
Tony: No no no….yeah, it’s easy to slide them in.
Justin: It’s not about monkeys.
Danny: It’s not about monkeys.
DJ: That’s good to know.
Tony: I think it follows very heartily in the thread that you’ve, you know, designed for yourself. It’s kind of round, but most of it’s about what’s not there.
Danny: Yeah. The things that you…
Tony: The things that maybe were once there, or never were…
Justin: Are y’all high?
Tony: Yeah, dude!
Danny: Well, you know, a lot of the songs are about broken relationships that I’m trying to maintain through my neurosis and others neurosis and distance and time and, you know, space, all of these things that get in the way of connecting with somebody. You asked what I write about. That’s what I usually write about. It’s structure. I was doing another interview, the same interview I was talking about, and he asked, ‘What’s the difference between Danny Rush and the DDs record and this one?’ And with the Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers, I had a jumbled band and it was all kind of mish-mashed, but with this one—
Tony: It was still kind of a solo record, that last one, but this one, you assembled a band for it.
Danny: Like, some of them were Grady [Don Sandlin] on drums, some were J.C. on drums, some was Sean [Kirkpatrick] on piano, some was Taylor on piano. Did you play on that one, Taylor?
Taylor: Yeah. Thanks.
Tony: Yeah, his name’s on it.
Danny: Well, I don’t look at the fucking liner notes every day!
Justin: He played keys. I think Sean played all of the piano piano.
Danny: No, I mean on Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers.
Tony: Yeah.
Danny: Well, okay. It’s a lot different. The songs I was writing then I was writing for myself, and then I just transitioned into the band. The songs I wrote for this one were for the band, because I knew what everybody could do and how it would sound.
Tony: Yeah, with this record, you came with a lot of full ideas on how it would sound with solos and riffs and shit…
Danny: Like the ‘Brown and Blue’ solo. Wakka wakka.
Tony: Yeah, that was cool.
Danny: Don’t put that in there please. Just go, ‘Wakka wakka’ or something.
Justin: On the record, dog.
Danny: It is on the record! You’re right.
Justin: Can’t take it back. Broadcasting this shit straight to MySpace.
THREE: You’ve been active in Denton for a long time—
Danny: Sexually.
DJ: Obviously, from what you’ve just mentioned.
Tony: Totally new strands of STDs.
Danny: She’s from Boerne!
DJ: How do you think the music landscape has evolved since you’ve been playing here?
Danny: Well, Bagg broke up, which is a big bummer. To me, nothing has really changed. My favorite bands when I moved here in, oh, I don’t know…whenever I started playing here with Shane [Wright] at Open Mic at Rubber Gloves. The biggest bands in town were the Baptist Generals and Centro-matic, and those are still the biggest bands to me. You know, it’s a transient town. People come and go, and there’s a lot of hot young bands that come on, and they’ve got a lot of friends between 18 and 23 that support them and come to their shows and ‘Their shows are great!’ and ‘Man, are you going to the show?’ But, in the end it’s all fucking poppycock, because as soon as they graduate, they’re gone, and the band’s going to break up after two years anyway, so what the fuck are you doing? The thing is, I’ve had…countless, countless members of the ‘Daniel Folmer’ whatever you want to call it, but now I’ve finally got some solid motherfuckers who know what they’re doing and do it well, so…
Tony: Thanks Dan.
Danny: Fuck you.
Justin: I thought he was talking about us.
Tony: I thought he was talking about us, too. He’s got a Violitionist Session tomorrow…
Danny: I’ve seen a lot of bands come and go. I’ve seen a lot of bands get popular and just disappear. And popularity…I don’t even know what that means anymore. Nobody’s selling records. Popularity is how many people are going to ‘Like’ your status on Facebook. How many people are going to come to your show, that’s pretty much what it boils down to, so…If you’re putting the product out there, that’s what counts.
Tony: So please come to our Facebook page and please ‘Like’ us. Please ‘Like’ us!!
Danny: Come to our Facebook page! Check out our new photo! Our Violitionist Session! Everybody’s on their iPhones. Are you playing Scrabble, Taylor?
Tony: He’s liking our band.
DJ: If everyone just comes and goes and never gets anywhere, it seems like there’s not a real payoff for playing in Denton. What keeps you coming back here?
Danny: There’s a huge payoff, man.
DJ: Yeah?
Danny: I don’t know what you’re thinking about.
DJ: It seemed like you were just saying that it all doesn’t matter—
Danny: Well, to those bands that are…I don’t want to use the word ‘plastic,’ but…
Tony: Fleeting. You know, fun, good shit.
Danny: You get a band of— and I always call these ‘Brooklyn Bands,’ but there’s a lot of ‘Brooklyn Bands’ around here. You get a band where one guy is really into fucking Widespread Panic and one guy’s really into Vampire Weekend and one guy’s really into Pavement and one guy’s really into Shellac or whatever, and they all get together and make some sort of mish-mash pop band, and it sounds like a combination of all those bands, and in the end they either hate each other or they don’t do well, so they break up. Those kind of bands don’t do well. All of us have the some kind of influences, we all like the same kind of music, we all jam the same way, and that’s what separates us from the rest—
Tony: What Danny’s trying to say is we are for life.
Danny: For life, neighba!
DJ: So you see the Designated Drivers as long-term?
Tony: If we can, maybe. Yeah, that’d be great.
Danny: I mean, as long as you all have jobs and are able to live in Section 8 housing…I mean, like I said, J.C.’s been my drummer since oh…fucking when? I don’t know. ’07.
Justin: I don’t know, man. Since we were neighbors.
Danny: Yeah. ’06-’07. I saw his ass playing banjo on the porch one day and I walked over and I’m like, ‘You’re the guy that does the sound at Rubber Gloves,’ and he’s like, ‘Yep. What’s the word, nigga?’ It started from there. And I’ve known Chris for forever and ever and ever. I knew Chris through Shane. I mean, you just pick people up as you go. We all like the same shit—
Tony: Danny’s a relentless fan of Chris’ music, and I’m sure J.C. is, too.
Danny: Yeah. And I love Tony’s music, and I love J.C.’s shit, and Taylor— I like Jazz, so… We all basically suck each other’s cocks as much as possible. That’s what keeps it going.
– Interview and transcription by Dale Jones