Danny Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants
Celebrating almost 30 years together, They Might Be Giants is one of the most beloved bands in the history of the alternative music scene. Never afraid to experiement, they have blended genres, dabbled in comedy, and even released Grammy award winning children's albums. Laying down the bass for this quirky group is Danny Weinkauf. In addition to work with They Might Be Giants, Danny is a talented composer and writes extensively for TV and film. Along with bandmate John Flansburgh, Danny is a huge DrumCore fan and uses it to lay the groundwork for his music. Read more about Danny's background and current projects below:
How did you get into music? What are your influences?
I guess I got into music much the same way as many of my friends did - by hearing great bands on the radio as a kid and then getting some money of my own and going to the record store. Remember record stores? My Mom worked at one called Sam Goody so I could ask her to pick up an album by The Beatles, The Kinks, Pretenders, or whatever was inspiring at the time. I have fond memories of listening to the Beatles "Help" and running around my friend's basement singing those tunes. My influences would be a very long list of great musicians and composers starting with the Beatles and the great rock bands - but also people like Miles Davis, the great classical composers, and these days film composers like Thomas Newman, Howard Shore, etc. The biggest influences for me though have been the people I've been lucky to work with first hand. All of the guys in They Might Be Giants are amazingly talented so I get to learn from them and from people like Mike Viola, Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), and Scott Klass, (Davenports). As a bass player James Jamerson, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Thomas are probably my biggest influences.
Prior to your involvement with They Might Be Giants, what kinds of music were you making?
Before playing with TMBG I played in a bunch of bands like Fountains of Wayne, Candy Butchers (Mike Viola), Lincoln, EO with members of Tom Tom Club, Belltower (with members of Luna and Cake), etc. mostly alternative rock/pop. Both Lincoln and Candy Butchers went on tour as the opening band for TMBG and that led to me joining with TMBG.
What is the band currently up to?
Things are going great with TMBG. We were just recently nominated for our 3rd GRAMMY. We have an ep coming out in the next month or so and a full album (that we are currently recording) coming out this summer.
You recently won a Grammy. How did you guys get into making children's records?
Yes, we've had great fortune with the children's records. We won a Grammy for "Here Come the 123s" in 2009 and just were nominated for "Here Comes Science" - both in the "Best musical album for children" category. We didn't start making records for kids because it seemed like some smart career move or something. Over the years fans would often comment that their kids really liked the music of TMBG and finally enough people asked if we would consider making a kids record so we made our first kids record "NO!". It was fun to do and not that different musically from one of our rock albums. We don't dumb it down because it's for kids - we just write about kid appropriate topics.
What do you think of DrumCore? Does it help you with your songwriting?
That's sort of a funny question. First of all I love Drum Core. A few years ago a friend recommended it to me and I've been using it ever since. I recently needed to re-record a version of one of my TMBG tunes for a museum in Canada so instead of using our drummer I used Drum core and it sounded great! I also use it all the time for tracks for TV and jingles. It's got a great variety of easy to use sounds and beats and that's important when you need to get tracks done quickly. I've used it on tracks for "Sex and the City", "Malcolm in the Middle", "Jon and Kate + 8", ABC Sports, etc .The funny part is a running joke in the band - all the software in the word will not help you write a great song but it can help to inspire you (like a great groove). It can spark an idea - then it's up to you to come up with the great song.
What other musical projects are you a part of?
These days I spend most of my time composing for TV and jingles. I've got a few national commercials currently running and Themes for TV shows. I also work with other bands when I can. I just worked on an album by a band called Plushgun. I think next week I'm recording a bunch of tracks for the show Kate + 8 with Dan Miller and Marty Beller (Both play with TMBG) - stuff like that. As long as I can work with other great musicians I'm happy to be playing and working.
Where can our users hear more of your music?
People probably hear my music more than they realize on TV everyday (ie: Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Malcolm in the Middle, Sex and the City, etc) but I am currently putting together a website of my own which is at Redpantsmusic.com. That site will have a bunch of music and videos to check out. http://www.theymightbegiants.com/