Schneider: I met Danny Malone a few years ago while I was doing a photo shoot and immediately liked him, even though I had no idea that he was a songwriter. We kept in touch, and I remember at one point him telling me about how people were convinced he was one of the best songwriters in the world. I scoffed as I usually do, but figured I’d better investigate and asked him to send me some songs, which he did. They were really good, I’ll admit, but it wasn’t until I heard his masterpiece,Balloons, that I also became a believer. I asked him to answer a few questions recently about it.
Why did you call the album Balloons?
Danny Malone: My friend Jarrett started calling me “Balloons” at some point out of nowhere. First he called me Malone, always “Malone!” And then he slowly morphed my name into balloons by slurring it and adding a funny accent. You try it. Malone, maloone, malloon, muhlooon, buhlooon, balloons! You see? And anyway, I had been writing the album in this time frame, and realized while I was writing it that I hadn’t been myself in a while. In fact, I was living out this other character that I decided to be. I wanted to go all the way, no matter what I was doing. I was living like I had nothing to lose, but it turned out that I actually did. I had a plenty to lose. And I did just that. Lose it. But I also gained something in that time. High highs, and low lows. Blah. But anyway, I was living life as an actor. And that actor’s name happened to be Balloons, because it was fitting. Both in timing, and in connotation somehow.
A lot of incredible things happen to the narrator of these songs. Are they autobiographical or are they purely imagined tales, or a little of both?
Everything is real. Autobiographical in some cases. Wait, now that I think about it, every song is autobiography. That’s interesting. I never really acknowledged that. But yep. I lived all that shit. Or, Balloons did.
How often do you write songs? Do you have a daily routine?
I have no routine. I write at completely random times. Like, I’ve sat down in a hotel lobby and written a song. Or sometimes I can hear entire arrangements in my head, words and all, just walking down the street. I often will write when I’m with a group of people and I’m just goofing off with them or just singing stream of conscious at them. Sometimes I just sing at Falcon this way. She lights up when I do, so that makes me happy. How often? Constantly. Or never. It’s hard to say.
At what age did you decide that you wanted to be a songwriter?
When I was 14, I was singing in a math-rock duo, with my brother playing drums, and me guitar. I actually played more drums back then, though. I was in several metal bands throughout my early teens. Then I got sent away to this juvenile-incarceration facility for two years, and when I got out, I guess when I was like 19 or so, I started writing more songs on acoustic guitar, and I’m also quite reclusive, so the combination, by default, made me become this “songwriter” thing. Which sucks. Maybe. Yeah, probably it sucks. Because I don’t want to be a songwriter. I want to be an entertainer. I want to perform. and I want to make things that dazzle. I don’t want to be this “songwriter” person who “writes songs” about “the world in which he lives.” That’s lame. I’m bigger than that. But really, I don’t exactly want to be anything. Mostly I just want to watch movies and stuff. Life is confusing for me.
What’s your favorite place to play? Least favorite place to play?
Hmmm … I like The Parish in Austin, and Stubbs, and I’ve played amazing places in Europe. All over. Gosh. So many places. But really, my favorite place to play is at my barn. I live in a barn. And I put a stage in it, and a nice live sound system, and I throw shows here sometimes. Not all that often, but a few times a year. And I love those shows. I don’t know most of the people who come. I know a lot. But remember, I’m a recluse, so it’s amazing that I even know a good amount of the people who show up. But mostly the crowd is fans, or strangers. But everyone is always so respectful. It’s a good time. Least favorite place to play: That could be anywhere. I’m miserable anytime I feel disconnected from my performance at a show, either due to the ambiance, or the people there who don’t care a bit about what I’m playing. (Not that I’m blaming them. They just probably don’t know me at all.) But that can happen anywhere. That’s my answer to that.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened when you were performing?
I don’t really get embarrassed at shows. I turn into this other person when I perform. I’m completely transformed from Danny Malone into “Danny Malone,” and so if anything seemingly embarrassing occurs, it’s not happening to me. It’s happening to that guy. But, maybe I have leaked a little pee one time or two. Like, I pee right before I play, and then I am starting the show and I realize I can see a little woopsy doopsy on my pants’ crotch.
Do you have any New Years resolutions?
I guess not. I haven’t even thought about it. Whoa. It’s 2015. Shit.
Did you get anything good for Christmas?
I spent it with my family. I have a good family. That’s enough. Oh, but I did get one of those coffee makers that makes them one at a time. And let me tell you …