Dear faithful readers of Aimless Skylarking, I'm pleased to share with you this interview with Denton, Texas based artist Daniel Markham. Doing the interviewing honors is none other than blog favorite, Claire Morales. Please join me in welcoming Claire, I certainly hope this is not the last time we hear from her in this capacity, she certainly has a knack for interviews. Find her talk with Daniel below.
Glamorous and gritty, raw and refined, dreamy and nightmarish. Daniel Markham's latest album Disintegrator has it all. His third full length is more than just amazing rock music. The eleven songs melt away as fast as they appear, short and sweet, never fully giving themselves away. We're left with with sonic traces and hazy glimpses. These are the kinds of songs that drift into your mind when you first wake. This is the kind of album you play on repeat while you drive through the night and the country. This is the kind of music that sticks with you. I had the chance to talk to Daniel about music, pie, punk rock, David Lynch, tornadoes and more. Read all about it and listen to Disintegrator:
Claire: If Disintegrator was a coffee beverage of any kind, which kind would it be and why?
Daniel: It would be a black coffee because that's really the only kind of coffee that a person should drink.
Claire: If it was a flavor of pie, what flavor might it be?
Daniel: It's like key lime pie. It's the album that most makes me think about Natural Born Killers. There's a scene where they're in a diner. Mickey Knox orders a piece of key lime pie. Just the way he says it, the way they portray the pie, the color of it.
Claire: You grew up in West Texas, how do you think that's affected you as a musician and a consumer of music / culture?
Daniel: It was really hard for me to find music in the town where I grew up. We had to drive to Abilene just to pick up the rock station I liked. I would always come home with new cassettes and music magazines. I also watched a lot of MTV when it was actually music television. Basically, I wasn't all that great at sports, and music made me feel like I could be special in my own way. So I went out and found it.
Claire: All of your albums have such a distinct sound they're all a bit different moods. You're totally Bowie-ing it. Do the changes in sound feel like a natural progression or more like calculated decisions? How do they happen?
Daniel: I just sit down on my bed with my guitar and come up with chord progressions that sound cool to me. Then I write a melody and some lyrics. That never changes. I feel like I always fall in love with one or two records that are out, and that steers the vibe of the songs I end up writing. I feel like it's all a natural progression.
Claire: You love so many different types of music, any artists in particular (musicians, directors, etc) that inspired / helped shape this album?
Daniel: R.E.M., Centro-matic, T. Hardy Morris, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Real Estate, Kurt Vile, The Cars, Deadsy, Jonathan Richman, Metallica, Guns & Roses, John Carpenter, and Dr. Dre!
Claire: You're kind of a classic, timeless kind of musician if you ask me. Have you lived forever?
Daniel: I don't know maybe. Maybe I'm like a demon inhabiting new bodies forever.
Claire: Disintegrator feels like a familiar place you can't quite identify. Very dreamlike. Where do you picture this album happening?
Daniel: Fisher County, Texas. Where I'm from. I had a lot of dreams about tornadoes in Fisher county.
Claire: You just got back from a big tour! How was it playing to people you've never met in cities you've never been to befpre? Also what was the best meal you had? Because food is important.
Daniel: It was amazing to be able to play in a lot of new cities and meet so many wonderful people. Every show was great. Every town was great! I had so many excellent meals. I will say that I have dreams about the squash casserole at Weaver D's in Athens, GA. John Calvin Abney and I had an incredible traditional Japanese breakfast at Okonomi in Brooklyn. That bluefish!
Claire: You play music in Denton, TX. What do you think of the scene here as compared to other places? How does living somewhere affect the art you make (if at all)?
Daniel: I think Denton has some of the best bands in the country right now, honestly. We also, for now, have plenty of parking. I love small towns. I love to walk a lot. I think the place you live will always have an influence on your music. You just have to find a place you like living in and do your thing. Denton is that place for me.
Claire: You've collaborated a lot in the last year, with different musicians, photographers and film makers (I'll list them all here, me, Tony, Judd, Rambo, Jasmyne, etc) Talk a bit about this, what do you get out of collaborating, why do you do it? Also: please name a dream collaboration :-)
Daniel: I am rich in talented friends. I have learned so much from working with other people. I used to feel so alone in my music. Now I have so many awesome friends who add so much to what I want to do. They are champions. It's nice to let go and let friends enhance what you are doing. I am a lucky guy to have the friends I do. I would love to work with Peter Buck some day. Also, David Lynch.
Claire: I think you've probably inspired more young artists than you realize (myself included). What advice do you have for people who are just starting to write songs and perform them for people?
Daniel: I would just say to be yourself no matter what. If you're fronting people will see through it. Never give too much away. Never stop writing. Eat more nachos.
Claire: What do you think about music today?
Daniel: Some of it is okay. I don't feel like there's anything really happening that's gonna change the culture. Like Nirvana. I just don't see that happening, it's not the same kind of world. People don't say what they want to say. When everyone's thinking the same thing all the time, how can you be punk rock? What's punk rock? Punk rock is the things everybody disagrees with.
Claire: What have you been listening to lately?
Daniel: I've been listening to a lot of great stuff. Blackstar by David Bowie. The new Iggy Pop record is killer. Lots of Adam Faucett. The new Deftones and Deerhunter records are great. I also really dig the soundtrack for Hyper Light Drifter by Disasterpeace. Currently listening to ZZ Top.
Claire: What's next?!
Daniel: I'm going to focus on Disintegrator for a little bit. I've got tons of ideas for songs and other things I'd like to do. You will just have to wait and see!
Casey: And not to steal Claire's thunder, but my favorite track on the LP is 'Show Me What You Got'. Timeless riff, love it.