Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Danny Garcia

Danny Garcia, one of the all-time most-stylish technical skateboarders of all time has been putting out jaw droppingly rad sections since skating for Kareem Campbell's legendary City Stars back in 1995. Currently pro for Habitat, eS and Royal, Danny is also massively passionate about music, whether listening or playing. He was nice enough to shoot the shit about what he digs, before heading off on the European eS tour.

Ok, standard question - what were you into first? Skateboarding or music?
Music. I didnt skate 'til I was fifteen so I think music was first. I played piano and violin in grade school.

Is it just guitar you play now? Or do you still play piano at all? 
I play a handful of instruments. Usually when I record at home I will run through the basic instruments. Guitar, piano or organ, bass, drums, percussion, etc.

Do you record stuff at home? What about the tracks you had on (Habitat video) 'Continental Caravan' ? That was really cool. How did that come about?
I record at home a bunch and my friend has a studio close to me that I have used a couple of times. I have some cheap home recording equipment at home that I use. Sometimes I'll do some instrumental stuff and pass it off to (Habitat film-maker) Joe Castrucci.

So who would you say influences you when you're writing? I expect it must be quite a few people.
Yeah. I go through my phases, but it's usually American music from the past. Lou Reed, Dylan...I have got really into the Phil Spector groups recently, and I have been listening to country guys like Merle Haggard and Townes Van Zandt. Townes a lot.

Do you remember when you first started being aware of, and buying, music?
My Dad played saxophone. I would always want him to play I think i just liked to hear a real instrument. I'm trying to think back... I would have to say that MTV had something to do with my exposure to music. I would always watch MTV. As bad as that could of been for me...

So what was the first artist you got really into?
I'm trying to think... Lets see... I was really into whatever was on the radio or TV, so it changed constantly, like Nirvana and Snoop Dogg within a week. The first tape I bought was Bad Religon. I do remember that. Skate videos influenced my musical tastes. Thats when I started to really get into music.

Does anything stand out from then? 
A lot of hip-hop stuff. Things that stood out were like...that Cream song Jeremy Wray used... Almost every song in Penal Code, that FTC video. Penal Code was like the perfect mixtape. That soundtrack is perfect. The Plan B videos too.

Hierolglyphics owed Mike Ternasky a lot... 
Yeah. That's when I got turned on to them.

You skated to The Chocolate Watchband in 'Mosaic'. It fitted really well. Do you have a say in your section music?
 I have a say but I didnt pick that song, but when Joe showed it to me I agreed with the song. I really wouldnt trust myself with picking the music for my parts.

Why not? You picked the tricks.
I think I listen to music for different reasons. I dont think like someone who is editing a video.

Do you get to see many shows? Either at home or on tour?
ot lately. I used to really make an effort but its been a while. Its wierd. I usually dont have the best time at shows. I'm not totally sure why. Sometimes the people around you can affect a show, and the sound. Sometimes I can get uncomfortable at a live show I guess. But don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good show.

Do you play your own stuff live at all?
No, not really. I don't have the desire to. That may change, but I'm into recording right now. Someday I probably will want to perform, when the well is dry. It feels like it's coming, I'm sore right now and I havent skated in a few days.

I guess you use your downtime to write music?
Yeah. Guitar on tour is for downtime really. Sitting in the hotel or something, it keeps me from getting anxious.

Can you give us a list of songs that you're digging just now, maybe stuff that could act as a starting point for anybody wanting to investigate?
Townes Van Zandt - 'Waitin' Around To Die'
Captian Beefheart & His Magic Band - 'Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes I Do'
The Gonks - 'Woman Yeah'
Merle Haggard - 'Mama Tried'
West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - 'If You Want This Love'
Charles Manson - 'Cease To Exist'
Lucio Battisti - 'Dio Mio No'
Tom Waits - 'Hoist That Rag'
Chuck Berry - 'Havanna Moon'
Caetano Veloso - 'Lost in Paradise'
The Ronnettes - 'I Can Hear Music'
The Band - 'When I Paint My Masterpiece'

So let's have a look at some of these...

Townes Van Zandt 'Waitin' Around To Die'
Hard-drinkin', gun-slingin', drug-addict, depressive, country/folk musician from Texas. Van Zandt never found success with his music, and spent most of his life touring bars until his death in 1997 at the age of 52, just days before he was due to start recording an album for Sonic Youth's Ecstatic Peace label. Check the 1975 documentary 'Heartworn Highways' for a lesson in how to drink straight whiskey.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band 'Sure 'Nuff 'N Yes I Do'
A track from 'Safe as Milk", the debut album from everybody's favourite 1960s psychedlic surrealist. Captain Beefheart influenced everybody from Tom Waits and The Beatles to The Minutemen and the Sex Pistols. Simpsons creator Matt Groening declared Beefheart's 1969 LP 'Trout Mask Replica' "the greatest album ever made", so the least you can do is find yourself a copy and make up your own mind.

The Gonks 'Woman Yeah'
The B-side of The Gonks 1967 'Nobody But Me' single. The Gonks were a South African garage/R&B (in the true sense, look it up) band who released a string of amazing records between 1965 and 1974, but never achieved chart success or critical acclaim. Not to be confused with a current Belgian garage band of the same name...

Merle Haggard 'Mama Tried'
Hard-livin' Haggard recorded this track in 1968, during a rare spell out of jail, as an apolgy to his mother, who had no luck whatsoever keeping Merle on the straight and narrow. Featured to great effect in Big Brother magazine's 'Number Two' video, the song went straight to number one on its release and is a fine example of how punk rock country music once was.

Charles Manson 'Cease To Exist'
Murderous cult-leading lunatic Charlie Manson certainly knew how to write a tune or two. 'Cease To Exist' was even covered by his mates the Beach Boys, albeit with different lyrics and a name change. It's safe to say that if he spent more time writing music, and less time trying to convince people that the Beatles had predicted an apocalyptic race war he might well have been better known for his songs, and not locked up in jail with a swastika tattooed on his forehead.

Caetano Veloso 'Lost In The Paradise'
Chances are, few of you will have heard of Brazilian composer/singer/guitarist/writer/political activist Caetano Veloso, and and even less of you will be familiar with all of his 47 albums, but rest assured that his forthcoming collaboration with Lil Wayne and P-Diddy will be nothing if not interesting. For now, the best place to begin would be Veloso's autobiography, 'Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil'.


The Ronettes 'I Can Hear Music'
1960s girl-group pop at its absolute finest. Written by Phil Spector and previously recorded by the Beach Boys, 'I Can Hear Music' is a perfect example of the work of one of the few people in music who can legitimately be called a genius. Even if he also happened to be a mad-haired, gun-toting murderer.

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