Danny Weinkauf: Children’s Music Shines Through

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DW Red Pants Band
Danny Weinkauf (second from left) and his Red Pants Band.

When you think about They Might Be Giants, you immediately think of the two-headed frontmen, the Johns (Flansburgh and Linnell). But the third tendril of that hydra should belong to bassist Danny Weinkauf, whose tenure with the band extends more than 20 years – and is the longest outside of the originators. TMBG just completed an international tour and Weinkauf was right there for every stop, although he’s also excited about Inside I Shine, the upcoming CD with his Red Pants Band.

“The recent tours with TMBG have been absolutely fantastic for many reasons,” Danny explained. “On a world tour, we see so many great cities in Europe, Canada, San Juan, Puerto Rico… And next February we head to Australia!” Danny affirms it’s amazing for TMBG to go to a place where the band has never played. “We find a whole new group of fans that know the music and sing along with such enthusiasm,” he added.

Both Johns are hard-working and extremely prolific and last year brought back TMBG’s “Dial-A-Song.” Due to the volume of material that service goes through, in two of the past three years, they have released a new song every week of the year. “This is great for me as I get to record all these new songs and also play them in our live shows,” Danny said. “TMBG is not a legacy act that just plays old songs.”

In an interview with Marc Maron (you’ll need to subscribe to his premium service to hear it), the Johns sounded off on the state of children’s music and their decision to concentrate on adult ventures. “I don’t think there’s been an official departure for TMBG from children’s music, but the truth is they have a more than full career writing and performing their non-kids music, which takes priority for them,” Danny said. “As for my children’s music, they are always 100% supportive of my projects. John F actually helps me promote my shows sometimes.”

Considering Danny was on tour for most of the past several months, the release of Inside I Shine seems to have taken some coordinated effort. “I bring a portable recording set-up on the road. I work on music for TV and commercials or write more children’s songs from hotels all over the world,” he explained. “So writing and recording Inside I Shine took about one year in total.” Danny still records almost all of the music himself. “Then my wife Michelle and Tina Kenny Jones sing and that completes the sound of the band,” he adds. “On this album, our live drummer Steve Plesnarski tracked a couple of tunes which was a treat for me, as I didn’t have to play ’em all myself!”

The band covers the Sesame Street classic “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon” on this CD, a tune written by Jeff Moss. “That song is kind of part of the American fabric; my grown-up friends remember it from their childhoods and their children know it as well,” Danny said. “I actually heard a beautiful version by Jess Penner, looked up the song, and found that many bands had done ballad versions of it. I thought it might be fun to create a Red Pants Band rock version and that’s what we put on the album.”

The release of Inside I Shine is being sandwiched in between upcoming tour dates for TMBG in Canada and Australia. “We have a couple of Red Pants Band shows to celebrate the release at the Long Island Children’s Museum, which is celebrating their 25th anniversary,” Danny said. “We’re playing shows on November 17 and 18. After the full TMBG tour ends next spring, I hope to bring the Red Pants Band to as many towns as will have us.”

Click here to listen to Danny Weinkauf and the Red Pants Band sing “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon.” Visit the band’s website here

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