On November 27th, They Might Be Giants (TMBG) released Why?, a family album follow up to their Grammy-winning Here Come the 123s. Like every TMBG album, Why? is collection of melodic curious oddities that everyone in the family can enjoy. One of our favorite songs from Why? is Elephants which was written and sung by by TMBG bassist, Danny Weinkauf. You may remember Danny Weinkauf from previous TMBG hits like “I am a Paleontologist” or Danny’s own Red Pants Band and his 2014 award winning album, No School Today. Beyond family music, Danny is also a Grammy-winning composer for film and television.
For this #8isEnoughQuestions interview, each of the following questions was written by one of our Full Van Fun family members and answered directly by Danny Weinkauf. Enjoy!
1) What do you eat for breakfast?
They say “you are what you eat” so I usually try to start my day with a big bowl of music crunchies sprinkled with science bits and a small side of silly puffs.
2) What is the most fun about performing with They Might Be Giants?
I love it when those guys finally stop hogging the microphone and let me sing one of my songs (haha). Watching fans singing along to a song I’ve written is one of my most favorite things in the whole world.
3) In the song, “I am a Paleontologist”, you clearly state over and over that you are a paleontologist. While I see you have experience as a musician and pediatric physical therapist, I can find no evidence that you are a paleontologist. Can you please clarify?
Well, I clearly must have been is some sort of confused haze while writing that song. I think because my son Kai and I spent so much time studying and talking about Dinosaurs and Paleontology it must have gone to my head and I actually thought I really was a Paleontologist that’s who I am that’s who I am …oops there I go again…
4) Would it be more fun to be a Paleontologist or an Archaeologist?
Yes and YES! By that I mean I think either profession would an amazing, fun, and interesting career. Kind of like being a scientist, detective, historian, and more in either case.
5) If you do know, where do they make balloons?
Now that is a very good question. The truth is if I knew the answer then I wouldn’t have needed to write the song “Where do they make Balloons?” TMBG’s manager once suggested “maybe a factory in New Jersey” but my best guess would be that balloons are made at the North Pole by Santa’s elves.
6) If you were an astronaut and had the chance to go to the moon, what song would you play when you landed on the moon?
WOW! First of all, how awesome would that be?! I think my head would explode, not from the pressure but from sheer excitement. As for songs, there are so many that come to mind from “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, to “Destination Moon” by TMBG or “Moon Moon Moon”, by my friend Laurie Berkner. That said, I guess I’d probably play the one song that I actually know all the words to which is “The Moon is Made of Cheese” from my No School Today album. That tune was written in response to a friend who believes that the lunar landings were a hoax. It would seem very fitting to play that song while standing on the moon. Do you guys have any contacts at NASA that could hook me up?
7) How has playing with They Might Be Giants influenced your efforts as Danny Weinkauf and the Red Pants Band?
Playing in TMBG has taught me 2 very valuable lessons: 1) Always drink lots of coffee before going on stage and 2) the first one to finish playing a song wins! Kidding aside, my years of touring and recording with TMBG have informed all aspects of what I try and do with DW and RPB. John and John (and Dan and Marty) are so incredibly talented and prolific and have been great role models as band leaders and creative people in general.
8) Do elephants drive?
As far as I know, only the pink, purple, green, and yellow ones are able to drive. I’ve never heard of a grey one driving. That would just be silly.
Thank you Danny Weinkauf for a definitely GIANT #8isEnoughQuestions interview! Don’t miss our previous interviews with Turkey Andersen, Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis, Bryan Vander Ark of The Verve Pipe, Play Date, Recess Monkey, Andrew and Polly, Tim Kubart, and stay tuned for our Holiday interviews with country star Rissi Palmer and the original Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page!