Interview: The Donkeys on Coffee Addiction + The Hazards of California Sunshine


San Diego rockers The Donkeys recently wrapped a tour in support of their latest release, Ride The Black Wave. Now back in California the boys will take a brief hiatus before heading into the studio to start recording their fifth album. Ride The Black Wave feels light-hearted and breezy, just like the California coast. Yet closer reflection reveals pensive lyrics of doubt, frustration and uncertainty, stemming from the challenges of growing up.

Sound Dessert spoke with The Donkeys’ bassist Timothy DeNardo about eating healthy on the road, San Diego surf, halloween concerts and pumpkins.

SD: The band’s had a busy summer of touring, what’s your favorite place on the road for a pit-stop?

Timothy DeNardo: Pit stops are tough. The highway offers very little in terms of actual comfort. We do our best to find the best coffee shops in any given town as we are all a bit addicted. The Austin Whole Foods seems to be becoming a ritual. Given the perils of life on the road we try, whenever possible, to find real food. Local business’ with fresh, local ingredients can do no wrong in my eyes.

SD: Do you collect postcards from your travels? 

TDN: Sam Sprague’s (drummer) a big postcard sender. He’s really good about keeping in touch with his people back home. Some classics have to be the old mosquito/state bird card from Louisiana, bikini girls anywhere, or one of my favorites: the engineering feat that is the intersection of Interstate 70 and 57 in Effingham, IL.

Sound Dessert: Title track “Ride The Black Wave” has a breezy sound, but philosophical lyrics. What insights have you garnered from growing as a band and simply growing up?

TDN: Having been together as a band for over ten years, and as friends nearing twenty years, it’s hard to pin point what has changed or been learned. Lord knows we couldn’t be further from where we started. We may be a bit more technical or discerning in our approach but at the end of the day it’s more or less the same. Aging may be best seen in the lyrical content. Most notably in the last album. Seems to be a lot of allusions to a discontentment to that growing process or at the very least a struggle to come to terms with what that means or how to do it.

SD: Do you have a love-hate relationship with California? What’s made you want to leave and what makes you “want to stay there instead”?

TDN: California is perfect and I personally never want to leave it. That being said, there is a great deal of complacency that comes along with living in such an idyllic setting. There seems to be no need for urgency as tomorrow will be just as nice. Getting things done creatively or otherwise often takes a back seat to just being.

SD: Walk me through a perfect San Diego day.

TDN: Everyone’s got their own ideas of what that would be, for me it starts and ends in the ocean. Wake up, make or walk to coffee, load up the truck (surfboards) head to the beach. With any luck there are waves and I spend a few hours in the water. Get lunch, read a little, play guitar (still at the beach) then as the sun starts setting head back out for the “evening glass-off.” Then home for dinner and bed…..Repeat.

SD: If you could make one thing happen for The Donkeys in 2016 what would it be?

TDN: The only thing I would want for The Donkeys is more time and space for us to continue exploring music together. Day jobs are necessary but can get in the way.

SD: The band likes dressing up for Halloween. What are your Halloween plans this year and what are some costume highlights?

TDN: We’ve done Halloween shows and they are always fun. We try to learn a bunch of spooky themed covers and make a party of the night. In the past I’d have to say the mummy costumes were the best. Even though last year I felt on the verge of some kind of exhaustion driven melt down on stage (couldn’t see much, super hot, limited mobility, on a small stage in a packed club) but it was still among the best shows we’ve played.

SD: Pumpkin flavored things: yay or nay?

TDN: Only if they’re pumpkins.

The Donkeys fourth album, Ride the Black Wave, is out now. Pick up a copy here.

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