Diving For Pearls


Diving For Pearls

Danny Malone
It took a while to get this transcribed, but here is my chat late last year with Diving For Pearls frontman Danny Malone discussing the controversial Texas album.
Thanks to Don Higgins for transcribing the interview for me!



Ok Danny. Great to finally hook up with you. You have a partnership of sorts with producer David Prater. How did you guys get hooked up for the debut album?
Michael Kaplan was our A & R guy; Don Grisham was the guy that signed this band. And Don Grisham was also the guy that … I wouldn't use the word insisted but he is really, really the guy that suggested very, very strongly that we use David Prater to produce the record.

Right, OK.
Because originally we had somebody else lined up. Or I shouldn't say that we had them lined up, we had met with a guy named Terry Thompson I believe.

Oh, Terry Thomas?
Thomas rather who had done Bad Company, right?

And went on to do Giant.
Terry Thomas was the guy, the first guy that we were interested in. Terry Thomas came to New York, took a meeting with us and came to a rehearsal, the studio and came and listened to our stuff, listened to us play and said, “Yeah, I'm interested.” The scheduling just wasn't right. He had just agreed to do a project that was going to take him like, 3, 4 or maybe even 6 months perhaps. He said well look, if you guys can wait, or if you're interested, I'm interested and if we can schedule this 6 months down the road that would be wonderful. Don Grisham said we can't afford to wait 6 months. The time is now and we sort of need to continue with the momentum that we have.

Yep. Yep.
And Prater had done really good sounding demos for us so Don basically stepped in and said look, this is pointless. I'm looking for somebody else. The guy he used was the guy he used for the demo. He did a wonderful job and that was how that whole thing happened.

Right. That's interesting you should say because Terry Thomas has got a similar production style I would have thought.
Yeah, well I was, at the time, you know what? I couldn't tell you a song or even an album title right now but at the time I was really sort of, very into that whole Bad Company sound. Because they were doing a more contemporary, again, like melodic rock / light metal thing.

Yeah, exactly.
But he wasn't available so we got David Prater.

He sounds like a character to work with.
Oh he…have you spoken to this guy?

A little yes…
First, he's incredibly bright and exceptionally, really exceptionally articulate but he's completely out of his mind. And he always has been and he probably always will be.

That's fine. Creative genius
Oh no, he's really…he can be very, very charming, very, very lovely…he's just manic.
He's one of these guys that doesn't do anything half way. And he gets really, really excited and he's manic. But exceptionally capable and an exceptional drummer. Despite the fact he fancies himself as a producer and he has in fact become that…the thing that he really does better than anything else as far as I'm concerned is play the drums. He's an amazing drummer. I'm not at all, even remotely familiar, I don't even know that I ever even heard that Night Ranger record that he did.

Ah, it's very good.
Is it really?

I like it. It's not a standard Night Ranger album by any stretch but it's a very good melodic rock album and has a contemporary feel and I like it a lot.
Yeah, yeah, I'll have to listen to it now then. I'll have to give it a listen.

I'm also a fan of David's work with Dream Theater. That's my favorite album of theirs as well.
I can say with a fair amount of certainty that he is…I mean he's proud of all of the things he's done but I think that he is particularly proud of that first Dream Theater record.

Yeah, it's an amazing record.
Yeah, it's an amazing record; I think he really feels as though that was really his baby. It was something that he took from sort of like an infancy, I mean I don't know that much about where that band came from, I'm familiar with where they've ended up, but not really where they came from, and he was exceptionally proud of that record. And from what I've heard, and from the things that I've read, he has every reason to feel that way.

I think it's still the band's best album.
Oh it is, absolutely. And it is pretty extraordinary. It's pretty extraordinary, he did an amazing job with them. Another band that he'll tell you effectively, they turned their back on him after they made that record. I guess they did one other record with them, didn't they? Or did he produce a live record?

He did one more studio record with them I think.
One of those bands that never really…because he's difficult to work with. I'm one of the few people that have gone back for seconds.
Did you read his…obviously you read it. [David's passionate post regarding the new DFP record]

Yeah I did, I posted it on the site.
Because you posted it on the site. I got into real deep trouble with Yul Vasquez
because of that.

Oh my, because Yul thought that I had something to do with it.

Right, OK.
And Yul and David always had a contentious relationship. They were never really the best of friends and David never really thought that Yul was a particularly good guitar player. So there was a lot of head butting and a lot of ego involved in their relationship.
David Prater, again I say this lovingly, anything I say about David Prater I say lovingly.

I can understand that.
Because he is in fact one of my closest friends, but he's got an ego the size of the state of Texas. Despite the fact he said in a letter that you posted that it had nothing to do with ego, you know. Really, on some level, everything that David does has something to do with his ego. But yeah, Yul called me like 2 days later. Because Yul's an actor. I don't know if you're aware of the fact that Yul has become a reasonably successful actor.

OK. I think I heard something…
I mean, he was just in War of the Worlds. He was just in the new Steven Speilberg…

I haven't seen that.
I haven't seen it either but…, and he doesn't have a huge part in it but he's in like the first 20 minutes of it perhaps. But he was in a … he did, I guess last summer there was a … or 2 summers ago perhaps there was a film called Bad Boys 2 with Will Smith and there's another actor, I forgot his name, a comedic actor, but Yul had a good size role in that. He was in Traffic. He was the assassin in Traffic. I don't know if you saw Traffic.

I haven't seen Traffic either, no.
Well alright, if you see Traffic, he's the assassin, in Traffic. And he's done a lot of television here. So anyway, he has a publicist that sort of does a Google search on him every day just to see what's new out there and what came up. So the publicist read that and said, look, you should probably read this and he called me and said, look, because despite what David Prater may think, and David Prater…it's become public knowledge at this point he did in fact play drums on the record. And he did in fact have to replace some bass parts because, you know, once you re-cut the drums, I mean the bass player, our bass player at the time, a guy named David Weeks, once you cut drums, you cut drums with the bass. I mean rather, you cut bass with the drums.

Yeah, gotcha.
And then once we replaced all the drumming, it really became essential to replace some of the bass parts as well. And because David Weeks, who again was the bass player at the time had already left Nashville and I believe he had gone back to Los Angeles which was where he was living at the time. It was a lot more cost effective and also timely, it saved us…to just have David play some bass. But I don't ever remember. And I can't argue with David because I wasn't there in the studio, you know, with them 16-20 hours a day. I was there but I don't ever remember David having played any guitar.

Yeah, OK.
And that is my story and what you posted on your page is his story.

Which is every bit as valid as mine because he'll tell you, well Danny you weren't there and you don't know. And I'd have to say, OK well maybe you're right because I wasn't there and maybe I don't know. Maybe I really don't. So, but yeah, Yul called me, particularly the line I think David said something about the band was there just for live performances, photos and in capital letters with exclamation points, great hair!

Way to start an argument!
At the end of the day, Yul just doesn't really care because it's 16 years after the fact and he's moved on. I will only make one other little point about that. I did in fact ask Yul to play on this record and Yul said yes. And the reason that he didn't play on the record, it had nothing to do with whether I wanted him to or didn't want him to or whether or not he was interested or not interested, it all really boiled down to scheduling.
You know, we made the record in Texas and here in Massachusetts, Yul is a New Yorker and he has one of those careers where you kind of have to be available, so it was difficult to schedule anything with him. And in the end it just became more realistic for us to use somebody else. But it had nothing to do with whether or not he was interested in participating in the whole thing, because he was in fact. So that's my story now Andrew.

I am trying to make one point really, the point being that the first Diving for Pearls record was…3 points perhaps…was 16 year ago, secondly that at the time I think, which was a huge amount of money at the time was $180,000 to make that record which was kind of standard. That's kind of what they would spend to make a record for a new act back then, $150,000 - $200,000.
And between, from the time that we started doing the demos until the time that we finished doing the new record, really it was about a year long process. And this new record we made for a think $17,000 or $18,000 (laughs), in five weeks time. I listened to some people's criticism, and look, everybody's entitled to their opinion, I didn't expect, nor do I expect every body to like it. But I thought that was an unfair reason for criticizing it. You know, the fact that it didn't sound anything like the first record. It's hard. It's hard to make a record that sounds like $200,000, I mean sonically. I'm only talking about fidelity wise, you know what I mean?

I do.
Sonically that can compete with that, it's just really. Despite the fact that digital recording equipment has completely changed the way that people make records and the way that records sound. It really is…, it's a hard act to follow sometimes when you're working on a really limited budget.

And you had the disadvantage over a lot of other bands, I mean that was, that first album was really held in very high esteem.
Yeah. I don't think anybody expected…, I really truthfully didn't expect the record to have survived for as long as it has, and for people to have thought as highly about it as they actually… I mean I'm the same way. I would never try to convince you I don't feel the same way. I mean I still like the first two U2 records better than anything that they've done subsequently. I mean sonically just in terms of the songs, I mean, you know, and I could name half a dozen other bands that I feel the same way about. But you know… It's tough sometimes. It's really, really tough to sustain a particular focus for anything more than just a couple records. Trust me.
Had Diving for Pearls made a second record in like 1991, it would have sounded an awful lot like the first record. And I've even mentioned to one or two people that I meet that Diving for Pearls did in fact get picked up by Epic. I mean we started making a second record. And we didn't do a lot of work on it but I think we had actually begun demoing like a half a dozen songs with David Prater. He was working at a studio in New York state called Bear Tracks at the time. He was getting ready to do the Firehouse record perhaps. But unfortunately it didn't work out. But a second Diving for Pearls record in 1990 or '91 would have sounded virtually identical to the first record.

I think you did a remarkably good job of … probably half the Texas album sounds, you know, very close to the original. I think you did a remarkable job there.
Well you can thank David Prater for that when you speak to him then. Because, that was really his sort of thing, I mean I left a lot of that…, I shouldn't say all of it, but I left a lot of that to him, I mean, the reason that I asked him to make the record again after…although I asked him probably about 5 years ago if he was interested in doing something like this with me. Because I knew he could deliver and I know Magnus and I knew what Magnus was looking for and I thought the person that can give Magnus that kind of record is David Prater. So yeah, I mean, you know, I think so too. I don't absolutely adore the record from start to finish Andrew. I'd be lying through my teeth if I told you that I did. I mean I feel very strongly about maybe 4or 5 of the songs; there's probably 1 or 2 perhaps or even 3 that I really don't like at all and then the rest of it…

That's probably exactly how I feel to be honest.
Yeah, there's probably 3 good songs. Three songs on that record that I just wish that we'd scratched and found something else. But again, time permitting and with the budget you kind of have to push forward a little bit.

Yeah the record's been on the table for a long while hasn't it?
It has been on the table for a long while, yeah. We actually did, we nixed a couple of things. I think originally we started with probably 14 or 15 songs and then had to make some hard decisions about 4 of them I think and they didn't make it. And a lot of that had to do with the fact that David was doing the drums while… I wasn't in Texas when he was actually doing drums. Sometimes you get there and you just think, OK, I had a vision for it and my vision doesn't really match your vision for it so…, and we don't have the time nor do we have the budget to go back and redo the drums so maybe we should just move on and concentrate…you know what I mean.

Basically you're saying this is a pretty hard record to get done.
Yeah, it was hard, only because of time and distance. If we'd had the luxury again of a big budget we could have gone away, you know, for 3 months, which is how much time we spent in Nashville making the first Diving for Pearls record. You know, you live with it every day. It's easy to change something if you feel inspired and I know David has talked about, there was a song on the first record called 'You're All I Know'.

Yeah, great song.
You know and that song went, arrangement wise, probably changed 3 or 4 times before we settled on what we actually recorded. And we probably would have done a lot more of that this time around, but again, it's difficult to do when one person's living in Texas and the other person lives in Massachusetts. But in the end, I think we got some things that were really good and unfortunately I think we got some things that weren't particularly brilliant but we had to live with them anyway.

OK, I must tell you that I absolutely adore 'The Colours Show'.
One of the songs I'm very, very happy with. Both you and I agree there.

Another one was 'The Truth Is'.
'Truth Is'. Always felt very, very good about that song and was very, very pleased. Very happy with the way that it turned out so we agree there.

And 'Heaven Only Knows' is probably my third favorite.
'Heaven Only Knows' I love! I love! I was really, really happy with that vocal. There's a couple other things about it that I was really happy with the way that…it was David Prater's idea… he modulated it at the end and I'm really, really happy with 'Heaven Only Knows'.

Yeah, cool. And 'If I Only Knew' was another favorite too.
'If I Only Knew', a song that I sadly did not write. Some good friends of mine wrote it and I was in a very short-lived band in New York for a while with these friends of mine. And on a tape of some ideas that I thought we might, or some songs that I thought we might consider for the record, I included that. And David fell in love with it so you can thank David Prater for that, because he insisted that we do that song. And so, I agree with you there. That is one of the songs that I thought came out surprisingly well.

Because I didn't really have any expectations particularly for that song. And because David felt strongly about it, I basically said to him, well look, I'm easy. If you want to do it, and you feel strongly about it, then let's do it. And I was surprised by how well it came out. So we agree so far (laughs)!

Now look, it's a good all-round record. I have some argument obviously that it should have been a Danny Malone record, or might have.
Not that it should have been but perhaps it might have been better received because it wasn't being compared to something else. I think that was my argument. It could be called whatever you like but I think it might have been better received had it been called…

You know, Andrew, I wouldn't argue with you there. I really wouldn't argue with you. The reason why I think at the end of the day it became a Diving for Pearls record was because… I could probably give you 2 reasons why. One, it was because, I mean, I own that name. I came up with that name a long time ago and I personally own it though. I mean, it's a name that I've always liked and I've always felt strongly about so I thought…and I thought in a lot of ways, and I think I may have said this in the letter that I was going to post, at the end of the day, for me, Diving for Pearls was always Jack Moran and I. The keyboard player and I. And despite the fact Jack only got song writing credit on maybe 3 or 4 of these songs, I've forgotten exactly, he really was…because he always has been… Jack and I… Despite the fact that Jack lives in southern California right now, I mean he's my daughter's godfather and I'm his son's godfather. I mean, he and I have always maintained this relationship where we always talk about songs and regardless of where he is, or where he was at the time, because he was living in Paris for a while, I mean, I always sent him stuff and he always commented, and he always had criticisms, constructive most of the time, so I just felt he was involved.

I felt like he was involved. And David Prater was almost like the 5th member of Diving for Pearls really, so I thought, well we've got really... you know there are a number of…again, as I mentioned earlier in my conversation with you, is that Yul was originally interested in working on the record as well. But also, I have no reason not to be candid with you, Atenzia wanted a Diving for Pearls record.

Of course, it's easy to market.
Yeah. Because people may not know who Danny Malone is, but they may in fact know who Diving for Pearls is. Because I was the lead singer in Diving for Pearls, I mean I think they just thought… and I can't honestly say that I resisted all that much.

Look, I don't think you should have. I mean, you've got every right to release it as you have.
The reception might have been a little bit warmer.

Yeah, exactly, just because of the unfortunate 16-year legacy of that great album!
I know (laughs).

It's not very often you'd call that unfortunate (laughs).
No I don't (laughing), I really don't. It makes me very happy. I find myself sometimes thinking about it. It certainly has been a wonderful thing. I'm very proud of that record. I'm very, very proud of that record and I just have to add, despite what David said, it really was a collaborative effort. I mean, it really was. Could he have been the 5th member of the band? Is George Martin the 5th Beatle?

I mean, Jimmy Miller. I was talking to someone about Jimmy Miller the other day and, I mean, all those Rolling Stones… could Jimmy Miller have been… would the Rolling Stones have been the same without Jimmy Miller? Would Traffic had been the same without Jimmy Miller? So he was a big, big part the sound. And a big, big part of the success of that record as well.

Yeah, absolutely!
I mean the success 16 years on. Certainly not the financial success of it, because it wasn't financially… But yeah, I mean, it's not a bad thing. I'm glad that the record is still thought of highly. It makes me happy.

There's a nice little live performance in 1990 that gets traded around the circuit too.
Yeah, I love to… David and I have talked about that because he has that whole show.

Yeah, I've got a CD-R of it or something that's from…
Oh you do? Yeah, see, good, good. I would love for anybody… I'd love to find a way to make that available to just about anybody that wanted it. In a lot of ways I like it sometimes more than I like the record itself.

I don't think my CD-R is pristine quality but it's pretty good.
I'll have to get you one then Andrew.

I'd love to. I mean if you'd like to throw it up on the site as a download we can always do that.
Yeah we could do that. Even like one or two songs would be a good idea. You know what, I'm going to talk to David about that and see if we can't do that. That would be a great thing.

Yeah, just celebrate the band a little bit more.
Absolutely, I would love to do that. I'd have to see if I could coerce him to do it, but I don't see any reason why he wouldn't want to do it.

Hopefully I better get on the phone with him as well and do an interview, and I'd love to talk about his other projects as well.
Oh yeah, you should, very definitely. He's very animated.

Sounds like it. Somebody else told me the same thing.
Oh yeah, yeah. Anybody that's ever worked with him or anybody that's ever known him, he's a larger than life character.

Well I like that. They're a good, fun interview.
Yeah, yeah, he's brilliant, I'm sure. He's just, you know, he's fearless. He'll say anything. Wonderful, I highly recommend you do an interview with him.

What's next for you Danny? Musically, I mean, is anything planned?
No, you know, I mean all I really wanted to do…because the guys… believe it or not the guys who made this record with me are really, really talented. And I'd hoped, and I wouldn't rule it out entirely at this point. My hope was that we'd, that the record would get enough interest that we could go to Europe and play some dates. And perhaps even Japan.

We will definitely keep in contact…
Oh, yeah, I'd love to do that. I'm still looking for an opportunity to do that sometime between now and the end of the year as well. I've talked to some friends from Belgium and obviously Magnus is working on a few things there. But nothing has materialized yet. But all the guys that made the record would love to do it. Depending upon, again scheduling wise and everything else, I could probably even twist Yul's arm and get Yul to come out.

Well OK. That sounds pretty awesome!
Outside of that, and I'd like to do another one. I few could make enough noise with this one and the people at Atenzia, although I don't know how they're fixed financially or anything like that. If they were interested in doing another one or if there was another label that thought perhaps that it made sense to want to do another Diving for Pearls record, I'd do another one. I would actually like to do that.

I hope so. I really hope you do.
Yeah, I hope so too. I got busy there for a while. I owned a music store, and I got married and had some children. Things have sort of normalized a little bit and I find myself with a little bit more time now that I didn't have when my children were very, very young. And I'm sort of interested in doing it, yeah. Before, as I said to a friend of mine the other day, before it becomes ridiculous and pathetic (laughs). You know what I mean? For me to even think about going out on stage and supporting something like this. I'd like to do it.

I think it should be done.
Thank you!

Thanks, I appreciate it.


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