Daniel Rush Folmer has been all over the country, but somehow continues to find himself in Denton, Texas. In his latest record as Danny Diamonds — Fruitvale Fire, released March 2 on I Love Math Records — Folmer scrutinizes his accumulated experiences from years of touring.
“I don’t write about anything I haven’t personally experienced,” says Folmer, whose music blends pop, rock, folk and country. “The sad songs definitely come from a place of true, profound sadness, and the happy songs, even though there aren’t many of them, come from a place of real joy.”
The beginning of his career is proof of his doe-eyed eagerness: He got his start after approaching producer John Congleton following a Paper Chase show. “I kinda went after him when the show was over. I handed him a CD and told him I’d really like to work with him," Folmer says. “Lucky for me he got in touch.”
His boldness served him well, as it resulted in a lasting friendship and a few national tours. Folmer took a similar approach with Bay Area musician and producer John Vanderslice — whose resume includes Spoon and St. Vincent — and once again turned fandom into friendship.
“John [Vanderslice] and I would always hang out whenever he came through town, and after a while I decided to go ahead and put up the money to have him record me,” Folmer says. “I’ve always been a big fan of his work. I’m glad I did, because it felt very natural.”
Lucky for Folmer, there’s some reciprocity. “Yeah, I love Daniel,” Vanderslice says. “Typically when you start a new project with somebody there can be some friction where creative direction is concerned. With us everything felt fluid, and in no way forced.”
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Fruitvale Fire is their second together. “I’m really happy with the way the record turned out,” Vanderslice says. “We set out to create something a little weird, and a little fucked up. It’s kind of a hallmark of mine. I love the chaos. It wouldn’t be possible, though, without Danny squeezing as much emotion as he does out of his songs.”
During the recording of the album, Folmer spent a lot of time in Oakland. He drew the inspiration for the album title from the deadly December fire at Oakland underground music venue Ghost Ship. “It’s a situation that resonated with me having grown up in similar DIY communities here in Denton,” Folmer says. “After hearing about it, it sort of cemented the value of inclusion in my head because all different kinds of people died no matter what their orientation or gender.”
Despite his fondness for travel, Folmer’s heart has never left Denton, even though he’s not too happy with some recent changes to the city. “I love Denton and I owe a lot to this city, but we really need something like Rubber Gloves again,” he says. “I’m really sick of all these patio venues where people can come hang out and get drunk with their fucking dog. I think the town is eating itself, marketing the wrong parts of the culture. They really need to re-evaluate what they’re advertising. I just hate that this town is turning into shitty venues with shitty sound systems and shitty booking.”
For information about upcoming Danny Diamonds shows, visit the band’s Facebook page.