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Old Man Creaky Bones offers up musical musings on the deeply imaginative 'Muse of the Month'

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Musician Danny Echo, also known as Old Man Creaky Bones, says that having an active imagination can present some real challenges.

Danny Echo's musical musings as Old Man Creaky Bones are available on the new and deeply imaginative LP, "Muse of the Month."

True to the title, the record feeds on a wide range of influences, whether glam rock (David Bowie, Sparks), TV, general popular culture, visual art, the sounds of the neighborhood. What Echo has done has created a seamless exploration of the imagination across the record's 13 tracks, whether "Invariable Ethos," "Cat Calls from a Skunk" or "Wreck It All."

Echo recently stopped by the KMUW studios to discuss "Muse of the Month" and the ins and outs of its imagination.

Interview Highlights

This record is filled with imaginative music. I also sense, within the lyrics, that there are struggles within that imagination. 

[Laughs.] Yeah, I could see that. I feel I’ve got a lot of imagination but as far as it being a vivid imagination. I don’t know. Things seem to come and go really rapidly, and it’s all you can do to pin some down and figure out what they’re all about.

It’s kind of a frustration, right? Chasing the idea or trying to get the idea out, to express it, before it flees. 

Yeah. Definitely. Just because of the nature of my schedule and lifestyle and stuff, I feel like I’m constantly on the go and kind of busy. Being able to make time to just focus [on music is difficult]. I rarely write a song in a sitting. I tend to jot ideas when they come to me, as quick as I can. When I’ve got some time, I collage them together. It can be hard to chase the ideas but they’re always around so there will be some.

That feeling of, “I don’t know what the next idea is going to be but I know it’s coming.” 

It sucks in the moment when you feel like, “Ah, I don’t have time to really explore this idea,” but there will be more. They’ll be there.

What do you see as being the uniting factor of the material on this record? 

“Muse of the Month” is kind of it. Just taking inspiration as it comes and trying to follow those ideas, but then, before you know it, more ideas are coming. I tend to procrastinate on projects, even ones I really enjoy doing. When I get somewhere around the middle point, I start wanting to procrastinate by doing some other fun project that’s not related [to the one at hand]. “Hobby Whores” is the oldest track on the album. I wrote it three or four years ago I think and never was satisfied [with it] but building upon that idea is where most of the rest of the album came from.

I appreciate your sense of humor in the music. Is it ever difficult to get that across? 

I think when I first started thinking about that and trying to do it intentionally it was. It’s like suddenly deciding that you’re going to be a stand-up comedian because you’re funny [when] you’re talking to your friends. They say, “You should do stand-up!” But then you say, “OK, I’m going to do it but wait. I have to write material, and I have to pace myself.” I think it was a lot harder when I first started thinking about it, but then the more I started to do it, I felt like the songs got a little better, my writing got a little bit better.

You recorded this album essentially at home? 

I did it at my studio, which is just a room. It’s not set up like a regular studio. It’s not soundproofed or anything like that. Some of the first recordings I ever did were with a Rock Band microphone and a laptop and towel. That’s how it goes. I like … simple, quick set up stuff.

There’s something to be said about that because doing home recording can be [a case of being meticulous]. “I gotta unplug the refrigerator, I gotta make sure all this stuff happens,” and then somebody will ride by on a really loud scooter. 


Do you have experiences like that? 

Yeah, but I just love that kind of thing. I love the bleed through of layers of things that are … the neighbor’s dog barking at a weird time and there’s traffic. It just adds some cool layers and depth to it that you don’t have to think about to try to put in later.

The record sounds great. You had some help in the mixing and mastering departments.

Alec Jahn did that. He did a really phenomenal job. I record it all myself. … That stuff isn’t the greatest, so he really pulled some stuff out on that. And the last EP I did, too, he mixed and mastered.

Your records seem to pick up on a number of influences: I’m reminded as much of classic rock as I am cartoons and schlocky horror films. 

I guess I could see that. I was homeschooled until I was 16 or something like that. I like a lot of older music. By the time I got into the public school system, I kind of assumed that everybody listened to John Denver on vinyl! [Laughs.] Then there was a learning curve of finding out what pop culture was. I wasn’t really into the pop culture during the 2010s. Somewhere after 2012 there was a lot of cooler pop culture stuff coming around. I think that started to influence me a little bit.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.