The San Diego band got drunk and got a tune out
BY JENNIFER KELLY
On a night not too long ago, San Diego’s Donkeys, flush with $13 in gig
money, assailed an LA bar. They had a few… and a few more. No one knows how,
but at one point, producer and all-around-pal Alex deLanda got his cell phone
lodged in the bar’s pool table. Donkeys are now banned from the bar for life,
but they did get a song out of it. Their “Nice Train” is a lackadaisical grin
of a tune, as light-hearted as a well-maintained buzz.
You wouldn’t know it, listening to Living on the Other
Side (Dead Oceans), but the Donkeys are originally from Orange County,
ground zero for hardcore punk, garage and emo. Keyboard player Anthony Lukens insists
that there are “subtle Greg Ginn-like grooves,” yet the main influences seem to
be the Byrds, the Band, and the Grateful Dead. It’s music bassist Tim DiNardo
says he learned about from his dad.
That classic rock sound bubbled up midway through the ‘00s,
when all four Donkeys found themselves between bands and sharing a practice
space. The band recorded their first album on a shoestring, and released it on
Antenna Farm in 2006. The debut caught Dead Oceans’ attention, and in 2007, the
Donkeys headed back to San Francisco
to make Living on the Other Side. “This one ended up taking a way longer
time and was a lot more crafted,” says DiNardo.
The band finished post-production at the Lookout, a California mountain
hideaway near DiNardo’s childhood home. “When my mom passed away, the lady who
owns the Lookout took me and my dad under her wing. That place became my second
home,” he remembers. “We posted up there for two weeks. It’s a secluded place,
with an amazing view of the lake.”
“Yeah, and it’s underneath the coolest bar… and we got free
beer,” Lukens adds.
No wonder it took so long to get the songs right.
[Photo Credit: Jeff Wenzel]