Danny Kiranos, the Austin-based songwriter behind the Amigo the Devil project, has somehow managed to meld the worlds (and fanbases) of traditional folk, country music, rock, and metal into one. The sonic experience is morbid, yet poetic and oddly romantic. His unique artistic perspective and ability to connect with audiences have allowed him to amass a dedicated, cult-like fan base. Loaded with sing-alongs – and an unsuspecting dose of humor to make otherwise grim topics accessible for fans of every genre – the songs still remain deeply rooted in the tradition of story-telling…something that seems to be a lot less common nowadays. Attending an Amigo the Devil show is an experience: you become one with a wildly prophetic man, armed only with his entrancing voice and a banjo, and bear witness to an astounding performance that will stick with you for a long time.
A key figure in the U.S. ‘murder folk’ scene, Kiranos was initially influenced by the likes of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Godspeed! You Black Emperor. Following a number of well-received single and EP releases, the debut album by Amigo the Devil, Everything Is Fine, was produced by Ross Robinson, renowned for his work with major league hard rock/metal acts such as Korn, Slipknot, At The Drive In, and Glassjaw. The album also features drummer Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage) sitting in on the entire recording session.
His follow-up record and latest release, Born Against, reveals him to be more than a one-trick pony stylistically. “Every new record is an opportunity to sit and think about how much has changed in your life and the world around you,” Kiranos says. “It’s a new opportunity to bring in both new and old influences. I really wanted to dive into ideas that I’d either been avoiding or ignoring within myself and figure out ways to align them with music I grew up listening to. Influences that may have been set aside in our older recordings.”
Kiranos, who grew up in Miami in a multicultural household, decamped to Dallas to record the album at the venerable Modern Electric Studio with Beau Bedford (Texas Gentlemen). This marked the first time Kiranos had explored some of the world music he'd long loved, including Eastern European folk and Australian country (“It has such an amazing sound to it,” he says of the honky-tonk of Down Under. “The rhythms are so dry and brutal.”). Kiranos felt Bedford was the only producer who could draw those sounds out of him. Together they entered the studio with merely the skeletons of the songs Kiranos had written. One by one, they fleshed them out in wildly inventive fashion. To say they threw the kitchen sink at this album would be an understatement; these guys threw the whole damn shack.
“The Fellowship” – as Amigo’s die-hard fans refer to themselves – continues to grow with each new show played and album released. His continued connection with audiences and unique, empathic lyrics are sure to carry Amigo the Devil into the hearts of many more. There is hope in the volatile, peace in the macabre, and light not just inside the tunnel but all around, and Amigo the Devil is here to tell us how.