Interview: Danny Kiranos of Amigo The Devil on New Album, ‘Born Against’

Danny Kiranos, best known as Amigo The Devil, had plans to spend most of 2020 on the road.

“We were supposed to be on tour the whole year and had to postpone or cancel a lot of dream tours that had finally been booked,” says Kiranos, on the effects of COVID-19 for the band. “We were actively on tour with Murder By Death, which we’d been looking forward to for years, when the pandemic really took a turn. Every show was basically all of us sitting in the back wondering if that was the night we call it, or if we’d get lucky and it would get under control. I can’t believe how incredibly wrong we were.”

The day the tour was shut down, Kiranos remembers packing up the vans in silence and sensing a panic over everyone. At the time, they assumed it would just be a few weeks, and then they’d all be back together on the road.

“But those weeks were going to feel like forever … little did we know,” he says.

Taking advantage of the forced hiatus, Kiranos wrote and recorded the follow up to his widely praised debut. The new record, Born Against, comes out this spring.

“As far as writing, I’m constantly working on stuff in my head or on little napkins and scrap paper, but never really have time to finish what I start,” Kiranos says. “This has been a small, personal silver lining amongst the horrible global circumstances, to finally have time to write and finish new songs. I usually just throw them away or forget the ideas altogether.” 

The biggest difficulty he admits to in writing Born Against was remembering that the new record is supposed to be exactly that—new.

“It’s so easy while writing to compare anything that hasn’t been released to the older stuff and doubt whether it’s up to par,” Kiranos says. “When that happens, I usually have to remind myself that ‘competing with myself’ is the easiest way to kill creative honesty, or honest creativity. The new record is supposed to be growth and, for me at least, it doesn’t feel like moving forward if I’m just recreating or modeling from the past.” 

Like its predecessor. Born Against is still steeped in dark humor and his unique brand of metal- and punk-infused folk music. Songs like “Letter From Death Row” and “24K Casket” are some of the best Kiranos has ever written. He headed to Dallas to record this one with Texas Gentlemen’s Beau Bedford.

“Our recording team was tiny,” he says. “The majority of the time it was just Beau Bedford, Jeff Saenz and I and we had basically been isolated from the world as it was. We wore masks when in close proximity of each other and made sure that any time someone else cae in to add an instrument that Beau and I couldn’t handle ourselves, to be respectful of space and coverings. Lots of sanitizer too.”

The fact that recording was close to home for Kiranos made it easier to focus on the precautions they all had to take during unprecedented times. But despite the forced isolation from COVID, he admits not much changed for him during that break.

My life at home wasn’t much different during quarantine than it is any other time I’m not on tour,” Kiranos says. “We live far enough away from everything that when I’m home, I’m home. I try to take advantage of all the hobbies I don’t get to keep up with on the road. Whether it’s home brewing, kayaking or just floating in the lake—none of those things involve other people so it wasn’t really a ‘forced’ isolation. Of course, not having access to friends and familiar faces when we did want them was an absolute burden, but we all faced the same beast and found our own ways to cope. Writing ended up being one of those mechanisms.” 

With the album coming out in April, he is starting to see the glimmer of hope that shows will return sometime in the near future.

“I’ve realized that this down time is not going to exist again for a long time, so I’ll just be at home writing more while I can,” he says. “Really taking advantage of not having anywhere to be, running around with our dog and cat while I can. I’m hoping to find the balance between home life and touring that I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to explore otherwise. We’re all going to get through this.”

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