Amigo the Devil hails from Austin, Texas and back in 2019, the mayor officially declared November 16th “Amigo The Devil Day” annually, moving forward. So today we celebrate with a Yoo-hoo in his honor!
Danny Kiranos, better known by his stage name of Amigo the Devil, has been finger-pickin’ on stages since 2010. With darker themes that lean toward the macabre and oddity, it’s no surprise the banjo playing songwriter has teamed up recently on tour with Murder By Death.
The Travel Addict caught up with Kiranos when the tour came through Louisville at Louder than Life to discuss his favorite BBQ joints, touring with Murder By Death and eating at the band’s restaurant. He also revealed how a cave became the location for a musical project during the pandemic.
What does your perfect day look like in Austin?
Swimming in the morning. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Windy Point or even Barton Springs. Any of the springs, any of the swimming holes will work. And I love, love, love all the creeks. So, swimming and then swimming. And then I might go run my dog around the property for a little bit. There are lots of outdoor activities in and around the Austin area.
What are some restaurants you like to eat at?
I cook a lot. I mean, there are great restaurants in Austin. There have been a lot of the little, hidden ten-seater sushi pop-ups lately that have been out of control.
Some of them have become kind of full-time brick and mortar restaurants. Sushi Bar ATX was the first one that kind of popped up in my little world that I went to and it was a crazy experience. But they do own other sushi bars around the country. Barbecue is obviously my thing and I love to try all the local barbecue joints.
I’ve never waited in the line for Franklin’s famous BBQ and I feel like I should.
I’ve gotten really lucky a few times where I’ve just gone. I showed up at like 11 and the line was kind of done. That may be the secret.
I always try to go during Austin City Limits Festival, which is the busiest possible time to go.
You’ll never get Franklin’s that way. And not to take away from Franklin’s at all because Franklin’s is just amazing, but there are phenomenal barbecue spots that are not Franklin’s. Like Micklethwait is one of my favorites. Even places like, like Terry Black’s, they’re open late. There are minor lines and they’re consistent. It’s good brisket. But if you are going for the specialties, it’s worth going out to Snow’s. There are so many places.
You mentioned you cook, any specialties?
A lot of Latin food. Paella, fried plantains – loaded fried plantains especially.
What’s your songwriting process, do you just write it down as you go?
It’s all over the place. I’m a very, very mobile writer. I don’t ever sit down and write. I’ll be driving and I’ll write a little note or record a little voice memo, and then I usually forget about it. If I go back to it and it still sounds cool or it’s still a good idea, I’ll explore that a little bit.
Talk about your recent tour with Murder by Death. What was the highlight of that tour? Were there any hidden gems you’ve found on tour along the way?
Camaraderie. It sounds so simple and cheesy.
We did a lot of really, really weird exploring. But there was a place called the Homestead Crater in Utah. It’s a hot spring, like 94 degrees. And it’s inside of this crater.
I was looking up hot springs and it popped up, Homestead Crater, and I was like, what is this? It’s the kind of place where you need reservations. But when I called, they were like, we have spots at 8:30 or 9:30pm, and we just mashed it the whole way there. It was beautiful.
They make you wear life jackets. It’s like 60 feet deep. It was kind of nuts. All I can think about is that someone has drowned here, they are at the bottom and they’re going to float up today.
Today’s the day they’re going to float up. And at that point, I was like, meh, I don’t want them to. I want them to stay where they are or to not have drowned at all – I feel like that’s choice number one. But the best part is that they make you wear life jackets, so you just kind of float around like little eggs. It’s perfect.
Any other cool spots you discovered while on the road?
Yes. Murder By Death has a restaurant in Louisville. It’s called Pizza Lupo. They have some of the best wood-fired oysters I’ve ever had.
Are there any items you can’t live without on the road?
Tums. I wish I could say books; that’d be tight. I read a lot at home. I always tell myself, I’m going to read how I do at home on the road and I don’t.
What was your latest read at home?
I read a book about the Bermuda Triangle. It was really well-written. It was interesting. I literally picked it up in passing and it turns out it’s not as scary as I thought it was when I was a kid. There’s a lot of science behind why things happen there.
So, it was a little bit of a letdown. But I also thought the Bermuda Triangle was going to be a much bigger problem in my life when I was young. I thought I was going to be an issue. I was like “Yo, they talk about this shit a lot, so this is going to be a problem in my life at some point.” And it has not been. (Laughing)
You had a show, “Caving In: Alive and Alone”, that you filmed. How did this idea come about and where was this cave?
I haven’t disclosed where the cave is because I thought it was more fun that way and now I’m just being stubborn. (It’s in Texas).
What prompted the decision to record in a cave?
I just didn’t want to do a live stream during quarantine that was from home or at an empty venue. I figured the acoustics in a cave would actually be beneficial instead of just like choosing cool scenery.
We ended up finding in the one place that would give us the keys and let us do whatever we wanted. I got really, really cocky, too, and by the end of it, I was like, hey, before we lock up, can you do me a favor before you go? It was eight stories deep and all the electronics and lights are upstairs and I just asked if they would go up there and turn off all the lights so I could sit down there for a little while.
In my head, I was like, this is going to be meditative, this is going to be great. I’m not even joking – the second she turned off the lights, I was crying, turn it back on! So, I’m not brave in caves. I’m not cave brave.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Just touring. We’ve basically been out since March 2021. We’ve had a week break here and there, but for the most part we’ve just been out.
At some point there will be some time off hopefully, what’s your dream vacation when that time comes?
New Guinea. That’s my number one. I also want to take the boat from Southern Point down to Antarctica. It’s brutal from everything I’ve ever heard or read, but I still want to do it.
If you love to see Amigo the Devil live and love tropical locations you can catch him playing the Iggy Pop’s inaugural “Destination Chaos” festival in Dominican Republic at the end of January 2023.