Grammy-winning musician and songwriter Danny Weinkauf, a Lynbrook native, is preparing to release his second solo album titled, “Red Pants Band,” in July, a smattering of rock, pop and jazz influences which he likened to “listening to your favorite radio station.”
Weinkauf joined the popular alternative rock band They Might Be Giants in the 1990s as a bassist, and still tours with them frequently. In 2014, he decided to release his first solo album, “No School Today,” which featured family-oriented educational and witty songs.
“The music that I write is sort of aimed at being something that parents would not mind listening to,” he said. “Years ago a lot of the children’s music was geared toward the kids but difficult for the parents to tolerate … I try to write music that I would like to listen to.”
The Beatles, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman and Brian Wilson are a few of Weinkauf’s major influences; though he said he likes to listen to all kinds of music. “With my son being a teenager, I listen to a lot of the new bands: Cage the Elephant, Bastille, Vampire Weekend,” he said. “I try to listen to other styles as well, whether it’s jazz or classical.”
Weinkauf explained that he doesn’t care for labels, and that his songwriting approach is simply to make something sonically interesting. In addition to writing and touring with both TMBG and his solo band, which includes bassist Tina Kenny Jones and drummer Steve Plesnarski, Weinkauf also composes music for television and advertisements — the most famous of which was used as the theme song for the Fox TV series “Malcolm in the Middle,” in 2002.
“We were actually recording our rock music [for They Might Be Giants], the television music, and the kids’ music at the same time,” he said. “Sometimes I didn’t know which was which.”
The new album, due out July 5, features a guest appearance by Scott Totten, who currently tours with the Beach Boys. He said Totten sang vocals on a track that emulated the harmonies of Brian Wilson. Weinkauf’s family also sang on the album, which also adds to its family feel.
“As I’m writing the song … I’m sort of crafting it all at one time,” he said. When asked if his family notices when he’s disappeared for an extended period of time, he said that they have a special name for his home studio. “They call it my dungeon,” he said with a laugh.
Weinkauf’s son, Kai, has taken a heightened interest in music over the last few years, but Weinkauf said his own career as a professional musician has nothing to do with it. “It’s very much sort of, ‘that’s dad’s job,” he said. “I’m just ‘dad,’ to them.”
Visit Danny Weinkauf’s Pledge Music website to order the new Red Pants Band album at pledgemusic.com/projects/dannyweinkauf. Three percent of the fundraising goal and 6 percent of all additional profits after that will go toward the Lynbrook-based Quinn Madeleine Foundation, a wish-granting organization serving young children diagnosed with a terminal or life threatening disease.