Danny Ayala is a multi-instrumentalist who tours as a keyboardist and backing vocalist in The Lemon Twigs. He grew up in Long Island with brothers Brian and Michael D'Addario who write The Lemon Twigs’ songs. His new EP, Lay It On Me Straight, showcases his exceptional songwriting abilities and musicianship. He has plans for a full length LP and tour soon.

Carl Carpenter: How would you describe the music of Dr. Danny?
Dr. Danny: Lots of people describe the EP, "Lay it On Me Straight", as "ear candy pop music.” I don't mind the music being described this way but I am looking forward to setting a definitive genre with obvious influences in the future.

CC: The Lemon Twigs evoke many power pop (e.g. Badfinger, Big Star) and classic rock (e.g. Beach Boys, Beatles) comparisons. Do you draw from similar influences? Who were some of the bands that shaped your taste and style growing up?

Dr. Danny: Although I do share some similar influences with the Twigs... they listen to stuff that I don't know about, and I listen to stuff that they don't really know about.
These are some bands or musicians that have influenced my writing of the EP: The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, The Zombies.

CC: I saw you’ve covered “The End.” by My Chemical Romance and “Five Years” by David Bowie. What are some other covers in your repertoire, or songs you’d like to cover?

Dr. Danny: I would like to cover "Get Up Jake" by The Band.

CC: What instruments did you play on the new EP?

Dr. Danny: On this EP I only played piano, keyboards, violin, sang all the lead vocals, and sang most of the harmonies. However I plan to play percussion, guitar, and bass as well on the full length record.

CC: I watched some footage of your first live show back in June at Pianos in NYC. You’ve got a solid set up! Two guitars, bass, drums, and two keyboards (with one doubling on clarinet and glockenspiel!). Do you have any plans for touring? If so, do you think you’ll have the same instrumental setup?

Dr. Danny: When the band does tour I will most likely have the same setup if not close to it.

CC: Your video for “Nothing But Love” is pretty out there in a great way! Where was it filmed? Can you break down the thought behind it?

Dr. Danny: It was filmed in Stilwell Woods in Woodbury, New York. The plot was that I brought a girl into the woods for a date and she ends up getting attacked by monsters. Not only do I get revenge on the ones that killed her, I end up becoming their leader to forever punish them. At the end I bring another girl into woods.

CC: How was it playing in bands in Long Island as a high schooler? Was there a scene around there? Were you able to make it into Brooklyn or Manhattan to play shows?

Dr. Danny: Before The Lemon Twigs, I was in a band called MOTP. We mostly played covers with originals sprinkled in. We played a lot around NYC and I found that it was definitely easy to find a music scene or event there.

CC: What are your favorite venues to see shows in NYC? And to play shows?

Dr. Danny: I like seeing shows at a venue called Terminal 5. I've seen My Chemical Romance, and Portugal. The Man, there. It's the perfect size and the sound is usually pretty good.

I don't think I've ever played a Lemon Twigs show in NYC and didn't have an awesome experience. Most of the venues are up close and personal and with the fans, and the sound is usually next to perfect. Although I may be biased cause I live here, it's probably my favorite city to play music.

CC: What have been some highlights playing in the Lemon Twigs as they’ve continued to grow in stature?

Dr. Danny: Performing in Japan and Australia would surely make the highlight reel (Chris Jericho), along with performing with Todd Rundgren at Coachella. I've had amazing experiences all around with the Twigs.

CC: If you could tour with any band who would it be? One past, one present.

Dr. Danny: Past: The Beach Boys. Present: MGMT or Radiohead