What I’m Listening To is a series where we talk to exciting artists, musicians, and establishment owners and get a five-song slice of their current playlist.
“I want everyone I love to get a brain scan to make sure everything is alright…It’s interesting how a person’s life can suddenly switch gears on you like that.”
Like many of our WILT subjects, Danny Reynoso (aka Danny Secretion) grew up in a house full of music. His father loved Javier Solis and Los Panchos while his older siblings were fans of bands like Foreigner, Heart, Rush, Styx, Cat Stevens, The Beatles, and The Clash. Meanwhile, Reynoso will always think of his mother whenever he hears Linda Ronstadt’s version of “Blue Bayou,” which he remembers her buying at a local Kmart. So it was inevitable that he would pick up one of the guitars around the house. “When I was in the 7th-grade, I took guitar lessons in order to impress a girl in my class by playing the opening riff to ‘Jessie’s Girl’ by Rick Springfield. I didn’t work. I pretty much put the guitar away until college. I really wish I never put it down,”says Reynoso, guitarist, and co-founder of the Moans, co-host of Beyond Geek, pro wrestler, and this month’s curator of the WILT playlist.
After finding his way back to the guitar in 1991, Reynoso played in a staggering variety of bands from poppy-90’s-college-radio bands (False Color Image), to pop-punk bands that toured all over the world (The Secretions, The Groovie Ghoulies, Kepi The Band), and even a Violent Femmes tribute band (Mother of a Girl) and a New York Dolls tribute band (The Land Park Dolls).
Then about nine years ago in Stockton, Reynoso met Matt Crap and Jeff Reset, when they were all playing the same show with different bands. Crap was interested in starting a side project with Reset. “They asked me if I was interested in playing guitar with them and I’ve never looked back.”
And so The Moans was born. The name was doubly fitting: “first and foremost, it’s a play off of The Ramones…RA-MONES…THE MOANS. Since our music is so heavily inspired by theirs, it’s only fitting that our name is as well. Secondly, since our songs are about our favorite horror movies, the word ‘moans’ fits.” Eventually, that little side project became their main gig, which suited Reynoso just fine. “I absolutely love playing music with those two. I have fun playing with The Moans whether there are two people watching or two hundred.”
Reynoso, never one to be idle, has since then picked up some more side projects. “Although The Moans are musically my number one priority now, I still get to play shows with The Knockoffs and Captain 9’s & The Knickerbocker Trio every so often. Once in a blue moon, there’s a lounge singer by the name of Gene Chowder who performs, and I’ve been told I bear a striking resemblance to him.”
In addition to his musical projects, Reynoso also hosts Beyond Geek, a travel show that explores the world of people who take the word geek to a whole new level. It explores non-typical geekery such as 8-bit music, World War II re-enactments, and kinetic sculpture racing.”The biggest difference between Beyond Geek and other ‘travel shows’ is that the host fully immerses themselves into this sub-culture, putting them completely out of their element.” The producer, Joe Gillis, had done some videos for The Knockoffs and didn’t want a typical host. He “wanted someone that people might be able to relate to better. For some odd reason, he thought I fit that bill. I’ve never hosted a TV show, but I couldn’t be happier with Joe’s decision to take a chance on me,” recalls Reynoso.
Reynoso’s most memorable experience with the show so far has been taking part in the weekend-long Kinetic Grand Championships, where people race giant wheeled human-powered sculptures over land, sand, water, and mud in Humbolt County. “It was the most physically grueling weekend I could remember and I was amazed at how creative and driven the people who participated were. I was also in awe at how much IPA they could drink while still exerting that much physicality.”
But it’s the people he meets that really make the show for him. “My favorite thing is…meeting people I would never think I have anything in common with and finding a bond over the most unexpected thing. Sometimes, we can fall into the trap of isolating ourselves from people just because of perceived different interests, when in actuality, we have more in common with people from all walks of life. I think that’s the truly beautiful thing about the series.”
In addition to music and Beyond Geek, Reynoso has his own geekery. “I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel all over the West coast, put on a mask and a pair of spandex tights, and get my butt thrown around a wrestling ring since 1997.” Reynoso credits being a high school theater geek to his enjoyment of the performance and storytelling that goes on in independent wrestling. He finds it a natural extension of his creative life. “Professional wrestlers are some of the most creative people you could ever hope to meet. The parallels between independent wrestling and independent music are limitless.” Reynoso, who is now a supervisor at Supreme Pro Wrestling, urges everyone to give independent wrestling shows a chance. “To say things like ‘I don’t like wrestling because I think the WWE is stupid’ is as bad as saying ‘I don’t go to local shows because I think Maroon 5 sucks.'”
In April of 2017, the busy life of Danny Reynoso took an abrupt left turn. After years of hearing loss from shows played without earplugs, Reynoso went to get his hearing checked. The doctors, concerned about why his hearing was so much worse in one ear, ordered an MRI. The scan found a tumor in his brain. Reynoso had Acoustic Neuroma/Vestibular Schwannoma.
According to the Acoustic Neuroma Association, “A schwannoma, also known as a Schwann cell tumor, is a benign tumor that develops in the protective sheathing surrounding the nerve cells, called myelin.” Though not cancerous, the condition can cause serious–and possibly fatal problems if the tumor is left to grow untreated.
For months, Reynoso kept the diagnosis to a small circle of family and friends. The first person he told was his wife. “There were feelings that I wasn’t fully prepared to deal with such as the overwhelming guilt I had in letting the woman I love know that this condition was now going to be something she would have to deal with as well. She never did or said anything to warrant these feelings. She never stopped showing me love and support throughout this entire process, but there was definitely a burden I was placing upon myself like I was somehow letting her down with the news.”
As he told more and more people about what he was going through though, Reynoso realized there was a therapeutic component to opening up. “When I shared my journey with more and more friends, it afforded them the opportunity to show support. As far as everything in my skull is concerned, I’m leaving that to the wonders of medical science. As far as my emotional well-being is concerned, sharing my journey has opened a path to realizing how blessed I am to have so many supportive and loving people in my life.” Now Reynoso has a site dedicated to his journey and is working to educate those around him about brain health and understanding brain tumors.
So what is musician, TV host, wrestler, and brain tumor fighter Danny Reynoso listening to? Let’s find out.
The Ramones-‘Poison Heart‘-“Probably the least Ramonesy song the Ramones ever did. The lyrics come from a very sad and depressing place, but for some reason, this song always picks me up out of every dark place I’ve come to in my life. The line ‘…a poet’s gut reaction is to search his very soul’ reminds me that the answers can often only be found deep within our soul.”
The Ramones-‘She’s The One’-“Quite possibly the most perfect love song ever composed. Okay, maybe that’s a SLIGHT stretch, but the song is so much fun and I can’t help but be in a great mood when it comes on. I think every time I’ve plugged in my guitar, I’ve tried my best to capture this sound through the amp.”
The Misfits-‘Astro Zombies’–“Everyone has their own opinions about the Misfits. Sometimes you can be in circles that share your love for this band, other times you’ll be in a circle of people who despise them. I don’t care how uncool of an opinion it is, but I appreciate EVERY incarnation of this band, even the ‘Jerry Only Misfits.’ The Ramones led me to The Misfits. The Misfits reminded me up staying up past my bedtime as a kid to sneak into the living room to watch Bob Wilkins’s Creature Feature.”
New York Dolls-‘Looking For A Kiss’–“Such a down and dirty rock n roll song! If you’re getting primped up for a big night out, THIS is the best song to listen to. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sung this song to my bathroom mirror while getting ready for a show. I have a guitar hanging up in my house signed by Sylvain Sylvain. Yes, I’m bragging.”
The Queers ‘I Wanna Be Happy’-“If I was playing the part John Cusack had in Say Anything, THIS would be the song I would be playing on my boombox. On a name-dropping note, I’ve been lucky to call Joe King a friend since 1996. He’ll call, text, or email me every so often just to check in and see how I’m doing. I’m still hanging on to the dream that I’ll get to play 2nd guitar for The Queers for a tour someday.”
Reynoso has not slowed down and has a lot of interesting things coming up. The Moans will be playing with Sloppy Seconds, The Bar Fly Effect, and Lightweight at the Blue Lamp on August 25th. More info here. September and October will see them working on their next full-length album while in November they’ll play Reynoso’s annual Fuck Cancer benefit show.
Beyond Geek has finished up its second season and is looking at its third. What will be in it? “That all depends on the mind of the show’s producer. So far, I’ve done some pretty amazing things. All I can hope is that we don’t do an episode on people who “geek out” by walking on skyscraper ledges or swim with Great White sharks. I’m hoping maybe we can do an episode on people who “geek out” about eating pizza and watching the Three Stooges.”
To learn more about Reynoso’s journey with his brain tumor or to help raise money for brain tumor research, visit BrainTumorFighter.com. To learn more about Acoustic Neuroma/Vestibular Schwannoma, visit the Acoustic Neuroma Association here.
Words: Katta Hules. Photos courtesy of Danny Reynoso.