Q&A with Linda Sheridan Photography by Johnathan Mannion
(Reprinted from DOWNTOWN Magazine, Winter 2023 issue)
DARRYL MCDANIELS, cofounder of the legendary group Run-D.M.C., was just a studious teenager from Queens with a gift for writing poetry when he befriended Joseph Simmons (Run), playing basketball after school one day. Run-D.M.C. released “It’s Like That” in 1984 and became hip hop pioneers, later crossing into mainstream with the Aerosmith collab “Walk This Way”, earning worldwide attention and accolades. A passionate comic book fan, McDaniels launched in 2014 his own comic book company, Darryl Makes Comics. He recently wrote his first children’s book, Darryl’s Dream. McDaniels discusses Rick Rubin, comics, and new musical collaborations.
Linda Sheridan: You, as the cofounder of Run DMC, are a part of hip hop / music history, nominated for your first Grammy in 1987.
DMC: We never won [that] Grammy. We were the first to be nominated. That was a big achievement anyway, because they didn’t even have a Rap or Hip Hop category! But they had to acknowledge us and our culture!
LS: But, Run-D.M.C. did receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, and in 2009, you were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, by Eminem!
DMC: Yes, That’s correct. Michael Jackson told us that we should have won the Grammy in the 80s, and American Music Awards, and everything! Receiving the Lifetime Achievement award is kool! It’s acknowledgment that our music played an important part in history. Getting inducted into the Rock & Hall personally for me was good and bad. I’m The King Of Rock! So I’m supposed to be in there! That’s the good thing! The bad thing is…..I’m a huge rock music lover and there are soooooooooo many artists and groups who should be in before me!!!
LS: When did you first have a sense that you’d made it? What did that feel like?
DMC: My first feeling that something really big was happening wasn’t actually until “Walk This Way” hit. I started experiencing, “Oh, this is what it feels like to be Michael Jackson or Mick Jagger!” MTV had put us in everybody’s living room worldwide! And the collaboration with Aerosmith was a fuel injection of momentum and potential we had established with Rock Box and King Of Rock with the first two albums.
LS: Where were you the first time you heard Run-D.M.C. on the radio?
DMC: The first time I heard Run-D.M.C. on the radio I was in my room of my house in Hollis, Queens, trying to figure out my college life and the radio played our first single “It’s Like That” on the Friday night Hip Hop show. They only played Hip Hop on Friday and Sat. night on the commercial FM station.
LS: How did you team up with Aerosmith for “Walk This Way”?
DMC: The Aerosmith team-up came about because originally we were gonna sample the beat and guitars from the album Toys in the Attic! We were gonna make our own song using their music. Rick Rubin, who was working with us as our producer, suggested we do the song over the way the band originally recorded it. We didn’t want to…but him and [Jam Master] Jay convinced us to do it! But the brilliant thing Rick did was go get them from Boston to do our remake of their song with them. That is what made the whole thing iconic, historic, groundbreaking and industry changing! Then the video solidified it as one of the most powerful music moments ever!
LS: You have your own comic book company, Darryl Makes Comics (DMC). What’s tougher to write, songs or comic book stories?
DMC: Writing comic books is just like writing songs for me! Idea, scenario, character(s)…tell the story. It was easy to start writing rhymes because before music, before Rock N Roll and Hip Hop…all I did was read, collect, and draw comic books. I learned how to read ‘n write from my favorite Marvel comic books!
LS: You also released your first children’s book, Darryl’s Dream this year. Will you be writing more children’s books?
DMC: The new Darryl’s Dream children’s book is the first of a series of children’s books I will be doing with Nickelodeon! More books! Animated series! Movies and everything! These books are going to deal with all of the things our little ones go through! To motivate, inspire, and educate them!
LS: Any plans to tour, or do more musical collaborations?
DMC: I’m going to tour with my band, DMC and The Hellraisers! I have performances with The Royal Machines coming up! I really enjoy playing with Billy Morrison, Dave Navarro, Josh Freese, Steve Stevens, Chris Chaney, Mark McGrath, Donovan Leitch Jr and the other musicians they play with. Top of the year I’m dropping another song featuring me, Sebastian Bach, Travis Barker, Mick Mars and Duff McKagan! It’s called “She Gets Me High” and it’s gonna be the most exciting fun rockin song in ages!!!
LS: What are some of your favorite spots to go downtown?
DMC: love The Village and Soho. My wife loves it there and she has me digging downtown now. My favorite place to eat downtown is a place called Lure! The food is excellent, the staff is great and it’s just a cool setting there. She took me there for our anniversary and it’s my spot now
I love the Lower East Side. Down on The E Side! It’s a NYC vibe there that just reeks New York!
The L-E-S is the best! DT