“Making the album was definitely a bit of a magic process,” says Danny Rocco (aka Des Rocs) of his debut A Real Good Person in a Real Bad Place (300 Entertainment). “I would get into these really intense periods of making a ton of your music, then hit some kind of creative plateau and work on one song for a month, just picking it apart.”
Self-recorded and produced by Rocco, born, raised, and still in New York City, A Real Good Person in a Real Bad Place delivers shifting senses and sounds, bursting open on “Tick,” which Rocco recorded in one take in a stream of consciousness and a song he calls the “north star” of the entire album, twisting around the cacophonous “Why Why Why” and “Imaginary Friend” interlude “break break break”—both tri-titled tracks a result of Rocco’s obsession with threes—with the frenetic punches of “MMC” address self-absorption and an unbalanced being.
“‘MMC’ is about people who are obsessed with being anything but themselves,” Des Rocs tells American Songwriter. “It’s a roller coaster of a record that was written all at once in this kinda chaotic catharsis. My first album is a journey and this first song really represents the odyssey I’m gonna take you on this fall.”
He adds, “It’s such a big song, and it’s such an outrageous record saying ‘here’s who I am. Here’s what I want to communicate to the world as far as what the emotion is, and my music. Larger than life records can really be escapist in a way.”
The track’s video features a genre-bending exploration of self-identity, and “losing your soul in the quest for fame and sacrificing who you are for what you think others want from you,” says Rocco. “I wanted to tell this story and show you what a real show feels like,” he adds, “in case ya forgot.”
Throughout the album, Des Rocs showcase how effortlessly he can tread genres from the slowed pop “Don’t Hurt Me,” a pulsing “Hanging by a Thread,” and woefully anthemic “Born to Lose.”
“There’s a lot of parallel universes in my songwriting,” says Rocco. “I’ll be working on a song for years and years because it’s not right yet, then on the same EP or album will be a song that I wrote and recorded two weeks before it came out. I’m just constantly creating in all these different lanes, then zooming out and curating the messages that I want to say and in the way, I want to present them.”
Everything is constantly evolving around Rocco, even the way songs arrive. “I always said my process is that there is no process,” he says. “I would love to just have a way in which I make songs that’s convenient, and reliable. I wish I could say from 9 to 5, I’m going to make x song this way, but that doesn’t always happen. It’s more like an avalanche. It’ll just come like in the middle of night, and I’ll be up all night working on it.”
A Good Person in a Real Bad Place moves through a very specific space and time for Des Rocs, one well beyond previous releases Let the Vultures In from 2018 and Martyr Parade released a year later.
“They’re all part of a much larger artistic statement,” says Rocco of his songs. “I wanted to make it about a journey, so it’s conceptually grouped together in a very specific way, and stories told are ones of overcoming immense darkness, and of personal and artistic growth.”