TrashPit wondered if it was possible for Boston based band Damone to follow up one of our favourite albums of recent years. But, with the release of their new record 'Roll The Dice' the band have stuck with the pop hooks and added a more edgier sound to what is to become a permanent stamp of iPod rotation! We caught up with guitarist and creative mastermind of the band Mike Woods, to talk about the new album, their hard work ethic and a bassist who is possibly the reincarnation of David Lee Roth!
How's it feeling to have a brand new album out there right now? Do you get nervous waiting to hear people's reactions?
Yeah, it's exciting. Of course I get a little anxious awaiting people's reactions, but I think it's another good effort, and so far it's been well received.
Was there a particular goal or direction you wanted to take with this new album or was it just how the songs came out? It's obvious you took the time to experiment with slightly different sounds and there's perhaps a more harder edge approach with the songs?
The writing process is usually very personal. I knew that I wanted to take things in a different direction. Maybe a little more serious, and combining elements of early Madonna or Cindy Lauper with some of the traditional metal tricks that we've used along the way. Other than that, I try to just work with my band to get a certain sense of what's working for us at the time. No matter what I end up demoing though, Noelle's vocals, and the guys' input always take the feel of the song into another dimension. It's pretty cool.
On your MySpace Page you're listed as an Unsigned Band.... what's the situation label wise? Are you out doing things on your own... or behind the scenes are you a band that's always kinda done it this way?
The major labels are in a tight spot right now, but our time at Island / Def-Jam was a great one. I do wish that there was a stronger push behind our last record, but I'm grateful for the people we met and the opportunities they provided. It was time to move on though. And yes, behind the scenes, we've always been a band that "does things our way." Out Here All Night, for the most part, was recorded in Noelle & Dustin's old apartment with our friend David Spreng. When the label signed us, they didn't make us change a thing. They just wanted it to be mixed by someone else, and we were all on board with that. Tom Lord-Alge and Mike Shipley ended up taking on the mixes, and it was mastered by the great Bob Ludwig. With Roll The Dice, we kept the same system in place, but without the "big name" mixers. We recorded half of the record in Los Angeles with David Spreng, and the other half at S.O.F. Studios in CT with a very old friend of mine, Greg DiCrosta. Greg handled all the mixing, the mastering was done at Peerless by Jeff Lipton, but it was our new friend and studio owner Lenny Bosh who really made it all possible. We can't thank him enough.
More and more bands are taking things into their own hands right now and by-passing the major labels.... what's your take on this?
I've got a million views on this... First off, are they bands that majors would sign in the first place? It's common place for a kid who just started listening to music to say, "I'd never sign on with those cooperate America, money hungry fascists!"
But.... really? Was that even an option at this point? There's no question that it is possible to do more than ever without a label these days, but there are so many variables. On one hand, there's nothing cooler than creating something from thin air, and then finding out that millions of people are enjoying it, without any help from anyone but the fans. On the other, there's nothing sadder than creating something that nobody ever finds out about. To me, any way that you can share your music with the most people, is the best way. We're not saving lives here, just making records, and hopefully a living at it too. I always get some hipster kid trying to call me a "sellout", while he's dressed exactly like all of his friends, with the same cooperate Nikes on, and riding a very expensive bike from one "cooperate office" to another, and doing it for "The Man". Anarchist, my ass! Never mind what that bag-patch with a big red "A" says underneath it. We're all just trying to get by over here. Ya know what I mean?
And as for the labels, they're usually just signing a bunch of bands, throwing them at the wall, and hoping something sticks. I hate that principal because the best bands almost NEVER get to their best work on their first try. Imagine if the only Radiohead record you ever got to hear was "Pablo Honey", or the only Beatles record was "Please Please Me", or if we just had Led Zeppelin "I" to rock out to. It seems to me that we're in an extremely over-saturated market, and nobody knows what's good any more. Or cares.
One of the instantly noticeable things about the new record is the introduction of different members handling the lead vocals. Was this a fun thing to do and how did it come about? Did you all try different songs?
We've talked about it for a while. There were songs on From The Attic where other members sang as well. One of the ways that it came about was, Noelle had this opportunity to go to Vermont for an environmental trip, and we still had some studio time left. So we played around a bit.
The lead single.... 'Talk Of The Town' - there's a definate link to Dave Lee Roth's 'A L'il Ain't Enough'..... is this your own tribute to Diamond Dave? Has he heard it yet?
Ha! Yeah. Of course. Dustin had asked me to try and write something along those lines for Vaz, and if you know Vaz at all... well, it's just a good fit.
Vazquez and our friend Mike Gill made that video for it right around Boston with almost no budget. I'm not sure weather or not people know what to make of it just yet, but I was entertained when I saw it. I don't know if Mr Roth has heard it yet or not, but I wish I was cool enough to say, "Aw yeah... we hang out all the time. He loves it!"
What has been the follow up to the bands several trips to the UK? Donington must have been a high point, but do you paln on returning with the new record?
Donington was awesome! We had so much fun over there. A few times actually. It was an honor to be on such a great bill, with so many of our childhood heroes too.
I really hope we see Europe again, but no plans at the moment.
Can you tell us a bit about your solo material? Do you do any live work outside of Damone?
The solo stuff I've been doing for years. Those songs were recorded the same way that I demo tracks for the band. It was all done in my Boston apartment, with no big production at all, but I think it's pretty honest material. I always find that when I'm writing for one artist, I end up writing something completely opposite at the same time. (I don't know if that made any sense) So, if I'm doing a metal record, my solo stuff usually ends up being mellow or acoustic sounding, and vice-versa.
Like, 'Science & Movies' was mostly written during the making of 'Out Here All Night'.
I rarely play my own stuff live though. Too busy. But maybe someday. I've also been doing a lot of writing & producing work for other artists lately. It's something I really enjoy. Bands will give me their demos, I find the hooks and re-work the songs to flow better. This is something that I'm trying to break into a little more.
Check out my site mwoodsmusic.com You can find links to all of my solo records, and full descriptions on how they were made.
There's also a journal section with a bunch of pictures and stories from Damone tours.
With all the touring over the past few years, are there any bands you've been turned onto who've become some of your favorite acts?
I'd have to say that the All American Rejects became one of those bands for me. We did a couple of tours together, became good friends, and I ended up enjoying their show every night. Buckcherry was always great, Andrew W.K., Less Than Jake, Butch Walker, Bullets & Octane, The 69 Eyes, The Pink Spiders, Sugarcult...
Basically, when you spend five to six weeks on the road with another band, their songs and their personalities become part of your life. It's something that I really like about touring. Even if it's a band that you wouldn't usually be into, after a few weeks of it, it's hard not to like it. And I can't say that we've ever toured with a band that I couldn't stand. Come to think of it... we probably wouldn't take a tour like that anyways.
Do you have a game plan at all with 'Roll The Dice' as to what's next for the band? What can we look forward to over the next twelve months?
Oh you'll see!
The new Damone album 'Roll The Dice' is out now.
For more information visit www.myspace.com/damone