|Back in March of 2006 I interviewed the band DAMONE on their first set of UK shows supporting Buckcherry and The Backyard Babies. Shortly afterwards the magazine took it's long hiatus and the interview never went to print. The cassette with the interview also went AWOL so I was unable to get it up online until I stumbled across it just recently which was a great surprise particularly as the band's album 'Out Here All Night' has been on constant iPod rotation recently and is fast becoming one of my favourite all time albums! I overuse the description too much but it's so rare to find a band who can produce great Hard Rock with a valid modern day stamp. Damone are one of the exceptions.
So here it is, over a year after it was done - The Lost Damone Interview
This is your first trip to the UK - I heard you were supposed to come over prior to this. What happened?
Noelle: Yeah, that was with Fallout Boy in January of 2006. We turned it down to do a US Tour with Less Than Jake which was six weeks long as opposed to just a week. Mike is friends with one of those guys and we just thought it would be better for us.
Vazquez: We were also gonna do the tour over here with Avenged Sevenfold but that got cancelled. That would have been cool 'cause we played with those guys on the Warped Tour.
Did you have any preconceived ideas of England before you came over?
V: Everyone told me the food was really bad but I've enjoyed everything I've had so far!
Dustin: I heard the same thing and we get really into travel food and stuff so we were really worried but it was total bullshit. Some of the best Indian food I've ever had was in London!
How is the current album doing in America?
N: We do really well in certain markets where we've visited a couple of times like Seattle, San Francisco and our home town.
D: We have a decent following out on the West Coast and I guess the coasts in general. It's hard to crack middle America though. The record came out, we did a couple of videos and it did respectably.
V: For what we sold for the amount of push we got I think we did really well. They just kinda put it out there and didn't too much with it.
D: It's a miracle it actually came out at all, it was such a crazy ordeal and it took so long to figure out what to do with it. It was an interesting road just to get there.
Mike: It was recorded in Noelle's apartment... we'd set up and go to work, get home from our jobs and start on the record. Dustin and our producer David Spreng would come over with a little ProTools set up, run cables out to the porch and into Noelle's room to do vocals - it was crazy! People banging on the ceiling to get us to stop and stuff!
How did Mike Shipley become involved in the mixing side of things?
D: The whole thing was like Mike said, basically a home recording done in little spurts over a couple of years. At the time we were on a different label but part way through eventually signed to Island / Def Jam who are part of Universal. They didn't want us to re-record everything again, instead they wanted to use the recordings we'd done at the house and re-mix them. We went to Tom Lord-Alge first and he did some of the stuff which was sounding really good but some we felt wasn't quite the right direction so I just started looking around and literally just started thinking - 'Who mixed Hysteria? I asked someone at the label to find out how much the guy would be and he actually turned out pretty reasonable in price.
V: If it was up to me we would have really just used him for the whole record.
N: He added a real sparkle to the mixes.
M: Dustin actually got to go and hear some of the old Def Leppard stories which was really great.
You were nominated in the Boston Music Awards 2006 and came away with 'Song Of The Year'. That must have been pretty cool for you to be recognised by your home town that way?
N: Yeah, it was. We got three nominations and got to play on the night.
V: It's nice to win! I really like winning! I'm a sore loser.
D: Who were we up against?
V: We were up against people who didn't win!
D: We were introduced by Ernie Boch Jnr who's a really popular car salesman in the New England area who's on TV Commercials like 24 hours a day selling cars. We were backstage getting ready to go up and accept the award and he shouts me over. You know when you've seen a guy on a local TV ad? He's not really a celebrity but you know exactly who he is? And he's like 'One time dude, when I was your age I brought a girl right in this bathroom and I f**ked the shit out of her right in here!!"
N: Oh my god you never told me that!!
D: And then he was like, 'Right I'm gonna go introduce you guys now!' I was laughing my ass off! Just think about that next time you see one of those commercials!
Other than the obvious - Aerosmith, Extreme, etc. Which other Boston bands did you grow up listening to and admiring?
N: The Cars.
M: The Bosstones.
D: Mike, I know there must have been a point when you must have been into Extreme? All guys who were into Hair Metal but were also into complicated musicianship liked them. Those guys were really talented. Too bad they'll only ever be viewed a certain way.
There's so many cool influences I can hear on the album do you all share the same backgrounds?
V: We're all a little bit left field.
D: I think everyone has very different tastes and influences, and for this band at that time, then I think the Hard Rock direction worked.
V: Of all the things we listen too I think melody is the common factor in all of it.
D: We were just into song writing and then I think picked a direction or style and for this record it just happened to be a guitar driven American rock sound.
M: Once the songs were pretty much in place and we'd put it together the way we wanted it, it's interesting to me, and you guys can slap me for saying it, but we actually formatted a lot of this around 'Slippery When Wet'. If you listen to the songs as they go we actually matched up our songs alongside how they worked on that album. All of us thought that record flows really well and we have a lot of similar songs.
D: We also wanted it to be the same as when you brought a cassette were you'd have an A and B Side which started and ended because that was such a cool thing you know and I remember thinking about that. I guess it's one of those things that people don't care about anymore but it was important to us. The label really wanted to front load the album with what they thought were the singles and it just threw off the whole flow.
How did the cover of Iron Maiden's 'Wasted Years' come about? It's a really cool arrangement which gives a new slant to the song.
M: It came from an arguement I think? We were talking about melody versus production.
D: There was a song that didn't make the record that we were trying to do which was kinda meant to be one of those Extreme-type 'More Than Words' things with just acoustic and voice. I guess we must have been arguing that if it's a good song you don't need a bunch of bullshit, guitars and drums. You should be able to just pick up a guitar and it be good. I suppose that was a perfect example of song 'cause the original is such a metal anthem but you can take away everything and it's still a great song!
M: It was actually one of the harder ones to track.
D: I just remember standing in the kitchen and Noelle was having trouble with the lyrics and saying 'I can't do it, I've not heard this song as much as you guys have'. And I was like 'You should be respectful of Iron Maiden!!'
N: You were lecturing me and shit!
V: We were talking to a booking agent about doing Download and they were saying that on the day that Maiden play, the band themselves decide all the bands that are on that day so hopefully that cover version will sway that whole thing into our favour! One way or another, if we get on that festival it'll be great!
A couple of months later Damone were playing to a packed tent of rock fans at the Download Festival in Donington! Weird how things work out?!