Thursday, February 25, 2010

(Damn) This Desert Air: The Exploding In Sound Interview

Exploding In Sound writer Ty Griffin has returned with his most recent interview...

One of the first bands that I discovered through Exploding In Sound is New Jersey’s (Damn) This Desert Air. Through EIS’s Bands You Need to Know in 2009, I was introduced to their song, Halo Around The Moon [listen/download below], and was immediately hooked to their Space Rock/Alternative influenced sound.

I got the opportunity to interview the guys and they answered a few questions covering topics including their sound, influences, their new upcoming EP, record label developments, and more:


How would you describe (D)TDA’s sound to someone who hasn’t heard your music?

Alf: I tend to describe it as alternative rock with a hint of both the maturity of prog rock and the angst of punk rock combined.

Craig: We could cite space rock, alt rock of the 90's, post-hardcore, etc... yet genre tag's aside, hopefully we're viewed as a band that translates an emotional experience to the listener—something you hang on to without a reason you can put your finger on.

What musician or musicians are your biggest influence for the instrument that each of you play in (D)TDA?

Alf: While my style may not necessarily match theirs, the following bass players (in no particular order) have always been my favorites: Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Karl Alvarez (Descendents / All), Jason Black (Hot Water Music), Sergio Vega (Quicksand), Joe Lally (Fugazi), Billy Gould (Faith No More)

Mike: Yanni mostly...but really I learned a lot from touring with the bands I worked for, especially Quicksand.

Shawn: I love so much music from so many genres and eras its hard to pinpoint. Some people I've always really appreciated are David Gilmour & Jimmy Page. A band that I really appreciate guitar-wise as a whole is Further Seems Forever – they are very complex and intricate.

Craig: I try not to put too much emphasis on influence with specific individuals, as I might have when I was younger. I'm moved by the sound of a band overall and vocals are just an extension of this. I'm attracted to melody and depthful lyrics, yet some unmelodic voices are absolutely perfect for certain bands and can move me deeply with their delivery and conviction. I've been compared to an array of singers in the past, and that array can come with flattery, yet also a bit of self-suspicion, you know? As in "do I really sound like him? Is that what everyone hears? Am I emulating without realizing?" Truthfully, my inspirations have always changed on a daily basis—so I can name big influences from 10 years ago, but they might be quite contrasting to who's moving me now.

Who are some bands that you guys are listening to right now that you want people to know about?

Alf: Coming from more of a punk rock / hardcore history, I'd been on an old school NYC Hardcore kick for the longest time - Cro Mags, Leeway, Sick of it All, Gorilla Biscuits, etc. It wasn't really until I joined this band that I started to listen to music more similar to the (D)TDA sound. Craig has been a huge influence on my listening lately, always sending more and more bands for me to check out. Some of the bands I've been introduced to lately are Oceansize, FAR, Open Hand and most recently Karnivool from Australia. Karnivool has completely monopolized my listening opportunities, whether it's driving, at work, etc. It's all I've been listening to because it's just THAT good. We recently had a "band field trip" to see them at Don Hill's in NYC. One of the most powerful bands I've seen in a loooong time.

Craig: Some other bands that happen to be in regular rotation (and can use more ears embracing them) are Junius, Truckfighters, Freedom Hawk, Biffy Clyro, Solar Powered Sun Destroyer, Roman Traffic, Exeter & Jesu. (3/4 of this list was inspired by the man who's publishing this interview...for ranting about them on his blog & compilations)

For the “The Nurse Who Loved Me, A Tribute to Failure,” you covered the song, “Sergeant Politeness”, off of the legendary album, “Fantastic Planet”. Why did you choose that particular Failure track?

Craig: Well, timing would be the best answer... We might have chosen a different Failure track had we had an early option, but I'm very proud we did "Sergeant Politeness" as it was always one of the many favorites of mine and my drummer's, regardless. When I say we might have chosen a "different track," I just mean that we might have chosen a song that was more open and spacious versus the full out rock. "Sergeant Politeness" seemed to fit our band very well, and when we found out it was available, we went ahead and bashed it out with a little twist of adding the jam on "Segue 1" at the end.

Mike, you joined (D)TDA back in July replacing former guitarist, John Kohler. How has the experience been for you so far? Was there any kind of initiation process?

Mike: I've known Ti and Alf for many years. Ti and I played in a band together ages ago and Alf was a fellow New Brunswick local in the 90's. I randomly ran into Alf at a store and well, the rest is history. In general we've all been in and around the same music scene so stepping in was really comfortable. They say I'm not truly in the band until I can successfully make Ti tap out in the rehearsal space. Despite flipping over a couch and breaking a table...I guess I'm still auditioning.

Was it a stressful process finding a new guitarist to replace John?

Alf: I didn't really find it to be that stressful, mainly due to the fact that we totally lucked out with a "right place/right time" situation. Although we were sorry to see him go, John's departure was 100% amicable. Other factors in his life were inhibiting his ability to continue to rock with us and he was willing to continue to play with us until we found someone to take over for him. While visiting my dad one day down the Jersey shore, I ran into my old friend Mike whom I had known through playing in different bands together in the old New Brunswick, NJ music scene. I had just joined the band and had been posting about my new musical endeavor on both MySpace and Facebook to spread the word. When I ran into Mike, he commented how much he liked the sound of the new band. That's when the idea hit me, knowing Mike's musical background... "Just how much do you like the band, Mike? Enough to play guitar?"

Shawn: I was very nervous about finding someone. Its so hard to find someone that is the complete package. We really wanted someone who could obviously play well – but some who could help with the writing process and someone who had good stage presence. I think the most important thing for us though was someone who we could all get along with.

You guys have a new EP entitled Distance Waits set to release sometime in 2010. Have you set the a release date?

Alf: Not yet. Unfortunately, it's all dependent on the label who releases it and their already scheduled releases. We'd much prefer to have it out ASAP, but such is the music biz.

Craig: The new EP looks like it's a "go" for April 2010 and should be out both stateside USA through one label, as well as overseas through a very cool German label who's been showing us a great deal of gushing lately.

[*editors note: Distance Waits will be released in the United States on April 27th and Europe on April 9th.]


How has the recording experience been for you guys during this new EP? What did you guys do differently during the recording process for this EP compared to the 2007 EP?

Alf: We are very privileged to have a situation where Shawn (our guitarist) has a small recording studio setup in his guitar shop. While this makes it much less stressful to record (we're not watching the clock/paying by the hour), it does take a little longer to complete. I was not on the 2007 EP so I default to the (D)TDA veterans on the remainder of this question...

Shawn: The recording experience for this new EP has been very interesting. We basically did the same process as last time. The first EP was recorded by our old guitarist James and then mixed by our friend Matt Haick. This EP was recorded at my studio over a span of several months and was finally mixed by Brian Virtue [which we are very excited about]. This whole process took much longer than it probably should have – but we are so pleased with the end result that it was worth it. Our main problem is that we are all perfectionists and ended up gong back and re-doing parts and trying new things, etc. Im glad we actually took our time with this project because it would be so different if we just went into a studio for only a few days. This whole process has been a huge learing experience – we now know what to do and not do for next time.

What can (D)TDA fans expect with the new songs on the upcoming Distance Waits EP?

Mike: More dynamics, more kicks in the gut. An evolutionary next step in the progression of the bands songwriting.

Alf: More dynamics as we continue to define ourselves as a band and our sound, especially after two new members (myself and Mike).

Craig: The louder parts hit harder and the softer parts are more delicate. Much attention was spent getting the personality out of the performance vocally and building the landscape of the instruments to compliment one another. Recording to me, is a door of evolution that the songs themselves need to step through. The option of creation/re-creation while recording, is time spent unlocking secrets around the structured playing the songs have lived as up until the studio. I think we managed to get all of our secrets out on the table and a better identity to each individual song.

I live in Texas, and I would love to see you guys live. How would you describe your live show? Any chance of an upcoming tour that would have (D)TDA swinging through the Lone Star State?

Mike: The songs translate well to a live show that doesn't suck. We'd love to get down to the Lone Star State. I've yet to be able to consume the 72oz. steak at the Big Texan. Any offers?

Alf: While we always want to sound as precise and as tight as possible, there is a raw energy in the live set with a few added tweaks to make it a more interesting experience than just listening to the recording. There's a very good chance we'll be swinging through Texas at least once in 2010.
Are there any new developments with (Damn) This Desert Air that you would like to talk about?

Craig: Well, we've just signed to a German label, Bastardized Recordings, and we can tell you we're very pleased with them and they seem to have a great plan in store for overseas promotion. They'll handle Germany, and all parts of Europe for that matter and have been growing strong for about a decade. With that said, Pop-Up Records is the American label set to jointly release the new EP in a similar timeframe.
I’d like to thank the guys from (Damn) This Desert Air for taking the time to answer these questions for the interview and for their amazing music they make. [live photos are courtesy of Luke Bodenstein; band photo courtesy of Pete Tabbot]

The Distance Waits EP will be available this April through Pop-Up Records in the U.S. and Bastardized Recordings in Europe.

Bastardized Announcement Link
Pop-Up Announcement Link

(Damn) This Desert Air on Facebook
(Damn) This Desert Air on Myspace

<a href="http://explodinginsound.bandcamp.com/track/damn-this-desert-air-halo-around-the-moon">(Damn) This Desert Air - Halo Around the Moon by Exploding In Sound presents...</a>

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