Houston Calling

10 Questions for The Damnwells

November 8th, 2003 · No Comments

A couple of years ago, a friend gave me some demos from a “new band out of New York City” called The Damnwells. At first listen, I was hooked. The songs had great melodies–a little bit country, a whole lotta rock’n’roll– and great lyrics. They create songs you can’t get out of your head, not that you’d want to.

Their EP, PMR+1 (Poor Man’s Record), was released to great fanfare on In Music We Trust Records in 2001. Look for their new album, Bastards Of The Beat, at your local record stores.

In Music We Trust said of the band: “New York quartet The Damnwells don’t play it safe. Describing their music as “rock with problems,” frontman Alex Dezen’s dreamy, languorous phrasing and majestic melodies drive the band. With Dezen on vocals and guitar, former Whiskeytown drummer Steven Terry, bassist Ted Hudson, and guitarist Dave Chernis round out the line-up.

PMR + 1 finds the band at their finest, crafting beautiful pop songs propelled by The Damnwells’ love for a great rock song. The songs get stuck in your head, while you tap your feet to the infectious rhythms. You keep hearing the songs even after they’re done, singing them in the shower, while you walk down the street, and in your car.

Harnessing the power of their live shows, The Damnwells make sure that you remember not only their name, but their sound, each song possessing its own distinct melody, all the while sounding undeniably like The Damnwells…”

The Damnwells are playing three show in Houston this Friday, 11.14.03. Yes, three shows! The first show is an in-store performance at Cactus Music on Shepherd Dr. at W. Alabama. The second show finds the band opening for Cheap Trick at the Verizon Wireless Theater. Finally, the band will play a late show at Walter’s On Washington.

Be sure to at least hit one of these shows. I’ll see you there.

The Damnwells’ frontman Alex Dezen was kind enough to answer a few questions recently for Houston Calling. Enjoy.

10 Questions for The Damnwells

HC: How did The Damnwells get started?

Alex: Ted and I had known each other in college. We played in different bands that both stunk. After college we both moved to Brooklyn and kept running into each other (usually at this one bar where we tried our best to become “regulars”). Anyway, there we’re breakups, breakdowns, and a general dislike of our jobs so we thought we would form a rock band. We met Steve at a recording session that a friend had brought him to and I basically begged Dave to play with us.

HC: What do consider to be your musical influences?

Alex: I think they are probably quite vast. We all listen to a lot of different music. We all agree on Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Tom Petty, The Replacements, Bob Dylan, Andrew W.K. and Elvis.

HC: You guys have toured with some good bands over the past couple of years–Rhett Miller a while back, and now you’re on the road with rock legends Cheap Trick again. How have these tours been for you? Do you typically get a good response on the road?

Alex: Well, the road is the only place we get a response and yeah, I think it’s been pretty good. All the tours that we have done have been great. Everyone we have toured with has been amazing, kind and supportive so yeah, we love the road.

HC: I love the line in your song “H.C.E.” that goes, “I’ve never kissed a boy, but I’ve hit a girl…” I think that your songwriting is above par compared to most bands out there today–I am always more respectful of bands that can not only create great music but also write great lyrics that I can relate to or that make me think about what the writer must have been going through when he or she wrote the song. What process do you guys go through to write songs?

Alex: Sometimes its easy. Sometimes its hard. Sometimes I have to really fight myself…the lyrics are usually the most difficult part. I am constantly editing myself and cutting myself down. It’s like having a hipster in your head going, “Uh, that’s totally not cool man.” It can really suck sometimes.

HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?

Alex: That it sucks.

HC: How are you using the internet as a tool to market yourself? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”?

Alex: I think its great. If people want music they should be able to get it with little or no hassle. And they certainly shouldn’t have to pay 18 dollars for it. That’s just criminal. Maybe if record labels spent less money on life-size cutouts of Justin Timberlake they wouldn’t have to charge so much for CD’s. Bands will always make money touring and playing shows. I really could care less if people paid for my records.

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

Alex: Wow, that’s a weird question…I have no idea. I guess The Rolling Stones or someone like that so we could see how it should really sound.

HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry?

Alex: See answer to question 6.

HC: Rumor has it you guys are constantly churning out new material–a friend of mine jokes there is a Damnwells’ box set already with all the songs that aren’t on your albums. Will any of these tunes see the light of day? What are your plans for the unreleased stuff?

Alex: Well, our plan is to release it! We’ve only made one and a half records so we have plenty of time to get all that stuff out. I mean not all of it. Some of it is…totally not cool man.

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

Alex: Rufus Wainwright, “Want”

HC: Last one: What’s your favorite TripleFastAction song?

Alex: “Cheery”

Now that you’ve read more about The Damnwells, please be sure to go get their new CD, Bastards of the Beat, and check them out on tour with Cheap Trick and Wayne Kramer.

Visit the band’s website (thedamnwells.com) for more information.

And remember, The Damnwells are playing three shows in Houston on Friday night (11.14.03).

  • In-store performance at Cactus Music
  • Opening for Cheap Trick at the Verizon Wireless Theater.
  • Late show at Walter’s On Washington.

    I’ll see you there.

    The Damnwells are managed by Silent Partner Management, from NYC.

    Now Playing in my iPOD: Various Artists — Mix 34

  • Tags: Music