Thursday, May 20, 2021

Catching up with ‘Them Damn Dogs’ about their brand new album ‘Unpoetic Flavour’

Them Damn Dogs have come together to release their long-awaited sophomore album Unpoetic Flavor. After six years of grafting, the album is finally set for release on June 11th 2021. The four-piece from Alabama are a refreshing addition to the rock scene and we can't wait to

I had the chance to chat with the group in the run-up to the release of their long-awaited album ‘Unpoetic Flavour’. We spoke about how they’ve grown up during their six-year break from releasing music and what's changed in their lives since their last release. 

From their visuals representation of themselves to their musical style, we spoke about who they are as musicians. 

The band shared a snippet of their creative process with me as well as personal details about themselves that contributed to the creation of the album. 

Do you think that coming from a small town in Alabama has influenced your music in a specific way?

I think it has shaped our sound and image in a sort of way for sure. Only half of us are from Huntsville, AL while drummer Brandon Holmes and I are from Virginia and Texas. Since we all kind of come from different backgrounds it's given us different styles in music and personality. It helps us collaborate and stay fresh with writing and learning to meet each other on a certain level. The music scene around North Alabama is really cool because there is such a diverse group of artists that you can literally find something for everyone. We try to use that to stand out and create a mold of ourselves in the grand scheme of things. Being surrounded by amazing musical landmarks like Muscle Shoals, Nashville, and Atlanta has opened our eyes as to what music can be and how to go about making music. I think there's just something in the waters around here.

Talk me through the songwriting process? Does anyone take the lead in lyrical writing or composition? Or do you contribute fairly equally?

I have been the voice of TDD since we started way back when. It's still the same but I've never really considered myself a lyrist especially in the beginning. I've always worked with the melodies of the songs and the music overall first. I'd come to guys with a track layout in drafts and hum or sing little melodies of what would fit. After the song starts to come together I'll take a more serious approach at lyric and discover what it could mean or be. We'll jam out little drafts and demos here and there and sometime we'll hit something that really clicks and it'll change the feel completely. Like the last track on the record, "Starting Over" we were just grooving with the main theme which has an interesting rhythm section and then it just blasts into a real rock jam. We're very happy with how it came out on the record. 

Why has there been a six year gap between your previous album ‘Let Loose’ and the upcoming ‘Unpoetic Flavour’? What has been changing in your lives during this time?

It's been a crazy few years for us which culminated in the intense era of 2020. We kept writing and coming up with songs but it took us a minute to create the tone that we thought would showcase our progression. We became three-piece for the longest time which for me wasn't the ideal form for what I thought the music should be. After we found lead guitarist Russ Savage in 2018 we finally found a path to evolution. It became fresh again and we had to find a way for him to fit into the band's sound. He succeeded ultimately. We recorded the album in late 2018 and most of 2019 with a hope to release it in the summer of 2020 when the pandemic hit. After a year of no shows and with Brandon moving to Birmingham and bassist Chris Salib working 24/7 we kind of stayed quiet and decided to work on a bigger release for the record. A lot of research and work with updating our brand and marketing took most of our time within the past year and now we're ready for this album to see the light of day. It's kind of weird releasing it now because I feel so removed from the person I was when we were working on it. The music feels like a relic from a distant world.

What makes this album different to your previous releases, and have any of your musical influences changed?

We've grown up a lot throughout the years and the music has progressed to a more mature sound lyrically speaking. I was 19 and 20 whenever we wrote the first record so it was all pent up young man energy pouring out love for sex, drugs, and rock & roll. It was fun and cute but I decided to write about more meaningful ideas and questions. There was pain and self doubt in the years between the records and I wanted to showcase where we've been and how we get through. That's kind of the theme of this record, it's a little bit self reflective. Musically we wanted something a little more new wave and surf for a couple tracks. Keeping it a fun rock record was the goal that also shows the sweet sides and ballads like "I Wish I Was Dead" and "For You"

What are you hoping that your listeners take away from this album?

I hope the listeners find some sort of universal human connection to this new record. There are the usual songs about love and heartache but there is more to offer. We have songs about denial, loneliness, and insanity as well as messages of overcoming dreadful cycles in life and starting anew. We hope they enjoy the variety of the genres and tones in here too. It's basically a rock record but we wanted to throw in some real grooves and unconventional styles together.   

Do you think that this album will change your fan base? And if so, why?

I don't think it'll change the fan base too much. We hope to gain some new followers and fans for sure and we're definitely promoting this one more than the first. We think that'll give us some room to grow and get to know these new fans and followers. For the old fans, we're positive that they're gonna love the new record and witness how much we've grown over the years. 

Your music video for ‘Cold Blooded Animals’ was definitely entertaining. Will we be seeing a new music video(s) from Them Damn Dogs in 2021? 

Yes, actually! We have an official music video for our ballad "I Wish I Was Dead" coming out on May 27th and we can't wait for our fans to see it. We think they're gonna love it. We have also been talking to our friend about doing another video for our track "For You" sometime later. That one might get crazy.

Where do your visual influences come from?

We always want to have our art compliment the music in a tonal way. Every time we work with an artist we give the tracks or albums to listen to and see what they feel or imagine as well as giving them our interpretation of the music. The recording itself was made with high audio quality to get that shine and sleekness so that's what we insisted it needed, sleek curves and personality. Our artists collaborators Elise Blaire and Jovanni Occomy have been fantastic and giving us what we envisioned as well as giving the art their own style.  

After watching your entry for the NPR Tiny Desk Contest 2020, I’ve decided you guys are very much underrated. This performance showed a lot of growth since your earlier live performances. Do you believe the release of this album to be your ‘big break’? If yes (which I believe so), what are you doing to prepare for this?

Thank you for the kind words. I always thought of ourselves as the "underdogs", no pun intended, in our area. A lot of people know who we are but we never really get the same time or day when it comes to cover bands and stuff like that. Huntsville is an interesting place musically speaking, but we do have love in our city even if it's not as much as other groups. That's no complaint either, the other groups work really hard in their material and it shows that they deserve to be where they are. It actually inspires us to create bigger and better songs along the way. I don't know if this album will be our big break but we think it'll be very good to us in the end. I like to think that this release will only make us ready for the next record as well as show us what worked and what didn't.

I’m really looking forward to listening to this album, do you have any tour dates lined up for the remainder of 2021?

We don't have many dates lineup except for our album release show but we plan on getting back into touring this summer and fall. Gonna start by making sure everyone is safe to do so and get our material polished. You'll probably hear about us playing around the southeast and hopefully go out west!


Olivia Smitherman

Instagram: @smitherman_music

Image: Provided by Artist

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