Sure we’ve heard about you before, but we think it’s time for Tone Deaf to get to know you a little better. Slip in to something comfortable while we put on some music, pour us a couple of drinks and turn the lights down low.
Who are you and what do you do in your act?
My name is Damian and I sing and play the guitar.
‘Fess up. What records have you stolen from your parent’s record collection and why?
Pin Ball Rock – 20 ORIGINAL HITS, ORIGINAL STARS. This one is killer. Calender Girl by Neil Sedaka, Rebel Rebel by Duane Eddy, Rubber Ball, Hats Off To Larry, Rockin’ Robin, Pretty Woman, This Diamond Ring. It’s stacked.
Gene Pitney – GREATEST HITS. I heard Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa on the radio and thought it required further investigation, and Mum already had this album. He’s an amazing singer and I love the production, its actually pretty dirty. They songs have that 60’s soundtrack vibe going on.
Roy Orbison – BEST OF. Yep, another best of. Roy’s the greatest singer and his songs are so simple at times, it blows you away. So many start light and subtle then just build to that crescendo and leave you breathless. And he never jumped around or looked like he was trying. Just a seemingly effortless delivery.
There’s heaps more, and they’re mostly all in this vein. Mum has no Beatles, No Rolling Stones, nothing like that at all. It’s crooner central.
What’s on heavy rotation on your iPod right now?
Lykke Li’s Wounded Rhymes. It’s the best thing I’ve heard in years and I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen they need to check it out. I didn’t really get into her first one but this is a classic. It feels like songs I will have forever and always come back to. I’m still rocking MGMT’s Congratulations. I think its unique and fantastic and I don’t care what rubbish was said about it. Those who get it, get it and love it, and that’s all that matters really. PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake has been a lovely surprise too. It feels ancient and other-worldly, the lyrics are interesting and it draws me in.
‘Home taping is killing the music business’ was the catch-cry of the record industry in the 1970s, but it managed to survive until now. What do you think is the difference between mates taping copies of friend’s records back in the 80s and 90s and file sharing now?
I think losing the physical nature of copying music hasn’t been great. Having a 60 or 90 minute cassette that you had to cram it all on still felt precious and valuable. Folks think of songs as files now, it sits there on your computer next to a word document or a bus timetable. And it can all be transferred on mass. Back then you were sharing music with your mates. You knew the person who had the original copy. You could talk about it and go to the concert together and bond over the experience. Now thousands of people get it off one dude’s computer who they’ll never meet. It does your head in as an artist, thinking about this stuff now. I kind of think we should just release on Vinyl and MP3. Vinyl is best for the sound of the recording and MP3 satisfies peoples want for portability and transferability.
You must answer this question honestly or we steal your rider. What was the first gig you went to.?Where was it and what was the venue?
It was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at the Perth Entertainment Centre for the “One Hot Minute” tour. I think it was in 1996 or 1997. That was where I was introduced to hearing loss. I stood right in front of the speakers because I’d never felt that sort of power. But ears were ringing for three days solid afterwards. I’ve worn earplugs ever since.
What’s your favourite site to download music from and do you ever pay for it? Can we find any of your releases there?
Triple J’s website is great because you can discover new artists and download some new releases from established artists too. Pitchfork is good for exposing yourself to a good variety of less commercial American and sometimes European bands. ITunes is pretty easy but we get ripped off in Australia, which is disappointing. All our Music is on iTunes I think! I don’t buy MP3 albums. I can’t get my head around buying an album and not being able to sit on my bed, holding the cover and flicking through the booklet. I’m just trying to buy vinyl instead now. My cd player is broken but my record player is still going strong.
What artist made you want to pick up an instrument and/or sing?
Possibly U2, if had to pick one. I remember watching my sister’s copy of the Rattle and Hum movie and being intrigued. That part where they play in the middle of the city and the cops come and shut it down, that was huge! The idea that they just rocked up and those 4 guys were creating this sound that was just echoing through the streets for miles and miles, it was so powerful.
Have you ever been arrested?
No. I did get a warning for “J-walking” in Geelong. There was a set of lights at a car park entrance, it wasn’t even a road! I didnt know that was illegal. I was standing right next to these two rookie cops and crossed right in front of them. But then they yelled at me to come back…they actually instructed me to “break the law” again! Then they said I may or may not get a fine in the mail when I get home to Perth, talk about suspense. I think they just wanted to see my record, but there is none to speak of.
Do you have any particular ritual before you go on stage, or even a lucky charm you take with you?
I always turn my phone off and put my wallet in my back pocket. I try to warm up a bit and not get into any conversations where I end up yelling over the bands.
What’s been your most outrageous rider request?
We don’t go crazy with rider requests, I don’t think. I don’t feel worthy to make those sizable demands…yet. So, a six pack of Bundaberg Ginger Beer in addition to the usual is about as far as we’ve pushed it. Sandwiches are always welcome.
Because it’s more fun to do things together, which living Australian artist would you most like to collaborate with? Tell us why?
The Church. I’d love to hear how my song would come out through their filters. They make choices that only that combination of musicians make, their direction is unique.
Right, let’s get really intimate. Tell us what releases you have that we can listen to with the lights down low, or even better, where we can see you play in person next.
Our first EP is still fan favourite. Our first album, This Vital Chapter, is available from your usual record shop mates. Charisma Weapon, our new album, is out July 15. We’re touring over east at the very start of next month, June 3, 4 and 5. They’re our first shows in Sydney and Melbourne in years, and first in Brisbane in a while too. Then we’ll be back for the album tour at the end of July.
The Panda Band play:
Fri June 3rd – Beetle Bar, Brisbane QLD
Sat June 4th – The Lansdowne, Sydney NSW
Sun June 5th – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC