The Meista here... something new for you Brews and Tunes fans... an interview!!
There are people that come into our lives that are forgettable. There are people that come into our lives that are draining, tedious, hard to know, hard to deal with... And then there are people that we meet that make an instant and impactful positive impression. Musician Michael Dean Damron is such a person. I recently sat down with Mr. Damron at the Green Pig before his gig at the Heavy Metal Shop in Salt Lake City, Utah to discuss his latest solo album, "Nah Mr. Death... I'm Comin' For You!!" and his subsequent tour of the western United States. I immediately felt a kinship with this man. He is incredibly smart, articulate, genuine, open, unapologetically honest, and above all, a man of integrity. He is deeply passionate about his music, his family, his fans, and his beliefs and convictions. With musical roots in the blues, old-school country, folk, and rock, Damron's "hillbilly" style of music is sometimes gritty, sometimes melancholy, sometimes straight ahead rock, and always deeply emotional. Originally a drummer playing with the likes of Mark Slaughter, Damron is a singer/songwriter and member of I Can Lick Any Son Of A Bitch In The House and also a prolific solo performer.
Brews and Tunes: Your music is very honest, very heartfelt with obvious conviction and integrity. What is your approach to songwriting and who has been the most influential on your musical style and songwriting?
Damron: Thanks man... that means a lot. I have no real process... no rhyme or reason to my writing. My heart is my process. Just whatever moves me really. I'm really influenced by Hank Williams Sr. and a lot of Texas songwriters like Guy Clark and I adore Richard Buckner. I also listen to a lot of '70s rock like Skynnyrd, Thin Lizzy, and shit like that. And I've been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac lately.
Brews and Tunes: How did you get into music and specifically playing guitar?
Damron: I started playing drums in the 6th grade... (smiles) trying to impress a girl. I played in the Army and then with Mark Slaughter before he was in Vinnie Vincent's band. I started playing guitar about 15 years ago in Texas. I'm pretty critical of my own work and always trying to get better. It is my life pursuit.
Brews and Tunes: What guitars do you play/own? Do you play any other instruments?
Damron: I don't keep guitars very long. I sometimes have to sell them for gas money for touring. But a fan by the name of Chris Dutcher made me a guitar. Just gave it to me! (smiles) I love that guitar. I will never sell that guitar.
Brews and Tunes: So Michael Dean Damron gets home from a long day at the studio... what beer does he grab and what album does he listen to?
Damron: PBR and Thin Lizzy's "Johnny The Fox" or Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors".
Brews and Tunes: Your new album, "Nah Mr. Death... I'm Comin' For You!!" opens with what I consider one of (if not the) best songs in your repertoire, "Autotune The World" - your reaction to the current music industry. Was there a specific incident that inspired you to write this song? Do you have any hope in the music industry... anyone that you think is currently creating truly artistic and inspiring music?
Damron: Steven Tyler on American Idol... what fake bullshit facade! I have no hope for the industry... I mean when does it stop? All this plastic shit. Always some guy trying to sell me something. (Points to the television in the bar) That asshole's trying to sell me something right now. 2 Cow Garage is the best band in America! And Austin Berry and Arless Nancy.
Brews and Tunes: "Nah Mr. Death... I'm Comin' For You!!" (as with your other albums) is balanced between songs about love, heartache and pain, straight ahead anger, and some really poignant and sharp humor. Do you intentionally structure your albums to hold these balanced emotions and thoughts or is it more intuitive and subconscious?
Damron: Yes, totally intentional. I find humor in darkness and tragedy and war. You have to. But there is a silver lining - I do have hope in tomorrow - shit changes ya know?
Brews and Tunes: Songs like "Mama Song" and "Oregon Girl" are beautiful, honest ballads. I know for some songwriters, love songs and ballads can be the hardest to write in terms of being sincere without sounding sappy. On this album as with your previous works, you have obviously mastered the love song/ballad. Are these types of songs easy or difficult for you to write?
Damron: Ballads are easy for me... they are just a life story/my story. I'm just saying thank you to my mama who worked hard to raise me. And "Oregon Girl" is a thank you song to the State of Oregon. I wrote it like a love song to a woman. I like sappy and sad. My heroes write shit like that!
Brews and Tunes: You have some unapologetic and strong lyrics that are sometimes critical of social mores and politics. Has that ever gotten you in trouble with any fans, promoters, or venue owners over the years?
Damron: Yeah, but fuck it. The game is rigged, ya know? I won't apologize. There's too much greed and unrestricted power in America. I think poverty is the greatest problem here. Oh, and my Westboro Baptist Church song is a "fuck you" to bullies.
Brews and Tunes: You've got a couple of songs about football in your repertoire such as "Ballad of Johnny U" (which is fantastic by the way) on the new album. Are you a big football fan?
Damron: I used to watch with my grandpa, but no, I don't watch anymore. Johnny Unitas was my hero. He was courageous and a great human being. There aren't any true heros like that anymore. (sighs)
Brews and Tunes: You end the new album on a rather dark note with the wonderful "The Day America Died." Was that intentional and do you have any hope for the American political scene and the direction this country is taking?
Damron: Yes, I intentionally ended the album with that song. On 9/11 a radio station played the entire album except that song! They thought I was attacking America. I called them. I was pissed. It isn't anti-American. It is about our jobs going overseas, the defeat of the unions that built this country. I'm not religious, but I kinda see myself as a man of God. People like Romeny ain't about God. He's about money... power.
Brews and Tunes: What is your favorite song on the new album and what is your favorite song to play live (either from the new album or just in general)?
Damron: "Fat Kid." I had a tough childhood. Shit who doesn't? It is about me growing up and was a essentially a suicide note. Live, I like to play "Bones" and my new song, "Any Griffith," which will be on the next Son Of A Bitch album.
Brews and Tunes: If you could play with any musician (living or dead), who would that be?
Damron: Springsteen! Definitely Springsteen! If his people would just give me 15 minutes to play for him, I think I could sell them on letting me open for his shows. (Smiles and laughs)
Brews and Tunes: Any future plans musically? Will we be seeing another I Can Lick Any Son Of A Bitch In The House album soon? Are you doing work with anyone else currently?
Damron: New Son Of A Bitch album soon. But I'm having a bit of crisis... my age versus my musical drive... it is getting harder man. But I push on. I have no plans currently appart from Son Of A Bitch, but I love working with anyone.
Brews and Tunes: Where can my readers see you?
Damron: In the next few weeks I'll be playing in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, down the Coast... Southern California.
Pick up a copy of Michael Dean Damron's "Nah Mr. Death... I'm Comin' For You!!" at www.heavymetalshop.com and learn more about Michael Dean Damron, his wonderful music, and get current tour dates at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michael-Dean-Damron/86505060889?ref=ts.