Them Damn Dogs - 10 Questions Interview
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
We just all loved music and started playing when we were teens a few hundred miles across the country. Whenever most of met in Huntsville, AL around 2011-13 we had a great grasp of our respected instruments and styles. I guess for me, Jerome Villarreal, Jr., being the main song writer I wanted to impresses my other guitar friends by coming up with songs and riffs that I thought where cool. After I went to my first big concert to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club I thought it would be awesome to write dope rock tracks and blast them on a stage. It kind of evolved from there to college where some of us studied music theory and jammed our hearts out.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Well it's really nothing too crazy but more like unexpected. We were playing a show in our hometown and we're closing out the gig with our big closer to end all closers. It's right at the climax of the song where it's hitting on all cylinders and everybody is digging it. Just then the sound guy accidentally turned on the house music so all of the sudden it's just a wall of chaotic sound. I'm thinking to myself what the hell is happening, the band and the crowd where confused so we just stopped. The sound guy was have trouble turning it off but eventually got it so then we're just standing there awkwardly being like well that was weird. We decided to just start on the coda of the song to give it a for sure ending but like a few measures in I was like nah you know what we're done. It just didn't feel right because we just needed to play the whole thing continuously in order for the ending to truly fit. There were no hard feelings we just told the crowd hey we're done, stick around for the other band!
What has been the high point of your music path?
I think we're kind of on the up hill as we speak. I mean we've had huge opportunities playing with great acts like Wanda Band and Carver Commodore which are both great contemporaries. Playing at things like Concerts In the Park in our home town has been a personal high for us which was nice. We also feel that our upcoming album Unpoetic Flavor will be the best thing we've ever released.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Most of the time it starts with a simple guitar lick or progression that I'll show the rest of the band. We'll figure out how it goes and change a few things if everyone's not happy about a part or two. A lot of the times I work on lyrics last so I can figure out the best melodies and work well within the harmony of the piece. I let the song describe itself to me and give me a tone I can work with for the theme and story. Lately I've been working with piano and making chord progressions from simple melodies that'll come in my head.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I would say paying an artist the right amount of money for the songs and music they work so hard to produce and share with the world. When you make fractions of pennies for a single stream on spotify or what have you, it can be very discouraging for an artist to go out and take the time to write there songs.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I mean it would be a dream to open for The Strokes for sure. Julian Casablancas has been a great inspiration to me when it comes to songwriting and melodies.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
We use to do a once a week type thing before the pandemic started and that was going well for a while. Our drummer Brandon had to move to Birmingham, AL for work so that cut out a lot of our rehearsal time. Whenever we are together though it's just a lot jamming and awkwardly talking about dumb life stuff and world events. There are a lot of moments where we are really grooving in a session and when we finish we'll all look at each other and nod to acknowledge that was pretty dope. For live shows we just kind of wing it. We like to have a good fresh feel when it comes to performances but most of the time it just comes out charmingly awkward.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
There is this song "Jack" off our upcoming record that we worked the most on because we really didn't know where to go with it. There was a three or four parts but no real lyrics. I knew I wanted it to be about insanity but nothing I wrote worked. It has this eerie tone and it builds into a great sendoff so I wanted to tell a story. It wasn't until I improved a vocal take when I thought of the movie The Shinning. In the film, Jack Torrance starts to devolve and go mad in the hotel so I thought that would be a perfect write about. So yeah after that I went to work on lyrics about a character which I've never done. It was really cool though and it finally all came together and is now one of my favorite songs on the album.
What's coming up in the future?
We'll we're gonna have an album release show for Unpoetic Flavor on June 11th, the day it comes out. After that we have a few gigs around the south east that we're gonna do then hopefully start working on something new.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
Everyone can find our music on Spotify or on our website.
About Them Damn Dogs
In 2013, UAH student Jerome Villarreal, Jr. banded with drummer Brandon Holmes and bassist Chris Salib to form Them Damn Dogs. The continuation of Huntsville, AL’s musical legacy. Their mission was to bridge the early rock sounds of Chuck Berry and Ramones with personal heroes Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Strokes. The group became local underdogs with their awkward charm and driving live performances. Huntsville locals were treated with fun upbeat original rock n roll anthems filled with poppy melodies and dance-worthy rhythms. In 2015 the group released their debut album Let Loose, a collection of dance songs combining alternative, punk, and funk-rock.
The Dogs soon found a new fourth member in Russ Savage with bluesy guitar solos reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Mayer. He was needed because for their next album the group was compelled to deliver something of the highest quality. They turned to Clearwave Studios to reach their next evolution and created an album that blends surf rock, new wave, and soul. In 2020 they released tracks “Memories” and “I Wish I Was Dead” in preparation for the release of their upcoming album Unpoetic Flavor.
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