David Tomaloff's Damn Orchestra

Artist: The Dammitheads
Published: 2004-01-27

"I've been in a bunch of bands," says David Tomaloff, "and when my last band fell apart, I took the opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do-and it became me." So the multi-talented, multi-tasking Wisconsin musician formed his own outfit, not only on his own terms, but on his own talent as well, consisting of David Tomaloff-lead vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards.

The Dammitheads was born-the band and the "creative writing/recording vehicle and schizophrenic alter ego" of David Tomaloff. Originally performing under his name only, Tomaloff came up with the 'fake band' concept because he didn't want his audience to have pre-conceived notions of him onstage as a singer-songwiter who played feel-good guitar ballads. "I'm like the band I wish I had," he says, "I can be the bass player I like, you know?"

Recorded in his basement and mixed at Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco, The Dammitheads first album - Freeze Motherstickers - is a stripped-down and solid achievement of a talented musician - rocky, modern and clean sounding. Getting back to basics was a conscious choice for Tomaloff. "The record is not so much a wall of guitars as other stuff out there. I feel there's less music, more noise going on right now." Unforced and natural, Freeze Motherstickers may sound sparse at first, but a good listen reveals hidden textures and restrained, clear emotions.

Among his top five records of the moment, it is significant that Tomaloff includes The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. Clearly influenced by the album and the way it was recorded, David says it's,"the record that makes me want to record - there's not a lot of thought or pre-meditation behind it - they hung around, drank, recorded it in the basement, and they rocked."

With that sentiment in mind, in his own studio (in the basement, naturally), Tomaloff begins with a germ of an idea, his friend and drummer Steve Hawkins adds drums and a something evolves through a combination of experimentation and improvisation. Comparing the process to painting, Tomaloff says, "It's not already a song. I'll start with a guitar riff and Steve will drum, then we add things, erase things. We don't start with an absolute idea."

Live,Tomaloff plays with a band or with Hawkins, but The Dammitheads are clearly his sound. A daunting prospect? Tomaloff says it depends on which day you ask him. "Some days it's a very free, cool thing, some days I just think 'man, it would be a lot easier if I had a bunch of friends working on this thing with me too.' But every band I've ever been in gets somewhere to a certain point and then falls apart, because of politics or whatever,and all the hard work goes down the drain. Nobody else can screw this up for me."

Solo, Tomaloff must doing something right. The record isn't scheduled for release until mid-February, but it's already blipping on the radar. He's received glowing reviews for Freeze Motherstickers (it plays on his website, www.ourdamnwebsite.com), attention from the press, and pre-orders for the album. It seems Tomaloff has made a record to be proud of - and all by his own damn self.

Writer: Fiona McLean

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