The band members are keeping their answers damn truthful
Despite a turbulent year, The Damn Truth haven’t lost hope. If anything, they’ve managed to persevere during a time where many have been plagued by anxiety and despair, shifting their sound to one that radiates optimism. The Montreal-based rock band consists of Lee-la Baum (lead vocals/guitar), Tom Shemer (lead guitar/vocals), PY Letellier (bass/vocals), and Dave Traina (drums/vocals).
The band is best known for their catchy songs like Kinda Awkward and Get with You. Over the last nine years, the band’s fanbase has grown exponentially, not only nationally but internationally as well.
While Traina couldn’t make it, The Concordian spoke with the rest of the band, who discussed the process of creating their third album Now or Nowhere and what the future holds for them.
TC: Can you talk us through the process of bringing together your latest album Now or Nowhere, especially during such a weird time?
TS: Most of the record was written on the road before COVID, so after we had done our second album, we toured excessively. When you get to that kind of point where you forget what day of the week it is, some sort of magic happens and your creativity flows. So we wrote songs on the road, in the van, on our days off. We kind of noticed, even before COVID, that there was this bond between humans that felt like it was broken a little bit. So we felt that we wanted to write an album that was more hopeful and positive.
LLB: We found ourselves a few months later going to Vancouver to record with the popular producer Bob Rock. We had basically four days in the studio and were prepared to do three or four songs. We were ready to do a whole album, so we managed to do six songs in four days. Then we were booked to come back in March 2020, and that’s when things fell apart. So we had to finish it in Montreal on our own. We were lucky that we had some studios at our disposal. We were able to finish the last three songs and put it all together.
TC: This new album focuses a lot on the theme of love, and features songs that offer a sense of hope. Was that originally the direction that you had in mind before you began writing?
LLB: Since most of the songs were written before COVID, if I listen back now, a lot of these lyrics are shocking. They’re a bit predictive in a way. It freaks me out, because this was written before everything happened.
PYL: Now that COVID has happened, I think a lot of people are now seeing the world the way that we saw how the world was feeling after touring around a couple times.
TS: One thing I didn’t really love about our second album is that we were kind of in a place of… I don’t want to say worry, but maybe fear. Lee-la and I were just about to have our kid and we were thinking all the time, are we making the right decision? Are we bringing a kid into the world that’s worth living in? So the second album was a lot like finger pointing and society-bashing. So I thought, why would we take the time to point out the bad things when we can use our stage for love, peace, and hope? I don’t know if the next album will be the same, though. Who knows, it might be angrier.
TC: Can you talk me through the creative process of writing your song “This is Who We Are Now.” How did it come together?
LLB: That one happened in the van. We were driving through Texas in the middle of the night. Tom was driving and PY was next to him. Suddenly the song kind of just hit us.
TS: I heard that voice in my head, just the whole verse that goes “this is who we are now.” I felt it, so I sat next to Lee-la and asked her to pull her phone out to record. It kind of also became like our tour motto. Like if we’d go to a venue and the guy wouldn’t pay us for the night, we’d say “well, this is who we are now!”
PYL: It was less of a motto, and more of a mantra because we used it when shit went bad to lift our spirits.
LLB: It’s a malleable sentence that just made sense in every scenario!
TC: How are you feeling about being able to perform live again?
LLB: It’s what we’ve been dreaming of for so long. We’ve been doing our best to try and stay connected to our fans and audience so we’re pretty active on social media, but it’s not the same as playing in front of real, warm live bodies.
PYL: If I can be candid about that question, the first few shows really kicked my ass. We were playing over 200 shows a year. I remember I walked up on stage thinking, “oh this is going to be a piece of cake,” and then I came off sweating bullets and barely able to breathe. It was a really big wake-up call.
TC: What’s in store for you all now? Can we expect another album in the near future?
LLB: We’ll definitely be touring, that’s really the main goal. There’s a tour that’s already been announced for February 2022 and we’re going back to the U.K. for 30 days. Very exciting! So fingers crossed that they will allow us to get on that flight. And we’re always writing, so the next album is imminent.
For more information on The Damn Truth and touring dates, please visit their website.
Photograph by Lee-La Baum