Music Industry Q&A with The Damn Truth
by Robert Flis / September 10, 2021
The Sincop8ed Noize Foundation continues its Rockalypse Workshops series with a band that has been making waves across the country for nearly a decade. The Damn Truth have toured Canada, the United States and Europe, opened on tours for ZZ Top, The Sheepdogs, Styx and Rival Sons and sold out the legendary Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles as well as the Corona Theatre in their hometown of Montreal. They are a regular staple of CHOM 97.7 FM, and we were happy to have their drummer Dave, lead guitarist Tom and their manager Ralph join us for a live Q&A session.
How The Damn Truth Started
The first members of the band to connect were guitarist Tom and singer Lee-La who met at a festival and clicked immediately. The two got together to start playing music and felt they had instant chemistry. Soon after, Tom moved to Montreal, which is where he met Dave and formed the foundation of what would become The Damn Truth. Initially, they were hired to play as a backing band for signed artists, and while that project didn’t last all that long, the four members recognized that they had something special. From there, the group began playing cover gigs to make ends meet, which led to writing their own material. Before they knew it, The Damn Truth were playing original shows as well as touring and recording.
Their New Album
The band released their third album Now or Nowhere this year, during a time where many other artists and musicians were hanging back and playing it safe. Most of the record was written on the road before the start of the pandemic. After the group’s second album, Devilish Folk, they toured extensively for about four years, travelling back and forth across Canada and the US, and even venturing over to Europe. The decision to get off the road was not an easy one to make but the band felt that it was time to stop and get back into the studio.
Being on the road gave them considerable time for not only songwriting, but also planning their vision for the next record. Their goal was to push themselves even further than they had on their past releases and record everything live off the floor, ‘70s style. When throwing out names of dream producers they’d love to work with, one name rose to the top of the list: Bob Rock. As it turned out, the band’s manager Ralph had known Bob Rock since the early 90’s. The band was able to send Bob their demos and he instantly agreed to work on them. Time was tight, as Bob was stopping over for a few days in Vancouver on his way back from Germany before heading home to Hawaii, their dream of recording off the floor became a necessity. In the end, the band pulled it off and came away with an amazing record and the experience of a lifetime working with one of rock’s most legendary producers.
Performing During The Pandemic
To say that the past couple of years have not been typical for The Damn Truth would be an understatement. For a band used to playing a constant stream of gigs, the pandemic has largely grounded all touring to a halt. However, a couple unique opportunities did arise that they couldn’t resist jumping on. The first one came about last summer when the band played a live show at the Montreal Royalmount Drive-In Theatre. Then, nearly a full year later, the group took the stage once again at Rockfest Pour La Sante Mentale in L'Épiphanie Quebec.
“I would say in both cases it’s honestly felt a little surreal,” says drummer Dave. “Especially last year during the month of August. At that time there hadn’t been any shows.” With the opportunity came several worries about whether playing the gig was actually a good idea. Anxiety levels were high and there was a measure of uncertainty regarding public events, but at the same time the urge to play live was just as strong. “It was just overall really exciting because we’d gone through a period of close to a year where we felt like we were kissing that part of life goodbye,” continues Dave. Fortunately, the whole thing went on without a hitch and provided the band with one of their most memorable moments on stage to date. “There were people standing on their cars, standing on the backs of pickup trucks,” described Dave. “It was kind of like a tailgate party.” The band performed two 90-minute sets that day and while it was definitely exhausting, it was also a highlight for not only the group but also their fans, at a time when such experiences were few and far between.
This year, The Damn Truth got back on stage for Rockfest Pour La Sante Mentale, a yearly music festival that raises money and awareness for those struggling with mental illness. This time, it felt like a real show, complete with tickets, an audience and practically a mosh pit! The gig also served as an unofficial record release show since the band hadn’t been able to put one together for their new album and was a perfect opportunity to celebrate the release with their fans.
The opportunity to have played a handful of gigs over the past 18 months is not lost on guitarist Tom. “There are definitely 2 ways of looking at it,” he explains. “You could be ‘oh my god, I can’t wait for everything to go back to normal’ or whatever - and who knows if it ever will, really. The way that I choose to look at it is like ‘hey, what an opportunity!’ I definitely don’t take it for granted that we got to play two festival shows in Montreal last year where nobody else in Montreal really got to play anything. And even now, to headline a rock festival in the summer of 2021, I don’t take it for granted. Even if it’s a smaller capacity, just to be considered for those opportunities, it’s amazing.”
Releasing Music During The Pandemic
Most major bands have shied away from releasing new material during the pandemic, but The Damn Truth are not like most bands. They took a chance releasing their new album earlier this year and so far the decision has paid off. “We kind of wrote our plan as we went,” says Dave. “We made the decision to put out the record because we kind of said to ourselves, ‘how long are we going to wait?’ For us it felt like a big step for the band artistically and creatively, so we really wanted to put it out.” The band took a leap of faith, but one that also made logical sense. The Canadian rock scene is somewhat niche but it’s also a crowded and highly competitive space, so releasing their record at a time when most other bands were holding back allowed for more attention to be placed on it, despite the limitations on touring and shows.
To help compensate for that lack of live shows, the band has been putting extra emphasis on social media, which is something they highly recommend to all artists and musicians as an effective way of connecting with their audience and fans. From a campaign called “Songs We Love” to a video diary called “Weekend in the Damn Life”, to releasing a music video for the single “This is Who We Are Now” in which Dave plays suspended upside down (seriously!), social media was a huge part of releasing the new album, and it continues to be essential for The Damn Truth.
It’s safe to say that if The Damn Truth was able to find this much success during such a challenging time for the music industry, the future is certainly bright for the band. To hear about the band’s upcoming plans, some behind the scenes stories about the making of their music video, balancing family life and other projects with their music careers and a lot more, check out the full interview!
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