Interview: The Damn Truth

Critically acclaimed Montreal-based four-piece The Damn Truth are currently wowing audiences the length and breadth of the UK with their fiery brand of powerful and emotional rock music. Not only are the band appearing as special guests of Scottish blues-rockers King King on their current tour, but The Damn Truth has also slotted in a few headline shows of their own. We spoke with vocalist/guitarist Lee-la Baum and drummer Dave Traina after the band laid waste to the O2 Academy, Glasgow with a show that can only be described as incendiary. A live band not to be missed.

Would it be fair to say that not only are you two of the four happiest people in the building tonight, but also two of the four most relieved people in the building?

Lee-la: [laughs] Absolutely! Building up to this, over the last few weeks in Canada, I couldn’t let myself get excited. I was sure that it was going to be obstacle after obstacle after obstacle, that there was no way that this tour was going to happen, and then we found ourselves in the airport…and everything was smooth. Then we found ourselves on the plane, and we were going…and that’s when I started to get excited! We arrived in Britain and it was just like open arms; from the first moment and the immigration officer at the airport who was so kind…to the covid tester…it was so wonderful! Everything has been perfect, and it’s just been a dream.

December 2021’s tour of Europe was canceled at what, two hours notice before you were due to fly?

Lee-la: Yep, on the day of the flight.

Dave: The night before, we had all packed our bags, we thought that we were going, but we woke up that morning and the messages started coming through that it was not going to happen.

Lee-la: Half of the tour was in Scandinavia and they were closing down…

How do you pick yourself up from something like that? Is it a case of you have to just keep going…

Lee-la: It was really hard, the first few days were devastating, especially since you planned not to be there at home. You feel like you are out of time and space, feel lost, so it was hard…but yes, you keep going, because that’s all you can do.

But you are here now, keeping positive, 13 shows in 16 days…13 different accents for you to try and decipher…

Lee-la: Yes! I’ve had to say “Excuse me but could you say that again” quite a few times! I just put on a big smile and say “It’s all good, man” and “Thank you, I appreciate you!” [laughs]…it’s wonderful, I love it!

Dave: I’m having the time of my life, it feels so good to be back out on the road. So far we’ve been to a few places: York, then Newcastle, and now Glasgow.

Lee-la: The accents are getting harder!

You were over in 2019, but that was just a flying visit for a show in London?

Lee-la: That was just one stop yes, we had added it at the last minute because we were in Belgium, and we felt that we couldn’t be so close and not play London. It was so wonderful and it left such an impression on us, it was definitely the best show on that tour. We are very excited about playing the Electric Ballroom later this month [February 24th], we can’t wait. But this venue tonight is beautiful, my heart was fluttering just walking in earlier on.

You obviously have your own headlining shows coming up in between shows with King King; what can people turning up to the headlining shows expect? What are they going to get?

Lee-la: They are going to get a much longer set, that’s one thing. When I get offstage from a 30 or 45-minute set…I’ve only just begun! We are just getting warmed up. We love the longer sets because it’s a lot more of everything; we love to improvise and that’s something that you can’t do when you are on a time limit. So we are definitely looking forward to having that freedom.

There is a buzz about the band in the UK at the minute; Planet Rock is onboard, and you have won Classic Rock Magazine ‘Track Of The Week’ 3 times? – ‘This Is Who We Are Now’, ‘Tomorrow’, and ‘Only Love’?

Lee-la: We have won it three times, yes, but ‘Tomorrow’ hasn’t won, it was ‘This Is Who We Are Now’ that won twice…which was crazy. I don’t know how it happened, but our publicist told us that it was the first time ever that the same track was nominated twice which is super awesome.

What do you think it is about The Damn Truth that resonates so well with the UK audience?

Lee-la: I think that first of all; we grew up on British rock, we love it, and maybe that comes through in our sound, in our songwriting? Rock ‘n’ Roll was born here; some people might say Elvis, but no, it was born here, and I think that this was where we needed to be. I’d love to hear what other people think, why it resonates so much…

This tour HAD to happen, didn’t it…

Lee-la: Absolutely, yes.

We mentioned the double-winning ‘This Is Where We Are Now’ earlier; that is such a cool video…but with the stage rotating and turning you all upside down – who barfed first?

Lee-la: [laughs] You can tell this one, Dave!

Dave: I was basically tied down into a rotating room, but we had help from [Canadian contemporary circus] Cirque du Soleil so I was taking care of. I was well strapped in, and as the room rotated…I mean, Tommy Lee and other drummers have done that before, but you never think that you are the drummer who is going to end up upside-down! It was pretty crazy. But you have to give credit to the rest of the band because as the room is rotating you lose your footing and slam into the wall…

Lee-la: Or the next person! Or the amps, or the props…

Dave: These guys were all banged-up, basically all day, and I was just strapped in…in the one place! We called it the “Death Box”…the video crew tried to make it as safe as possible, but make it an awesome video at the same time.

Lee-la: Bruised ribs, gashes, blood gushing; but yeah, it was pretty amazing.

Your live stream from last year was also pretty amazing; the interview footage of the band, in between tracks, talking about the songs and how they came together was a great addition…

Dave: It was awesome, I mean, we showed up that day to do a live stream but the film crew said that we were going to do a quick interview before we went on, so we answered a few questions, then jumped on, and filmed the show.

Lee-la: It was very emotional as it was the first time that we had gotten to play the album since we recorded it. So it was very emotional…

It’s easy to forget just how important music is in all our lives, and how so many bands lost the chance to perform new music in front of an audience, so it’s understandable that you would use the word “emotional”…you got quite emotional a few times during tonight’s set, Lee-la…

Lee-la: I did, yes. It really hits me when we are in a city for the first time…the first time to play our music…and to have people sing back my lyrics…that gets me. It kills me every time! I get choked up. It happens a lot to me…I get very emotional onstage! I think a lot of our fans in Montreal come to a show and look out for that moment! It’s kind of sadistic…but it’s true!

 

The Damn Truth headline shows:

Leeds Lending Room: Tuesday 15 February 2022

Bristol Exchange: Wednesday 16 February 2022

Southampton The 1865: Friday 25 February 2022

Tickets:

www.gigcartel.com

www.thedamntruth.com

Dates supporting King King:

Manchester, Academy: Thursday 17 February 2022

Sheffield, Leadmill: Saturday 19 February 2022

Cardiff, Y Plas: Sunday 20 February 2022

Birmingham, Town Hall: Tuesday 22 February 2022

Bury St Edmunds, The Apex Arts Centre: Wednesday 23 February 2022

London, Electric Ballroom: Thursday 24 February 2022

Tickets:

The Damn Truth social media, here.

 

Interview – Dave

Live photo’s by Steven Wilson c/o Scottish Music Network.

Top image – Adam Kennedy

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