I remember a few months ago when I was scouting out LA bands to play our showcase at Spaceland (today!) one of the bands that really grabbed my attention was a threesome called The Damn Sons. They had this unique and dark blues rock sound, reminding me a bit of Alberta Cross. But these guys spit out some gritty tunes full of dirty swagger fit to play the scene of an edgy shoot-out in a modern day Western. Naturally, I booked them for our show.
We caught up with Travis Schneider, lead singer and guitarist of The Damn Sons. Check out the interview below, it’ll make you laugh.
Photo by David Schless
So why the name The Damn Sons?
The Damn Sons was a side project my friend Ruby and I had sort of half started, which was going to be me playing quiet and folky renditions of old school punk rock songs (The Misfits, Buzzcocks, Dead Kennedys,etc.) and her helping me sing them. We were sending possible band names back and forth via text, and at one point I blast her with like 4 or 5 names and all she wrote back was “daaaaaaamn son!” and for some reason it clicked. The Damn Sons became the name of the project immediately, and when the project never really came to life due to her busy world-traveling-modeling schedule, Jens and I adopted the name for our band since we had never been able to agree on something else. We had literally spent years and reams and reams of paper writing down possible names trying to agree on something and he said something like “I wish your side project wasn’t called The Damn Sons, that’s a cool name” and I said “DONE!”. Sorry, Ruby.
How long you guys been together?
Jens and I have been playing music together since the 5th grade and Grant joined us about 4 months ago I believe. The Damn Sons as a band though, with these songs, I would say we’re about 2 years old.
Three words to describe your music?
Dark, twangy, sexual.
Who are some of your favorite bands?
For me I can say most definitely Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, The Clash, Neil Young, The Cramps and things of that nature. Mostly music that has its roots based in the dark side of early American country and blues records. I think Jens would probably say Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine, and being that it’s 3:30am in NYC right now and I haven’t known Grant a terribly long time, all I can think of is him bringing up Shellac and Fugazi a few times.. He told me about a time he saw Fugazi and Lungfish play a barn in Nebraska … How fucking cool is that?
Do you have any reoccurring dreams? Explain.
Only the sexy kind…. But they’re all different. When I was really little I definitely had a reoccurring dream of the world ending and being chased down a large freeway by every living thing on the planet but all led by a school of sharks. I had that dream so many times I was afraid to go to sleep.
Photo by David Schless
What’s your worse show experience?
That’s actually a tough one. I feel like as a band we have a great time at all of our shows regardless of any uncomfortable circumstances. Even if it’s a show that no one is at, we’ll treat it like a great practice. It’s no help to anyone to just put on a mopey face and be upset there are only 5 people there. I’ve started closing my eyes and pretending there’s 5 million people there and it makes all the difference in the world.
What was one of your best show experiences?
I can answer for Jens first and say that it was our 6th grade talent show when we played “Wipeout” together. No matter how much fun I ever have at a show, Jens claims no other show of ours since that moment has ever lived up to that level of excitement. It’s my current goal in our band to change that and make sure his joy from that day is soon met night after night.
What does a Damn Sons rehearsal session look like, smell like and sound like?
A rehearsal session for The Damn Sons looks like the inside of a prison cell lit by your grandmother’s lamp collection. It smells like an old ship and it sounds like Dracula’s exhaust pipe.
Are there such things as groupies these days? Do you guys have any?
I think we’re still at the point where our Mom’s are our biggest fans.
What’s new with you guys?
We’re currently writing new material that will be spread over a couple of 7″ records, another EP, and a full length record. We’ve been talking with a number of different producers and musician friends about lending their hands with each release so we have the experience of working in different environments with different kinds of people that each have a different approach. Some special surprises to come in there though, so definitely keep an ear to the ground. For now, you can check damnsons.com where we will be posting a new cover song each month that we’ve recorded. If you sign up for the mailing list you’ll get it sent to you each month.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes absolutely. I really want to start sharing more meals with people. We have a huge problem in our country with over serving. I blame Cheesecake Factory for their enormous portions. I’m going to get so fat if I keep trying to eat everything on my plate, like my Dad taught me. Also, I really want people to know how much it means to us to see familiar faces at the shows. It’s the coolest thing when friends roll out to support, and it makes us so happy.
Photo by David Schless
*** 5 GRIMY LASTS! ***
Last time you threw up?
It was this last Halloween, I think I must have had maybe one or two Vodka Redbulls and I think I probably threw up 3 times on the way to the car and 6 times on the way home. I’m convinced a girl dressed like Tomb Raider tried to roofie me.
Last book you read?
I’m not sure I’ve actually finished a book since high school. I have about 7 I’ve been trying to finish over the last 7 years though. I have an extremely short attention span.
Last show you saw?
I saw Jakob Dylan and Neko Case play at The Wiltern in Los Angeles.
Last album you bought?
I bought the “Wowee Zowee” record by Pavement recently because I only ever had it on my ipod from when I grabbed it from a friend years ago, and I re-bought a few of these Nick Cave re-issues they just released with a documentary on each disc full of these great interviews about the making of each record.
Last time you were embarrassed?
I’m sure I’ve been embarrassed countless times since this one particular moment, but the only thing that sticks out right now is when I was in the 5th grade or so, and I was outside my school trying to get my Mom’s attention and I yelled “Mommy!” really loud and these two older kids standing nearby laughed at me for saying “Mommy”. I don’t know why but that memory pops up often. I think it probably just has to do with people making you feel stupid for something meaningless, and that being really shitty. But now that I think about it, the last time I was embarrassed was when I told everyone I haven’t finished a book since high school.