Thursday, September 13, 2007

Digging Demigs

One of my personal missions as a blogger is to bring new and interesting bands to light that might otherwise go unnoticed. Easily one of the most interesting bands I’ve discovered this year would be the Denton group The Demigs. This band, fronted by Chris Demiglio, has managed to write some damn catchy songs that have set up permanent residence in my head. I wanted to do this interview last month, but alas, Chris was vacationing in Europe. My first reaction was to join him over there and write it off as a business expense. Hey, that could work, right? Alas, I don’t think the IRS would go for that, and since the Ghost of Blind Lemon expense account can’t quite afford a trip to Europe (or a stick of gum for that matter), I opted to stay at home and interview him over the phone. What follows is not exactly a traditional interview, but more like excerpts from a very long phone chat paraphrased by yours truly.

I started out with the most basic of questions: how exactly did the Demigs come to be? He told me about his two previous bands, the brit-pop influenced Wellwisher, and his next band Robin Goodfellow, which leaned more towards “post-punk noise and structure”, or at least that’s how they describe it on their last.fm bio. The original lineup of the band featured Chris, his younger brother Mark on drums, bassist Brad Row, as well as Annie Ramich on guitar, who also played with Chris in Robin Goodfellow. As Annie got further into her grad school studies, she found she didn’t have the time to devote to the band, and parted ways with the band, and Eric Lee took her place. Also, Brad was not happy in Denton, so he left the band to move back to Hawkins, Texas (where Chris came from as well). So now The Demigs are breaking in their new bass player, Sid Bledsoe, who previously played with Chris back in his Wellwisher days.

One of the bands that The Demigs get compared to most often would be Pixies. Not only do they sound like Pixies, Chris even has an uncanny resemblance to Frank Black. When I asked him how he felt about the comparison, he paused for a moment, almost as if to choose his words carefully. Originally, Chris avoided the American noise rock scene, and during his days in Wellwisher, his musical diet consisted of almost entirely Britpop music. After the demise of that band, he began to branch out musically and started listening to bands such as Sonic Youth, and yes, Pixies. But while he has definitely gained an appreciation for Pixies music, he also feels a need to distance himself from the band, in large part because of similarities in vocals and appearance to Frank Black. He is careful not to put too much of a Pixies influence on the album since he doesn’t want to appear like a Pixies wannabe. He says “maybe that’s just stupid vanity”, although I view it as a smart decision on his part, because it keeps the music fresh and it helps avoid the appearance of being a copycat band. Chris is more inclined to mention Pavement (and actually Stephen Malkmus’ solo stuff even more so) as well as eels as musical influences. The latter band surprised me, but he told me that his eels influence will probably be easier to hear on their follow up to their debut album Yardling.

The release of Yardling (which is easily THE debut CD of the year) was a path filled with twists and turns. The band originally started recording at Dallas Sound Lab with Channce from the band The Opposites Attract. Unfortunately, technical difficulties with their computers crashing and resetting were causing problems for the band. Around this time, Chris was on craigslist when he saw an ad for a distortion pedal. He contacted Chris Wilder about purchasing the pedal. Not only did Wilder sell him the distortion pedal, he let The Demigs use his home recording studio to record the album free of charge because Wilder believed in the music that The Demigs were playing. In fact, Wilder, The Demigs, and another Denton band The Grass Fight are in the midst of building a new recording studio. The tentative name of it is Shady Lane Studios (another nod to Pavement).

Speaking of The Grass Fight, they are one of the bands he mentioned when I asked him what local bands he felt were not getting the attention they deserved. Others included Record Hop (he believes that Ashley Cromeens is probably the best female singer in Dallas), the cut*off (through whom I discovered The Demigs), and Deep Snapper. We went on to discuss other frustrations about the local music scene, not only bands were not receiving the recognition they should be getting, but what both bands and venues are doing wrong. One problem he mentioned was that the people doing sound at shows are often interested only in making the headliners sound good. They set up the sound board and then walk off and aren’t there for further problems that might arise. Chris feels that promotion of shows is also an issue. Although he says that many bands don’t do enough to promote their own shows, he feels that clubs are equally guilty of lack of promotion. Another problem caused by venues is when bands are placed on a bill where they don’t make sense musically. He told me about one show where he played The Door in Deep Ellum, and he was on a bill where all the other bands were screamo bands. As a result of such mismatched lineups, The Demigs are more careful about who they play with now.

Fortunately, the band has not one, but two killer shows in store this weekend. First off, they will play Hailey’s on Friday night along with The Hourly Radio and Secret Annex. This is a free show. Yes. You heard me right. It is free, as in no cost to get through the door. If you live in Denton, then as far as I’m concerned, you need to be at Hailey’s. This goes double if you’ve never heard The Demigs. Boy, you’re in for a treat.

The second show is Saturday night at Wreck Room. The club won’t be around much longer, so enjoy it while you can. They’ll be opening up for The Drams and the cut*off. The last time I was at Wreck Room was in June for the exact same lineup. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You owe it to yourself to attend at least one of these shows. For those who haven’t heard the band, take a listen to the MP3 below of “Throw Me Overboard.” I can just about guarantee you that listening to this song will be the best 107 seconds you spend today.

The Demigs – Throw Me Overboard

1 comment:

Angelina said...

I would like to give you a hand for covering the demigs.. I am actually a demig as well, through genetics that is.. My brother Chris has always been a pain in the arse but very musically inclined, our mother thought he was maybe autistic or retarded but we all eventually surrendered to the the fact he was just kind of a musical genius... His bands have come and gone but his talent remains.. Now that he has my lil' brother Mark on board its even better.. I have seen them both grow as musical artists and its been a long journey for Chris... I can't stand him that much but I must say he is amazing when he gets a guitar in his hands and a song in his heart... I do hope music labels as well as radio stations start to focus on local talent instead of putting together reality show crap to form "bands..." Their missing out on the good stuff!