In many ways, Montreal’s The Damn Truth, is a band that has been hiding in plain sight for the last nine years, slowly bubbling up from the underground on to the radar of a wider audience. So much so, that they are now about to release their third album, Now or Nowhere.
Due Friday 7th May on Spectra Musique/Sony Music, six tracks on the album were produced by legendary Grammy Award winning record producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, The Cult, David Lee Roth, The Offspring) at Bryan Adams’ recording studio The Warehouse in Vancouver.
Unable to finish the album with Rock because of coronavirus restrictions, the band recorded the remaining three songs with help from Juno Award-winning producer Jean Massicotte (Patrick Watson, The Damn Truth) who mixed ‘Everything Fades’, plus additional mixing by Vance Powell(Jack White, Chris Stapleton), Nick DiDa (Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine), and Mike Plotnikoff (Van Halen, The Cranberries, Three Days Grace). With Rock, Powell and DiDia that’s three Grammy Award winners who’ve worked on this album.
Now or Nowhere chronicles the band as they navigate life, love, and everything else in a world gone seemingly upside down and sideways during the past year.
The Damn Truth has toured Europe and the USA extensivly, opened tours for ZZ Top (and partied with Billy Gibbons in his pyjamas), The Sheepdogs, Styx, and Rival Sons, sold out the legendary Whisky a Go-Go in Los Angeles and the Corona Theatrein their hometown of Montreal, and even had one of their videos featured on the official Janis JoplinFacebook page. It’s a culmination of a lot of blood, sweat and tears that’s come to fruition with Now or Nowhere.
The Damn Truth features Lee-la Baum (Vocals, guitar, tambourine), Tom Shemer (Guitars, keyboards, mandolin, tambourine, vocals), Py Letterlier (Bass guitar, tambourine, vocals) and Dave Traina (Drums, vocals).
“We are fortunate enough to live in a time where knowledge is free, and you can basically learn how to do everything yourself,” said Shemer. “It was instrumental for us as a young band with no budget. We had to make and shoot our own videos, produce, and record our own releases and do all the promo ourselves. The by-product of this was that, in a sense, we were the artist, record label and distributor of our art, which allowed us to have insight into what it means, what to expect from a record label, filmmakers, etc.”
That DIY attitude appealed to Bob Rock and was reminiscent of his early days working with indy bands during his formative years in Vancouver. He was so impressed with The Damn Truth’s attitude and songs, and with Baum’s voice, that he decided to record them live off the floor, in keeping with the band’s ‘70s rock roots. This allowed for a better band dynamic and ensured the bed tracks had that powerful live gig energy that’s so crucial to the Bob Rock sound. He refers to it as “getting the feels.”
“He just got us, what we were about, what we were trying to do,” Baum recalled. “He was all about the music and having the band support the song every step of the way. He had a clear vision but was also very open to our suggestions and ideas.
“I remember our first phone conversation. We were all like giddy teenagers, but his vibe and attitude immediately put us at ease. Same thing in the studio — those first few moments of shock: ‘OMG, we are recording with Bob Rock!!’ Pinching ourselves in disbelief quickly turned into, ‘Yes! This is going to be awesome because he is so awesome.
“He was inviting and encouraging, enthusiastic and excited, like we were! Bob was like a kid in a candy store, pulling out all these incredible vintage guitars and gear. ‘Try this one out for size,’ and so on.”
Credited to all the band, tracks featured are ‘This Is Who We Are Now’, ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Only Love’, ‘Lonely’, ‘Everything Fades’, ‘The Fire’, ‘Look Innocent’, ‘Full On You’ and ‘Shot ‘Em’.
The single ‘This Is Who We Are Now’ was released in March. It begins as a racing drama before breaking out into waves of crashing chords as the song’s narrative begins, interrupted by anthemic choruses and an old school solo along the way. But you’re probably aware of that already as its become a radio hit.
The single was vote Tracks of the Week by the readers of Classic Rock Magazine‘s website, Louder Sound.
“Last week’s units of data included Montreal rockers The Damn Truth,” reported the magazine., “‘Whose This Is Who We Are Now’ was our runaway winner, followed by Wayward Sons‘ ‘Big Day‘ and De Wolff‘s ‘Bona Fide‘, proving, once again, that rock ‘n’ roll is truly an international pastime.”
The single entered into its fourth week of airplay on the UK’s number one classic rock radio station, Planet Rock. On Friday April 16th, the band was interviewed on The Global Onslaught Show on mmhradio.co.uk.
Although the first single, ‘This Is Who We Are Now’, a song of empowerment and inspiration, sets the tone, it is actually ‘Only Love’ that sets the theme (“Only love can keep us going/So if we hold on, it’ll be all right.”) A melancholy song in its demo version, Bob Rock suggested a refocus that brought out its true potential.
“I think we were all scratching our heads in disbelief when he wanted us to speed it up that much,” said Shemer, “But today I can’t believe we ever played it any other way, and it’s so hard-hitting and rocky now. I love what Bob brought to the table.”
“We were in serious performance withdrawal. After being on the road for years and being used to playing shows just about every night, it didn’t feel right to not be performing.” Baid said. “We set this goal for ourselves: to release a video a day for a month, or something like that.
“It gave us a purpose and it was fun to get dressed up, revisit some of our favourite rock songs, and be reminded of others once the suggestions started coming in. It was awesome to see the numbers go up and to get so much positive feedback from new fans all over the world. What we learned was, you’re going to find your tribe if you look hard enough.”