Alex Dezen (of the Damnwells)

Alex Dezen (of the Damnwells)

Mike Dunn

Wed · March 1, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$10.00 - $12.00

This event is 18 and over

Alex Dezen
Alex Dezen
It’s official. The Damnwells are done. “It was an amazing run,” says Alex Dezen. “But it’s time to

move on.” 16 years, 5 albums, and countless miles later, Dezen is finally stepping out on his own

with his second solo album in two years. Truth be told, the tenuous formation which has carried

the Damnwells moniker over the last decade and a half has always featured Dezen’s voice and

songs front and center. Both 2007’s One Last Century 2010’s No One Listens to the Band Any-
more employed a wide net of musicians and friends, often without founding members Steven

Terry, Ted Hudson, and David Chernis. So, in many ways, II, the second solo album from Damn-
wells frontman, is just a continuation of what Dezen has been doing his entire career. Only it isn’t

that at all.

From the fuzzed-out refrains of “When You Give Up” to the lush harmonies of “Everything’s Great

(Everything’s Terrible)” to the acoustic folkie life lessons of “The Boys of Bummer,” II showcases

the creative spark of an artist coming into his prime — a songwriter who has been able to deftly

thread the needle between his past, present, and future. II, which is being released on February 3,

2017 on Poor Man Records, remains undaunted, pushing artistic boundaries like never before.

“In many ways,” says Dezen, “the job of an artist is to re-examine what came before. That informs

what we do next.” Taken as a whole, II displays a penchant for blending both retro and modern

sounds to forge something new, yet still creating something catchy enough to hook the listener on

the very first spin. “My intention when I made this record was not to make an ’80s record,” Dezen

clarifies. “But as soon as I got the guitar in my hands and started messing around with chords and

getting further along into the production and the writing, it just went that way — and it felt very

natural to me.”

Songs like “Holding On to You (Holding On to Me)” builds on the Lindsey Buckingham-esq sonic

palette made famous on Fleetwood Mac’s magnum studio opus, 1979’s Tusk, and brings it into the

modern age. “That music has been in my mind and in my ears as long as I can remember,” Dezen

admits. “The late-’70s was an interesting time. Disco was dying, so there’s this weird combination

of disco and rock & roll happening together, which produced some really cool stuff.” Dezen is

pleased with the ways this album bridges the gap between then and now, and doesn’t shy away

from the obvious comparisons. “I’m well aware of it,” says Dezen. “I welcome it. I wish I had been

in that band! This song is the closest I’m going to get.”

Dezen, who wrote, performed, produced, and mixed this record almost entirely on his own, thor-
oughly enjoyed the time he spent in a band. “The beauty of being in a band,” Dezen explains, “is

you’ve got all these different influences coming in. But when you’re making a record by yourself

and you’re producing it by yourself, you can chase down any and every idea to its most perfect

conclusion. You can really explore all the things and ideas you want.”

(continued)

Dezen knows what lane he’s in as an artist — and he’s totally cool with it. “I’m not try-
ing to rewrite the history of music. I’m not Radiohead, and I’m not trying to do some-
thing that has never been heard before,” he says. “I do very much like familiarity in my

music. It’s whatever originality you bring to it that ultimately makes your music spe-
cial.”

One song Dezen expects will push a few hot buttons with listeners is “I Am a Racist,”

which also features backing vocals from one of the album’s key collaborators, Amber

Bollinger. “I think the most dangerous form of racism,” says Dezen, “is the racist who

doesn’t even realize what they are, that their racism is so systematically engrained, they

don’t see what a huge part of the problem they are.” For Dezen, change is something

that has to start from within. “Saying that the problem is me,” Dezen explains, “as op-
posed to pointing a finger and saying that it’s something else, is a lot more powerful. I

guess I’m asking for a ‘Man in the Mirror’ moment. We need to look deeply at the way

we engage with each other. We need to start there.”

Though the first song on the album, “When You Give Up,” highlights the darker side

hope, Dezen himself has an internal drive that just won’t quit. “The only thing I feel

pretty confident about being able to do is write a song,” Dezen says. “Whether or not

that song is any good, who knows. But this is what I’ve been doing for so long. I do

know it brings me a tremendous amount of joy.”

That joy is what keeps him going. “Just when I thought everything had fallen apart,

something positive would appear in my life, inviting me to continue to do what I do,”

Dezen says. “I guess I just do it because I really, genuinely love it. It challenges me. It

keeps me sharp. I think that’s why the arts are so important. The arts ultimately make

you active, smart, and more aware and more empathetic towards the people in the

world around you.”

The overall takeaway from II is an artist forging ahead with an uncompromising, singu-
lar vision. “You’ll get that I’m saying, ‘Here I am as me, and I’m now moving into this

phase.’ And you know what? That’s not a bad place to be.” It sure isn’t. If anything, II is

the clear sonic signpost for where the ever-searching singer/songwriter is headed next.

Come along for the ride.

www.alexdezen.com
Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn
In the fall of 2013, several years had passed since Mike Dunn released an album with his band Mike Dunn & the Kings of New England. He had taken time off from music and touring to "grow up." You know, get a job and get married. And though he never stopped writing songs, nothing felt worth its weight in vinyl. With a dark cloud of self-doubt looming like an afternoon storm in summer, Dunn knew it was time for a new chapter. So he picked himself up by his bootstraps, rented a cabin in the woods and set out to write a record.

He rigged up a little studio in the two-bedroom shack on a lake. He read Flannery O'Connor, ate rare steak, drank good whiskey, took naps and, lo and behold, wrote a song. When the week was up, so was his song count; he left with five songs and the roots of what would become the sprawling Hard Luck Soft Rock. The ten song album shows Dunn as a veteran of the music scene, a songwriter enjoying his art without worrying about success. Instead of chasing an ever-moving finish line, his heartfelt lyrics and rock melodies prove he is finally enjoying the run.

In describing the album, it's best to lean on one of Dunn's favorite quotes from Paul Westerberg: "We weren't invited to the party, so we threw our own." Reuniting with producer Louis DeFabrizio (Gasoline Heart), who produced Dunn's first record in 2007, made it easy to pave this new musical path. And fortunately for the rest of us, this is a rock 'n roll party with Americana grit and power pop hooks we're all welcome to attend.
Venue Information:
The High Watt
One Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203
http://thehighwatt.com/