Not many bands come out of nowhere or are overnight sensations these days. And even though you’ve probably never heard of AudioDamn!, all of that is about to change. With two of the power-pop soul trio having met in 2009, they didn’t start collaborating until 2011 at their mutual manager’s insistence. With a shimmering musical energy soon to take the airwaves by storm, you’ll understand the exclamation point after watching the band’s video debut of their first single, “Lights Out”. If this doesn’t turn your lights on, you better check your pulse.
The Germany-based, Austrian-bred three-piece consists of the excitable trio of frontman Oliver “Oli” Wimmer on guitar and vocals, Ali Grumeth on guitar, bass, and backing vocals, and anchored by drummer Daniel ‘Mudi’ Mudrack. And the feather in their cap — being signed by Epic Records earlier this year.
Despite the effort and enthusiasm of the band’s video and all the traveling preparation for their pending tour of the States, Wimmer and Grumeth graciously made time for a recent phone interview from Germany to discuss the band’s history and plans for the near future.
Prior to their meeting in 2009, Grumeth had studied classic guitar since he was eight, while Wimmer was pursuing a singing career, which led to scoring a number-one hit single in Austria at 17. But when their mutual manager insisted they play music together, each resisted the idea. When the two finally met, they discovered an immediate musical chemistry, and soon began writing together and playing live shows.
In 2011, Wimmer and Grumeth were in enrolled in the Mannheim, Germany-based Popakademie Baden-Württemberg (aka the University of Popular Music and Music Business), seeking to develop their music. Here they crossed paths with Mudrack, who had started playing drums at a young age. Mudi cites Queen, Michael Jackson, and Guns N’ Roses among his earliest influences. He was later inspired by the music of John Coltrane and other jazz legends.
While at Popakademie, Wimmer and Grumeth further established their musical partnership, and enlisted Mudrack as their drummer. By 2013, the band had more than an album’s worth of songs. “We were amazed at how well it all came together and how fast everything got rolling, because we really just started this all for fun,” says Grumeth. The newly found trio was not caught up with what the band’s concept we be but chose to focus on the fun of making music. And the video of “Lights Out” is evidence of that.
When it came time to record their songs, the band set up shop in a basement studio with minimal equipment. After laying down more than a dozen songs, the band posted a selection of tracks to SoundCloud. Wimmer credits Grumeth’s ingenuity as a producer for shaping AudioDamn!’s raw yet refined sound. The SoundCloud exposure paved the way for finding management in late 2014 and led to the signing with Epic Records.
Mostly made up of the material written during their time at school, AudioDamn!’s debut album is scheduled to be released at the beginning of 2016. The tracks shows off their sophisticated musicianship and production skills while also drawing on their razor-sharp instincts for melodic groove. Tracks like “Lights Out” and “Still On My Radar” displays how they embrace and blend multiple genres. Grumeth offered, “We listen to hip-hop and folk and punk and jazz; the style of music doesn’t mean anything to us. When we’re making something we usually say to ourselves, ‘What should we probably be doing here? Okay, let’s do the opposite of that.’ We love the challenge of doing things in a new and different way. There’s a lot of fun in that challenge.”
AudioDamn! are preparing to make their American debut later this year with tentative plans to tour here in November. Previously, the band’s most notable gig was playing at 2014 PopCamp, a German musical showcase’s in its 11th year, and where the trio’s performance made a noticeable impression.
With the help of Google’s German to English translation, the website glowingly acknowledged drummer Mudi’s style of playing, stating “Mudi Mudrack delivers refined, often reduced, beats that significantly impact the band’s sound and also invite you to dance naked.” Isn’t that what every rock band hopes their drummer can do to an audience?
With a musical openness, the trio excels at originating from a variety of influences, with a special affinity for punk, pop, and soul. Ali explains, “We like to mix up those kind of styles. Starting off in most of the time in R&B. We go right into the recording room and see what comes out, and if we crush it totally as a punk rock trio.” He continued saying, “We recorded as a live band. And after that we maybe add horns, that’s typical R&B pop stuff and to see if those two modes work together.”
Audiodamn!’s songwriting is distinctive in its originality. They sharply instill the influences without being repetitive. Grumeth elaborated by sharing, “Of the rock influence, it’s the Foo Fighters, Green Day, and Black Keys. Oliver is more into the R&B stuff” which Wimmer acknowledged and added, “I’m more into soul and R&B but also includes pop artists like Usher and Justin Timberlake. But we meet somewhere in the middle and that’s what comes out of it.”
With witty reflection Wimmer injects a humorous analogy about their sound and writing approach saying, “Maybe really talented. Like the Foo Fighters and Justin Timberlake.” Making Grumeth laugh he added, “That is how we’d like to get started.” And both laugh loudly as they imagine of how puzzled listeners might think after hearing the band for the first time. Grumeth humorously continued rhetorically, “People here are really going to feel like, ‘Yeah, that’s kinda of maybe a mixture of the Foo Fighters and Justin Timberlake, or something.” Laughing unison, he continued, “We would enjoy that!”
With the unusual mix of Foo Fighters and Timberlake a very real part of their fiber, you immediately note the contrast between the two tracks “Still on My Radar” and “Lights Out”. Yet it reveals the specific influence of their musical interests that brought the two together.
Where the song “Brief Microsleep Can Not Be Avoid” is more in the vein of “Radar” and “Light Out” represents the other side of their creative spectrum. But where does the rest of the album land? Wimmer explained the trio’s approach. “Certainly, between “Radar” and “Lights Out” there’s more of a rock, gritty live sound. This is us preforming live as a trio in the basement, sweating. And obviously it has all the horns (on “Radar”).” He quickly adds, “There’s also a slower part of the record actually, and other styles on there.” Grumeth continued, “I think of those three songs, the whole album is in between this range. There might be one or two songs that are slow, like ballads, but the rest of it is always at the rock end, and R&B poppy.”
It’s easy to get hooked on the ultra-catchy pop of “Lights Out”. Given its punk urgency and pop sensibility, but surprisingly it had a very different origin. Grumeth shared, “It started out much slower. Just me and an acoustic guitar, real bluesy. That’s one of the examples where we took the song and said ‘Ok’, let’s do a cool rocker. It should be faster. Have fun with it and crush it a little bit.’ That’s what came out.”
The lyrics to “Lights Outs” are self-explanatory and easy for listeners to connect with the romantic frustration. Upon further inquiry, Wimmer provided insight into the liaison and responded with a reflective chuckle, “It was Ali’s experience. You remember that girl? Maybe you want to talk about it.” Grumeth good-naturedly conceded, “Well, you know, it’s about a girl I’m kind of into, and I kind of really go crazy about it. And all I was saying to myself, ‘There’s nothing I can do about it.’ He continued with humble laughter, “She’s just playing me! I was damn crazy and she just turned my lights out.”
With the exposure of PopCamp, and the website’s comments about drum-induced naked dancing both Wimmer and Grumeth burst into laughter at the memory. Wimmer recounts, “We had one experience where they were almost naked. It was really fun. It was raining really hard at our second or third show. There was almost no one there. And then more and more people came by, and there were those two crazy chicks, and started dancing in the rain. They weren’t completely naked, but almost.” Grumeth injects, “I would say like 50% out of fun and 50% out of necessity. They took what they had on off. It was a really fun gig.”
But more important than the audience’s response was their sincere appreciation of their drummer. Grumeth’s admiration flowed, “But to get back on Mudi’s drumming, it’s really amazing how soulful and musical his drumming influences the sound of the band. We still remember when Oliver and I started off writing some songs and then tried to put a band together, and the first rehearsal with Mudi. We came in and then he let us do an intro of the song. He just hit the drop right where the verse starts and was amazing.”
The adoration continued with Wimmer exclaiming, “He’s just the best drummer I’ve ever played with.” Grumeth agreed and added, “He’s the best for the band. Something magically happened when we played. He has a drum kit like a rock drummer but he plays with a soulfulness and musicality. You know, he just gets the songs. He plays round and curvy, if you know what I’m saying. He almost a jazz drummer.”
With the essential mix of musical chemistry, respect and friendship, it’s unmistakable the band is anxious and excited to perform in America. And if this introduction doesn’t give you enough of an idea of who AudioDamn! is, you’ll have to see them live.
As the interview concluded, here is what the easy going, affable pair want you to know. Somewhat reserved but with modest laughter Wimmer stated, “We’re so excited to have the chance to come to America and excited for everyone over there to observe. Also, we’re grateful for the opportunity to do this, and being at a core label in the States. Just marvelous. People dream about the stuff! That’s already happening.” Grimeth concluded, “And to share our music. We hope we touch your soul and the songs become yours. And we hope to see you all at the show and have a good party!”
Who can pass up a new band ready to make a name for themselves, especially knowing how hard it is to get noticed in the demanding music industry. After all, it’s still a business. Don’t miss the chance celebrate hearing your favorite new band and experience AudioDamn! singing and playing their lights out. Follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, or their home page for pending tour dates information and future drop date of their debut.