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OSHEAGA 2021 | 45 MINS well spent with THE DAMN TRUTH
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OSHEAGA 2021 | 45 MINS well spent with THE DAMN TRUTH

OSHEAGA 2021 | 45 MINS well spent with THE DAMN TRUTH 2

The Damn Truth are performing SUNDAY @ 5PM for a very special Osheaga Get Together Fall session

If you’re worried about the state of rock music in the city of a thousand steeples then you don’t know The Damn Truth and it’s time you were told.

I had the pleasure of having front woman Lee-la Baum and lead guitarist Tom Shemer on the line for a quick five questions the other day and their light and enthusiasm was more infectious than Covid.

Originally this was supposed to appear in my patented Best Kept Montreal SoundCloud as a mini little talk radio style interview piece, a free wheeling free associated “podcast” of sorts for those of you born after the reign of Stern  and in the midst of Rogan… But because I’ve recently been cursed or perhaps due to the stars or moon’s wane, or the use of too much speaker phone, everything went to sh*t on the audio file, and now I am left to try and bottle their electricity and eccentricities with mere words alone.

These guys rock hard, but at the heart of this quartet is a family on the lam, crossing international boarders in search of adventures, with a thirst for the good things in life. They blaze their own trail, on their own terms and that there is a lesson we can all pool from.

OSHEAGA 2021 | 45 MINS well spent with THE DAMN TRUTH 3
The Damn Truth is a straight-out rock band. So sue them! They like to rock-out old-school style CR Aidan Thatcher

Here’s the transcript below:

Lee-La: Hey Guillaume, how’s it going?

G: Fantastic!

Lee-La: 9:30 in the morning and already fantastic?

(I’ve been caught, I made sake last night, and didn’t come home alone, I was gifted a bike that we each had a hand in spray painting gold, I did  not go quietly into the night, it’s too early for this)

After a few pleasantries:

G: So you  guys are playing Osheaga Get Together, how do you feel about that?

 

Lee-La: I’m so excited, it’s been way too long since we’ve played an outside festival, and the energy is so high, I can’t wait man.

G: Amazing.. So do tell, what is the full Goddamn Truth and are there to many false Goddamn lies going around?

 

(they laugh)

Tom: Well I can only speak for myself but I’ve found that, when we started The Damn Truth many years ago I found that the Montreal music scene wasn’t very…

Lee-La: Inclusive of us?

Tom: Yeah, but not just not inclusive of us but not inclusive of a lot of people, you know, like if you didn’t go with a certain style of easy pop arrangements back in those days, you were “out” ya know? And we felt, at the time, we felt really good about what we were doing and we felt that, or I felt that, if you really put your time and your heart and attention and passion into the work that you make that that is the truth. That’s what the truth is.

G: The Truth of your vision for music type thing?

 

Lee-La: yeah

Tom: Yeah, music, style, fashion, art.

OSHEAGA 2021 | 45 MINS well spent with THE DAMN TRUTH 4
The Damn Truth – It’s a lineage of hard work that’s come to fruition with Now or Nowhere. Photo CR Aidan Thatcher

G: So, being rock stars, how does having a kid, how does parenting affect your music, touring, shows, recordings, how easy is it to manage that?

 

Lee-La: Bringing a kid into the world is probably the farthest from easy right? (laugh) There’s a lot of really sleepless nights before even having him and thinking about how we’re going to make this work and honestly our previous album is really a lot about that,  that sense of unknown and of fear of and for the world and questioning how we can bring a new soul into this whole thing, this broken planet of ours.

G: These broken systems

 

Lee-La: And then our lives and our perspectives and everything kind of changed because we had this incredible family support system, we went on the road with him when he was 2 months old, Tom’s family came in and toured with us, my dad goes on the road, these friends of mine go on the road, so he’s just been thrown into this life and he really loves it. And we’re really lucky that he does… I guess… there was never a question… I knew I wanted to have a family, Tom knew he wanted to have a family and yet we also, you know, have a dream that we can’t let go of or give up on  and so we just gotta make it work.

Tom: I started to figure out that being a rock n’ roll parent is really about, community, it’s about the community around you that, if you don’t have those people around you than it’s not going to work, you won’t be able to make it work, but we’re lucky enough that our people our parents, you know, we’re a family collective, we’re a family to our kids and when we spend six months on the road in  a band together, it’s not torture, we all love each other, we’re one big family and we’re having fun and if it wasn’t for that, it wouldn’t work.

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Lee-La: Not to say that there weren’t some very very screamy afternoons, where family members didn’t wanna, ya know, kill themselves after listening to him screaming for hours and hours, ya know, it’s not all flowers and roses but, all in all it’s really been amazing.

OSHEAGA 2021 | 45 MINS well spent with THE DAMN TRUTH 5
The ‘60s ethos of organic self-sufficiency is the lifeblood of The Damn Truth and the secret to a work ethic that has garnered millions of streams and views on Spotify, YouTube and Tik Tok. Photo CR Aidan Thatcher

G: That sounds like a dream for a million people, that sounds like you guys are living millions of people’s dreams.

 

Tom: The biggest issue that we have doing what we’re doing is that there is no road map, you know? There are no examples in our lives, like we can’t really look at our parents or at an aunt and say “oh, they did it like that” you know? Our lives are so different from what’s come before us that it’s really hard sometimes, I didn’t know much about home schooling and didn’t know many musicians who take their children on tour, ya know, people who did it like that.

G: It’s like you’re breaking new ground within your own lives.

 

Tom/Lee-La: Exactly, yeah

Lee-La: Right, we’re kind of just making our own rules and hoping we don’t f*ck him up.

(Everyone laughs)

G: He’s probably gonna be the coolest kid in every room for life, at least one of them.

 

Lee-La: (laugh) We hope so man… he’s gotta learn a little humility and modesty maybe-

(we all laugh hard!)

OSHEAGA 2021 | 45 MINS well spent with THE DAMN TRUTH 6
The Damn Truth are Lee-la Baum (lead vocals/guitar), Tom Shemer (lead guitar/vocals), PY Letellier (bass/vocals) and Dave Traina (drums/vocals). Photo CR Aidan Thatcher

For a little while we change gears and talk about some of the artists they like Miles Davis, and Billy Holiday come up… Something about the honesty of their delivery…

I get a sense that these people not only push towards a freedom in their artistic expression, but also that their artistic expression is just an extension of the freedom they strive for in life…
They are drawn to the flamboyant, to color, to people out there expressing themselves and who allow themselves to shine through and it ties into “who you are and what you want to be in this world and if you have the balls to be who you want to be than just show it, and just do it.”
G: Osheaga under Covid, how do you feel about it?
Lee-La: I think there’s a 10,000 cap to Osheaga this year, so it’s still pretty big right, it’s still pretty significant, I mean, I don’t think I’ve been around that many people in years and I can’t wait to look out to that sea of people just vibing and to just feel them cause I know we’re all just dying to see live music again and relish in the vibe. I mean, we’re playing Sunday but I cannot wait till doors open on Friday, I mean, I’m gonna be there every day, checking it out and hanging out, because for me, music festivals are what it’s all about, it’s the epitome of the culture.
OSHEAGA 2021 | 45 MINS well spent with THE DAMN TRUTH 7
The Damn Truth, a band that, in many ways, 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. Photo CR Aidan Thatcher
G: Okay, question from a friend of mine, big fan of yours who clearly studies women’s studies: How does being a front woman of a band with this particular sound inform your ideas of feminism and self determination?
Lee-La: First of all I think being a woman in rock and roll, just five six, seven years ago in Canada was really hard, it hindered us in many ways, i mean we would play shows and jump on radio stations and everyone would always trip out on our sound and trip out on my voice, and our vibe and then, when we’d talk to them about playing the new single they were like: “Oh, we’d love to, but ya know, you’re in Calgary, this is cow town man, there’s no room for a female voice in rock like that, we play Janis once a day and the people get their fix.” So ya know, it was really tough… and I have a very loud dominating powerful voice and persona, and many times, these days, even in rock the women’s voices are very soft and breathy, and pop, and sexy, and I mean, that’s not really my thing, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love sex but it’s not really what I portray so it was very difficult and hindered us in many ways but things are changing and that’s great.
There’s a lot more female fronted acts out there and it’s not all about sex and it’s not all about “being a woman” cause in a sense, that’s not even really the issue right, I mean, we’ve been fighting for equality for so long, you can forget the end game which is that it shouldn’t reallly matter whether your a man or a woman as long as what you do rocks, it’s what you have to say and the kind of person you are. That’s really what it’s about, so I’m really happy that it’s starting to be a non-issue in our days and there’s still some ways to go but we’re moving forward in leaps and bounds.
G: I just wanted to say that collectively you guys are sexy as fuck and even though that isn’t your main point it definitely shines through.
(laughs)
Tom: Well for me, just as a guy, with that outside perspective, there’s a sense that things are very much like the old days sometimes, like some people, mostly older people are still holding on to this women’s place in rock as like… I don’t know, people accept like, you know, an all female band, you know, but if you put a girl or a woman in charge of the guys, as the front person as like, the Robert Plant of the operation, like a woman filling Mick Jagger’s shoes then it kind of like, fucks with people’s brains, it’s like it’s not safe to do that, almost like it’s not her place to be a “leader of men”  you know, like it’s a weird thing, like it’s a man’s game. It scares execs and stuff… It’s a weird thing…
Lee-La: I mean, our first single was “Get with me” and people were like, we can’t have this chick screaming about wanting to get with you, right? They were like, “why can’t you be shy, or coy, you don’t have to scream at me to get with you” and I was like, well, “what if I just want to” you know?
G: How has Montreal influenced your sound, your style, your life and music.
Lee-La: We chose this city, there’s a style and a charm to this place that you can’t find anywhere else, and you know, Tom and I are really well traveled but when it came time to pick a place, we came here. You can walk through different neighborhoods and feel like you’re in completely different places, the fact it’s affordable, the galleries, the socially acceptable zones where you can still grow and try, and thrive.
Tom: For sure it kind of saddens me, when you see the state of places now, like just looking at St-Henri and how it’s changing, with giant corporations taking over the city and buying up all the real-estate, I miss the idea of neighborhoods being places where people and artists and businesses all came together, and it’s cool that we have little enclaves online but it’s about meeting people and jamming or jamming out ideas and growing together, and getting inspired by one another and I feel places like that are getting smaller and smaller and harder to come by because of the changes that have been happening, I mean, a young artist now, has to either have a full time job or live with 12 people just to get by and that doesn’t leave enough time for creation. I don’t know what’s  coming next, but something is on the cusp of going down.
G: What can the people look forward to, coming down the pipeline for you guys, plug your stuff please.
Lee-La: This weekend we’re playing 2 shows, we’ve got Osheaga where we’re playing a 45 min show, but then we’ve got this other festival in Saint-Hyacinthe where we’ll be playing for an hour plus on Saturday in an auditorium and we look forward to that it’s going to be like the old days, for one weekend with old fans… we’ve got a tour coming up as of yet unannounced, check out our socials for details on that, and we already announced a February tour of the UK, so stay tuned on that… we’ve got 30+ shows all over the UK going to Scotland and the fastest the world opens up, the sooner we’re going to be touring and we’re writing all the time and can’t wait to get back into the studio.
Tom: we’ve also got a new single we just dropped last week and you guys should check out.
G: We’ll put a link in the interview thing… You guys are awesome and beautiful souls and I wish you all the best of successes and most endearing and wild of stories…
Peace!
Tom: Thanks man, peace.
Lee-la: Bye!
The Damn Truth, check em’ out, love em’, join the family and spread the gospel, we should all be living our dreams,  go out there and find your family, like minds banded together can accomplish anything.
Catch them this Sunday on the Mountain Stage Coors Light at 5pm for an Autumn session at Osheaga Get Together.
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