Started as a studio project between musicians Joel Bachrach and Joe Merklee, Damfino draws influence from a variety of influences dealing in golden-era power-pop. It was during the creation of their new LP, One False Move and I’m Yours, however, that the project fleshed out into an actual band with the additions of bassist Alex Bachrach and drummer Chris McKinley.
Joining forces with prolific Brooklyn-based producer Oliver Ignatius at Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen, One False Move and I’m Yours finds Damfino dealing with themes and narratives of concepts beyond one’s control; government programs, hereditary illnesses and the Mets’ eternal struggle to not be, well, the Mets just to name a few. Vibrant, sparkling guitars lead the each scene, but there’s significant muscle and adventurous heart at the core of each of these pop-minded constructions.
To go along with a stream of One False Move and I’m Yours, we had Damfino break it down for us, track by track. Check it all out below and click through the Bandcamp embed to order your copy of the album.
“AMERICAN HEALTHCARE” – Joel Bachrach: In real life, I am a self-employed accountant. Like everyone else, I only care about things that help me. Obamacare doesn’t help me. Maybe it will improve over the years but we don’t have time to wait.
Joe Merklee: I realize this started as a critique of Obamacare but it struck me as being open-ended enough to be applied to any of the disastrous alternatives that have been attempted in its wake. I thought of suggesting a video that was comprised of visuals advocating Medicare for All but suspect that that wouldn’t have the support of everyone in the band.
“VISIT TO THE WOMEN’S PLANET” – Joe: Written by my friend Roy, known to you and some of me as Citizen K. We played together in a band called The Drivers which later became Balloon Squad. He was very much a songwriting mentor and when he left the band, he left us all his gear and songs. All these years later, I still love playing them.
My brother Bill who first got me started playing rock and roll decades ago guests on mellotron, making this a nice tip of the hat to two people who were hugely influential to me while having a blast in the present. There’s a really sweet animation for this done by Wyatt O’Connell.
“QUARTER ONE” – Joel: The first quarter of the fiscal year for a business. No big push. Don’t relax too long though because all of a sudden it’s September and you’re not where you were supposed to be. Panic time.
“TWENTY-TWO MONTHS” – Joe: Songwriters and friends don’t come any better than Guy Capecelatro. His original version of this song was acoustic guitar and vocal. I heard it as a BIG power pop song. We had a hell of a lot of fun arranging and recording it as such.
“IF YOU WANT ME” – Joel: Thoughts on relationships that I don’t have. I am only imagining.
Joe: Guest drums are by Zac Coe of The All-About. He starts off sparse and understated on brushes and gets increasingly involved as the song progresses, switching to sticks midway through. The build-up at the end is one of my favorite moments on the album.
“THE SADDEST SONG YOU NEVER HEARD” – Joe: lyrically, I wanted to write a shy person’s anthem. Musically- I was reading a Badfinger biography and was taken with a passage about them being thrown into a studio on short notice to record the HEAD FIRST album with Pete Ham sitting in front of a piano, feverishly trying to write “the hit single”. I wondered what I’d come up with under those circumstances and this was my offering- keeping in mind that what sounds like a hit to my ears seldom has any correlation with what’s charting at any given moment. To quote the Chills- “It’s a heavenly pop hit it anyone wants it”.
“SHEDDING” – Joe: I’ve found that we end up playing other people’s songs for 1 of 2 reasons- 1) We hear something different and take it in a new direction or 2) We just like playing them. This is the latter as it’s not that different from Guy Capecelatro’s original. More often than not, when I pick up an acoustic guitar, this is the 1st song I end up playing. I don’t know what it says about me that playing such a sad song makes me so happy…
“SEQUEL TO CLINT” – Joel: It was 1994. The Mets were awful even though their roster was full of highly paid superstars. I love the bad years. I get my own private team. Clint is a nickname for Cleon Jones.
“YOU ARE EVERY SHADE OF URINE TO ME” – Joe: My son said, “I challenge you to write a song called “You Are Every Shade of Urine to Me!”. I said, “I accept your challenge!”. My disdain for mainstream media knows no bounds (present company excluded).
“LONELY, SAD PORT ANTONIO NIGHT” – Joel: I have a client in Jamaica. The owner shows his country proudly. He has a retreat in the hills of Port Antonio. A few houses up, a former Canadian lives alone and needs little. When I go there I talk to the guy about baseball. He loves the Blue Jays. Baseball is not the least bit popular in Jamaica.
Joe: During the recording of this album, we became an actual band with the additions of bassist Alex Bachrach and Drummer Chris McKinley. Each line up takes on a life of its own and you really can’t be sure where it’s going until you’re in the middle of it.
There was a moment of recognition that happened while we recorded the backing tracks to this live- I thought. “So this is who we are! I can run with this!”. Sam Braverman guests on lead guitar and provides the missing piece to this song.
“WHAT AM I GONNA DO WHEN MY SHOCK TIME COMES?” – Joe: The title comes from a Woody Guthrie biography I was reading. Diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, he knew what he was in for because he’d seen it kill his mother. He was questioning how he would face it. It’s an impossible question, one that can’t be answered until we’re actually there.
When I was younger, if I thought about untimely death, it was probably assumed to be the result of an accident, being at the wrong place at the wrong time or pissing off the wrong person. Now, I’m more inclined to think it likely that what does us in is something that’s already inside us, just waiting to awaken. (thus the “I’m Only Sleeping” reference).
“POT KETTLE BLACK” – Joe: Originally recorded for Speak Into My Good Eye’s Wilco comp benefiting The Project Matters. Alex steps out front to take the lead vocal for the 1st time. We were so happy with how it came out that we decided to also include it here.
“TO, FOR AND BECAUSE” – Joe: The music came out pretty quickly and the structure made me think of John Steinbeck’s BURNING BRIGHT in that the story progresses from start to finish with the same characters but the setting changes dramatically over 3 parts. The dedication on BURNING BRIGHT reads, ”To, for and because of Elaine”. We set about making the 3 parts as distinct as possible with different instrumentation and approach.
Lyrically, I was thinking about how my girlfriend and I had both lost our spouses- albeit through different circumstances (she’s a widow, I’m divorced). The first part could be either of us addressing our spouses- we enter into marriage with the best of intentions and think that it’ll always be there and then the unthinkable happens. Part two- we suffer that loss and it really does feel like your life is over. Part three- persevering through to find meaning (and each other) on the other side,