The Damn Fanatics are fun. It’s as easy as that.
To expand a bit more, though, I wrote that after the first time I got to sit down with the band in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. It was the first note I made after I walked away from them and jumped in my car to head home, and still now after talking to them a bit more and getting a chance to know them, it’s the best summation of The Damn Fanatics.
The encounter was what I expected from listening to their music. Andy Strong, who plays vocals and guitar in the band talked quickly, smiling through every word he spoke, and came bearing a handful of beers for everyone in the band. Matt Grandy, who plays keys and also sings, was quiet but attentive, with an eye of precision that matches the organ synths sound that compliments the rowdy-but-poppy nature of the bands’ music. Cameron Mark Lewis, the drummer and percussionist of the band, was energetic, focused and immediately willing to contribute to the conversation we had. It’s a trifecta, in some sense. The group of people who went to parties together in college and were able to wingman their way into the rowdiest parties, while still shining as the center of attention.
The Damn Fanatics are that and the type of band you can crush “a bacon/cheddar/jalapeno burger” to. The band is a combination of boot-stomping rock n’ roll, festive Doors’ reminiscent synths and dance-worthy melodies that will inevitably get you moving. Their newest (and unreleased) track, “Find Someone to Love” is a portrait of The Damn Fanatics’ oath to provide all listeners and show attendees a chance to have a sweaty good time. The breakdown of the song, where Strong bursts into a vocal-esque solo of lyrics, is one of the great highlights of the song. Check it out below.
Post-beers was the best time to talk to the band, so we did just that, talking a bit about the process of choosing their name to the rationale behind what they would consider to be their spirit animals.
The Bay Bridged: How did the Damn Fanatics come to be? Where does the name come from?
Cameron Mark Lewis: I shouted in a bout of desperation, and the rest is history.
Matt Grandy: The name was Cameron’s genius. We went through a ton of name ideas, including briefly calling ourselves The Heist before being sent a cease-and-desist Facebook message from some dude in the UK. While kicking around new and mostly terrible ideas, Camo commented that we’re “just a bunch of damn fanatics,” and we all looked at each other with lightbulbs appearing above our heads.
Andy Strong: It had been a particularly fanatical evening.
TBB: In one sentence, how would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard of you before?
AS: We play fool shakin’ Psychedelic Fru Fru Party Rock.
CML: Psychedelic Pop-Hop Rock n’ Roll.
MG: Psychedelic garage rock that will make you want to move.
AS: We agree on certain things.
TBB: This is your first EP, what was the process like? Any pivotal moments through the writing/recording/post-production steps that stand out?
MG: It really was a great learning and growth process for us. We conceived and honed the songs in live jam settings, so they’re bristling with the crazy spontaneity and infectious energy that we try to bring to our live performances. The challenge was to figure out how to bring that energy into the studio, where there’s no crowd to get you pumped up.
AS: We are very lucky to have such a great community through the Balanced Breakfast meetups. We met our producer AJ McKinley at BB as well as our mastering engineer, Piper Payne. One of my favorite parts was trying to pick my jaw up off the floor as Piper wizard-ed songs to the next level.
CML: It was really interesting to see how much work goes into mixing and mastering a song. It was my first time recording in the studio, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was feeling a little nervous before we started, but once we started recording I just started feeling the music and we got into a good groove together. The best moment was when our producer, AJ McKinley, came out of the control room and picked up a guitar and started jamming with us.
TBB: What is each of your spirit animals and why?
MG: Mine is a koala, because they’ve got claws, but they’re way too chill to ever need to use them.
AS: My spirit animal is two sparkling floating purple octopi in space. Also, a tiger. Both from vivid dreams.
CML: Just checked and my spirit animal is a Toucan. Thanks Google. Ironically, it sounded exactly like me, so I think it’s legit.
TBB: What is next for you guys? What’s one thing you want to leave readers with?
MG: Tuesday September 15 is our “Find Someone To Love” Single Release Party, at the amazing PianoFight Theater at 144 Taylor Street. We’re gonna play a sweaty dance party, and we’ll have some awesome guests with us as well. You can find reasonably-priced tickets on Eventbrite.
CML: This is a milestone we’ve been looking forward to achieving, and it feels great to get there. We also just finished shooting the music video for the single, so expect that to be dropping soon. I hope the readers come to the show and have a sweaty good time with us!
AS: You can also catch 2/3 of TDF at Pianofight at 8am on Thursday mornings for arts community meetups. Balanced Breakfast (Music) & Coffee & Catchup (Film). Camo runs the Film group. I sling coffee behind the bar & dance for tips.
MG: Also, those tickets to September 15th’s release show at Pianofight are at Eventbrite.
AS: And if you made it to the end of this article, use promo code FS12L for the secret $10 ticket 🙂
The Damn Fanatics
Tuesday, September 15
8pm, $12 (All Ages)