Home / Music / Artist Interviews / INTERVIEW: Donoma

INTERVIEW: Donoma

Hi Guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We are doing well, thank you.  It has been a busy, but exciting last couple of months with the release of the album.  We spent most of December, January, and February shut down, except for recording our annual Christmas video and playing a benefit show for the Keystone Pipeline water protectors, which was amazing.  We had the chance to hear from one of the tribal leaders and that was a pretty powerful experience.  That was by far the longest break we have had in seven years.  Usually it is just the odd week here or there.

But that let us recharge our batteries and since then we have spent a lot of time promoting the album, making plans to hit the road, and playing live shows. We played the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas in March which was quite an experience.  We have played large festivals, like Summerfest in Milwaukee, but this had a completely different feel.  Sort of like Mardi Gras!

Can you talk to us more about your single “A Change Is Gonna Come”?

The song is actually a cover of a Sam Cooke song that was written and released in 1964.  While we will play a cover song or two at live shows to mix things up, we have never recorded a cover song before.  We had a lot of internal discussion during the recording sessions for ‘Falling Forward’ if we should release it on the album or not.  Eventually we decided to add it to the album because of the positive audience feedback we received when playing the song live and it seemed to fit the narrative of the album.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

We started playing the song live around 2013.  Stephanie had brought the song into practice one day and wanted to give it a try to see if it would fit with what we were doing.  After running through it a few times we really thought that it would be something that fit what we were doing.  The song was played a number of ways by us live, but over time eventually evolved to the version that was put on the album. 

The band musical message since its inception has grown to become one with more of a personal and political edge to our lyrics.  When we started playing it, things were still quite unstable in the economy in the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement had started, the gap between the have and have nots was really being discussed, just a lot of discontent all around.  We felt this song, while a powerful message about the civil rights movement of the 60’s, laid out a much broader vision of hope, that is much needed today.    

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We will be releasing a video for ‘Sick’ in mid-May.  We have discussed concepts for ‘Change’, ‘Jack In the Box’, ‘Deep Beneath the Woods’, and ‘Another Light’, but have not made a final decision on which will be the next one.

The single comes off your new album Falling Forward – what’s the story behind the title?

One night after a recording session we were all sitting around having a few cocktails and started discussing possible album names.  Timmy threw out the title.  It fit with the albums lyrical theme, you know that life will kick you around and try and knock you down, make you fall to the ground.  It’s inevitable, that’s just the way of the world.  But don’t let those experiences hold you back.  Roll with it, learn from it, and if you are going to fall, fall forwards and not backwards.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was great, but much longer than anticipated.  The original plan was to record this album over a two week period.  But the creative juices started flowing and we ended up recording 24 songs in a year and a half time frame.  We spent something like 200 hours in the studio, writing, recording, and experimenting.   We eventually just said enough is enough, let’s pick 12 and run with it.  So we basically have an album waiting, plus since then have recorded another four, with plenty of other songs with basic foundations flushed out.   

For most songs Stephanie will come in with lyrics and a general rhythm and then the band is set loose in shaping the songs.  It is a very collaborative process, no rules, no set structure, everyone adding input and suggestions.  That is probably a big reason that the songs may seem so different on the album and makes it difficult to pin us down as this or that type of musical style.

What was it like to work with Mike Hoffmann and how did that relationship develop?

We were getting ready to go up to Madison, Wisconsin and record an EP, sort of as a bridge from our first full release, ‘A Sight of the Sun’, and what later became ‘Falling Forward’.  Real simple, six songs, songs that we had written and were playing live.  We had actually gone up and recorded some of the early parts of a couple of songs.  At around that same time we brought on our current Road Manager, Paddy Fineran.  Paddy suggested we meet Mike.  So our manager met with Mike over drinks, discussed the band, the album, and hit it off.  A second meeting was setup with Mike, Stephanie, Israel, Paddy, and our manager.  Everyone hit it off and felt there was a chemistry.  Mike came down to see the band play an outdoor festival and that evening we decided to scrap the EP, bring in Mike, and an album was started.

Mike was incredible to work with, his style fit the band perfectly.  He has so much knowledge of the recording process, the industry, and being a world class guitarist himself, knew exactly what buttons to push to get the most out of the songs.  At no point did he ever say, do this or so that, he rolled with the band and its creative whims, pulled us back when needed and let us run wild at other times.

How much did he influence the album?

Big influence not only on the sound and the songs, but he taught the band about writing music, adding the little things that make a song interesting to listen to a second, third, and fourth time.  As we write new songs today, even with Mike not sitting there, we find ourselves asking the same questions he would have asked.

I’ve noticed some Oasis and 60s Rock and Roll vibe in a few of the songs – does this band and/or era plays a role in the band or is it a pure coincidence?

Well, everyone comes from such a wide musical background and has so many different tastes and influences, both of those things unconsciously play a role.  There probably hasn’t been one style of music that we haven’t covered live for a show.  From Peggy Lee to David Bowie to The Who to Tears For Fears To UK Subs to New York Dolls to Merle Haggard and Jefferson Airplane to name just a few. So I think in the end these things just sort of seep there way inside and influence your songwriting.

The band’s name has some Native American origins, how has this culture influence the writing and the group itself?

The name means ‘a sight of the sun’ and it has had a large influence on who we are as a band, as individuals, and the way we try to carry ourselves.  As we mentioned earlier, the band has evolved and grown in different directions since the beginning.  What started out as a three piece band with Stephanie, Michelle, and Israel, which was more of an experimental, avant-garde music project, grew more into something heavier, bolder, and more dangerous once Nick and Timmy joined.  But the basic principles and foundations of the original three piece band which took the name is still at the core of everything we do.  All of our social media and our web page are found under DonomaTribe.  We are very aware and engaged in the word around us, try our best to be active in the community, and appreciate on so many levels the people that come out to our shows, buy our merchandise, or recognize us on the street and want to talk to us.

What aspect of life and your lives did you get to explore on this record?

I think the best way to describe this record is of someone moving into adulthood and opening their eyes and realizing that it is not quite the way it had been described it would be. It’s about facing challenges, love, loss, fear, head on, and turning it into a positive.  Songs such as ‘Another Light’, ‘Deep Beneath The Woods’, ‘Come With Me’ explore love and love lost.  ‘Sick’, ‘Unfortunate One’, and ‘Splinter’ dive into separating yourself from those who are holding you back.  The songs ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, and ‘Memory’ examine social change.    ‘Otherside’, and ‘He Loves Me Not’ are a look into exploring those dark secrets that we all hold and coming to terms with them.

Any plans to hit the road?

The plans are to spend the summer playing festivals, wherever asked and invited, and then start touring the US in September, starting in the Northeast.

What else is happening next in Donoma’s world?

We are putting together some songs for an EP this fall.  We have a song that was released, ‘Walker Against Us’ which is about the governor of Wisconsin which was put out in limited release on a compilation album, ‘Suck Me Dry’, which was recorded and released exclusively to Kickstarter campaign contributors that we would like to release to a wider audience, along with a couple of new ones that we have written.  The songs are more of a hard rock/punk vein, very politically driven.  Don’t be surprised if one has some thoughts about the new president of the United States.  Other than that this will be a year of touring hard and getting the band out to as many places as possible.  Much like Sweden, our summers here are too short and we will spend as much down time as possible with family, friends, cold drinks, and the sun.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

Check Also

INTERVIEW: Alana de Freitas

Hi Alana, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? I’ve been great! It’s been somewhat …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.