Chicago – You may not have heard of AudioDamn! yet, but trust us when we say they’ll soon be on everyone’s radar, thanks in part to their soulful single “Radar.” The trio, made up of Austrians Oliver “Oli” Wimmer (vocals and guitar), Ali Grumeth (guitar), and Daniel “Mudi” Mudrack (drums), mix rock, pop, and soul. Best New Bands recently caughtAudioDamn!’s Chicago show and described them as “Mayer Hawthorne meets The Strokes.” The guys formed the band in Germany, but in search of more of a challenge, they recently moved to sunny L.A. They’ve come to America to make it big, and given their sparkling personalities, fabulous sense of humor, and of course their musical talent, Best New Bands has no doubt they will do just that!
Best New Bands sat down with Oli, Ali, and Mudi, backstage at Schubas, to talk about moving to the States, their television debut on the Today Show, and the making of their first EP, which is set for release on January 8, 2016 via Epic Records.
You’re originally from Austria, but the band formed in Germany. Now you reside in L.A. What brought you to Germany, and what prompted your move to L.A.?
Ali: We moved to Germany pretty much for the same reasons we moved to L.A., mainly because we were looking for challenges and music wise, there’s always someone impacting a smaller market. Germany is impacting Austria. It impacted the music that we do. America is impacting Germany. For us, we were reaching a limit. We were talking to a lot of labels and publishers… There wasn’t much sense to those relationships because where were they going to put that music? And the risk is so high to never make music again. We all know the stories, right? So we were looking for other possibilities. That led to the thought that maybe we should move to Germany. We all started studying there at the Popakademie, which is a kind of university/support program. From there we formed the band and had the same thought that led to the idea: what if we change our location again? Then we met our management one year ago, from New York, and the ball got rolling.
How long have you been in L.A. now?
Oli: Ali has been there for a week or so. I just moved there a few days ago, and then we were in New York playing theToday Show, which was crazy! After New York it was straight to touring.
Have you been experiencing culture shock? Have your bodies adjusted to the time difference or are you just dying for sleep?
Ali: Yes, definitely! Right now it feels like everything is one huge culture shock and we’re living in a permanent jet lag airport place. [Everyone laughs.] That’s the truth! I personally – we’ve not really talked about – but I’ve reached a point where I don’t care about jet lag because I’m getting used to being tired continuously.
Welcome to tour life!
Ali: Culture shock, yes. Jet lag, yes. But so much that it doesn’t matter anymore. [laughs]
Oli: It’s cool being in a place that’s so different than central Germany. In L.A. there’s sun, it’s all spread out, it’s huge, and you get everywhere by car!
Ali: Oh my god, the weather in L.A.! I love the weather in L.A. November was the perfect, perfect time to move. You know, you miss your friends and the space. We met so many cool people there. It was a good place, Mannheim, Germany. So I got sad at one point like, “Will I ever meet such cool people in this place?” But leaving the cold weather and the rain in November was a reason to look forward to L.A.
Mudi: And now we are here! [laughs]
Ali: Now we are in Chicago, which is awesome! It’s a beautiful city. I really like it so far, but it’s cold.
At least it’s not snowing! Let’s talk about “Lights Out.” What inspired it? Who wrote it; do you guys have a primary songwriter or do you share songwriting duties?
Oli: Sometimes it’s Ali and me or just me, but then the band comes in later and we arrange the song. Ali produces the song. The first demo [of "Lights Out"] was me with an acoustic guitar, kind of like the acoustic version we’re playing now actually. It was about this girl, and the song actually helped get her out of my head.
I was going to ask if she still put your lights out, but apparently not! [everyone laughs]
Oli: The song helped. I felt like, “I need to say this so I can move on.”
There’s a lot of soul and funk to “Radar.” What inspired that?
Oli: “Radar” from the original also got a rock vibe to it, as well. It’s a perfect example of the band, with both rock and soul. The song was actually something I did for school, and then Ali heard it and was like, “We should record this!” I didn’t intend to do anything with it. I just didn’t think about it that much, but Ali loved it.
Ali: The album was actually finished, but then he played me that song. I was like, “Dude, that might be a huge hit!” I f**king love it! We ended up adding it to the album. We booked an extra session just to record that song, but then we played another song a second time. [laughs] Because we just can’t stop playing.
Mudi: Studio life!
I love the horns. Whose idea was it to add the horns?
Oli: I actually don’t remember. It might’ve been Ali’s.
Ali: I think that might’ve happened because I talked to the trombone player, who played on some of the other tracks. Actually, I think it was a terrible idea. [everyone laughs] A rock band using horns? What is that! [laughs]
Speaking of “Radar,” you recently performed it on the Today Show. What was that experience like, surreal?
Ali: Actually we got the email and then all of a sudden people started finding out, and they were really excited! We were like, “Oh, we’re going to do this T.V. show called the Today Show.” People were like, “Guys, that’s so huge! That’s a huge show!” We weren’t nervous, but then all of a sudden I was nervous because they were like, “It’s huge!”
Mudi: In the studio it sounded really great. The sound was perfect.
Ali: Elvis [Duran] is a really nice guy. He really calmed me down, telling jokes.
Oli: I just remember starting to sing, really feeling it, and then I was like, “Holy sh*t, we’re on the Today Show, right now!” Then I started getting nervous, during the song.
Tell us about your soon-to-be released EP. Will there be more horns on it? What should we expect?
Ali: There’s one track, that made it on, that’s six, seven years old. Which was just a basic idea, back in Vienna, with the first version of the band – Amsterdamn! – but then when we started playing with Mudi, we gave it a try and made a new arrangement together. Fortunately, this song was still on our radar! [laughs] This track is on the EP, with the added horns, which I love. Then there’s…
Oli: There’s also “Give It Up.” That one also has horns on it, but it’s more rock.
Ali, you’re into punk. Is there a bit of punk on there, too?
Ali: I think the EP will have more of a punk rock attitude, while the album will show more soul. That’s pretty much the development of the band, as well. Because we developed from rock to more more soul and R&B influences.
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.