Last week I had the opportunity to talk to Dom, the person, not the band that bears his name, on the phone. He has a soft voice; he forces you to listen closely. It isn’t vain, it’s uncertain.
His story sounds like a tearjerker—kid is given up by parents at age eight, he grows up being juggled between foster homes, group homes, and month-long placements, and after he turns eighteen and is free of the system, he moves similarly between rented rooms. He doesn’t maintain contact with his immediate family and doesn’t know if they have any idea what he’s up to these days, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. It happened, it’s over, and he’s created this.
“I thought about being a rock-star when I was really young, but I was told I couldn’t, so I kinda gave that up. I thought about being all sorts of different things. I though about getting into film-making, that’s one of my real passions, or becoming a visual artist—I’ve done a bit of that, I’m not really sure. Nothing though, really as much as music.”
Dom and Bobby
It began when he moved to Worcester, Massachusetts. He had taken classes, but going to school and trying to pay for it at the same time became too stressful, and he stopped. Dom had been making music on his computer by himself, but in 2009 he was introduced to Bobby, DOM’s drummer. “We were really excited about doing something like Daft Punk, something not completely electronic, and from there I ended up writing the song ‘Jesus,’ and it was not that sound, but it definitely got popular on the internet quickly, and that’s when we were like, ‘yeah, let’s do this band thing!’”
Their debut EP Sun Bronzed Greek Gods was released last April, only a few months after they formed. Their second EP, Family of Love, will be released August 9th (six days from now). Dom has taken a different approach to the press in the last year.
“I did everything like a joke when the other EP got sorta big. I was pretty much taking acid for an ABC news interview and made a joke on Billboard.com; I wasn’t taking it seriously at all. I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate everything; it’s been humbling. I was in disbelief of it and partied it all away. Family of Love is more about being thankful for where I am now. I’ve made lifelong friends this past year. I have emotional connections. Before this, I was always alone; now I have a family. It’s very weird, I can’t really describe it, it’s just, weird.”
He recalls a night in Sydney, Australia, when he was on acid and had to save a friend from a kitchen fire. “The fear of losing a friend, the thought of losing someone, is really frightening.”
When I arrived to the Rock and Roll Hotel Saturday night, I wasn’t anticipating seeing DOM until their set, but I was early and ran into some friends who were friends with Kenny, one of DOM’s newest members. He was kind enough to escort all of us backstage. The green room at the Hotel leaves much to be desired, but I suppose if bands are just going to trash it, as they often do, there’s little incentive to make it nice. Placed around the room are couches and chairs missing cushions and legs. Dom had taken a seat in the center of the room.
The first opener, DC-based Buildings, weren’t slated to start for about an hour. During that time MingMing, DOM’s other new member and keyboardist, complained about his hair. And I, a daytime cosmetologist, happened to have my scissors sans comb with me. This resulted in a better haircut, one in which MingMing can see things, a cut on my thumb, and a huge mess of hair working its way into any crevice it could find.
By the time I had finished, Buildings has already taken the stage. They’re an instrumental rock band. They are a trio of very talented musicians, but it was difficult for me to keep up with the beginning and ending of songs. Perhaps it’s trite to suggest, but I think a vocalist would help strengthen their act and make it more relevant to an audience.
Slowdance | Slashed Tires
They were followed by Slowdance, a New York-based band, on their first tour. Fronting a band can be difficult, and Quay–their lead vocalist—was understandably nervous. She managed to relax by the end of their set. She echoes the intonation of Debbie Harry and Pat Benatar, though at other times the dream-pop band, Minipop. Their flow between English and French lyrics was a welcome addition to the boy’s party. For those of you that love current synth-pop and post-punk and New Wave of the early eighties, they will be a welcome addition to your music catalogue, as soon as they put something out.
By the time DOM took the stage, the room had filled in, and what looked like a sparse crowd before had pushed gently to the foot of the stage. Two children looking to be about ten were front and center with guardians close by. They opened with “Crazy Girl,” a track off upcoming Family of Love, followed by the ever popular “Jesus.”
On stage, they’re quiet with one another, and with the audience, only cracking a smile occasionally. “I Wonder” and “Burn Bridges”—the aptly named anthem that while personal to Dom, resonates in the chorus with “just forgive ‘em, and forget ‘em”—became sing-alongs. It was the end of the set when Dom muttered, “this is a Creed cover,” causing minor confusion in the crowd, before they bolted into an impressive cover of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry.” They left us with what could easily be our generation’s National Anthem, “Living in America.”