When you mention the word ‘prolific’, you’re talking about people like Damien Frazer (Damo). The expression ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ was invented for people like him, but not entirely true in this case because he is a master of at least one of his trades – music. Aside from being intelligent, funny, extremely affable, modest and sagacious, he also does support work for a living, is a qualified luthier (that’s making guitars, not robbing shops during riots) and seems to have a natural talent for anything he turns his hand to (yeah, one of those dicks!) Haha. On top of everything though, Damo is a multi-instrumental musician, he can play drums, guitar, sing, dance – the lot!


He has three musical projects in various stages of development. Perhaps the most notable is the samba band Sambayabamba who he plays, yes, obviously, drums for. Sambayabamba are one of Glasgow’s hottest exports and arguably one of the best British samba bands around today. They have conquered countless festivals, street parades, marches and even the odd bout of busking. They’ve played a number of places in Europe and anybody who has seen them live (I have had the privilege a few times) will know they are masters of blowing the roof off a place, electrifying get-up-and-go samba music, with their own unique twist, everything from covers, samples and even a bit of Glaswegian rapping?? There’s nothing like twenty-odd drums going at it simultaneously to pleasantly frazzle your probably inebriated senses at a festival, it’ll wake you up and get you dancing no matter what, so powerful it would pull you out of an epic storm-riding whitey and have you jumping about all over the place (I know, I’ve been there!). Anybody who has seen them live will agree they are an elating experience and that is why they continue to gain a prodigious following, a vast army of fans.

His second project in which he sings and plays guitar, stoner-rock band Bastard Killed My Rabbit, are taking a brief hiatus after the devastating loss of their highly talented bassist The Andy Peffers Experience – but that still leaves them with four other highly-talented musicians to keep going with, and once they replace their bassist (who eloped to another country) they will no doubt be back on the circuit churning out their high-voltage (‘these amps go up to eleven’) style of gritty, insistent stoner-metal. I guess you could consider me somewhat of a BKMR groupie as I have caught every gig they have played so far, and they just got tighter and tighter every time I saw them, I think this band could really go far with some dedication and lots more time spent playing together, their sound is traditionally stoner-rock/metal, but they have unique aspects, such as the rip-roaring often improvised bass-lines, Damo’s excellent lyricism and that unbeatable, grungy-heavy, guitar-assault, that will ensure you are deafened (pleasantly) for at least a couple of hours afterwards. I have BKMR’s demo EP on my iPod and it never gets overlooked, songs ‘Goat Boy’, ‘Holiday With Hawkwind’ and their superlative cover of one of my all-time favourite songs Bob Dylan’s ‘One More Cup Of Coffee’ have sneaked into my iTunes’ official Top 1000 most played – quite an achievement given their vying for space with 4,000 albums’ worth of songs! So looking forward to seeing Bastard Killed My Rabbit back on the scene very soon…

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, and what I want to focus on here, is Damo’s solo acoustic work. Strumming away on, yes, his self-made, hand-crafted guitar, I have had the privilege in the past of being among some of the first people to hear Damo’s work, hot off the press, even as he writes it, I always look forward to these intimate little sessions he bestows upon me as I am a great fan of the music Damo manages to produce and I think it’s fair to say he values my opinion, and with good reason, I know good music, and this music is most definitely that! His solo songs never fail to reach right down inside of me, as he skilfully plucks away at the string and croons out his often profound lyrics (Damo is a great stickler for good lyrics and therefore always manages to pen some awesome words to accompany his beautiful melodies). He has a few of his numbers on Soundcloud, including some BKMR live stuff, links at the bottom of the article – check it out, it’s well worth a few minutes of your listening-time…

What follows is an interview conducted at my pad, through the hazy smoke of several joints, a  few beers and some Jimi Hendrix on the jukebox. Well worth a read as it gives a peek into the insightful mind of a great musician, one who will go far with very little effort required whatsoever! 
Music fans, I give you Damien Frazer, interviewed here (unbelievably) for the first timer ever, and it is my privilege to be conducting it…Chris – ‘First of all, pass that joint over, haha, thankyou. Now, I know some of your greatest influences are legends like Jimi Hendrix, Gary Moore and Led Zeppelin, but perhaps you’d like to tell me how you first actually became involved in music?’

Damo – ‘My mum had played guitar as far back as I can remember, when I was a kid, she used to play loads of old blues and folk from Big Bill Broonzy to Lead Belly and I’ll always remember listening to her play “Scarborough Fair”. When I was about 12 I asked her if I could learn, so she bought me a 3/4 size nylon strung acoustic and a chord book. Within 6 months I was teaching her new chords and new strumming patterns I had learned! I think it’s best for people to teach themselves – that way you learn your own style, you learn what makes you tick and you learn a greater degree of self-expression.’
Chris – ‘Very true. Now, I’m interested in where and when was your band’s worst ever show, any of your bands, past or present, and what were the circumstances that ruined the experience, consequently is there any advice you could give to others to avoid the same thing happening again?’
 
Damo – ‘Haha! When I was 15 I had been playing in a “band” with some guys from school, all covers and bad ones at that. We somehow managed to score an opening slot at the NABD bike rally in Eglinton Park, we had never played a gig and were so unprepared it hurt. We got halfway through “Hey Joe” and our other guitarist snapped a string. The next 15 minutes were spent trying to play “Freebird” which we started and stopped at least 3 times, with the sound of Ross restringing and tuning his guitar loud as fuck in the background. The shouts from the huge bunch of pissed bikers were growing by the minute; having some 6ft+ bearded biker telling you to “hurry the fuck up” is pretty scary when you’re a kid playing his first gig. We pretty much faded out and fucked off after that and I’m sure even then the crowd went easy on us because we were so young. My advice would be to actually have a set prepared before playing a gig, sounds simple I know, but you think you can do anything when you’re young and that everything will be just fine regardless, but you can’t and it won’t!’
 
 
Chris – ‘Hahahahaha, that really made me laugh, gimme’ a sec’ – better to burn out and fade away in that case eh! Haha. Okay, I know you’ll like this question because you have strong feelings on the matter – Some people fear for the future of the music industry, with problems such as piracy of digital media, do you have any insight into future progressions within the industry or new music formats that might crop up?’
 
Damo – ‘Well, piracy is here regardless of what anybody thinks of it, and we have to deal with it. Personally, I don’t think piracy is as big a deal as it’s made out to be. Take someone with, say, 5000 albums on their computer (*ahem*); do you think they could have bought those 5000 albums? Did they really have £75,000 kicking around that should have been royalties? Of course they fucking didn’t. These days people just don’t have a lot of cash, at least with the ability to download music you like you stand more chance of discovering new bands and musicians that you are more likely to pay to go and see live and maybe buy a shirt or a hoody while you’re at it. I’ve seen in excess of 400 bands, most of them I would not have seen had I not discovered the band whilst sharing music with friends, and this brings me to what I believe to be the essence of being a musician; gigging. I want to see any band I love live in concert, I have no respect for any band that makes an album then sits on their fucking arse waiting for the money to come in, get out there and play to your fans! Live music is the future, just as it was the past.’
 
 
Chris – ‘Very well said, I strongly agree with that one. Okay, now, many musicians have amazing skills, but just don’t seem to get the success they deserve – What requirements do you think a modern musician should meet, or what achievements should they gain before attempting to embark on a career in music?’
 
Damo – ‘When I was in my mid-teens, I made a decision, to not try and make my living from music. At first this sounds strange, why the fuck is someone who isn’t serious about music getting an interview about his music? Well, the fact is that I love music so much that It has to remain fun, the second you start freaking out about not being able to find a gig to pay your rent the fun is taken away and it becomes a job. Now there’s a difference between a job and a career, a career is going somewhere and a job isn’t. I wouldn’t be so stupid as to think that a job can’t become a career, but for me personally, music is firstly about fun and expression which has the potential to become either a job, career or both. I play open mics and continue to write songs and probably always will, not because I need to pay the bills, it’s because I can’t imagine NOT writing and playing. I don’t think there are any requirements or achievements you need before trying to make a career out of music, but I do think you need to truly understand that the overwhelming majority of musicians, regardless of talent, will never make enough money from music to constitute having “Made it”.’
 
 
Chris – ‘Absolutely. Now, personally I think you are a truly great lyricist, so I’d like to ask, what are the main themes or topics for the lyrics in your songs and what advice could you give to others about writing lyrics?’
 
Damo – ‘Thankyou. This is quite a big one for me. Good lyrics can make up for a lacking musical arrangement but, in my opinion, a good musical arrangement can NEVER cover up shite lyrics. It does my head in when you hear a new song with a beast of an intro only to have it fucked up by terrible lyrics. I actually remember the day I stopped writing songs based on looking at life through someone else’s eyes and started writing based on my own emotions and experiences, as everyone no doubt does. I wouldn’t say there’s a main theme in my lyrics but If I sit down to write a song about something specific it rarely works. I always write the music and the lyrics at the same time and lyrics have always been easy for me, they just flow out onto the page and most songs I’ve written have taken less than an hour to write, sometimes as little as 20 minutes. The fun part is after I’ve written it. I’ll play it over and over changing the melody and harmonies and sorting strumming patterns then BOOM, the meaning of the lyrics hits me, its like I write straight from my subconscious and it takes a while to figure out what it means. I like it that way and I would always advise people not to try too hard when it comes to lyrics, just let the words come to you and NEVER take yourself too seriously.’
 
Chris – ‘Yes, I have often heard musicians describing themselves as a conduit for the music, like it’s coming down through them from a higher-power, but as you and I don’t believe in ‘higher powers’ what you say about it coming from the subconscious seems more likely. All right then, finally, and then we can get proper drunk – What would you say is one of the main things that sets you apart from other bands out there in the scene?’
 
Damo – ‘Musically, absolutely fuck all, and more people need to understand this. It’s unbelievably hard to create a new sound in music these days without resorting to digital weirdness or tripped out psych. I suppose it comes down to the things you can’t actually reason with, like how someone’s music feels or how it makes you feel. You don’t know why but it happens anyway, maybe it’s their voice, maybe it’s a line they sing that stings your eyes or makes your stomach lurch. Or maybe it’s because they’ve got a hot-as-fuck sax player that keeps looking at you. Whatever it is that makes a musician or band individual, the best thing you can do is to recognise it and appreciate it.’
Chris – ‘Amen to that. Thanks Damo, hopefully be seeing you play somewhere in any one of your individual projects soon…Now, let the drinking commence!’
 
A big thanks to New Hellfire Club Glasgow for letting this interview see the light of day. And thanks to Damo for his time.
C.T Herron
See ya’ in the pit!!!
 
*FIRST PUBLISHED ON NHC MUSIC 05/01/2013
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