Dave Raymond - vocals/guitar
Rock Whittington - guitar
Brad McRae - Drums
Mark Henry - bass/vocals
If bands, like countries and colleges, had mottos, Damiera's would be "You have to sacrifice to gain." While some bands embark on a road scattered with obstacles after their inception, it was that creation itself that marked the greatest challenge Buffalo's Damiera will ever face.
The tribulation began nearly two years ago, at the dawning of 2005, when singer and guitarist Dave Raymond broke up his former band League to "write the music I wanted to write and have everybody in the same mindset." Pulling guitarist Matthew Kipp with him out of the wreckage of League, Raymond set about to design a line-up that both befit the musical sensibilities he hoped to foster and which championed a sense of internal camaraderie. Now comes the first sacrifice: Brad McRae, former drummer of Sleeping Girl Drowning, hopped on a bus from Orlando to Buffalo, a 30-plus hour ride, to join Raymond's vision as drummer.
So with a line-up of a three, Damiera began writing songs that they used to audition bassists. When luck did not proffer up a musician who fit the band's mold, Damiera's friend Mark Henry, then the singer of Queen City Nights, stepped in to help record bass on Damiera's debut EP, which the group self-produced and released in March of 2005 and immediately followed with self-booked tours ("I figured it out by doing things all the wrong ways first and then making it work," Raymond says of booking shows). Sacrifice two: After a term with a touring bassist, Henry called Raymond to announce he was breaking up his band of eight years to become Damiera's full-time bassist.
Don't get comfortable yet, though. As soon as Damiera had solidified the position of bassist, Kipp quit and the band set about on the daunting task of auditioning over 100 guitarists all over the country. Finally, after Raymond posted an ad on PureVolume.com, Damiera got a call from New Orleans-based guitarist Rock Whittington, just a month before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Then comes the third sacrifice: Months later, while deleting numbers from his phone, Raymond came across Whittington's and instead of deleting him, pressed the send button ("This is where the fate thing really gets weird," Raymond says). Whittington joined Damiera in Buffalo as their guitarist shortly thereafter.
Damiera immediately locked themselves in a rehearsal space in Buffalo for the next two months, writing what would becomes their dynamic, charging debut album, M(US)IC, in nearly complete isolation. When they emerged from what Raymond calls "one of the most intense experiences" of his life, Damiera had in hand the 10 surging tracks that producer Jayson DeZuzio (Coheed & Cambria, My Chemical Romance) would refine into tight, layered songs that draw their power from an extreme emphasis on melody over the course of the next month at his New Jersey studio.
Always the patrons of DIY promotion, Damiera pressed 1,000 copies of the record in partnership with now-defunct label Tamerlane and sold every single one as they trekked back and forth across the country at the behest of Raymond's now-perfected booking skills, playing nearly 200 shows in 2006. Word of mouth brought news of the band to Equal Vision Records, who signed Damiera in the summer of 2006 and will re-release M(US)IC on January 23rd, 2007.
You can relax now. This is where the story has brought us, to the moment Damiera defeated their greatest challenge through hard work and sacrifice, and are preparing to set sail on a comparatively smooth sea, armed with an impressive debut that brings to mind the progressive tones of At the Drive-In, the prancing guitars of Minus the Bear, complex layers of Faraquet and the compelling melodies of Braid. Not only does the record, which resounds with the ever-relevant themes of sacrifice, self-discovery and change, reveal an exceptional talented band with a singular and clear vision, but it represents the human capacity for accomplishment.
"It's the realization of a dream and it far surpasses what I thought," Raymond says. "I could feel it. I knew it was possible. I just didn't think it would happen in my life. We all have that feeling."
Biography: Emily Zemler