Kurt Deemer Band are turning heads with an excellent sounding
2018 CD EP called Antenna Like A Lightning Rod. Self-released,
the 6 track CD highlights the music and vocals of Kurt Deemer who
is backed up by a tight band including John Christensen (guitars),
Kris Maher (bass), Steve Rose (drums) and others. With
a catchy approach to Americana pop and rock, Kurt sounds influenced
by AOR giants like the late Tom Petty and Chrissie Hynde. Speaking
about his M.O. on this brilliant mini-album, Kurt adds, "I
really wanted to make a full-length record, and in retrospect kind
of wish I had. I envisioned the EP on vinyl with a side A
and side B but its only on disc for now. The previous
KDB records were self-produced and then mixed. This record was recorded
at Drew Mazureks place as well as mixed there. The idea was
to keep it as live as possible." Kurts six-piece band
is super tight and the whole album rocks up quite a storm. Over the
past few years, Kurt and company have released several albums but
Antenna Like A Lightning Rod is so strong, with each track
a standout. A 6 track taster of his latest recordings Antenna
Like A Lightning Rod
well be the one to put The Kurt Deemer Band band front and center
among 21st century pop-rock enthusiasts. www.kurtdeemerband.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Where are you from originally and where do live now and what do you
like best about it? What countries have you traveled to and what are
some of your favorite cities to visit and perform concerts in?
Kurt Deemer: Im originally from Baltimore Maryland which
is also where I currently reside. I best like the quirky, gritty,
small town vibe. Everyday feels like Im living in a John Waters
movie. Ive visited much of Europe and love it. As far as performing,
I enjoy playing for people anywhere.
mwe3: What era of music did you grow up in and who and what
are some of your favorite artists, guitarists and album releases over
the years? In what ways have you been influenced by other artists
Kurt Deemer: As a kid I grew up hearing 1960s and 70s
rock constantly and when I first picked up the guitar was fascinated
by a lot of the hard rock I was hearing and could begin to play. But
as I began creating my own music and was exposed to new music, my
tastes evolved. I remember hearing guitar players like The Edge and
much of the new wave of 80s bands and I remember it opening
a new door in how I thought of the role of the guitar in rock music.
I also remember getting hold of the Sex Pistols and it cracking my
head open to a whole new attitude to the power chord. But I was probably
most notably influenced by some of the songwriters I encountered.
Lloyd Coles Rattlesnakes made a really big impact on me as did
his later work. The way he crafts a song and composes lyrics has the
effect of dropping me into a book or movie.
One of my all-time favorite songwriters and bands has always been
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The simplicity and timelessness of
the song writing as well as the way they arranged the music and produced
the recordings has always stuck with me in a powerful way. Another
legendary artist who hits me on every level is Richard Thompson. Right
now Im really enjoying James Maddock seemingly effortless arrangements
and performances and such an emotive voice.
mwe3: The new CD starts off with A Dream In The Dark.
What are the references to the statue of liberty in NYC? What gave
rise to the line built a radio to tower to the gods? Its
a great lead into the album title. The song has a lot of imagery in
Kurt Deemer: When I sat down to write A Dream In The
Dark the number one thing on my mind was the rhetoric I was
hearing about immigration. The other thing was the notion of The
American Dream. I really wanted to ask big questions about how
we collectively regard this dream. Where it comes from,
where it is now, and where its going. The references to the
statue of liberty was an unveiled look at our origins as a nation
and why people came here in the first place. I think at this moment
in time its important to remember our origins. The line about
building a radio tower signifies for me the desire to create and project
and strive for higher purpose.
Liars And Thieves is brilliant but the lyrics are very
scornful and even scary. Is it a political song? It kind of reminds
you how the world is shrinking in size and how its kind of the
same all over. You make a cogent case that the people hold the key
to a better world but its hard to be an optimist these days.
How do you feel these current times will play out over the next year
Kurt Deemer: I think I wrote Liars And Thieves
the day after one of the last presidential debates in 2016. What I
wanted to convey is that most people are inherently good and the things
that really matter are the things we are most apt to take for granted.
I read that 4 percent of the population is psychopathic - has absolutely
no moral compass. This was a major theme in my 2016 release, Gaslight.
Thats a really scary figure. But the optimism comes from the
fact that that leaves 96 percent of the population that is not psychopathic.
To quote Jim Morrison: They got the guns but we got the numbers.
I think that it is inevitable that people will experience inner truth
and honesty and will reject obfuscation and lies. Im not sure
what its going to take before that happens but I believe in
the triumph of the human spirit
I have to. It may get worse
before it gets better. But in the end people will come to their senses.
The overarching idea of the song is that we all cherish the same things
and we just need to build the kind of world we want to live in and
stop being conned and manipulated by those with nefarious intent.
mwe3: Listen To Love takes you back to a more optimistic
state of mind. Is Listen To Love the opposite of Liars
And Thieves? Is it harder to write a good love song rather than
a socially critical or a cynical song? Nice guitar solo on that.
Deemer: Listen To Love was written from a personal
place. Maybe some of the optimism comes from this well. Good point.
I dont know that its harder to write a good love song.
It used to be, once upon a time. I remember years ago asking myself
what I was really getting at with my songs. I had a touch of angry
young man in me Im afraid. I remember being in my early 20s
and thinking it was stupid how many love songs there were out there.
I guess I was pretty deeply cynical. I remember when I asked myself
what I was really getting at and having a bit of an epiphany that
it took real skill to write a good love song and that it was a more
noble pursuit any ways. I try to just write what comes up. These days
I feel more love than ire or cynicism. Happiness can be a good thing
But depression can be a well too
Im hoping to write more
love songs. Johnny played the solo. Hes good like that. I think
that track was his live take.
mwe3: Tell us about your Gibson Firebird guitar. What do you
like about the Firebird and what other guitars do you have that you
enjoy playing and sometimes record or perform with? You also have
a jumbo acoustic right? What do you look for in a guitar and what
do you make of the whole vintage guitar scene? What amps are you using
on the Antenna album and do you have some favorite strings
and effects you like to record with?
Kurt Deemer: The Firebird has always been my holy-grail guitar.
But its grail-like quality keeps it elusive. She stays in the case
more than I care to admit. But Im hoping to change that once
I have a minute to pull it apart and check the solder connections.
I was playing an SG for a while and digging the humbucker but I recently
started playing my tele again. I wanted to get back to thinking less
about what I was doing. To play more like I play the acoustic and
the tele helps with that. Playing thru a tube compressor pedal has
rekindled my love of the tele and single coils. But the sg factors
on this record. Theres also some Ricks on this record. And acoustic.
Yeah I play a jumbo Guild. I like an acoustic to be big and loud.
mwe3: Where did Shadows Pass come from? Wow, its
like a modern day paisley pop song. Right up there with the great
songs of the decade, is it kind of power-pop or a kind of Springsteen
influenced song? Ill reflect on the light
Kurt Deemer: Shadows Pass is actually about an
old friend that died from drug addiction. I was thinking about him
one day when I was playing some chord forms he used a lot. And it
occurred to me that I was no longer angry at him, that I had forgiven
him for the mess he had made of his life. I decided that I was ready
to consider his life in its entirety. And to reflect on the positive
impact he made on me in some ways. And the song came from there.
Walking On seems sort of pensive in a minor key kind of
way. I was thinking a kind of Roger McGuinn influence. Would you say
that song was influenced by a certain kind of rock sound that manifested
in a memorable rock song?
Kurt Deemer: Walking On was written closer to the
batch of songs that I released on Gaslight. Somehow it fell
through the cracks as far as getting a good recording of it realized.
But it hung around and came together on this record. When I think
about what I was going for musically on this tune, I think it kinda
started- I kind of always saw it as like a Smithereens kind of tune.
The 12 string came later and the riff the 12 plays. But I always heard
it as a Smithereens kinda thing but I really wanted to get the 12
string up in your face and Roger McGuinn definitely came up when we
were playing with the tone in the studio.
mwe3: One thing is that the album is only six tracks. How would
you compare making Antenna Like A Lightning Rod with earlier
releases from Kurt Deemer Band?
Kurt Deemer: I wanted the record to have the depth and impact
of a full length, but the power and focus of an EP. I felt 6 songs
was enough to sink your teeth into but short and sweet enough to keep
pace with this one-two-punch world we live in. The past several records
I've made, I did the majority of the tracking myself and didn't start
to let go of the controls until mix-down. Antenna was almost
exclusively tracked and mixed by Drew Mazurek at his studio in Lutherville
Maryland. He's worked with some heavy hitters like Foo Fighters, LCD
Sound System and Jimmy Eat World to name a few... I wanted to make
a record where I didn't touch a knob or fader and keep as much raw
energy as possible. And even though I didn't get out of the producers
chair entirely, it was good to sit back and let Drew work his magic.
He has mad skills.
Little Hand closes the EP and its a pretty rousing
sounding track. Did you write it for someone in mind or is it more
universal in thought? Theres a kind Dylan influence on it and
I thought Al Kooper would like this track.
Kurt Deemer: I had someone close in my life in mind when I
wrote this tune. I wanted to dig down and find some inspiration for
them. I think I found some for myself in there. Hopefully some of
that got transmitted onward.
How are the albums different and do you strive to make each of your
releases different and unique.
Kurt Deemer: Im always churning something. The process
of writing, arranging, performing, producing and ultimately packaging
a recording is still always a unique experience. I always have an
idea in mind when I start out but its usually a longer process
than I would prefer. I get a lot of ideas when I write and arrange,
but getting those ideas fully realized in a recording is another matter
altogether. The title always comes last though. I usually look at
the music Ive made over a period and try to glean the underlying
themes that have been at work in my psyche through the process. I
try to balance the desire to shape those processes and the need to
allow them to take their own form.
mwe3: Youre playing an upcoming show with Andy Bopp later
in January. I remember Andys great albums with Myracle Brah.
Whos playing in your group at the Metro Gallery?
Kurt Deemer: We did the official release party at Metro Gallery
in Baltimore in January. Andy agreed to open the show and he was great.
I've known him for years and really respect his work. We've discussed
working together on the next record with him producing and it looks
like that's going to happen, which I'm psyched about.
The KDB lineup for the show was Steve Rose on drums, Kris Maher on
bass, John Christensen on lead guitar, Shawn Hemming on mandolin and
Jamie Wilson on percussion. We did the new EP, some off Gaslight,
Afterthought, and a couple of never-before-heard-ones as well.
We had a great time and are looking forward to our upcoming regional
mwe3: What other plans are you working on this year? Seems
like the lead up to 2020, is going to be quite historic. What about
predictions or future plans for 2019? I imagine you have a lot of
ground to cover
Deemer: Im hoping to jump into recording the next record
as soon as possible. Im working on putting together some tour
dates but nothing too major right now, just a few jaunts this spring
and summer. Ive got the next record written and just need some
time to make the recording. Weve held back performing most of
it until we are able to get into the studio. Thats my main focus
right now. Got some new tunes burning a hole in my pocket.