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Out of Phase: Home Blitz Interviewed

In an irregular series, Crawlspace speaks to an overseas artist with an imminent Australian tour. In our first, Angela Garrick speaks to New Jersey’s Home Blitz, who tours in October.  More details at the bottom.

Home Blitz is the recording project of New Jersey raised Daniel DiMaggio, whose otherwise traditional songwriting is typically shrouded in heavy lo-fi rubble. DiMaggio has released a series of 7 and 12 inch singles, with several early recordings compiled on a 2007 self-titled LP. Since then, he’s released one full length album, 2009’s Out of Phase, on Ritchie Records, culminating in last year’s Mexican Summer released A.T.K 12 inch.

I’ve been to New Jersey once but didn’t stay long. I loved the feel of the place: it seems hardworking but relaxed. I’m curious about the local bands and goings on. Care to illuminate for us Australians?
Yeah I like New Jersey a lot, I think it’s really sick and has a lot of nice and cool parts and is very diverse. I’m glad I don’t live there anymore cause it made me really sad towards the end, but I like going there a lot and do it pretty often.  “Hardworking but relaxed” is a pretty good assessment of the general feel of it I think, though neither adjective really applies to me personally.

I bet there are a lot of good bands in New Jersey but I don’t really have a comprehensive sense of the music scene there unfortunately, though I feel like I should find out more about current bands in the state. Some of the best groups from New Jersey, past and present, are For Science, King Darves, Saves The Day, the Disturbed, Amor Fati, David Sutton, Misfits, Smart Remarks, Slow Tongued Beauty, Bruce Springsteen, Ambulance, the Worst, Big Troubles, My Chemical Romance, Psycho Sin, Ted Leo, Genocide, Matthew Young, the Van Pelt and Terry Hughes.

Home Blitz is essentially your home recording project. How did it turn into a live project?
There started being a live band of Home Blitz that would play shows pretty early on, soon after the release of the first Home Blitz single in 2005. I think at the time I mostly cared about recordings and putting out records and making good singles, and I had a sort of ‘why not’/’might as well’ attitude about live performance. I’ve gradually gotten more serious and kind of ambitious about playing live, as I’ve developed more of a need for validation and also have wanted the band to cross over into the real world more and be more in touch with reality, though the live performing band improving and getting tighter (IMO) is also a big factor.

With your singing, it seems there is this urgency to kinda spit out the words. Would you agree with this? And is the subject matter of your songs something you need to ‘get out’?
Yeah man, kind of. Honestly a lot of the lyrics to the songs don’t mean that much to me cause they were written a long time ago and I don’t even know what some of them are about anymore really, but I still like to try to sing them hard cause I am real angry a lot of the time, and also cause singing rules and is fun. Recently I’ve been trying to work on it more.

The first time I saw Home Blitz live I was really surprised and impressed with the feel, style and tone of the live band, particular your and Teresa’s steady, solid guitar playing. The two guitars seem so in tune with one another. I was kinda expecting the band to be less (for lack of a better word) ‘refined’ and more all over the place. Was the band like that before, but since evolved?
Thanks! That means a lot to me. Yeah, the live band of Home Blitz definitely has gotten more refined and better, both in terms of each successive line-up and this particular line-up over the three or so years we’ve been playing together. Earlier versions of the band were more ramshackle, I think, in a way that I didn’t like, though the improvement is due as much to me getting better at basic stuff like singing and playing guitar at the same time. Which shouldn’t be that hard but I’ve realised it is [as hard] as any change in personnel. Like you mentioned, adding a second guitar has made the biggest difference, and I think having me and Theresa both playing at the same time is the primary reason that the band sounds okay now, since I can’t imagine it sounding good with just one guitar.

To me, and don’t take this the wrong way, Home Blitz seems very much a ‘singles’ band. You’ve released a bunch of 7 inches before the LP. Was it a different or more difficult process to make the album? Or was it just a bigger bunch of songs?
Umm not really, I guess it was only more difficult in the sense of taking longer and requiring more work just time-wise, since I generally work pretty slow, though I’m trying to get faster. But in terms of conceptualising it as an album it was pretty easy once I made up my mind to do it. I feel like all the songs came together and were written pretty quickly, but that can’t be the case. I think it just seems like that ‘cause it was a long time ago and I don’t remember things that clearly from back then. It was maybe a little harder ‘cause I tend to be obsessive about a lot of little details in each song (though it may not sound like it), which is more conducive to making singles than albums, so to do that for an album’s worth of songs was a more involved mental process. But maybe also I wasn’t as much like that back then, who knows!

I love the artwork and aesthetic you guys have for all your records and flyers. Who does them? I love the Perpetual Night 7 inch artwork in particular. Why is the A.T.K 7 inch so different?
Thanks! I do all the artwork for all the records (excepting maybe the Weird Wings 12” inch, for which the artwork I had done was rearranged and amended by a graphic designer). I think I’ve only made one flyer ever from a long time ago and I dislike it. I’m not super into the artwork I do for the records, I just feel like I have to make the art ‘cause it’d be inappropriate if I didn’t and the records had artwork like a lot of records do, like a picture from a book maybe or artwork designed by a friend or lover of someone in the band. I like the Perpetual Night artwork a lot too, I think it looks sick. The A.T.K. 7 inch looks different I think ‘cause the artwork was an effort to make it look less stupid than the other records, though it’s also the only Home Blitz record with a band photo so maybe that’s why.

Its interesting that you say there was no direct impetus to play live at first, as the records to me ‘scream’ live show. Once you did get the band going live, do you feel that it has changed the tone and direction of your home recordings?
No not really I don’t think, except that being in a real world band and playing live is frustrating and aggravating, so I think maybe it contributed to me being more pessimistic and having a more negative outlook about the band which possibly has affected the tone of the records, I hope.

What are you expecting out of your Australian trip? The eve of an overseas tour is always a combination of the best and worst form of anxiety. Are they any Australian bands you say would have influenced you in some way or another?
I don’t really know what to expect but I am looking forward to it for sure, I think it’ll be sick. I like or expect to like a lot of the bands we’re playing with so I am looking forward to seeing cool bands and shit, and I’ve never even been to another country except Canada, so to go to another one where they speak English will be cool if nothing else. I like a lot of historical rock from Australia. When I was in high school I had a tape where one side was the Where Birdmen Flew compilation and I listened to it quite a bit so I’m real into that stuff, like all of the “Murder Punk” bands. My favorite of those are the Leftovers and the Chosen Few, like the most thugged out sounding stuff. I also really like the Bee Gees a great deal and have listened to them a lot in my life, I love it.

***

Home Blitz will appear at the 2012 Sound Summit in Newcastle on Sept 30. They’re also touring nationally:
Brisbane – Wed Oct 3 – Black Bear Lodge with Kitchen’s Floor + Matyr Privates
Geelong – Thurs Oct 4 – The Nash with Woollen Kits + Austmuteants
Melbourne – Fri Oct 4 – Liberty Social with Blues Control + Woollen Kits + Rule of Thirds
Sydney – Tues Oct 9 – The Square with Raw Prawn + Drum Drum

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