Group to hit new Kingfish stage in August
By Richard Davis
TFW Staff Writer
Damn Arkansan played Rogue again on Saturday, July 9, so I thought it’d be a good time to let them play “20 Questions” — OK, more like seven — for Musician/Band of the Week. Here are the answers Drew Walls and Will Eubanks of Damn Arkansan came up with.
TFW: Who and what are the Arkansans and why are they Damned? Just what the hell did y’all do?
DA: The who part is pretty straight forward. Damn Arkansan is Drew Walls (guitars, harmonica, vocals), Will Eubanks (bass, vocals), Caleb Rose (lead guitar, vocals) and Mike McShane (drums). The damned part comes in when no one can get our name right. We’ve been billed as everything from Dan Arkansan, Damn Arkansas, Damn Kansas to just The Damn Arkansans.
At some point, the process of naming a band becomes so self-indulgent that it doesn’t become a question of what sounds cool anymore but what I am the least ashamed of on this list. At the end of the day, we wanted a name that’s indicative of where we’re from. That and The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza was already taken. God, that’s a brilliant name.
TFW: How long have y’all played together? If I recall correctly, you guys had a CD ready to go the moment you had your first performance at Rogue on Dickson. What’s up with that?
DA: The band’s been around for six months or so, but we have been writing music together for over 10 years. A couple years ago, we decided to make a record regardless of not having a band. Through that process, we were able to find other musicians that understood what we were trying to achieve musically. That would explain the whole “having an album before your first show” thing.
TFW: Do you prefer people listening or dancing to your music?
DA: In an ideal world, we’d prefer both. Although, the mental image of people flailing around to music they’re not listening to is pretty amusing.
TFW: Again, if I recall correctly, Damn Arkansan has a countryish sound — not Top 40 country but more like what I think of as grandpa’s back porch country, if grandpa was five or six decades younger and full of fire. Am I anywhere close? How do y’all think of yourselves? Where did you draw your inspiration from?
DA: Ha! I guess, like any band, we try not to pigeonhole ourselves into one genre, but the South definitely has a big influence on our sound. The Band is a big influence. Wilco is a pretty obvious influence, but at the same time we draw a lot of inspiration from places people may not expect like Paul Simon or the Lost and Wandering Blues and Jazz Band. The spectrum of musical taste amongst all the band members is so diverse it’s nearly impossible for us to write music that fits itself too neatly into one genre.
TFW: What’s your favorite place to perform locally? How about outside of NWA?
DA: I’m not sure we necessarily have a favorite place to play because we can sort of play different shows depending on the venue. Every venue has a different energy. We tend to play higher-energy shows at places like the Smoke and Barrel because the crowds there are always eager to reciprocate. Maxine’s Live in Hot Springs, on the other hand, is more of a “listeners” joint, where we can play any range of our material, regardless of its energy level, and people will enjoy it.
TFW: Are there any bands you’d consider yourselves close allies with — the Britain to your U.S.?
DA: The two acts we’ve aligned with more than anyone else would definitely be locals Basement Brew and Joe Sundell from Austin, Texas. Both of them sort of just “get” what we’re doing, and in both cases, we have a really natural kinship, musically speaking. Anytime we play with Joe, he’s somehow incorporated into our set, and you’re always likely to find us on a porch somewhere jamming with the guys from the Brew.
TFW: What do you see on the horizon for Damn Arkansan? Projects, songs, albums, dance moves?
DA: Well, we just played our last show of the summer, so we’re taking some time off to write and record demos for our next record. We’ll be releasing some material for free once school gets back in session and will follow that up with a sophomore album.
We’re also collaborating with Basement Brew on some of their newer material, so that’s what we have in the works. Aside from that, we’re about to announce a lot of shows for this fall, so when we get back to it, we will have a slew of new material ready to play live.
Actually, our first show back in Fayetteville will be a sort of “back to school bash” with Joe Sundell, Aug. 27, on the new stage at Kingfish. That should be a great time. We’re really excited to have a new venue in town, as should be the rest of Fayetteville.
TFW: Ask yourselves your own question and then answer it. Ask me a question and see if I’ll answer it.
DA: How about just one question for both of us? What is the largest animal you believe you could defeat in hand-to-hand combat?
* DA: It’s between a camel and a manatee, whichever one is larger.
* Richard: I have enough trouble fending off the accidental attacks of a mini-Pinscher that’s prone to making leaping crash landings on my scrotum. Anything larger and I’m reaching for the battle ax.