A Germany-based, Austria-bred three-piece poised for their American debut, AudioDamn! make hook-heavy soul-pop shot through with the spirit of punk rock. With an undeniable chemistry that intensifies each song's infectious energy, singer Oliver "Oli" Wimmer, guitarist Ali Grumeth, and drummer Daniel "Mudi" Mudrack share a passion for defying expectation and blurring genre. "We might sit down at the piano and write an R&B ballad," says Grumeth, "and then go into the rehearsal room, turn into our own cover band, and just totally crush it into something much grittier."
With Wimmer and Grumeth collaborating on songwriting - and Grumeth serving as producer - AudioDamn!'s upcoming debut features the frenetic and fiery lead single "Lights Out." True to the band's unfettered creativity, the song began as an acoustic-guitar-driven ballad penned by Wimmer before morphing into a breakneck-tempoed track built on jagged guitar riffs, urgent harmonies, and lyrics that perfectly capture the torment of obsessive love. Meanwhile, "Radar" (a song slated for AudioDamn!'s upcoming full-length debut) started out as an a capella number from Wimmer, then warped into an ultra-catchy piece of R&B-pop, its harmony-laced grooves and Grumeth's throwback-funk production brilliantly contrasting the heartache in Wimmer's vocals.
Originally calling the band Amsterdamn!, Wimmer and Grumeth first joined forces in 2009. Each had made music since childhood, with Grumeth beginning his studies in classical guitar at age eight and Wimmer pursuing a singing career that led to his scoring a number-one hit single in Austria when he was just 17-years-old. "Ali and I had the same manager, and he kept calling each of us and saying we needed to play music together," says Wimmer. Despite much resistance from both Grumeth and Wimmer (who'd planned to stick with his then-current band), the two finally met up, discovered their powerful musical connection, and soon began playing live shows and collaborating on songwriting.
In 2011, to build up their musical knowledge, Wimmer and Grumeth enrolled in the Mannheim, Germany-based Popakademie Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg (aka the University of Popular Music and Music Business), where they ended up crossing paths with Mudrack and found themselves blown away by the level of his musicality and the soulfulness of his drumming. A fellow student and lifelong music obsessive, Mudrack had started playing drums when he was 11-years-old. "I'd always wanted to play, and when I was ten I started drumming with pencils on little boxes," recalls Mudrack, who names Queen, Michael Jackson, and Guns N' Roses among his earliest influences and later mined inspiration from the music of John Coltrane and other jazz legends.
While at Popakademie, Wimmer and Grumeth moved forward with their musical partnership, enlisting Mudrack as their drummer. By 2013, the band had more than an album's worth of songs. "We were amazed at how well it all came together and how fast everything got rolling, because we really just started this all for fun," says Grumeth. "So many bands get caught up in what their concept's going to be, or how they're going to look - just like we did before we started AudioDamn!," adds Wimmer. "But for this band it's always been about the fun of making music, and I think that's something that people can really feel when we play."
When it came time to record their songs, the band worked mainly in a basement studio outfitted with minimal equipment. "Our first photo shoot was probably more expensive than the whole album," jokes Wimmer, pointing out that Grumeth's ingenuity as a producer went a long way in shaping AudioDamn!'s raw yet refined sound. After finishing more than a dozen songs, the trio posted a selection of tracks to SoundCloud, which paved the way for their finding management in late 2014 and then heading to the U.S. to play a number of showcases. By spring they'd signed a deal with Epic Records, and quickly began gearing up for the release of their debut.
Mostly made up of the material created during their time at school, AudioDamn!'s debut album shows off their sophisticated songcraft and production skills while also drawing on their razor-sharp instincts for melody and groove. At the same time, tracks like "Lights Out" and "Radar" reveal a musical appetite that never discriminates between genres. "To us all that matters is good songs," Grumeth notes. "We listen to hip-hop and folk and punk and jazz; the style of music doesn't mean anything to us." Not only a major factor in the vitality of their sound, that sense of adventurousness feeds right into AudioDamn!'s creative process. "When we're making something we usually say to ourselves, 'What should we probably be doing here? Okay, let's do the opposite of that,'" says Grumeth. "We love the challenge of doing things in a new and different way. There's a lot of fun in that challenge."