- Posted on Mar 4th 2011 4:00PM by Arielle Castillo
Gino DePinto, AOL
But rather than dwelling on all the heavy stuff and singing tales of woe, the ever-friendly party dude wrote cheerful, sardonic tunes that drew equally from indie rock and hip-hop. In fact, when he's not on the guitar, Dom is making beats, which led to a random collaboration last year with Gucci Mane on a remix of Dom the band's breakout hit, 'Living in America.' Dom the frontman chatted about it all -- his checkered past, ongoing reliance on food stamps and willingness to talk to fans on his cellphone -- in a recent interview with Spinner.
Dom, the band, have only been together for about a year. When did you specifically start playing music?
Once I turned 18, about five years ago, I bought an acoustic guitar, but I didn't really do anything with it. I just started downloading music software and stuff, just doing stuff in Acid Pro and Fruity Loops and making electronic music, basically. That's how the band started. It was me and the drummer, Bobby. We were going to be an electronic kind of act, but then we wrote a real song.
Were you interested in music at all before that, when you were a younger teenager or before?
Yeah, I really liked music when was like really young. I was listening to stuff like old country western stuff and Roy Orbison, as far as western-pop crossover stuff goes. I was living in Connecticut with my biological family up until like the age of 8, and my mother used to listen to a lot of like Patsy Cline, and my dad used to listen to a lot of Hank Williams Jr. and Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson -- you know, all that good stuff.
After that, I started to get into hip-hop. I went through that for a while. And then, I don't know, I listened to all sorts of stuff growing up. Just whatever was on the radio, but mostly pop music. I would say, more than anything else, I just loved pop music.
What brought you to Massachusetts?
My mother moved there, and then she decided to give me up for whatever reason. I was a troublemaker at age 8, and [she] sort of dumped me into the system. I just spent the years bouncing around foster homes, group homes and lock-up until the age of 18.
Did you have the opportunity, when you were in foster care, to pursue musical interests? Did you get out into the local scene at all?
Not really. I went to shows and stuff, but it was really tough growing up, because I didn't have a life until, like, age 14. Then I was like, "IDGAF," and "WTF LOL!" I went out, did my own thing and of course, there were a lot of consequences. We got locked up a bunch, but then I just didn't even care and went out and decided to live a life like the average kid.
I never was allowed to have things. I couldn't have musical instruments, and I didn't have the time to really work on any of it during like the day hours, just because my days consisted of doing a bunch of yardwork or homework.
After you got to be on your own finally at age 18, when did you start pursuing music more seriously?
I never pursued music really seriously until like a year ago, when we got an awesome manager. It was a big shock to me that people actually like the songs that I wrote. We started playing out in basements and DIY spaces and parties and stuff earlier on in the year. Then there was a demand for more songs.
Are you pursuing music full-time now?
Yeah, yeah. I was kind of doing this before and just finding ways to make money. Now it's a little bit different, but I'm still really poor now. I'm on food stamps still. It's not like everybody thinks, like you sign to a major and then you start making money. It's not true at all. In fact, anybody who is reading this: Don't start a band. Get into production or something, because being in a band is not a good way to make money. It does pay the rent, but I'm still waiting on insurance.
You're still doing a lot of remixes and stuff on the side. Are you interested in going into production later, perhaps?
Yeah, definitely. Half the time I was supposed to be working on this next record, I ended up snowed in here and sitting at a computer and making rap beats. I've been developing that skill a little bit better. I feel like rap and hip-hop is kind of a market that's always going to be there, kind of like country music. It's not going away.
On that note, how did you get Gucci Mane on the remix of your song 'Living in America?'
I think he heard a few beats and then wanted to jump on one, so it was just like, "Sure, why not? You're Gucci." It's a good look for us. He's a cool dude. He was just mad chill. He shared his Grey Goose with me, which was very nice of him. I was stoned out of my gourd when I met him, so it was just very placid.
You give out a phone number for the "Dom Party Line" on all your social networking sites. Is that really your number, and if so, how often do random people actually text or call you?
All the time. I give out relationship advice and talk to random people. Sometimes, when I'm just totally bored or tripping and just hanging out with people and we're looking for something new to do because we've exhausted everything else, [I'll] call up random phone numbers that have texted in the past. We leave funny voice mails or just talk to people, and it's a lot of fun. I love it when people call or text. It's a great thing, and sometimes, it's too much, but usually I'm pretty good about getting back to people.
Catch Dom's SXSW Set on Thursday, March 17 at Club de Ville (900 Red River St.) 1AM.
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