Massachusetts quartet DOM talks tours, jams and inspirations.
DOM, a youthful foursome comprised of Dom (guitar), Erik (bass), Bobby K (drums), and Cosmo (shred head) from Worcester, MA, gathers in a crisp office around a square table framed by squishy blue-grey chairs. On the coffee table is a case of Red Bull. A glossy piano waits in an alcove. The boys wear comfortable clothes, (a hell of a lot of respect, but) slight discomfort about the industry of “critics,” and a love for music. They love playing music, they love the strands of responses from the crowd, they love art, they sing about love, and they are wonderfully uncompromising about anyone who’s about to stop them from having a good time. Right on, boys.
Their personalities are remarkably different, but that difference dissolves into a total unity on the band’s recently released Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP (Astralwerks). There’s a peacemaking tone in DOM’s music, and a sort of didactic philosophy in its lyrics. The band has also done a remix with Gucci Mane for its song “Living In America”. Hip-hop collaborations are a fun twist to DOM’s music, which otherwise could be categorized as “wave-lite”—part new wave, part surf rock.
How did you guys start out?
Dom: I was living in a boarding house in Worcester, pretty much making electronic music all the time, and met some kids and they told me about Bobby, who’s really into electronic music. So then we sent a few tracks back and forth and decided to jam out. We were going to be an electronic band, but then ended up writing the song “Jesus,” and then we met up with Erik and we ended up becoming a “real” band, I guess, in a sense. And, pretty much that’s how it came together. And then, afterwards, sometime later, I met Cosmo and he shreds.
Cosmo: Coolest guy evah.
Dom: Coolest guy evah. He shreds, and he’s just a lot of fun, so we figured that’s somebody we needed in the band.
Did you guys come together at different points?
Dom: I crossed paths with Erik at a certain point. I was in a foster home in his area, we went to high school together, so we met that way. I bounced around a bit, [he wasn’t really a close friend at that point] but we came together. Pretty much the only people that really had a relationship was you guys, Cosmo and Bobby.
Cosmo: Bobby and I knew each other. Pretty much we’ve all only been hanging out since January, which is incredibly wild to me. The band started, we kinda all met each other, a year later, it’s pretty insane.
Dom: Yeah, we just met last January.
That’s awesome. So, it all sort of came together really quickly. How did your hometown influence your sound?
Dom: We all are from different areas really. I bounced around a bit, but then I ended up at a boarding house in Worcester, and when I started hanging out with more people they have some really cool stuff going on there. They have really cool D-I-Y spaces and some collectives. There’s always stuff happening every night of the week, especially in the summer it’s really fun. It’s mostly a punk scene there; there are some good bands there, like Bone Zone, Rowdy Ones. Pretty much the mentality of the band was to be a party band, a basement band, a garage band, at first. It’s just kind of ironic I guess that the songs are really pop, but, they’re dirty still, I think.
I saw [on your website] that you said that Madonna was one of your influences. Can you tell me about how she inspires you, or what about Madonna do you emulate as a band?
Dom: I’ve always had this love for pop music ever since I was really little. I just vibe off of Madonna because in the earlier days, circa ’87, ’88, “Like A Virgin” [and] that whole vibe around what she was all about, is just really cool to me. She just made a profound difference in pop music, while at the same time still making stuff that’s widely relatable and really catchy – to people it was still controversial. And, I just really respected that, and hoped that one day I might be able to make a difference like that in music. Madonna’s really cool.
You guys recently toured with Ratatat in September. Can you tell us about highlights from the tour?
Dom: Minneapolis. Favorite city. Ever. Love Minneapolis. Played on the same stage as Prince in Purple Rain.
Cosmo: And Metallica, Ride The Lighting tour.
Dom: It was really weird, cause we had the same response from the audience, too. People were crying, it was really emotional [group chuckles]. I don’t even know if it’s people from Minneapolis or I don’t even know if they pump chemicals through the vents. But, it was just a really beautiful moment onstage there. And, San Diego was fuckin’ sick.
Cosmo: We were trying to get the party started and started crowd-surfing during Ratatat.
Are you ever afraid of crowd surfing?
Dom: No, that’s the thing, that’s where we came from. Like I said, we played basement shows and DIY spaces and stuff where that’s a part of the fun, the crowd surfing and stuff. I remember it would have never crossed my mind to get that going unless the tour manager came over to us and said, [in a hokey tone] “Okay guys. No crowd surfing.” And I was just like, “Fuck that. Crowd-surfing tonight!” And it was a big hit. We got the party started.
What are the differences that you find between playing a basement show and playing at a venue?
Dom: When we played basement shows and stuff, it was just the most fulfilling thing ever. It was just so cool being surrounded by a bunch of sweaty people, people that were just partying, and your friends; everybody. Showing ‘em a good time. That’s so fun to be on the same level as people, even if they’re pushing you over your amps and stuff and just getting too rowdy.
When you play on a bigger stage, it was really weird for us, especially on this Ratatat tour, because it was going from that kind of element where we’re just used to shredding peoples’ faces off to going to “okay, you’re under a microscope, you’re in a big fishtank, and you have to be a pop star.” Which is cool. I really like that. Once you’re on a stage, it’s more of a performance. It’s about being totally eccentric and really getting into it, and it’s really cool because half the people in the audience are really psyched just to even see you. Right now, I prefer not being critiqued and underneath the microscope. I just like playing for people.
Cosmo: I think our next tour’ll be a pretty happy medium between both though. ‘Cause we’re playing smaller rooms.
Dom: We were playing for 3,000 people a night – we gained a lot of fans that way, which was very cool, but it was just very weird we just couldn’t connect as well as we really wanted to. But, the DOM party [in a Massachusetts accent] line helped us.