Laced with elements of ragtime, country, folk and rockabilly, the critically praised, drummer-less trio brings forth a genuine approach to acoustic music that is deeply steeped in rhythm.
“We wanted to get away from where we were from, as many kids do, and California was the farthest we could get,” says guitarist and singer Pete Bernhard of their move away from home. Eventually they landed in sunny Santa Cruz, California, where TDM3 took shape in 2001. Their early gigs were house concerts, then small bars, punk shows, bigger rock clubs, theatres and festivals, all the while defying genre and delighting whomever turned up to listen.
Now the California-by-way-of-Vermont trio is coming to perform live in Ireland, the UK and Europe and AMBY managed to speak to guitarist and vocalist Pete Bernhard about the upcoming tour, latest album ‘I’m a Stranger Here’, and the blues.
AMBY: What were the first records you really remember obsessing over and can you see an imprint of this somewhere in your own material?
PB: The recordings of Robert Johnson were my first introduction to blues music and I definitely became obsessed. From there I was introduced to Wille Dixon and Chess records and I’m still listening to those records now.
From there I followed Muddy Waters and found Sun records, all those recordings were recorded live in one room for the most part and I felt like I was there in the room with the band. I’ve been trying to live up to the mark of those recordings ever since.
AMBY: Did recording latest LP ‘ I’m a Stranger Here’ in Nashville produce anything different to the previous records?
PB: Yes, it was our first album with an outside producer. Working with Buddy Miller added a lot of new angles to the recording process and he also played on a few tracks. It was the most fun we have ever had in the studio. Having an outside ear was a huge help. We added some new instrumentation and rewrote parts in the studio as well which we usually don’t do. It was more spontaneous than other records I would say.
AMBY: I know Santa Cruz well and love going to the boardwalk and the cheesy Mystery Spot when I visit. Why did you decide to call it home and did it help define the TDM3 ethos at all?
PB: We fell in love with Santa Cruz the first time we visited and Cooper and I moved there a few weeks later. It’s a really unique place, there is nowhere else like it on the west coast and we all felt at home there. The music scene there is really supportive for such a small town and everyone there helped launch our band and get us out on the road. Thank you people of Santa Cruz! Where would be without you?
AMBY: You have a reputation for putting on these incredible shows so how important was LP ‘Stomp and Smash’ for the growth of the band?
PB: It was our second live album at that point in time but it was definitely the better of the two. We love recording live albums sort of like our own official bootleg series or something like that. We have plans to record another live record and include some video footage with the album as well. We are at our best live I think.
AMBY: What can we expect from the band on this upcoming tour?
PB: We are trying to sneak in as much new material as possible while still playing all our old songs that we love. We might need to play a longer set! either that or switch things up from night to night.
AMBY: New material?
PB: Some, yes.
AMBY: Any covers you have a penchant for?
PB: We have a few new covers in the works, mostly country and blues from our heroes.
AMBY: Who are you listening to on the tour bus this winter?
PB: There was a lot of swing jazz like Django and some western swing as well Bob Wills And The Texas Playboys. We also listened to old punk rock and some metal as well depending on who was controlling the stereo.
AMBY: What are your passions and interests outside of the band?
PB: Writing, occasionally some visual art stuff but really music is all I care about in the end.
AMBY: A lot of our readers are in up and coming bands. What advice would you give to fans of yours who want to pursue a career in music?
PB: Don’t ever give up and learn how to handle your band business yourself.
March 18 // Dublin, Ireland @ Whelens
March 19 // Bangor, UK @ Ballyholme Yacht Club
March 20 // Glasgow, UK @ King Tut’s Wah Wah
March 21 // Manchester, UK @ The Ruby Lounge
March 23 // Leeds, UK @ The Wardrobe
March 24 // Birmingham, UK @ Rainbow
March 25 // Bristol, UK @ Bierkeller
March 26 // London, UK @ Scala
March 27 // Rimes, France @ Cartonnerie
March 28 // Brussels, Belgium @ AB Club
March 30 // Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso
March 31 // Cologne, Germany @ Luxor
April 2 // Hamburg, Germany @ Knust
April 3 // Berlin, Germany @ Knust
April 4 // Leipzig, Germany @ Conne Island
April 5 // Munich, Germany @ Strom
April 7 // Winterthur, Switzerland @ Albini Club
April 8 // Paris, France @ Social Club
Buy your tickets here.
Thank you The Devil Makes Three, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Iain Fox | @iainafoxphoto