Amen Dunes, a three piece based out of Brooklyn, NY, was recently featured on EARMILK for their most recent release of a tune called “I Can’t Dig It” off of their soon-to-be-dropped album called Love. The album (now available as of today in the UK) will be unveiled to the US at large May 13 (tomorrow) via Sacred Bones.
We quickly caught up with Amen Dunes frontman Damon McMahon in anticipation of the album release to chat musical divergence, aiming to please, and Love on tour.
Love is now beginning to emerge. The direction the album takes is pretty divergent from Through Donkey Jaw and DIA. How did this come to be?
It was a conscious decision for me. All the other Amen Dunes records were written and recorded by myself, and so I really wanted to make this record more of a collaborative affair. With the help of my two bandmates Parker Kindred and Jordi Wheeler, we all worked out the songs together, while inviting friends like Elias Bender Ronnenfel from Iceage and Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck to play on the record as well. Love is more of an open venture for me. It wasn’t as insular.
You recently dropped the third single “I Can’t Dig It” from Love, which proves to be quite different from both “Lonely Richard” and “Lilac In Hand”. Is this sonic diversity something us fans should expect from the rest of the album?
No, I would say “I Can’t Dig It” is really the only track off the album that is loud with that much emphasis on electric guitar. It’s definitely more in line with our older stuff off DIA. For me, it was a sort of a weird fit on the record, but in the end I found that the production on the track is similar to the rest of the songs in the sense that it is big and pretty. It’s kind of like “Here Come The Warm Jets” by Brian Eno for me. It has a pretty feel to it, even though it can be harsh at times. And for that reason, I think “I Can’t Dig It” still fits.
With the album, you’ve stated that you aim to please the human masses, making them “happy instead of uncomfortable”. Care to elaborate?
I guess I mean’t that with this record I wanted to make music that more people would find beautiful, really. My older albums were really retribution music, where I found peace through aggression. It wasn’t a social cause, but it was really personal for me. The opinions that I really care about are from other musicians and more record collector people, because I’m referring to a lot in the Amen Dunes stuff. To some, I may come across as simply folk, which it is in many ways, but in reality I’m really referring to bunch of other stuff, a Throbbing Gristle song or something. But I would say the overall goal to this record was really just to make something beautiful and that felt good for people in general, where in the past I was very much anti-that. Love displays a change of self.
You just announced your summer US tour to promote Love. How do you feel going into it?
I’m a little nervous about it because, you know, you make a record and it sounds a certain way, and then you try to do it justice live and it can be daunting. So we’re trying to work it all out with a new drummer etc. I’m excited about it, but I do have really high standards for everything, so I’m a little concerned. But you know, it always ends up just fine.
Amen Dunes will also be playing a few (quickly approaching) east coast shows upon the launch of Love. Catch them in Philadelphia on May 13 at Boot & Saddle, Washington, DC on May 14 at Sixth & I Synagogue, and at Baby’s All Right in New York with Helm and Hubble on May 15.