D&M (or Danny Fornasa and Matt Klahre) describe themselves as “John Mayer sits in with Fun. and writes some rock & roll love songs.” We describe them as a promising and soulful sound out of Philadelphia. Here, Danny chats with us about things that matter: John Mayer, rivalries and dirty love.
HV: D&M as a band name, it’s pretty to the point without being as literal as say, Matt & Kim, yes? Were there other name options? What were they?
D&M: Haha great question! D&M definitely started more as a working title while we were just forming the band. We started playing out a little bit and going by that name until we really sat down and considered what we would “officially” be called. We thought of some more creative names but they were definitely much, much worse! We like the fact that D&M is very simple so that it could be about the music instead. Our favorite groups are people like the Band, CSNY, Eric Clapton, etc., where the music is amazing and real. For some reason it always seemed a bit pretentious to give ourselves some lucrative name like “The Crazies” or just “CRZS” (no vowel hipster version), that would try and brand us as something we are not.
HV: For the record, thank you for pointing out the “no vowel hipster version” thing as we find that particularly annoying. How long have you known one another and how did you come together as a band?
D&M: We’ve known each other for four years now. We met during our orientation at Drexel University in Philadelphia during one of those ice breaker games. It turns out those actually work! If someone had told me, “In four years you guys will be touring Europe together.” I probably would have said, “What?! No way! Can we be called ‘The Crazies?!'”
HV: Good thing that you didn’t get a psychic reading for the band! Even though you guys are fairly young as a band (approximately 4 years old), you’ve already received solid press nods on your music with the Delawanna and Wait For Me EPs. Is that encouragement or is that pressure?
Danny: It’s definitely encouragement for us! We feel like we’re just getting better as musicians so if people liked our stuff so far, they’re REALLY gonna like what’s coming next. Of course, you can’t always please everyone but we try to anyway and then end up extremely sad if some one doesn’t like us.
HV: Just remember that we like you. One reason is because probably one of the strongest aspects of D&M is the fusion of such a soulful voice with bluesy guitar work. How old are you guys, again? Because the music doesn’t necessarily register as if it’s coming from 20-something year olds.
Danny: We’re both 22, but we’re old for our age. Both of us grew up listening to the blues and great musicians like Albert King, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Sheryl Crow and the list goes on. When we were in high school, we both (separately since we hadn’t met yet) went through the whole punk rock phase so by college I think we were ready to make a different kind of music. Something a little bluesy but still modern in its own way. I think the best records are the ones you can put on 30 years later and still sound timeless. A lot of the gimmicky stuff sounds awful 5 years later and that’s always something we’ve been adamant about avoiding. A great Hendrix recording still sounds amazing 30 years later and in 2040 we’re hoping our tunes don’t sound too silly.
HV: Creating songs that are relevant and timeless is an intelligent and musically respectful goal, good for you. Now you’ve covered some ground this year: France, the UK, Greece. How does it feel to be able to say that you’ve done the “world tour” thing?
Danny: It feels great! One of our life goals was to play in the UK/Europe so to actually do that was amazing. A lot of our favorite American rock bands like the Killers and Kings of Leon got big in UK before the states, and we felt like the scene there could really get behind our music. We did it on our own and without a major label. The music industry is pretty crazy nowadays so to wait around and hope someone else is gonna plan and do something for you is pretty unrealistic. We like to set our goals extra high and then do our best to accomplish them. Can’t get much higher then a “World Tour.” If Elon Musk is reading this or anyone else who works for Tesla Motors, we really want to do a cross country tour in a Tesla. Our biggest expense and most environmental unfriendly deed while touring is the gas guzzling, so to go cross country playing rock and roll in the car of the future without a drop of gasoline would be a super fun experience for us and I’m sure a great promotional thing for them. (Tesla representatives can reach us at here. Let’s make it happen!)
HV: Nice pitch! We hope the folks at Tesla take you up on it! So, what has been some of the most important music or artists to you growing up? Any particular records that made you realize that music was more than something that you liked, it was something that you loved?
Danny: Continuum by John Mayer was huge in regards to showing both of us what a pop modern blues album could sound like. That’s the album that changed both of us the most musically and something we were able to bond over the most when we first met.
HV: Agree with you there. Continuum really is a brilliant album. Now you’re taking a creative step with your upcoming new album by gradually presenting the songs one by one via a video in what you call “The LP Series.” Who came up with that idea and why?
Danny: I thought it would be a cool thing after touring the whole summer. Basically on tour we were writing some new songs and trying them out at the shows. And from my experience in the past as a listener, some of my favorite versions of songs were YouTube videos of the artists playing them live before their record actual releases. Nowadays with constant connection to artists, I was kinda scared if we dropped off the face of the earth to record an album and weren’t playing shows that we’d lose momentum and people would forget about us. By releasing the LP series videos, we introduce our songs a bit before giving the fans the real recordings and keep them engaged and listening to new music.
HV: And keeping fans engaged today truly is key. So when should the album be done? Once it’s finished, can we expect to see you out on the road soon after?
Danny: Great question! We’re still recording and finishing up the record, but we’ll be releasing singles in the coming months (next one out is “Ask Me To Stay”) and then figuring out touring. Unfortunately, Live Nation thought Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake AND D&M would sell too many tickets and start riots and stuff so we won’t be playing arenas with them this summer.
HV: Well, that’s Live Nation for you: always with more of an eye on public safety than on profits. Touring is hard work but an essential part of the rock and roll program. What’s something that you simply cannot go on tour without?
Danny: Either a battery case or car phone charger. Sooo much smart phone usage from Spotify to GPS to checking Twitter on the road. That’s the most essential thing.
HV: Being that Los Angeles is a major market, everyone from the biggest superstar to the newest rising artist comes through here. But we also have an incredibly healthy and diverse local music scene to dig into. What’s the music climate like in Philadelphia these days?
Danny: Philadelphia is awesome. Not quite as scene-y as LA maybe, but a little more honest and cultural. Nothing against LA but not everyone here is an actor/singer/model so it’s nice to be able to hang out with people who aren’t so “industry” all the time. There’s some other great upcoming bands here in particular. Wild Rompit who we’ve known for years are releasing a new album in August called Spirit Moves. I’ve heard it and it’s epic to say the least so anyone who likes rock and roll should google them and stay tuned!
HV: Duly noted. Now what else are you listening to these days? Favorite artists or albums on your iPods? You do have iPods, right?
Danny: iPhones actually! Right now listening to the new John Mayer tracks that are trickling out from the new album. Also Magna Carta even though it’s not that good really.
HV: Ahh, the Mayer love truly does run deep and his new album is a beauty. By the way, besides a heck of a good song, what is “Dirty Love” according to D&M?
Danny: It’s a song about being in a relationship where you’re getting hurt but you keep after the girl anyway because you’re in love. Just that hopeless “ugh this sucks but I have no control” kind of feeling.
HV: No doubt there’s a story in there somewhere. Final question: I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY and haven’t been home in a while. I know that we (NYers) and Boston have sports-related issues: Is there any New York/Philly rivalry that I should be aware of or that I’ve forgotten about since leaving home?
Danny: In my opinion, no. If the Yankees are playing against the Phillies that day there could be but the overall sentiment is friendly. Philly is only an hour and a half away from NYC. Last time I hung out with Jay Z he called it “the 6th borough”. Well, to be honest I read that in an interview… we haven’t chilled in a while.