Stef from The MIC chats with Dave and Tom of 'the dt's' to discuss their latest music, writing process, and gear!
SJ: You started creating music together, releasing covers and a demo, as Dave and Tom. As you began writing original music together, you've made a name change to 'the dt's' what drove that change? DT: We wanted to have a name change that was quick, catchy, and still recognizable for us. The name was actually suggested by Dave's girlfriend's father, Bill Condon. Once we heard the name, we both felt like it was the right direction, which led to us working on a logo with our friend, Kate Condon, a graphic designer. Recently, we've also noticed a lot of references to "dt's" in some of our favorite shows like Seinfeld and M*A*S*H.
SJ: That's so funny, I love M*A*S*H too! So, you've released your first single this year, "You With Me." How was the experience of writing and recording your original music different from the demos and covers you were previously creating? DT: It was different in that fact that we started producing and engineering everything ourselves, which we hadn't done in the past. There was a bit of a learning curve with the recording software, but from previous experience in past studios, our intuition, and research, we were able to become very comfortable once "You With Me" started coming together. Writing "You With Me" was also unique in that it was one of the first songs we wrote collectively. We each had our own riffs/ideas, and we decided to blend them together to create "You With Me." Dave had a rocky guitar riff, which we juxtaposed with Tom's poppy riff that we used for the chorus. We wrote the main parts of the song with two acoustic guitars in one night. It came together very quickly, and from there, we started to add the other elements to the song.
SJ: Your second release, "White T-shirt," is really just a banger. With its DNA found all the way in 2019, how did it feel to have everything come together and finally release it? Knowing that it is about dealing with change, loss, and feeling vulnerable, did you find it challenging to dig up those original emotions while finishing the track, or did that make it easier? DT: Thank you for the kind words! The song itself does have roots from way back in early 2019 but was put on the back burner for a long while. We revisited the tune in 2020, quickened the tempo, changed the chorus, and added more structure. It was really exciting to take some old ideas and refresh them, especially on this track. It definitely felt really nice to finish this one as sometimes it's easy to bury old ideas and forget about them as an artist. The song itself does reference that fear of loss and vulnerability we often feel, whether that is in regards to a relationship, family member, or friend. Dealing with that anxious "gut feeling" is really where the song ignited from but finishing the tune and giving it new life sonically changed the vibe to more about facing change head-on.
SJ: What did the production and engineering of "White T-shirt" look like? Was this a DIY track, or were there other hands involved in creating and executing the track? DT: With some previous experience under our belt from recording our debut single, "You With Me," we were more familiar with the process of recording everything ourselves but wanted to continue to learn and grow as producers/engineers. We tried pushing the boundaries with Dave adding a killer guitar solo, adding some experimental guitar elements, and recording layers of harmonies. But we can't take all the credit. We reached out to our good friends, Frank Letieri, to add drums and Joe Pomarico to mix and master the tune. We were so happy with how it came out, and we asked Frank to play drums on a batch of songs we had recorded and Joe to mix and master all of the songs. They really made the song come alive and take on a new form.
SJ: That guitar solo was, in fact, killer. Let's talk gear. How does the dt's get their sound? DT: Yes! We are gear nerds! This was actually another reason why we decided to pursue recording everything ourselves. We have the gear, and we just had to figure out how to record it. Dave's gear includes a Fender Vibrolux Amp, Vox AC 15, Gibson Les Paul Custom, Fender Strat, an elaborate pedalboard, and a Casio Privia keyboard. Tom uses primarily his custom Rose metallic Stratocaster and American Telecaster he built with his father. He also utilizes his Mint Green Fender PJ Bass and Hofner Bass when recording. For the recording process, Tom's dad was gracious enough to lend some of his equipment to us, including a vintage Peavey amp, Fender Deluxe Reverb amp, '74 Fender Stratocaster, and his Univox Les Paul.
SJ: There's nothing like vintage gear. You also just released another track, "Need You (Forever)." Tell us the story behind this track. DT: This is actually another tune of ours that is a bit older. Dave wrote the song while still in college. He first came up with the riff and then later added lyrics. The riff naturally came together, infusing elements with some of his most beloved bands (e.g., The Beatles, Oasis). Lyrically, the song is a concoction of different life experiences, events, and feelings that Dave was going through at the time. Everything from school, work, and relationships were infused in the lyrics. When Dave brought the song to Tom, they both agreed that it was a song that should be recorded along with the other singles.
SJ: The Beatles' influence absolutely comes across; I'm getting very heavy "Dear Prudence" vibes, especially in the beginning. With this track being a bit lengthier, clocking in at 5:47, something that you guys have utilized is song structure and arrangement, keeping the entire track interesting to the listener all the way through. Was this a conscious writing decision, or did it just happen organically as all the parts fit the song? DT: Yes, in case we have not made it obvious yet, we are big Beatles fans! When Dave was working on the music to the song, he was heavily inspired by the riff in "Dear Prudence," so he tried to incorporate that descending riff element into the structure. At the time of writing the song, it was not a conscious decision to incorporate certain elements to keep the song interesting. Dave just kept adding to the song until he was satisfied and then eventually decided to add a massive peak at the end to pull it all together.
SJ: Will these tracks be part of a more extensive work from the dt's? Maybe an EP or album on its way? :) DT: Including the singles, we have already released in 2021, we also have another batch of songs that are almost complete. We both are collectively writing and also writing on our own so we have a ton of material we cannot wait to record as well. The cool/interesting thing about the music industry right now is that it feels like there are no rules. Right now, we are going the singles route, but we are not ruling out an EP or album in 2022!
SJ: You're both very engaged in every aspect of the process, from writing to recording, releasing, and promoting. What is your favorite part of the process? DT: It has been a great learning experience for the both of us. We are musicians at heart, but we have also learned to be our own recording engineers, more recently mixing engineers, management, and PR team as well. We've really grown from being musicians to understanding more of the business side. We have started to understand and enjoy the releasing and promoting aspect of the process because we love sharing our music with the world. However, our favorite part is definitely the writing and recording part of the process. We love taking our song ideas, old or new, and bringing them to each other to add different elements and then finally make it come alive.
SJ: Thank you for chatting with The MIC; what can we look forward to from the dt's? DT: Thank you for chatting with us and giving us this opportunity! We definitely look forward to continuing to write, record, and experiment with all the tunes we have put together in the last year and a half. Along with that, some more full band shows, meeting new artists/musicians, and just having fun enjoying the process.
LONG STORY SHORT: Stream the dt's.