Cautiously Optimistic

Fifteen Hopefuls Make Up Austin's Musical Class of 2001

Cautiously Optimistic
Photo By Todd V. Wolfson


Title: TBA

Label: Sire

Release Date: April/May

Why the Delay: The Damnations' Half Mad Moon was released in 1998, and a merger between Sire and London the following year is said to be largely to blame for the holdup.

"[Sire President] Seymour Stein was on our side the whole time," says singer Deborah Kelly, "but getting the label to commit to anything took forever. At one point we asked to be dropped, but Seymour really didn't seem to want to let us go."

Kelly says getting the green light to record late last year ended more than a year of dire financial straits. "It was frustrating, because we were trying to make a living while caught in a situation where we couldn't make a move," she explains. "You can't even pick up a normal day job because people know you're in a touring band and bound to split. Luckily, the frustration is over."

What to Expect: The as-yet untitled album was recorded with producer J.D. Foster and will be mastered in New York next month during the band's tour opening for the Meat Puppets. Kelly says the record -- their first with the input of an outside producer -- is consequently less country, more rock, and features more singing from guitarist Rob Bernard and more piano playing from Kelly's sister, bassist Amy Boone.

It also features a batch of songs Damnations fans have come to expect live, including Bernard's "Root On," his cover of the Minutemen's "Corona," and a cover of Doug Sahm's "I Wanna Be Your Momma Again."

"I think it's more rock because through all this waiting we've been a live band, and a lot of that came through in the studio," says Kelly.

Expectations: Although things seem to have settled down at Sire and it seems promising that by waiting they're less likely to get lost in the post-merger aftermath as they were a year ago, Kelly says the band's expectations remain as modest as ever. "We're not the kind of band that's likely to sell a million records," Kelly says. "We're the kind of band that's going to make a living on the road. So really, we just expect it to offer us an opportunity to get back on the road."

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