Torched Exclusive Extended Interview With Detroit’s Duende (Ft David J – Part One)


Detroit’s PsychProg Garage Rock’n’Rollers Duende recently released a new album ‘Oracle Of The Horizontal’ featuring Bauhaus bassist David J late last year via Glass Modern. Torched Magazine is honored to have had the opportunity to speak with the members of Duende who gave us their insight into this amazing collaboration with David J, who lends his haunting vocals, bass and production skills. This marks one of David J’s greatest collaborations to date which is sure to please listeners ears even in the darkest of corners. The album is available as a 12′ heavyweight vinyl in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, CD in a 6 panel fold out card sleeve, and as a digital album. It is now available for order via Glass Modern’s Bandcamp HERE. Duende is: Jeffery Howitt / Joel McCune / Scott Sanford / Laura Willem.


Words From David J

This exciting collaboration with Detroit’s stalwart psych garage band, Duende came about when they approached me to work with them on a couple of new tracks for a forthcoming EP. These turned out extremely well and when I played them to my pal, genius songwriter / hermetic music guru, Damien Youth, whose opinion I rate most highly, he enthusiastically insisted that we develop the project into a full blown album. This we did. Recorded and mixed in one week at Tempermill Studio in Ferndale, MI, I regard it as one of the most vital sounding and inspired recordings of my career. We also pulled in some additional stellar local talent in Warren DeFever (His Name Is Alive) and also Joshua James (Theatre Bizarre Orchestra) to add yet more tasty ingredients to the swampy spiked mojo soup.


David J



According to your facebook page, “DUENDE steadily morphed into a band built for anything/everything and some kinda other thing.” Can you explain this progression?

Joel – To me that just expresses the way the band has morphed from what we may have originally intended it to be, the sum of all our varied influences, and the idiosyncrasies of our personalities, into something we no longer have (or even want) complete control of. Duende, more so than any band I have ever been a part of, has it’s own momentum and logic bigger than it’s members. There is a collective unconscious at work so to speak…

Laura – Not being tied to a specific genre, we are able to be apart of all sorts of bills and fit in. We can play with punk bands, ambient, shoe gaze, heavy, Americana, theatrical etc and cater our set to fit the crowd/bill. Can’t really tell you how we progressed that way because we don’t set around and discuss how we want to be seen as a band or if we should sound a certain way, we just go into the basement (practice space) and just let it come out.

Scott – Over time we collectively have been able to harness the unknown and distill it. The progression happened naturally. We’ve dabbled into different styles and sounds over the years and as a band we’ve logged a lot of shows. It helped us gel as a band and work together as a creative force. We’ve reached a point where we are comfortable enough with each other musically that we like to get into uncharted waters and see where we end up on the other side.

Jeff – In the year before Joel joined the band, DUENDE was somewhat a collective in function. Laura and I played with a couple different line ups for the live shows. When it came time the record, what we thought of as a finite experience, we invited Gary Rasmussen from Sonic’s Rendezvous Band to bring that White Panther, High Energy vibe. Also Xiao Dong Wei, a classically trained musician that was an early indicator of us going beyond pure Garage Rock. A couple years later we were also known as Polecat’s Big Band when we backed up Dale Beavers, touring down to New Orleans and playing Lakeside Lounge in Manhattan, and opening up for Joe Buck and playing John Sinclair’s Birthday Party here in Detroit. Dale played in Junior Kimbrough’s touring band and appeared on albums by the Compulsive Gamblers. We also did a single with a local rapper, Mister, and his duo, Passalacqua that featured Mckinley Jackson on keys, who started as a session musician with Motown, had a band called The Politicians, served as Marvin Gaye’s musical director, and does so now for The Temptations. For the title track of Murder Doesn’t Hide The Truth, we invited Blueflowers vocalist Kate Hinote to sing lead on the title track. We’ve always respected where the band started. Even keeping early songs like Sidetracked or Dance Party in our set, yet where another band may be like, we’re “Punk” or “Country” or “Math Rock”, haha, but we have continued to hone our sound while keeping those first things. Not afraid to turn the wheel over to another driver here and there.




You say that your genre is “no pop, no style… strictly roots.” How would you explain this idea?

Joel – That again falls into an inability for us to fully express what it is that we do as far as musical genres are concerned! And it is a Sister Nancy lyric!

Laura – That tag comes from this song (below). It sums us up because we can be all over the place as far as genre, but always based in some roots – like rockabilly, country, blues. We just then make it noisier

Scott – The main idea behind that is that we don’t set out to try to and sound a certain way or write songs to fit into a mold. We let songs happen organically. A lot of our songs are based around the roots of Rock n Roll.

Jeff – That actually is a reference to an Althia & Donna record called Uptown Top Ranking. We get little crushes on bands. Modern Lovers. Tommy James and The Shondells is another one. Bands that speak for and to us. The lyric speaks, “Them check say me come from Cosmo Spring/But true dem no know and ting”. Like, whatever the trend, our own personal diversions, we are a Rock n Roll band at Heart, but musicians in it for the Music, beyond whatever you think it is we are doing or not doing.


Who or what are some of your creative influences?

Joel – I love Rock and Roll! The real stuff, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly etc, and all the stuff that evolved from that. The Milkshakes, King Khan, Bloodshot Bill… I grew up on The Ventures, early Beatles and Stones. I also love punk and subversive music. The Cramps, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Birthday Party, Bauhaus, Velvet Underground, The Clash! There is so much incredible music in the world and no end to it!

Scott – Some of my musical influences include The Velvet Underground, Bauhaus, Devo, David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth & Sparks. To name a few.

Jeff – I’m a Detroit music kid. Goober and The Peas. Demolition Doll Rods. Hentchman. Alice Cooper. I was only reading about The Stooges and MC5 in Rolling Stone when bands like Mudhoney and Screaming Trees were citing them as influences in the press. Beyond that, my touch stones in the band, performance wise, are along the likes of The Damned. Dead Moon. PJ Harvey. Richard Hell and The Voidoids. Jane’s Addiction. Sebadoh. Poetically, The Fugs. Woody Guthrie. Crass. Patti Smith and her band have always struck a great balance between Art and Entertainment, with her connection to the Word being with the Beats, up through Punk, and whatever the Hell now is. People have said we sound like Dream Syndicate, Flaming Groovies, Meat Puppets or Yo La Tango, so in someways it almost doesn’t matter what ones influences may be. Someone is always going to get something else out of it.


0014025983_10TMDuende W/ David J – Photo by Trevor Long


How did you meet David J and what was it like collaborating on this exciting project?

Joel – We met David through a local event called Theatre Bizarre, and through the people who throw this amazing party every year in October. It is rightly called the greatest masquerade on earth! The short version of the story is that David was performing there, and we were performing there, David liked our band and offered to help get us some shows in California. We invited him to collaborate in the studio next time he came to town, and he said yes. We recorded four songs which he played for his good friend Damien Youth in Louisiana, and Damien kindly insisted that David return to Detroit to add enough songs to make it a full length album, which he did!

It is amazing for me personally to be working with David as I started listening to Bauhaus at age 15 in 1986. Love and Rockets about that same time. These are bands that helped form everything I know about music. These are bands that showed me that there weren’t set rules and hard parameters in what could be done with music. They showed me that it was OK to be a weirdo! An outsider! These people were my David Bowie if you will! I didn’t know if they were aliens or what dimension they beamed over from! So truthfully for me it was a little daunting to make a record with one of them! Nevertheless, the studio turned out to be the perfect place to meet and get to know David. We are both very comfortable in a recording studio, so a peer relationship was struck! David is an amazing pro in the studio, and very easy to work with!

Laura – In October 2014, our friends Craig and Julie Sias (Julie RIP) hosted what I believe was David’s first Metro-Detroit Living Room show. Craig (Craiger) is local sound guy that we’ve worked with a ton and is also a good friend. All of us attended the show. Also in attendance were 1) the musical entertainment booker (Matthew Pomroy) for the magnificent (in size, art and entertainment) Halloween party, called Theatre Bizarre (TB) and 2) a prominent Detroit jazz musician, Joshua James. Pomroy invited David to play a DJ set at TB. Well David not only did the DJ set but he ended up performing with James’ jazz band, The Theatre Bizarre Orchestra (TBO). They also recorded an album together…

Anyway, David would come back every so often to perform living room shows and with TBO. While in town, he stayed with the Pomroys, who happen to live next door to Jeff and I. We would chit chat in our adjoining backyards and Jeff and I were invited to listen to the vinyl test pressings of Carpe Noctem with David and Joshua.

In 2016, we played the infamous Theatre Bizarre party and David came and watched our whole set, from right up front! A few days later, he messaged us and said he enjoyed our set. Jeff answered the message and if he would be interested in collaborating. He was in!

Collaborating was great. I think we (Duende) were pretty nervous and excited. David had some ideas for songs and lyrics. We had some demoes and we wrote more music and sent via email to David. He would come back with comments. We did a lot of back and forth up front, like that prior to studio time. In the studio, I found David really easy to work with. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how he would be in the studio and once we got going, I felt very comfortable with him. It was interesting watching him mix – he really dissected the various instruments and vocal tracks, yet worked efficiently.

Scott – we originally met David at a bar in Hamtramck called Kelly’s. We were playing a show for our friends’ birthday and he randomly asked us to join him for a rendition of “No New Tale To Tell”. Separately David was in town and staying with some other friends of ours. They recommended to David that he check out our show if he was interested in something to do. Lucky for us he took that advice and came to see our set at Kelly’s. He sat at a table in the back for most of the night but during that rendition of “No New Tale To Tell” David jumped up mid song and joined us on stage. We kept in touch online after that and we eventually asked him if he would be interested in a collaboration. What started out as a one off single eventually morphed into an album after David listened back to the songs after our first session and decided he wanted to do a full record.

It was very exciting to collaborate with David. Bauhaus was a big influence on me and as a bass player David ss very inspiring. Myself and I think everyone in the band was nervous to work with him initially. He is a legendary performer and we had never collaborated with someone of that caliber before. After the initial jitters David made us feel very comfortable. He has a great ear production wise and really elevated the songs with his ideas for arrangements and auxiliary instrumentation. Several songs were recorded without bass guitar (as I was playing guitar on several tracks leaving the songs without bass). David decided to add some bass to those songs. It was great watching him come up with parts off the cuff that fit the songs perfectly.

Jeff – David J had an open invitation from Theatre Bizarre, simply the greatest masquerade party in Heavens Hell. Housed in seven floors, and more, of the Detroit Masonic Temple. That turned into the formation of and a recording with the Theatre Bizarre Orchestra. In the years before his ‘Ruby Rising” tour with Peter Murphy he was coming to town pretty regular during October. Playing Living Room shows. DJ’ing. Beyond a hello around town it wasn’t until we coincidentally were covering “No New Tale To Tell” at a friends birthday party, that he up jumped the devil with us on stage that we stood out to him. He having mostly been performing troubadour style. It ultimately took David seeing us performing at Theatre Bizarre proper, where he wrote us a little Rock n Roll love letter about the night, which resulted in a multi faceted and referential discourse over the course of a couple weeks where the thought of collaborating was broached and embraced. We had four songs ready to record. Only one, “Out Of My Dreams” had we sent him. The others he immediately heard his parts. Harmonica on “In The Shadow Of 45”. Bass on “Queen Moon And The Brazen Bull”. David added the lyrics during a moment of inspiration during the final mix down. Initially he was going to take “Alice Through The Windscreen” for his upcoming solo record, his last, he has said, but his pal Damien Youth, who ended up doing the cover art, suggested keeping the songs together and making it a record. David really does seem as interested as ever in music, the discovery involved, the chances and rewards if you dare to really LISTEN.





DUENDE with David J

Duende is: Jeffery Howitt / Joel McCune / Scott Sanford / Laura Willem

Music by Duende // Lyrics by David J, except for Track 1 lyrics by Jeffery Howitt/David J and Track 3 lyrics by Jeffery Howitt

Produced by David J // Recorded at The Tempermill in Ferndale, Michigan by Tony

Hamera // Mixed by David J, Duende and Tony Hamera // Mastered by Tony Hamera


Track Listing/Credits

1) Out of My Dreams

David J – Vocals / Jeffery Howitt – Vocals / Joel McCune – Guitars /

Scott Sanford – Bass / Laura Willem – Drums


2) Motor City Squeeze

David J – Vocals / Bass / Fender Bass VI / Jeffery Howitt – Backing vocals

Joel McCune – Guitars / Scott Sanford – Guitars / Laura Willem – Drums


3) In the Shadow of 45

David J – Harmonica / Jeffery Howitt – Vocals / Joel McCune – Guitar

Scott Sanford – Bass / Laura Willem – Drums


4) Queen Moon and the Brazen Bull

David J – Vocals/Bass / Joel McCune – Guitar / Scott Sanford – Guitar

Laura Willem – Drums


5) Alice Through the Windscreen

David J – Vocals / Joel McCune – Guitar / Scott Sanford – Guitar

Laura Willem – Drums / Piano / Grand piano / Rhodes / Mellotron / Backing

Vocals / Joshua James – Tenor and baritone saxophones / Effects / Backing vocals / John Raleeh – Trombone / Backing vocals / Dave Vessella – Trumpet / Backing vocals / Warren Defever – Mellotron / Eric Kacir – Bell


6) Oracle

David J – Vocals / Joel McCune – Guitar / Scott Sanford – Guitar / Laura Willem – Drums / Joshua James – Tenor and baritone saxophones / Effects

Warren Defever – Mellotron


Feature Photo by Lisa Marie Krug


Keep up with David J

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bandcamp | YouTube |Patreon |Spotify|iTunes

Keep up with Duende

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bandcamp


Copyright © 2019 by Judy Lyon/Torched Magazine

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of TORCHED MAGAZINE.

Tagged with: