Monday, April 11th, 2011

Emerging Artist Interview: Tom Dunphy (Imaginary War)

What was the first record/cassette/CD that you owned and how did it change you?

When I was in the fourth grade I got a copy of Rancid's "…And Out Come
the Wolves." It was my first CD and it hit me like an atom bomb.
Obviously my tastes have changed and grown since then, but my love for
that record has only deepened. It was my introduction to punk rock.

If you could pick any musician's brain over a beer, who would it be?

I would love to sit down for a drink with Craig Finn of The Hold
Steady. He's a really cerebral songwriter who I admire a ton. We also
love a lot of the same things in terms of books, movies and music, so
we'd have plenty to talk about.

What would the name of your band's biography be?

My friend David Cruse suggested this once and I thought it was
amazing. My band's name is Imaginary War. The biography would be
called "The War is Real." Pretty intense.

Name your dream tour: up to 5 bands, dead or alive.

Big Star, The Replacements and Imaginary War playing a string of
small, sold out club dates. That would be heaven.

Who are you musically influenced by that no one would ever guess by listening to your music?

I listen to a ton of funk and soul from the 1960s. James Brown, Marvin
Gaye, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Sam and Dave and so on. We sometimes
play a verse of Mayfield's "People Get Ready" as an intro to one of
our songs live, but otherwise it would be hard to tell. I personally
don't like when bands wear their influences on their sleeves. I don't
want to sound exactly like my favorite bands or artists. I'd feel like
I was ripping them off.

How do you feel being on stage when the audience is having an amazing time?

Don't let any musician lie to you. They may say they're in it for the
art or to get their message out, but there is something completely
self-gratifying about playing in front of an excited crowd. It's a
drug.

Name the place you'd most like to play a show, anywhere in the world.

This isn't very exotic, but I'd love to play Austin, Texas for South
by Southwest. I've never been there and it seems like such a great
time. Austin is a great music town and SXSW is the premiere stage for
up and comers.

What's the most memorable musicial moment of your life?

When I was 17, my band played a great show at the Birch Hill in Old
Bridge. The place was legendary. We had built up a small following,
but on this particular night the kids came out in force. They were
crowd surfing and singing along. It was amazing. At the end of the
set, I took my guitar off and jumped into the crowd. It was the
greatest feeling in the world.

Tell us a situation where another band really helped you out.

We share a scene with so many great bands who are full of amazing
people. It's hard to pinpoint a single instance, but it feels great to
be surrounded by so many stand-up people. If we're playing a show and
I break a string, I know I can count on someone from one of the other
bands to whip his guitar out and be ready to pass it off to me. That
camaraderie is part of what is great about playing music.

What moment has made all of the hard work being a musician worth it?

On my solo record and the band's EP, we worked with producer Pete
Steinkopf of the Bouncing Souls. The Souls are one of my all-time
favorite bands and I truly admire those guys not just for their music,
but for the way they've handled the business end of their band.
They're basically the model for building a vibrant and sustainable
career as musicians in this day and age. Just having Pete agree to
work with us was enough of an honor, but having someone who I respect
so much tell me that my songs are good meant the world.