“Right now, I’m in the middle of nowhere Indiana, going broke, and riding around to gigs in the back of a pickup truck … ”
That’s the first part of the statement Damion Suomi used to describe his current situation.
It’s also one that seems to jive nicely with the sentiments found on Damion Soumi’s debut solo album, Self Titled. Over the course of its 11 tracks, the Florida-based bard bounces from bar to bar, dispensing wisdom over whiskey and chasing ghosts and past grandeurs with shots of Southern Comfort. Or so it seems.
“The album was dealing with a lot of painful feelings, so it was nice to have that Novocaine,” Suomi says of the drinking themes, which were not entirely metaphorical.
And so, on songs like “Archer Woman,” Suomi croons about his sadness and sorry missteps, often accompanied by a romantic portrait of a pint or two. But in real life, as in his songs, Suomi acknowledges it was a false escape. While alcohol offered an alternative to the hardships of his reality, it didn’t allow him to deal with his problems.
“I don’t enjoy writing about alcohol, but where I was when I was writing this album, it was a big part of my life. It was that kind of slow suicide,” Suomi says. “It’s such a love hate relationship. At the end it’s like, ‘why am I doing this to myself?’”
Of course, at the time, it made a lot more sense to Suomi, as he mused over his breakup through his music. Though there’s no avoiding the plethora of drinking references found on the album, not all of Suomi’s songs frame his problems through the bottom of a beer mug. In a style — and voice — that invites comparison’s to R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, Suomi takes on his relationship with both religion and women in album opener, “Darwin, Jesus, the Devil, and Me.”
And as both subjects’ presence on the album suggests, in Suomi’s life, there’s quite a bit of comparison between alcohol and religon. Before he progressed to playing in bars, Suomi started playing in church. After attending bible school for a year, he diverted course after he “couldn’t agree with it anymore,” and now describes himself as “a recovering Christian.”
Like alcohol, religion was an escape at times, but neither avenue allowed him to deal with the problems that were weighing him down.
“They’re both good at numbing and escaping,” he says. “But at least with alcohol, it creates, I guess you’d call it an unreal reality. I was escaping from facts and logic and what I knew to be true.”
So he started dealing with those facts, started working through them both inside and outside of his songs. That brings us to the second part of Suomi’s synopsis of his current state of mind and body.
“ … and I’m alright with that. I don’t dwell on that bitterness like before. Life is all about experiences, and following them, following our passion. I don’t have the answers to everything and that’s okay. I just want to learn and experience more.”
Of course, his fans wouldn’t mind a few more musings set to music. Look for Suomi when he rolls into town to play The Red and The Black on April 17, possibly in the back of a pickup truck and most likely far happier than his album suggests.
• For more on Damion Suomi, visit www.damionsuomi.com.