David Tomaloff
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David Tomaloff

Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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"Take a Listen"

Tomaloff has just returned from some state that I've never been to and recorded some darn good tunes. They take me back to a place that I've never been, but always wanted to go - with the likes of Bob Dylan and Mark Twain and other essential notables as your tour guides. - Matt Geary


Tomaloff's new stuff is brilliant! It's like he channeled Alyson Krause, Jeff Tweedy, Patterson Hood, Hayward Williams, and Ray Lamontange, then took all the best of each to make the perfect music. - Steven Pfaff

"Talking about "Birds on Wires" with Tomaloff"


Milwaukee’s Daily Magazine
Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008
In Music

Talking about "Birds on Wires" with Tomaloff
Published Oct. 4, 2008 at 8:38 a.m.

By Bobby Tanzilo
Managing Editor

With his band The Dammitheads, Racine singer, songwriter and guitarist David
Tomaloff made some strides, with two well-received discs and songs placed in
TV shows like MTV's "Real World: Road Rules."
So, when his first solo record recently appeared, it looked like Tomaloff ditched
the band and jumped into the void. Instead, he says, "Birds of Wires," a gorgeous
blend of country and roots rock, has been a long time coming.
Tomaloff (right) in the studio with Chris Garges.

As he prepares to officially launch the record on his native Southeastern
Wisconsin and beyond, we talked to Tomaloff about the demise of The
Dammitheads and the rise of his solo voice.

OnMilwaukee.com: Maybe you can start by telling us what happened to The
Dammitheads, as sort background on how you arrived at your first solo record.

David Tomaloff: Well, I think the short answer is that natural progression
happened to The Dammitheads. I found my writing really taking on a different
direction and I'm just not one to force that sort of thing. It kind of came on slowly
and, realistically, The Dammitheads, pretty much by definition of the project, was
not one without an expiration date.
To fully understand that, you'd have to understand that The Dammitheads was a
project with a particular mission; the whole idea was sort of to re-imagine great
rock music as if it had been all shot into space and transmitted back all sort of
cross-wired ... or maybe like looking at music through a funhouse mirror; what if
The Cars had Keith Richards or Greg Ginn as a guitar player? What if the Stooges
were fronted by David Bowie or Marc Bolan?
It was kind of musical theater ... that was the project ... always in character. I'm
not even sure if people got that. At a certain point, I guess I felt like I needed to
get back to exploring my own musical voice and the timing was such that Steve
(Hawkins) also had things going on in his personal life that he wanted to follow
through with; in fact, Steve is now co-owner of a downtown Racine pub called
McAullife's on the Square, which is doing quite nicely for him.

OMC: The band had had a fair amount of success, was it risky for you to take
such a different direction with your first solo project? Or was it way or creating
some distance from the band?

DT: You know, I'm not sure I'd really look at it as risky, necessarily. I think it's
more risky to continue on with something that you are not really committed to;
that can be a very expensive security blanket. That said, there certainly have been
difficulties to the new situation. The Dammitheads did see a fair amount of
success and made many relationships and contacts along the way.
Unfortunately, many of those relationships and contacts don't necessarily carry
over as well into this new world, and that certainly applies to the venues as well.
In fact, I'm only just discovering some of the really great places in the general
area that cater nicely to acoustic acts. There's definitely been some new
homework on top of the work you'd already expect to put into marketing a new
project but it's moving along nicely and many folks have been very receptive to
the new direction.

OMC: Tell us a bit about writing and recording the disc. Did it happen in one big
push or was it a project that developed over time?

DT: It was actually a bit of a long time in coming and was riddled with setbacks
at first. Many of these songs were actually written or, at least, started during the
last few months of The Dammitheads' existence. I was just writing; I had no idea
the new songs would eventually turn everything upside down. Once the decision
was made to go ahead in this direction, I had to figure out how to go about turning
these songs into something I could go out and get behind. At first, I tried to get
other musicians involved in the recording phase but I had so much trouble getting
folks involved who were serious, reliable, and didn't need to be coached as far as
genre was concerned. It was really frustrating ... I was burning through a budget
and getting absolutely nowhere.
It all turned around when I e-mailed a friend in North Carolina -- Chris Garges --
with questions about dealing with session musicians. Chris is a great session
drummer and equally gifted engineer, so I knew he would be able to give me
some good advice. He did just that and more importantly, he mentioned he would
be really happy to be part of the project. We talked about how to go about doing
this and decided that it would be really fun to do kind of a long-distance
collaboration and send tracks back and forth. I would send him demos that
consisted of basic tracks; maybe a couple of scratch guitars, a vocal and
sometimes a few melodic bits. He would then record his parts -- drums and
percussion -- and send them back to me to finish. At some point, the tracks were
sent back to him for further recording of pedal steel, which was played by another
North Carolinian, Bob Barone. This really worked out well and, in fact, many of
the original scratch tracks ended up making onto the record.
I was happy to have a few of my local friends involved as well. Anneliese Pratt
sang background vocals, Mark Harrod played some piano, and Zachary Scot
Johnson put down a little violin. Steve Hawkins was there as well, giving me a
helping hand with some of the recording.
At mix time it only made sense to have Chris involved, so I drove down to N.C.
this summer and Chris mixed the record at Old House Studio. It was a really great
cap to a project with such an arduous beginning.

OMC: Was it a weird, or a liberating, experience to make the record and not
really have to consider anyone else's opinion, input, etc.; to be able to say, "this is
all mine"?

DT: Well, I'd always had the final say on The Dammitheads' records but this was
somehow still a little different. It was definitely liberating, but more from the
standpoint of where the music was coming from on this record as opposed to the
way The Dammitheads worked. "Birds on Wires" is certainly more of
songwriter's record; it comes from a much more personal place so it feels like
there is really something more going on under the surface and something more at
stake than anything I'd done with The Dammitheads.

OMC: Will you tour behind the record; have you assembled a group to perform it

DT: At this juncture, the plan is to get out and do as much playing as possible in
the surrounding areas. Touring will most likely happen sometime in the spring.
I'm doing solo acoustic shows for now, trying to really hone those skills. It really
is another skill-set and I find it to be a really gratifying thing. I find it takes a lot
more focus and connection to the songs to get up and really do it convincingly. I
could certainly see myself with a classy little three-piece outfit, like an upright
bass and maybe a jazz oriented drummer, but ... well, that's for another time I

OMC: Tell us about CD release party?

DT: "Over Our Heads Players", a really great theatre troop in Racine, has been
kind and gracious enough to allow us to us the 6th Street Theatre in downtown
Racine. My good friend, Matt Specht will be hosting the show and I'm pretty sure
we will also be showing artwork form several local artists as well. I'm looking
very forward to this; I think it will be a really nice atmosphere for people to see a
solo acoustic kind of show.
- OnMilwaukee.com

"Poets, And Painters And Musicians–Oh My! An Evening At BONK! IV . . ."

...The last performer of the evening was David Tomaloff. He’s written and published a volume of poetry, released a CD, and is working on completing more. I quickly learned that he’s the type of whirlwind talent that puts folks like me to shame. Most nights, I’m struggling to write one poem; he’s already got CDs and books under his belt. I couldn’t hold a grudge once he started his set though. He began with some poetry, the imagery of which was so hard-hitting and sharp that for the second time that night, I was envisioning the scenarios he was creating. As he moved on to playing a few of his songs, the storytelling element of his poetry took shape in his music and expanded. During his introduction of David, Matt had shared that he was really eager to have him perform at BONK!. No wonder; it was easy now to see why.

-Lisa Adamowicz Kless - Expose Kenosha: Art and Creativity in Kenosha

"David Tomaloff: Birds on Wires"

On his first solo offering, the erstwhile leader of Racine's Dammitheads stretches into a significantly different direction than his previous act's frazzled modern rock. This time around, David Tomaloff adds to the tradition of combining folk, country and rock influences into songs at once confessional yet enigmatic. He adds a misty tenor and an easygoing resignation that doesn't discount the hope for redemption to stylistic forebears such as the Gram Parsons-era Byrds, Kris Kristofferson and Steve Earle. It's telling that on the one number on which Tomaloff genuinely rocks out, it sounds about as much like early-'70s Rolling Stones as it does commercial-country, newfangled traditionalist Dierks Bentley.

-By Jamie Lee Rake - Shepherd Express - ExpressMilwaukee.com


** Translated version, for original see below.
Despite the youthful appearance on the inside of the CD inlay, the album’s beginning has
a very mature sound. With his powerful harmonica, young David Tomaloff gets my
sympathy from the beginning. After the opening track ‘till tomorrow’ the song ‘sticks and
stones’ follows nicely on this great alternative country record. It sounds like there is no
performance-pressure, just an ambition to be heard. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
Tomaloff creates a relaxing atmosphere with Birds on Wires, an atmosphere of someone
convinced of his own capacities. It’s clear that the album reflects the modesty of a person
with an open perception of the world. You quickly sense that this artist has personality,
and that he’s not hindered by any prefabricated scenarios.
Tomaloff can rightly be proud of this production, because his tasteful modus operandi
made me immediately compare Birds on Wires with Richard Stooksbury’s music, and
with Ben Weaver’s first records. He should take this as a big compliment. By no means
because of the growling vocals, but because of the down-to-earthness of the
instrumentation, and the tone of the lyrics. His use of language is as expressive as his
songs are. He claims himself that he has expressive associations when looking at old
photographs. ‘I believe that if “the muse” had a face, it would probably look a lot like an
actress from a very old movie, beaming down all black and white and savagely fragile;
tough talking and, all at once, criminally insecure.’ His imagination is kick started, and
with great resourcefulness he starts composing. The music has the same effect on me, and
this is an imposing skill, something that should be the base for every creative artist. When
you have this skill, it doesn’t matter which craft you’ve chosen, and luckily this
American chose music. Birds on Wires has ultimate content, it’s warm, colorful and
I sincerely hope that this man provides us with much more music in the future, because
his talent has something extra, something unique.
Ondanks de jeugdig ogende verschijning op de binnenzijde van de inlays maakt de
opening van dit album een verrassend volwassen geluid. Stevig briesende
mondharmonica pakt van het begin mijn sympathie voor deze jonge David Tomaloff. Na
de openingstrack "Till Tomorrow" volgt "Sticks and Stones" heerlijk verder op deze
ongedwongen leuke alternatieve countryplaat. Hier ligt geen waanzinnige prestatiedruk,
maar wel de ambitie om zichzelf te laten horen. Niks mis mee! Tomaloff zet met Birds on
Wires een aangenaam ontspannen sfeer neer van iemand die overtuigd is van zijn eigen
kwaliteiten. Wel is duidelijk dat deze plaat de bescheidenheid kenmerkt van een iemand
met een open perceptie. Je proeft zeer snel dat deze artiest veel persoonlijkheid heeft, en
dat hij niet ingepakt wordt door een voorgekauwd scenario.
Tomaloff mag terecht trost zijn op zijn product, want zijn smaakvolle aanpak deed mij
Birds on Wires meteen vergelijken met de muziek van Richard Stooksbury, en de eerste
platen van Ben Weaver. Dit zou hij moeten beschouwen als een groot compliment.
Allerminst vanwege een groezelig stemgeluid, maar eerder vanwege de aardsheid van de
instrumentatie, en de toonzetting van de teksten. Zijn taalgebruik is minstens zo beeldend
als zijn songs. Zelf zegt hij dat hij een beeldend associatiespel heeft bij het zien van oude
foto’s. I believe that if “the muse” had a face, it would probably look a lot like an actress
from a very old movie, beaming down all black and white and savagely fragile; tough
talking and, all at once, criminally insecure. Zijn voorstellingsvermogen raakt geprikkeld
en hij gaat daarmee fantasievol aan de slag. Hetzelfde effect maakt zijn muziek op mij,
een eigenschap waarmee hij duidelijk imponeert, en de basis is van een werkelijk creatief
kunstenaar. Met deze eigenschap is het wat mij betreft onverschillig op welk gebied je je
vak uitoefent, gelukkig heeft deze Amerikaan gekozen voor de muziek. Birds on Wires
heeft een ultiem gehalte, is
warm, kleurrijk en beeldend.
Van harte hoop ik dat deze man nog veel van zich zal laat horen, want zijn talent voegt
iets extra's toe, iets unieks. (Met dank aan Jennifer L. Bahling)
Smp - Rootsville.be

"New Music Spotlight"

David Tomaloff has one of the most powerful voices that I have heard in a long time. He commands respect when he sings. What appeals to me the most about David's music is its soulful country rock tone. The singer/songwriter is not afraid to share his emotions with his fans, and it clearly shows through his lyrics and vocals. Recently, Jennifer L Bahling, David's Manager, set up an online interview with the artist.

Here is what formulated from this online meeting.

Isaac: Elaborate on who you are and your upbringing.

David: Well, I was born in Racine, Wisconsin and have lived here all of my life, save for sleep-time. I don't remember if my first love was music or the sheriff's daughter who lived next door to my Grandmother's house; or was it my Green Machine? Maybe it was Star Trek. Who can remember? My formative years were spent amongst a stack of records that my parents owned; they seemed to balance out some of the chaos. Those earliest years were tough, but the middle years brought a little more balance. I played the role of son in two working class family environments; the second of which gave me a brother and we fought as such. Daily. Largely typical, I suppose. I generally despise much modern technology but surround myself with it in almost all aspects of my life. I hate iPods; though, I rarely leave the house without one. My cats think I'm a pretty swell guy and I haven't yet drummed up the courage to tell them otherwise. I play the guitar, but usually only as a means to an end; call it a divining rod, if you will, used in conjunction with my voice to channel what have you, usually in the form of a song. It's a real operation we have going here; though, the pay leaves something to be desired.

Isaac: Was there any one musician that spoke to your heart so profoundly, you were inspired to do your own thing?

David: I wouldn't say so, no. I don't think any particular artist was responsible. If anything, I'd say it was the songs themselves that inspired the change. The direction really kind of chose me rather than the other way around and you don't fight the muse.

Isaac: Which singer/group would you say you would most like to do a duet with?

David: Off hand, I'd probably have to say Jolie Holland. She's just got a voice that just oozes out of the speakers and I think she really "gets" a lot of what's great about earlier forms of American music. In a writing/production sense, I'd love to work with someone like Joe Henry.

Isaac: What singer/songwriter do you most connect with?

David: In the sense of bodies of work, probably Bob Dylan; especially the stuff he's done in the last 14 years or so. He and, as I said, Joe Henry. Those two guys are certainly top of the list as songwriters in my world.

Isaac: Out of your entire song collection that you've written thus far, which song(s) would you say is/are the most personal/meaningful to you?

David: Well, they all mean something to me obviously, but the songs that make up Birds on Wires are, by far, the most meaningful to date because they are coming from a very different place than much of my previous work. I wouldn't call any of them autobiographical in the classic sense, but I think I can safely say that those characters are being brought to life through me in some way, therefore living in some part of me.

Isaac: Which singers/groups do you enjoy/like from some of today's music genres?

David: Again, I'm a big fan of Joe Henry's work, in particular, as well as some of the acts he's produced; Mary Gauthier comes to mind. I like Ryan Adams, Jolie Holland, The National, Jeffrey Foccault, Kathleen Edwards, The Gaslight Anthem, John Vanderslice, Jakob Dylan, Old Crow Medicine Show, Trail of Dead, Wilco, Yarn, Calexico...I could really go on; there's a lot of great stuff out there.

Isaac: What charities are you involved with or support?

David: I support and donate to the National Wildlife Federation, the ASPCA, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Isaac: Have you (or would you ever consider) writing a song about any of today's particular world issues/problems? If so, what world issue would speak to you the most to write about?

David: I don't tend to write in those directions; at least not in any literal sense. I tend to write a little more on the gut level, I think. The bit players in the music may be experiencing some of the outward pressures of world issues in some way, shape, or form but I don't like to take specifics into the music; there is just nothing that puts a freshness date on a song faster than some really overt world topic. I really think a great song should mean many things to many people and still have room for the shadows of what's going on in the world to sort of serve as a kind of backdrop.

Isaac: Why should people listen to your music?

David: Well, honestly, I can't think of a single good reason. None of it will cure cancer or fix the current global economic crisis. I'm just some guy with a need to write songs and that's exactly what I do; they speak to me and I assume, as a human being, that they may speak to some percentage of other human beings as well. It feels a little cheap and maybe even silly to try and put some kind imperative on that, given where it sits in the context of a world view. Besides, the people who I think might like this record the most are the people who don't need to be told why; I think they'll know.

Isaac: Well worded!

Isaac: What has been the greatest moment for you as an entertainer thus far in your career?

David: Well, this new record
is sort of an extended greatest moment for me, I think. I have had many previously recorded songs see radio and television airplay and have done some really fun things, but seeing the work I put into Birds on Wires actually come to fruition really has to be it right now. It's really a different world and a new mindset for me; I'm really enjoying it at the moment.

Isaac: How far into the creation of a song do you share any of it with anyone? Who would you play it for? Would it be a chorus, a verse and chorus, or a complete song?

David: Generally, it's a whole song, give or take some minor fleshing details; though, this can really depend on the situation. For example, while I'd rather an audience hears some general form of a finished song, I don't mind sharing the bare skeleton of a song with someone I might be collaborating with. This was certainly the case while working with drummer, Chris Garges, on Birds on Wires. Those songs were pretty skeletal, but generally had a proper direction and basic arrangement.

Isaac: How much do you let others "mess around with" one of your new songs?

David: I'm not generally in a position where that's much of a concern. I generally keep a certain amount of control over what I do in any situation. In context to something like recording, where I do generally work with other people, I try to work with musicians whose sensibilities I feel I can trust to deliver something to a given song that will serve to move it forward rather than just kick it around the room.

Isaac: Do you have to be a tortured soul to be a singer-songwriter?

David: As I understand the phrase, no.

Isaac: Do you prefer to write music from your own personal experience, life's issues, or a little of both (explain why)?

David: As a preference, I'd have to say neither. As a matter of fact, I suppose I'd have to say both. I never really set out to write autobiographically but I'm sure some of it must happen on a subconscious level. For me, the process of writing is pretty much the process of figuring out what it is I'm writing about. It generally starts with some idea; some melody or some lyric that kind of rings true for me; like those guys looking for change with those metal detectors you used to always see at the beach. You swing it around until you get something, then you zero in on it and start digging. Somehow, with me, things often seem to feel ghostwritten; like somebody is transmitting from somewhere far away and my job is to catch it all and try to put everything where it belongs.

Isaac: How long does it take you to process your emotions and turn them into songs?

David: Again, I'm not sure it works like that for me. I mean, it must to some degree but it's never done on any conscious level. I generally don't set out to process something that has happened to me and turn it into a song. Every single time I have tried to write that way, it's been a terrible disaster.

Isaac: The best piece of advice you actually followed?

David: WU-TANG Clan ain't nothin' to f*@& with. That, and a good friend once told me a long time ago not to get too precious. I try my best to respect both concepts as I understand them.

Isaac: Give Shutouts to your family and friends.

David: Well, I have found that it just doesn't pay to keep friends; too many loose ends and such. Unless maybe they are very rich friends. That said; I am currently accepting applications for new rich friends as the last batch has not been working to full projected potential.

Isaac: Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

David: Right now, I am currently working on promoting this new record for the most part; though, I have also been working on writing a new batch of songs for the next one and finishing up a book that I plan to self-publish at the end of the year (unless anyone out there is a publisher looking for such a thing, of course.) My plans to challenge Bill O'Reilly to a combination knife fight/arm-wrestling match have been temporarily put on hold due to time constraints...on both of our parts, I'm afraid.

http://liontamersblues.tumblr.com/ - Juniors Cave


David Tomaloff - Birds On Wires (October, 2008)

Past recordings include:
The Dammitheads - The Heart of the Matador
The Dammitheads - Freeze Motherstickers



I was born David Wayne Tomaloff in the winter of 1972 and that much, at least, has never changed (any and all requests to legally change my first name to “Senator” have been flatly denied). At the time of this writing, I am 35 years old and find myself surrounded by and reliant upon a great wealth of wonderful technologies that I equally adore and abhor…35 years old; many parts younger, maybe a few a little older.

Clearly, I love music; but then, who doesn’t? I am currently kept by two odd cats with very differing personalities; though, neither seems to be put off by the differences. I love taking photographs and generally hate to drive long distances. I am self taught at nearly everything I do but am almost always disposed to point that out as a “feature” and not a bug, regardless of what I might believe in context to any given instance.

I find myself strangely fascinated by old photographs and drawn to the people and places I see in them. I sometimes feel a part of a long forgotten era myself but must digress, as I believe that tendency somehow exists in nearly all of us.

I believe that if “the muse” had a face, it would probably look a lot like an actress from a very old movie, beaming down all black and white and savagely fragile; tough talking and, all at once, criminally insecure.

I despise reality television of any kind as I believe it makes for a much weaker and, ultimately, poorer nation. I love the art of the word and can sometimes just stare at a great book, in awe of its very presence in the room.

I believe that the greatest trait of man is the ability to constantly renew in the face of adversity and believe. I believe man’s worst trait is the willingness to destroy others in the search.

I am obsessed with hats and very much enjoy a crisp white wine; though, I do love a deep red now and again. I think iPods are evil and almost never leave home without one. I believe in tea and sometimes, on a good day, I even believe in myself.

I suppose you could consider this a blurry snapshot into the mind that crafted the handful of songs featured on Birds on Wires. I’m not exactly sure just what it might have to tell you of them, but I have hopes it may reveal more to you than a couple of cleverly crafted paragraphs about a musician and his past achievements.

These songs are really just that, themselves; blurry snapshots; glimpses into the minds of the characters that walk through them. They are passing moments in lives forgotten but strangely familiar in a way that lives in nearly all of us; and if I’ve done my job well, I suspect they will reveal themselves to you in a way that is savagely fragile, tough talking and, all at once, criminally insecure.

-David W. Tomaloff, 2008