Categories Album Mission Creep Interviews Music Print Media UK Tour 2024 Video

An Exclusive Interview with Damian Lewis at Epic Studios, Norwich

Backstage Pass

by Damianista | Fan Fun With Damian Lewis | April 2, 2024

I am back from a week-long fantastic trip to the UK following Damian Lewis and his brilliant band from Stroud to Poole to Norwich to Cambridge in the second leg of his ‘Mission Creep’ UK tour. I cannot wait to share with you my report from the gigs, fun backstage shenanigans, and a few surprises in the days and weeks to come.

But first…

Interviewing Damian has been a huge dream for me. In fact, I have been able to interview him a couple of times in the years past. But because they happened spontaneously, even though Damian wanted to be generous with his time, he was about to go to his next interview or his next appointment that we had to be very quick. And there were always people around.

So, this time, ladies and gentlemen, I have been able to arrange an interview with Damian before I arrived in the UK. And, in Stroud, he told me we would do the interview in Norwich. He would not have many guests after the gig that night so he could make the time needed for a meaty interview. The rest was for me to sit down and write my questions which I wanted to be different from the usual interview questions Damian gets. Well, when you think about it, how many times did you read how he got cast as Major Winters in Band of Brothers or how he picked up his guitar during the lockdown and started playing again. Do not get me wrong, I know that the professionals are trying to do their job and some may not necessarily be very curious about what the interviewee will say. But I am.

So, after his fantastic gig at Epic Studios in Norwich, Damian and I sat down in his dressing room with a glass of “D Lou” – the band’s signature gig drink whose recipe I will provide in the days to come – in hand. I asked him the questions whose answers I was dying to find out about and filmed the interview, too. I tended to listen rather than intervene but you will hear my voice a couple of times where I could not restrain myself. I have to add that I am super impressed, and you will see, by how articulate Damian was after a one-and -a-half-hour gig and a few drinks! AMAZING.

I am happy to report Damian called me a very good journalist at the end of the interview. To be honest, I may be a good journalist but first and foremost I am a walking Damian Lewis encyclopedia and it certainly helps when you interview someone you know really well.

I hope you enjoy this and look forward to your feedback here. Thank you.

Summary of interview:

The songwriting process starts with a theme, an idea or a line that he writes down throughout the day. He begins noodling around with basic chord structure on the piano and guitar, then organizes those in two columns – one for ideas, one for base chords. This is done all pre-lyrics. Then he mixes and matches chords with the idea – sometime initiatively. Sometimes he’ll blend a heavy theme with light chords and vise versa, light themes get blended with darker chord sequences. Only then does he start working on lyrics. After that he makes a demo to present to his band with notes on style and reference points. The band essentially write their own musical parts and it’s taken to rehearsal. From there the song is taken into the studio to record where parts may be stripped down, removed, or changing up the frequencies – what may have previously worked in rehearsal may not sound well in the final version. That is all part of the mixing process. Damian is executive chef and his bandmates are brilliant cook or sous chefs. The most important kernel of the entire process is the theme/idea.

Difference in albums – Mission Creep is quite intimate, more tender, gentle, jazzy, singer-songwriter-y, whereas the new album has a different energy, it is more rambunctious, rock-n-roll, blues-rock, almost an indie, new wave feel about it.

Setlists for gigs are typically changed up. Usually Mission Creep songs are primary, peppered in with new album songs towards the end. But he wanted to change the psychology of the evening. Now there are more new songs earlier in the set because they are more up tempo, then ending the evening with more tender tones.

Gigs are practice and similar to theatre in that you’re performing in front of a live audience, but in a completely different style of genre. The more he and his band play, the better they get – just like a theatre show that is slick and polished two months after opening night. It’s a different experience. Performances morph, grow and change. He enjoys playing live and interacting with audience directly. Whether playing a gig or saying line, you immerse yourself into the character that sits there in that song or play. The critical difference is that the songs are his own words, own melody, own structure.

Second album is expected to be released in the Autumn/Fall of 2024. There will be three singles released prior to the album. They already recorded the songs, and one is mixed. Damian  will mix the other two songs in two weeks from this interview date. The three singles will be released every 4 weeks about, 2-3 months prior to the release of the album.

Damian and his band will be playing many summer festivals – Black Deer Festival of Americana June 15 on the main stage ahead of headliner Sheryl Crow, Pub in the Park in Chiswick ahead of musician Jools Holland at the end of June, Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk at the end of July, Car Fest (which is run by radio DJ Chris Evans) at Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire at the end of August, and others.

The song Never Judge a Man by His Umbrella was inspired by Damian’s role in A Spy Among Friends, new song Suck My Blood was inspired by his upcoming vampire role in The Radley’s, but still yet to be determined if there will be a new song inspired by Henry VIII for his upcoming Wolf Hall role.

What’s next? We would like him to combine his music and theatre stage performance for a musical! But Damian shares that theatre is very time consuming as a parent, at least for the time being. However, there is no question IF he will get back on the theatre stage, it’s just a matter of when.