Oli Wimmer and Ali Grumeth are just your average twenty-somethings; guys you’d casually drink with on a Friday night after work at the bar down the road. They possess an infectious charm and thick German accents that heavily inflect their broken English as they describe what makes them happy and how they try to live their most authentic lives. They are casual, calm, cool and collected — but they are much more than ordinary. Wimmer and Grumeth are, in reality, members of the vivacious, explosive alt-rock group AudioDamn!
Based out of Germany, AudioDamn! is a powerhouse formation, emulating influences of both soul-pop and punk rock while producing catchy hooks and toe-tapping melodies. Their chemistry is palpable, and as Atwood Magazine sat down to chat with the guys via FaceTime on a rainy Thursday morning, it became incredibly clear that they are trying to do nothing more than put themselves out there in the most organic and authentic way possible.
The FaceTime conversation begins with four prolonged rings (thanks, Apple) before there is a pause and suddenly, the pixelated faces of two casual young men, sitting on the floor of Grumeth’s mother’s house, halfway across the world and six hours ahead.
“Hello!” They give warm greetings, accompanied with slight waves.
“Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me — I must say, this is the first time I’ve ever done an interview with FaceTime!”
“Yeah, we like FaceTime a lot better than a phone call. Sometimes, with our accents, it’s hard for people to understand what we’re trying to say. For some reason, FaceTime is always just a bit clearer.” Grumeth explains.
They both possessed undeniably thick German accents, though it was never a struggle to understand what they were saying. Wimmer and Grumeth sat closely to one another, leaning in ever-so-slightly so as to not miss a single thing said to them. The two men had been friends for years, having first met in 2009 and later attending Popakademie Baden-Wurttemburg together in 2011. They both have been working on music from an incredibly young age.
“[Growing up with music] has had a pretty strong influence.” Grumeth acknowledges.
“I’m kind of amazed [at] myself; I keep rediscovering myself.” Wimmer agrees.
“So where do you tend to draw your influences from the most?” They definitely drew from a number of styles, which allowed for them to create a uniqueness in their sound that is concretely personal.
“I think we’re just influenced by good songs, really.” Wimmer states.
“Yeah, just like, awesome production, some soul or R&B styles; fighter songs. All of these are absolutely amazing. For us, it’s more about attitude, like, a ‘Kanye [West]’ attitude.” Grumeth chimes in.
“It’s just really fun.” Wimmer adds.
It is obvious that their attitude most definitely reflects these sentiments: The guys remain nonchalant and fun-loving, all while traversing the world on their budding musical journey. Grumeth and Wimmer have been making music together for years; their original formation, amsterdamn!, was formally created in 2011. When they shifted from amsterdamn! into what is now known as AudioDamn!, it wasn’t just a shift from a punny name. It was a complete reworking.
“There is actually a major difference, even though people don’t think there is.” Grumeth says. “I was hired to play a tour with Oli. He had just been on a pop TV show in Austria, and he had a hit song. [But] we just wanted to do fun, live rock music.”
“I had enough of pop TV — I just wanted to give my story.” Wimmer responds.
“We found amsterdamn!, wrote a few songs, and moved to Germany. [In Austria and Germany] it’s pretty much just a name change, but for everyone else it’s something entirely different.” Grumeth explains.
Upon moving to Germany, the two enrolled in Popakademie Baden-Wurttemberg in Mannheim. There, they met who would eventually become their drummer, Daniel “Mudi” Mudrack, and moved forward with their musical partnership. As time went on, the guys eventually accumulated an album’s-worth of songs; most of which, if not all, were in English. And their English, both when speaking and while singing, sounds perfect. The guys claim, however, that it was never difficult to learn to sing songs in English, as opposed to their native German.
“Language can change a song pretty drastically,” Wimmer explains. “If you do the same thing in German, it’s harder to translate and make sense. It’s cool to do, but German and English use different vowels, so sometimes it doesn’t work. Plus, we’re influenced by American music; listening to it made us want to make our own music just like it.”
Wimmer hits a poignant note. If you were to listen to a song performed by a German artist in English, and then listen to that same song again in the German language, it undoubtedly affects the pacing of the track. Not excluded from this, British and American songs are also often effected. Take, for example, The Beatles’ classic “She Loves You.” The German adaptation, “Sie liebt dich,” struggles to maintain the original song’s notability, and merely becomes a choppy remnant of what used to be.
The guys’ American influences are not without aid, of course. They have worked with many incredible producers and technicians that have only helped push them that much further: Neil Everon (Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard), Gregg Wattenberg (Train, Goo Goo Dolls), Brian West (Maroon 5, Awolnation), and Mikal Blue (Jason Mraz, OneRepublic), just to name a few. It’s a pretty impressive list for a band that’s still comparatively in its infancy, and one that can only benefit the group that much more.
As the group continues to develop their sound, they are sparing no time with regard to producing addictive tunes. Their first single, Lights Out, is a pop-rock toe-tapper, with Wimmer’s distinctive soul vocals overlaying exuberant, flitting instrumentals. It’s an unassuming forlorn love tune; typifying the feelings one gets when they develop an unshakable infatuation. Though the song very obviously is sung about someone, it is never actually specified whom — not even amongst the guys themselves.
Watch: “Lights Out” – AudioDamn!
“I think I know who — but we never talked about it.” Grumeth says.
“Yeah, it’s about a girl I really fell for. You know that one that you just can’t get out of your mind — yeah, I had this girl that I thought about all the time. She, basically, ‘turned my lights out.'” Wimmer confesses.
“I feel like this song is really easy to understand and connect with — it’s about capturing feelings.” Grumeth agrees.
They are certainly capturing feelings, but have yet to capture a truly concrete audience. They are constantly working, however; trying to put themselves out there the best way that they possibly can. And, if ever given the chance to expand themselves even more, the guys unanimously agree that their dream act to tour with would undeniably be Foo Fighters.
“They’re just so cool, and so talented. Really, I would answer Foo Fighters for every question.” Grumeth declares.
“They’re just the best — I love them. They’re superstars” Wimmer concurs.
“Dave Grohl is the coolest guy, seriously. I don’t blame you guys for saying Foo Fighters for every answer. I’ll accept it; I’ll put it in instead of whatever else you tell me.”
They laugh. It is a bonding moment; Foo Fighters are bringing everyone together, even on opposite sides of the world.
If Foo Fighters were to ever fall through, however, the guys will never stop pushing themselves. In the ever-evolving world of music, it can often be a difficult balance to both remain genuine and relevant. These guys aren’t necessarily concerned about that, though.
“For us, it’s about staying interested and open. That fire just won’t stop.” Grumeth declares.
“We’re always like, ‘Oh, we should do something like this!’ We’ve got to have fun, and [we have to] try out new things.” Wimmer states.
“Even if it’s a shitty idea, it doesn’t hurt to try it. It’s about pushing ourselves, even if it doesn’t work.” Grumeth adds.
“We’re just trying to do what makes us happy.” Wimmer elucidates.
And it shows. Grumeth and Wimmer are incredibly blithe, and that bleeds into their music as well. They don’t care about the frivolity of musicianship; they would much rather create unique tracks that they enjoy.
As AudioDamn! continues to progress, it is expressly obvious that what matters the most is the music. And, although they don’t have any upcoming tour plans, they are still showcasing their talents whenever and wherever they can.
“We have some showcasing and acoustic sets [coming up] — something totally different that’ll be challenging to jump into…Everything we do, we do for making as much music as we can. We rely so much on our sound.” Grumeth clarifies.
But what about the States? America is supposed to be the “big break” for everyone trying to become a major musical act. Well, the guys actually toured some houses in L.A., and are now trekking across the USA for a bit.
“Hopefully we’ll move there soon!” Grumeth expresses.
Though AudioDamn! is not a particularly well-known act (yet), it does not seem implausible for the group to inevitably take off. As time goes on, it will be fascinating to see how AudioDamn! continues to progress, and where their paths will lead. They are authentic, charming, and undeniably talented.
States Wimmer: “We’re just doing our best to be real. Whether we’re right or wrong, or true or not, we just want to be the best version of ourselves.”
“We’re just gonna keep trying — enjoying life as it comes!”