Home Blitz’s Daniel DiMaggio Prefers UK to Irish Folk Music

Listen to the track ‘Betton Hill’, taken from his new album 'Foremost & Fair'.

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May 1 2015, 5:18am

Back during their 2012 Australian tour, Home Blitz’s Daniel DiMaggio left his iPod in my car. I tried mailing it back to his home in Brooklyn but Australia Post got weirded out about sending something like that through the mail. So for weeks later I drove around listening to this interesting mix of 70s rock, hardcore punk and British folk music.

So when I first got a chance to listen Home Blitz’s latest album Foremost & Fair, I wasn’t that surprised to hear a noticeable UK folk influence creeping into the muscular guitar pop DiMaggio has become known for.

The first album since 2009’s Out of Phase, also sees a noticeable shift in fidelity and recording quality of his idiosyncratic punk-pop.

Take the track “Betton Hill” that we are premiering below. It starts with a jaunty organ and an almost West Country martial music feel before DiMaggio’s breathy vocals and signature guitar fretwork take over. It’s brilliant.

We asked Daniel about the new album and his appreciation of early folk music.

Noisey: So you study traditional British folk music?
Daniel DiMaggio: I wouldn’t say that I ‘study’ it to be honest. Any studying consists of listening to a lot and sometimes slowly and laboriously transposing song arrangements by Shirley and Dolly Collins or the Young Tradition for ‘fun’.

Is there a particular era that interests you?
I don’t know that you can really delineate different eras when dealing with these kinds of songs given the way that folk song is by definition shaped and varied through repetition over a long time, and because the songs’ sources are diverse and also in many cases totally obscured, but if you can I also probably don’t know enough about it to be able to.

I will say that ‘revival’ acts like the aforementioned ones and the Watersons and Dave and Toni Arthur are my favourites because their versions of songs are better arranged, more sharply defined, and less boring than those sung by old people or whatever.

Also I love hunting songs, LOVE seasonal songs, love rural labor songs, ballads are chill, don’t like sea songs, HATE coal mining/industrial songs, I don’t know why.

I’m sorry you never got your iPod back. There was some UK folk stuff on there. I’m trying to remember what it was.
I’d say at that point it would’ve been the artists mentioned above and also like Fairport Convention, Mr. Fox, and Steeleye Span probably. That iPod was broken.

What is the main difference between UK and Irish traditional folk music? Is it both instrumentation and the way music was/is written?
I honestly can’t really specify many differences except that I like the former and kind of hate the latter. I want to say that English melodies tend to be more kind of angular and stately while Irish ones are more like flowing and idyllic and weak sounding (like in the song "Sprig O Thyme", really bad), but this may just be wishful thinking. Many of times I’ve listened to one of the Voice Of The People compilations only to hear mad Irish songs in a row, not cool.

The album cover is cool. Did you illustrate it?
Nah, it’s from a book called The Cotswolds - An Introduction. Its caption reads ‘Chedworth’. But I haven’t read the book yet.

The vocals and lyrics are a lot clearer than your earlier material. Is this due to more confidence in your delivery and lyrics?
I would say so, yes, and also because this album was recorded in a pro studio. I was really into the lyrics of these songs during and prior to the recording of the album though.

“Cutting the Cross” sounds like it could have come off one of your early singles only it’s a lot clearer. You almost kind of expect a blown out guitar to come in the middle.
Thank you. Yeah that song is weird.

'Foremost & Fair' is available now from Testostertunes.