[interview] D*A*M (Differential Audio Manifestationz): David Main

Here's FXDB's interview with David Main of D*A*M (Differential Audio Manifestationz):

How did D*A*M (Differential Audio Manifestationz) start?

Curiosity and necessity. Mainly the wanting of certain things but having the no money blues. I guess the main spark was the music I heard in the early nineties. Records like Mudhoney's Superfuzz Big Muff. That record was the first time I kinda connected with the sound on a record and use of pedals to shape sound. That interest grew up to around 1997-98 when I saw Fu Manchu for the second time on the Action is Go tour. I recall seeing Bob's Fuzz Face on stage and deciding there and then that I had to somehow own such a device. I guess what I'm saying is, the want to create a certain sound was the getting into effect for me.

D*A*M became a thing in November 2001. It was pretty much an obsession by that point and was all a matter of trial and error to be honest. I wasn't heading anywhere in particular with it at all. I just really liked screwing around the components and thought it was cool that I could now make Fuzz Face or a Bug Muff of my own and recreate those sounds in my head. It grew over the following two years and became a means for me earn my bread by 2004.

Stuart Castledine was a great help early on. He put up with all my retarded questionings and really opened my eyes to the vintage fuzz boxes of the 1960's. I was a late comer to computer technology so didn't really have much access to what was going on with the web, Stuart was pretty much the only other DIYer I talked with.

The Craig Anderton and P.A. Penfold books were how I learned to read schematics and grasp the basics of circuit function. I had no idea what I was looking at of how to understand that stuff. I'd stare and the schematics and try and relate that to the presented PCB or stripboard layout.

When I did get on-line and aside from the old cool stuff like the Sola Sound and MXR pedals it was the Way Huge and Z. Vex pedals that really caught my eye and inspired me. They just looked so cool and out there. It was a very visual thing. It's funny, it was years before I got to hear any pedal by either of those guys but they served as such a strong influence. It was more because they were very much their own thing, if you follow. I liked how they presented themselves to the world.

Where do the name and logo come from?

It was originally from a short list of names I made for a musical project I was doing with a few friends. The guitar player pointed out that the initials of Differential Audio Manifestationz where the same as my name. It kinda stuck around in my head up until the point I started screwing around with pedals and needed a banner to fly under.

The original all seeing eye logo we used was the product of a large dose of Psilocybe semilanceata (liberty cap). The skip to the end version of the story. I went out to Derbyshire with some good friends to collect and consume mushrooms. The weather turned a little later in the day so one of my friend gave me his old denim jacket to wear, which he later said I could keep for my very own. Once the day was done and we returned to Earth, later that night I painted the origin of the D*A*M logo on the sleeve of the jacket.

BTW - This all occurred prior to 2005, when you could take all the Psilocybin you wished and legally too.

What sets D*A*M apart from other builders?

No idea. I guess because it's us, in the same way it's them. The pedal scene on the small scale level seems so cool in that regard. You can express an idea without burning a major whole in your pocket or your brain. There are folk building all kinds of cool stuff and someone somewhere is gonna dig that. I do find it difficult to hold a mirror up and be able see what D*A*M is or what it offers. I guess if people see you doing something honestly and with passion there is an attraction in that? I see that in others and feel that myself so maybe that could be part of it. We're honestly doing, rather than trying to be something?!? The no idea answer may make more sense.

How do you start on a new pedal?

I have a book. I write all kinds stuff down in that. I guess when the time is right it becomes three dimensional. Sometimes it takes years, sometimes never. It's pretty unorganized and sporadic to be honest.

How do you name your pedals?

I don't think on it to much. If I drag the process out it becomes a chore. So nothing deep and meaning full at all, comic books, songs, cars, that kinda shit, or just a play on words. Fuzz Face = Head Buzz, that kinda thing. As long as it somehow relates to the origin of the sound and has a simple effective way of putting that over in the name I'm happy.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

Yarp, all us. Just 2 builders. Myself and Linz (Linzi Haynes).

The circuits, all stripboard. We tried PCB's here and there in the past but I never liked it being that way under the D*A*M flag. I just like the old fashioned almost hobby like quality that stripboard has. The early D*A*M stuffs was all matrix board, it looks the same as stripboard but has no copper on the reverse. You basically just twist each part to the next. Building on stripboard is like playing with Lego.

The enclosures right now are all bought in pre-painted. I used to spray them myself but the amount I was doing and coloured matter coming outta my nose at the end of the day stopped it being fun. The current enclosures are made by Deltron and are in fact finished in a nylon coating. It's super tough and has this kinda fat greasy chubby touchy feeliness to it that I really dig. I still drill them all myself though. I really enjoy that for some reason. They are screen printed elsewhere, we've had the same lady do that for us since around 2005. Done the old school way, which we like.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Important. That's how it all began really. It has to look a certain way, have a style, or have something going on visually somehow. I guess now it's more of a overall vibe or dare I saying a branding that I'm wanting to achieve. I'm trying to make the whole affair a thing visual rather than the individual pedal.

Is parts selection important?

Always. I'll try and check out a certain part out for a good while before I commit to using in a pedal. I am pretty happy with where we are at now with the small box pedals, the Omeg pots, the Neutrik jacks, the single point grounding etc. They are pretty much bullet proof for their size and construction type. I'm more into using good quality new stuff that is made fairly than I am NOS parts nowadays, though that was more of an enforced thing due to the laws we have in this country.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

The Sola Sound Tone Bender Professional MKII. I find it pretty trippy that I actually get to make a pedal that I got hooked up on way back when. I starting out making replica's of it under the D*A*M banner and was eventually asked to make the real deal for Sola Sound. Feels good.

The D*A*M Fuzzaround too. Almost sent myself insane making that thing. Nervous twitches, hallucinations, the works. Never soldered so heavily in all my life. Planned on making 10, made 62 or something like. Good times.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Fuzzaround. Little tiny box, big tag board circuit, 100's of germanium transistors to chew through, a bitch to drill out. Just mentally demanding for the most part in short amount of time with a lot of units to get through.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The Tone Benders and the Super Bee. I guess they can sound pretty okay for the most part.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Freaks? Ha-ha. I dunno really. I try not to think on it too much. We do seem to attract the sound obsessed, if that makes sense. Folk who are really into their shit, not the type of peoples who'll play once in a blue moon. Folk who really know what they wanna hear and folk who dig the gear they are using.

I guess I was a little genre specific with the Meathead once it found its feet. Basically, if you were into dropped tunings, heavy fuzz, playing loud and loved Matamp and Orange amps it would kinda make a whole lot more sense.

Yeah we do have famous users, but I'm not really into that kinda thing. Sure it's a confidence booster but it can kinda box things in somewhat.

What does the future of D*A*M look like?

Onwards and upwards. Always forward. Enjoy it and be creative. Pretty simple really.

If it ever felt stagnant or too much like a real job, I'd be out. Might seem a childish or an immature thing to say but for me, this is it folks. You got one chance at this, no re-runs, no more credits. This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time...tick, tick, tick... enjoy it to the last.

Are you working on any new products?

Of course, but I can't tell you what they are and I don't now myself as yet when they'll be out.

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