Q & A With Damon From Of Virtue

Q & A With Damon From Of Virtue

Born and bred in Michigan, Of Virtue has given a new meaning to the word “homegrown”. Starting as any band, locally, then touring regionally and eventually nationally within a short two years – Of Virtue most recently began their conquest of spreading their music beyond the United States and has now reached almost 25 countries, just two years after their first time on foreign soil.

During the lifetime of the band they have since released two LPs and two EPs … it wasn’t until their single Ghost Town, released in 2017, that the band truly found what they were looking to do. After announcing the addition of two new members, Tyler Ennis (vocals) and Kyle Pruehs (drums, in addition to founding members Damon Tate on (guitar), Michael Valadez (guitar), and Jon Fox (bass) Of Virtue have found themselves stronger than ever and prepared for 2019 as they partner with SharpTone Records and Scarim Management.


Q & A With Damon From Of Virtue


XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?

Damon: We just put out our new record ‘What Defines You’ on May 24th through SharpTone Records and couldn’t be happier with the reception that it’s been getting so far! This is just off of the tail of touring Europe with The Word Alive, Make Them Suffer and Aviana – which was a great time as well. We’ll be taking a month off just before going to Asia for 2 weeks starting July 11th. Aside from that, we do have some stuff in the works which we can’t wait to unveil, but in due time!


XS ROCK: So how long has the band been together?

Damon: The band started in late 2009 in Lansing, MI.


XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for originally starting or being in a band?

Damon: Mike and I played in a previous band together and wanted to create something that was more diverse and melodic at the time. Everything around the Midwest was super heavy/metallic and we wanted to focus on something that was more emotional/intricate but still rooted in heavier styles. For myself, I was always drawn to playing in bands from the friendship aspect and the ability for individuals of different backgrounds to come together with one vision and mindset.


XS ROCK: What is your music background?

Damon: My mother listened to a lot of soul/Motown as I was growing up so that was my first exposure to music as a whole. She liked bits of everything so I could hear anything from Michael Jackson to The Commodores to Hall + Oates etc. I started branching off and discovering music on my own with Nu Metal and bands like Slipknot, Korn, Linkin Park, Sevendust, Limp Bizkit, etc. during middle school. That lead me through phases of pop punk, screamo, hard rock and the early 00s metalcore movement which really changed my scope of what music could be. During those years though, I can say that I never dismissed or stopped loving one style over another and really incorporated all of it into who I am now, similar to how my mother treated it.


XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?

Damon: We always strive to be a positive light in our music scene and send a message of hope and prosperity, even in dark times. Life is not easy and sometimes you are dealt bad cards but it is how we take those cards and build ourselves up that makes us who we are.


XS ROCK: What are your current music career goals?

Damon: Successful tours all over the world, meet and make new friends, put out more albums that we are proud of and continue to spread our message to as many people as we can. We would love to take part in the large festivals in Europe such as Download, Resurrection Fest, Rock Am Ring/Park, Impericon Festival and some in the states like Sonic Temple, Louder than Life, iMatter, Self Help, etc.


XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?

Damon: I personally love all aspects of music creation and performance. The feeling that comes from writing a sick riff, recording it and then seeing the reaction in a live setting can’t be explained and I feel like because I love all aspects of the process, I can appreciate what we do on a much deeper level and keep that love pure.


XS ROCK: What are your songs’ lyrics about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Damon: We touch on almost everything in our lyrical subject matter. From hopelessness/self-defeat (No Control) discrimination/racism/bias (Surrounded), the effects of religion (Suffer), mental health awareness/suicide and its effect on us (Torn Apart), etc. These are all thing we deal with on a daily basis/have had to endure in our lives and we know others have had to do it as well.


XS ROCK: What is the single most important thing to you as a musician?

Damon: Health. Mental, physical, and emotional. I couldn’t communicate without it.


XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.

Damon: There are so many that come to mind that I could have a separate conversation about this alone. Most of those will stay where they happened haha. I can say on our last run that at some point, homemade blow torches were made in a moving vehicle and people’s ass and legs were being lit on fire.


XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?

Damon: Haven’t really had too many strange requests other than coming on stage to sing songs or autograph some body parts that don’t usually get that love.


XS ROCK: Are your friends and family supportive of your choice to play in a rock band?

Damon: My mom is the most supportive person I know and without her none of what we’ve done would have been possible. We have a great support system of family and friends surrounding OV even through some of the leaner times.


Q & A With Damon From Of VirtueXS ROCK: What advice do you have for new bands trying to get started?

Damon: Never give up and be open to learning from your mistakes.


XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?

Damon: No Control and Suffer are my two favorite songs to play live right now. Those just have an energy that makes me want to jump into the crowd and scream along with them when we play. Thanks For Nothing is also up there because the crowds have started learning the words and singing back which is an amazing feeling.


XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?

Damon: Thrice/Story of the Year/Glassjaw both changed the way I look at music today. I had never heard bands with their intensity and approach at the time (‘02 Worship and Tribute, ‘03 The Artist in the Ambulance, Page Avenue) and that made me want to seriously start a band as an emotional outlet. Bands like Killswitch Engage made me want to be heavy and have the emotional /soulful singing. Also, growing up with Lajon (Sevendust) and seeing Howard Jones as prominent black figures within the metal community instilled the belief that I could do the same thing. Misery Signals changed the way I looked at guitar playing as a whole. Of Virtue wouldn’t exist had it not been for them.


XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?

Damon: Slipknot/Linkin Park co-headliner with support from Killswitch Engage and ourselves.


XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?

Damon: In my opinion, touring internationally and our newest record would be our greatest accomplishments. The wonderful people we have met along the way over the past 2/3 years that have made this possible because we took chances on ourselves and did some stuff that was unconventional for bands at our level.


XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?

Damon: I would probably do something in the food industry or go back to school and do something with behavioral therapy.


XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?

Damon: For me specifically – I use ESP EC guitars, InTune Guitar Picks, Mesa Boogie amplifiers, Sennheiser wireless, DiMarzio ClipLock straps, as well as a handful of pedals from the Digitech Whammy to Strymon Big Sky Reverb.


XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?

Damon: It really depends on where you are. However, there’s no shortage of innovation and this leads to a lot of great new music coming out of the scene.


Q & A With Damon From Of VirtueXS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?

Damon: I care a lot about fitness – so if you don’t catch me on stage, you might catch me in the gym. Also, I am quite the foodie. So, if anyone is reading this and wants to bring me a nice home cooked meal to a show I wouldn’t object.


XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?

Damon: We love each and every one of you who have supported us along the way and we are forever in your gratitude. Here’s to many more years of awesome shows, albums, tours, and memories. Make sure you pick up ‘What Defines You’ and we will see you soon!


XS ROCK: What is the single most important thing to you as a musician?

Damon: For me, it is an outlet and a voice for me to express how I feel about myself or about my surroundings. The other is the listening ear. We are able to play shows and have the visceral reactions at points because we know somewhere, someone feels the same way we do and this is our way of connecting with them. My favorite artists did that for me and I turn I would love to be that as well.


XS ROCK: What advice do you have for new bands trying to get started?

Damon: Plan, organize and structure. Write and study your songs to make sure that they fit the goal of what you want to achieve as a band. Some changes that you don’t predict will happen along the way but having a basic plan will help keep everything in order.


Of Virtue are:
Vocals – Tyler Ennis
Guitar/Vocals – Damon Tate
Guitar – Michael Valadez
Bass – Jon Fox
Drums – Kyle Pruehs
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