Inspired by diversity, growing up in the ‘80s, and being true to himself, David Caruso fronts the Maplewood-based five-piece, AMFM. With a myriad of musical backgrounds, and the upcoming release of their record, Brevity, on October 19, Caruso gives The Aquarian a glimpse at how AMFM breaks through the static of today’s music industry.
Where are you all from?
I grew up in New Jersey (Maplewood). It was a really great place, culturally, to be exposed to the arts in general since it was very close to New York City. The town was filled with actors, musicians, artists, and business people and had a lot of diversity. New Jersey deserves a lot of credit for the talent produced in the suburbs! A lot of the greats are from Jersey.
How long have you been a band and how did you get started?
I started AMFM in 2015. I had been a guitarist in rock bands, and then playing jazz for pretty much my whole life since I was about 8, but I wanted something different — where I was writing all the music and actually stepping up on vocals for the first time. This has definitely been the most fun situation for me so far because of the singing. It’s incredibly freeing and I feel a deep connection to everything that I write. In the past, I’d write something and hand it off for someone else to write lyrics and sing it. Now every song is one of my babies.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
For someone that hasn’t heard us I guess I would describe it as indie rock. Mostly rock but I love using synths often and drum tracks when I think they’d fit. But I guess everyone in today’s ‘rock’ bands have the same approach…so yeah, we are rock.
What was your latest release of music and can you talk about that a bit?
The latest single is called “This Town”, and it is off of the upcoming EP called Brevity, which is coming out on October 19. The song was produced by my friend Harper James (of Eighty Ninety) and we had a great time working on the songs together.
I am glad how this EP sounded when it was finished and we listened back. The most important thing for me was that the music felt real and I think that was accomplished. It sounds different from the last AMFM record but still sounds like us.
What is your writing and recording process like?
I tend to write a lot but not a lot of it sticks at the time it was written. I always have ideas to go back to and see if I’m interested in them yet. Most of the time it’s no, but then something will work itself out. Occasionally, I write and have a song right away like I did with “This Town”. Most importantly, you learn your writing technique and just trust the process.
I tend to play everything on the records with the exception of drums. I have the sound of the songs in my head so it always made the most sense to just track what I wanted myself. Harper and I can work efficiently that way too. I will track parts and demos at my home studio and take it to Degraw Sound in Brooklyn for more stuff and mixing (where Harper is an engineer). Luckily for me I have friends who are amazing players and can nail it for live shows.
What are current projects you are working on?
At the moment I’m just beginning to start recording new AMFM music this week. I have a couple new songs that will probably just be released as singles.
Is there any significance behind your band name?
Originally, no. I just liked the way it sounded. But as time went on I started to think about it a bit. I grew up in the ‘80s and really lived for FM radio. Didn’t everyone back then? We were so eager to hear the new songs by our favorite bands or pop artists and when they came in in the NYC area you just knew that there were hundreds of thousands of people listening or dancing at the same time. It always felt like a party. Now, that whole thing is long gone and everyone is their own DJ. I came to realize that maybe calling the band AMFM was my homage to that special moment.
What is your favorite memory as a band?
Two really cool things with AMFM. Last year we played a set at Rolling Stone magazine in NYC for the whole company which was fun and surreal…especially after growing up reading Rolling Stone obsessively.
The other thing was this past year called Degraw Fest which was in Gowanus. The studio we record at hosts an all day festival where we all know each other. The music is so good and it feels like a big house party with your friends. They’ve created a cool music scene at Degraw Sound.
What are your goals for the future as a band?
Keep making music! There is nothing that really balances me as much as writing and playing live.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
We are playing at Pianos on November 27, so come on out! That is probably right around the time where we will be releasing some of the stuff that we are just starting to record.
Where can readers find your music?
The band’s website is amfmtheband.com, where you have access to all things AMFM. For listening, all of our music is on Spotify and Apple Music. Give us a spin!