DBMK produces an authentic oddity in their genre

Updated: Aug 17, 2018

DBMK, an alt-pop band straight out of Tampa, put everything they had and more into their latest record, Headlights for Eyes.

"Headlights for Eyes is being so taken aback by someone-- the people you meet in your life that look into you and look past you with their eyes. It's overwhelming," said Kyle Knudsen while in a car driving to Indianapolis for a show mid-July.

Knudsen founded the band with a friend a while back but in recent years, rebranded DBMK into a four piece with Jacob Trunzo, Colton Ward and Josh Trunzo, giving DBMK an unrivaled flair.

"There's a new sense of maturity or general sonic refinement. The concepts and ideas we've always been pushing for are still very much at play. It comes from that weird hodge-podge we all experimented growing up in the hot, muggy central western Florida."

The concepts and ideas are literal memos and feelings birthed in Knudsen’s mind that somehow managed to form into lyrics with experimental and obscure arrangements you don’t find on the top 40.

As a whole, the record symbolizes that soothing sort of reflection while driving your car at night, according to Knudsen. Using that time of rumination inspired many of the songs on Headlights for Eyes.

“It's absorbing that personal catharsism that can come along with that, kind of taking that emotional inventory at the end of the day that represents the end of a phase in one's life. For me, personally, the act of driving at night was so meditative, and so, I could take that inventory and set up where I was at.”

The band released the record in June and planned a summer tour promoting it alongside vintage rock band Jet Black Alley Cat. DBMK traveled coast to coast playing some songs for the first time ever for fans.

"The response from the kids who come out to these shows has been beyond what we expected,” admitted Knudsen. “Some markets are better than others obviously, but every show there's at least a handful of kids singing every word to every single song. Some shows are huge, some aren't. Regardless, there's always our fans there that are so undeniably thrilled to be there. That's what's been pushing us along."

Not expecting to look out into the crowd and see people knowing the lyrics to the new music has been a pretty humbling experience for the guys. What made this tour so unique for DBMK was the variety of venues and crowds.

"We had a string of some amazing shows with amazing rooms. Some have green rooms with showers and laundry facilities. Then the next night, we're playing in the basement of a pizza shop and have to hangout outside. We've got the whole spectrum on this tour, but there are moments we feel like rockstars, but there's definitely moments where we feel like the other side of that spectrum-- the not so rockstar part of it."

Somewhat long-time experts to the alt-pop scene in Tampa, their history has shaped their career. Knudsen explained the group was one of the first in the area in its genre and as the scene grew, so did they.

"I've played on bills with bands that are hardcore thrash to old school hip pop and everything in between. There's really a little bit of everything in Tampa. There's an interesting pop/synth-pop movement coming out now with the rise of the bedroom producer kind of thing. There's a ton of indie/indie pop bands coming out right now that are really cool. We found our niche somewhere between that idea and the rock idea.”

He also shared the scene is changing a bit and some of those DIY venues that were the stomping grounds of DBMK aren’t around anymore. True to his album, the reveries of the past saddened him for other bands coming out of Tampa.

Asking him what he’d tell a band starting out in the scene, he laughed and said he’s still trying to figure it out. Digging a little deeper, Knudsen shared that there are a lot of sacrifices involved in the music industry and to be prepared for that.

"When we set out to do this record, and I had to figure out what I wanted to sacrifice, if anything to balance the artistic and commercial aspects of what we do. Right out of the gate, no one is willing to sacrifice anything willingly. Take your time and trust the process and become the artist that makes you feel inspired and the kind of artist you look up to-- not because they're cool but the artist that is making the cool stuff and inspiring people like yourself."