In a rare display of confidence, Epic
released Bastards of the Beat in 2003 without any major revisions, allowing both the band's artwork and track list to remain intact. When the Damnwells returned to the studio two years later, however, they found themselves dropped from Epic
's roster, an incident that was captured on the documentary film Golden Days. After months of uncertainty, the band found a new home at Zoë
and issued Air Stereo in late 2006. The record widened the Damnwells' sound with lap steel, piano, and sublime harmonies, and a tour alongside the Fray
furnished the band with a larger audience. Sales for Air Stereo were slow, though, leading several members to leave the band's lineup.
In 2008, Alex Dezen
announced that the Damnwells' original roster had disbanded for good. He subsequently enrolled as an M.F.A. candidate at the University of Iowa, where he participated in the acclaimed Iowa Writers' Workshop. Meanwhile, he continued recording music with a revised version of the Damnwells, who now included drummer Andrew Ratcliffe, bassist Adrian Dickey, and producer/guitarist Freddy Wall. When it came time to release One Last Century, the band's third album, Dezen
chose to bypass record labels altogether by partnering with Paste
magazine, which offered the album as a free digital download.
wrapped up his studies at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2010. That same year, the Damnwells -- now featuring Dezen
, original bassist Ted Hudson, and a rotating cast of musicians -- announced a pledge drive to cover the recording costs of their new album. Using Pledgemusic.com, the group raised nearly $35,000, most of which was funneled into the band's fourth studio record, featuring some of Dezen
's strongest songwriting to date. No One Listens to the Band Anymore was released in March 2011. In late 2013, the Damnwells returned to Pledgemusic.com to fund their fifth album, this time with the announcement that the original lineup of Alex Dezen
, David Chernis, Ted Hudson, and Steven Terry would reunite for the sessions. The album, simply titled The Damnwells, was released in 2015. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi