The LeMaster Plan Displays Versatility
Last updated 12/17/2012 at 9:30am
Damian LeMaster is a man of many instruments and nearly as many ensembles. Adept at performing solo in intimate settings or on a crowded stage before a raucous Orange Peel audience, his soulful voice and catchy, laid back grooves make for a fine listening experience. He, his wife Carson and Brevard native son Isaac Wells under the witty moniker LeMaster Plan play about once a month in Brevard. The frontman sat down with Backstage Pass to talk about songwriting, the pursuit of happiness, and taking the stage with one’s spouse.
Question: At what point did you know you wanted to play music for a living?
Answer: I’ve loved music since the first time I played my mom’s old keyboard as a kid. My first couple of years in college, I studied piano performance, though I later decided on what I considered a more practical degree — ecology. I never stopped playing, however, and eventually began writing as well. I had recently graduated and moved up to Montana to work towards a career in forestry when, in 2007, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My whole perspective changed. I realized I should be doing what has always come most naturally, what makes me truly happy. I immediately started playing keys and singing in a couple bands and gigging in and around Hendersonville, where I had come to be close to my parents during treatment. Music is what got me through chemo. I met my wife a few days after I was declared in remission, and we’ve been singing together ever since.
Q: What does your creative process look like?
A: Most of my songs come from simply sitting down with my guitar or at the piano and playing around until I hit on an idea I like, at which point I’ll record it on my phone or computer and move on. At some point, I’ll listen to and develop the catchy ideas, with lyrics usually coming last. Strangely, it seems like the best ideas just fall into my head, almost fully formed, words and all.
Q: What are some of the advantages and challenges of working and performing with your wife?
A: She keeps me motivated to work hard and book gigs. She is as much a planner as I am creative. We do work well together, but working with your wife automatically makes things personal. If feelings ever get hurt, there is nowhere to run; we just have to work it out.
Q: You are proficient on over a dozen instruments. Do you have your eye on adding more to your repertoire?
A: I consider piano my main instrument, though I also play a lot of guitar. I love playing drums and am always working to improve my ukulele, banjo, and mandolin skills. Lately, I’ve been playing around with a friend’s cello, which has always been one of my favorite instruments, and I’ve always wanted to play a horn, maybe trombone. My wife just purchased an Autoharp, and that’s pretty fun. We’ve also been talking about taking a go at the saw. It has such a unique and haunting sound.
Q: If you had time to perform just one of your songs, which one would it be and why?
A: That’s a tough one, as I have a wide variety of songs, but I’d probably have to play one of my older songs, “Cellar Door.” It’s one of the very first songs I ever wrote, and it’s one of those that just seemed to come to me already finished. It’s a ballad about the beauty to be found in life’s uncertainty, and how, “The only way to love is to fall.” Though not one of my more upbeat tunes, I feel it’s one of the most powerful songs I’ve written.