"I’m a mix of Switchfoot and Taylor Swift,” says singer/songwriter Josh Damigo. “My music is pop, with a slight twang. I usually play acoustic, but I also have a technically talented group of guys that plays with me on bigger shows.”
Damigo won Best Local Recording for his full-length Raw at the 2009 San Diego Music Awards and Best Acoustic at the 2010 edition. He’s also received several San Diego H.A.T. (Honoring Acoustic Talent) awards, including Best Male Performer, Best New Artist, Best Male Singer-Songwriter, and Best Male Vocalist. Despite all the local acclaim, last year he defected to L.A., where his experiences helped inspire his next full-length, Hope.
“The same girl that most of this album was written about...she broke up with me the day I got to L.A., and I pretty much stood around hoping she would come back. We went to coffee one night in L.A., but, other than that, I lived there for nine months hoping she’d come back to me...that place is stupid. I’m happy to be back in San Diego.”
After returning to town in September 2011, he was soon racking up more local-centric accolades, including a first-place trophy in the Singer-Songwriter Contest at this year’s San Diego County Fair. Hope was released last month. “Fans love it. Everyone else seems to have a jab or two about it being ‘too long,’ or ‘all love songs,’ or whatever. That’s fine. Music is good if it makes people argue over it...the truth is that you’ll never be able to make everyone happy, and I’d rather have people debate and discuss than like and dismiss.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
- Berkley Hart, Crow. “My favorite of all of their albums. There’s something special about every song.”
- John Mayer, Born and Raised. “When Hall & Oates are your backup singers, you can’t go wrong.”
- Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne. “The hooks, the lines, the swag. This album has it all.”
- Ryan Adams, Ashes & Fire. “He’s influenced me so much that, half the time I play, I’m resisting the urge to rip the cables out and just play acoustic.”
- Jim Croce, I Got a Name. “The stories he could tell with his songs are probably my biggest influence to this day.”
ANYTHING YOU WERE EMBARRASSED TO MENTION?
“I’m not embarrassed to have the Jonas Brothers, Katy Perry, and Jordin Sparks on my iTunes. A good song is a good song. I think people get hung up on image too much.”
YOUR LUCKY BREAK?
“During a basketball game in college, I tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus, and bruised every bone in my leg from my ankle to my thigh. Because of that injury, I lost my soccer scholarship at San Diego Christian College and started playing guitar and writing songs. So I guess it worked out.”
FAVORITE LOCAL COMPETITOR?
“Steve Poltz can take a room of 600 people and make every person feel like they’re the only one there.”
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THE YOUNGER YOU?
“Make friends instead of working so hard, and don’t chase after young blondes.”
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER GOT?
“My grandpa said, ‘Getting old is mandatory, growing up is optional.’”
IN WHAT FICTIONAL UNIVERSE WOULD YOU WANT TO LIVE?
“A land where I’m the only man and must repopulate the world.”
STUFF YOU NEVER RUN OUT OF?
“Coffee, toilet paper, Q-tips, and Pepcid AC.”
“I used to get Orlando Bloom and Chris Carrabba. Now I get told I look like random people on the subway.”
BRUSH WITH FAME?
“When I opened for the Zac Brown Band at Brick by Brick, Kid Rock told me, ‘Hey, kid, good shit,’ as he went to the bathroom with three girls under his arms. That was pretty badass.”
SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?
“At Balboa Park, the Larpers — live-action role-players — regularly make it hard to drink any beverage and not have it go through my nose from laughing.”
BEST FREE FUN IN SAN DIEGO?
“I’m Johnny Frugal, so I’m always looking for cheap spots. Standing outside of Lestat’s is probably the best-sounding place in town.”
WHERE DO YOU TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS?
“I make them get a California burrito at El Zarape in University Heights.”
ANY FEARS OR PHOBIAS?
“Spiders, mushrooms, and snow, in that order.”
EVER BEEN A CRIME VICTIM?
“I had four break-ins in 2010. Luckily, I had insurance and got all new gear. Someone must not like me very much.”
FAVORITE MOVIE BASED ON A BOOK?
“Moneyball. I’m a sucker for a good baseball movie, and Brad Pitt plays a great arrogant asshole.”
TELL US SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW.
“Men are hit more by lightning than women — 80 percent of all lightning strikes are men. I don’t know how I know this, but I do.” ■