That he hails from France is scarcely an excuse! If he wasn’t so wretchedly on-the-click, nor so precise in his execution, nor so incontrovertibly rooted in groove, Damien’s flare for humor would get tedious quickly. He’ll catch a crash cymbal to his right, kill and any possibility of lingering overtones, then look to his far left and target a cymbal—but at the last moment refuse to smack it silly. His devious smile says it all.
You’ve got to have a good sense of humor to capture vibes of influences diverse as Justin Timberlake, Level 42, and Toto! He’s played with Sixun, J-L Ponty, F Gambale, A Caron. He calls his latest album Electro Schmitt. Damien Schmitt’s nervous excitement, which curiously coexists with a relaxed time-feel is all about control. There is no wasted motion, no ungraceful arcs, even when wildly toggling arms between left and right sides of his kit. When he begins complex kick figures, he needs no double-pedal—he’s got other uses for it.
Damien can displace beats and tempos, seemingly slowing down part of his kit while keeping Catholic time elsewhere, then generate such an outrageous flurry of hands and feet you begin to wonder if it’s time you parted ways with the Ted Reed book.