Celebrated as the most entertaining of the original punk mobs, The Damned were the very first British band to release a punk single (their mighty debut “New Rose”, released on 22nd October 1976), the first to release an album (1977’s ‘Damned Damned Damned’) and also the first to tour America.
From the very first moment they started playing live in tiny punk clubs in 1976, The Damned quickly gained a reputation as a band who would always deliver an accomplished live set.
The Damned continue to wave the flag for originality, stick two fingers up to mediocrity and celebrate a DIY punk ethos in the face of plastic entertainment and scripted reality. Original members David Vanian and Captain Sensible never expected to still be doing it 40 years later, but here they are - simply because they are still an incredible live band who sound as fresh and exciting as they did way back in 1976.
Before hitting the road on an extensive UK tour next month, Captain Sensible went On Track with www.totalmk.co.uk
The song that first awakened your musical senses
I nagged my Mum to buy Telstar for me… which she may have regretted as I played it non-stop for weeks. Now that I know about the mad genius of producer Joe Meek I recognise the fact that more than a few music people DO exist on the very edge of sanity.
Physical or digital - how do you take your music nowadays?
Both. Digital for travel… fantastic - but I have recently replaced all my worn vinyl albums with beautiful original pressings thru visits to record shops around the country while out touring. I was thrilled to find the budget Marble Arch ‘Sunny Afternoon’ Kinks album the other day. A good original is quite rare these days.
The first time you thought 'Music - this is the job for me'
I have no other talents… I’m lazy, never could do sums and am totally a night person… simply can’t get up in the morning. So this is the perfect job. It also helps that the beer is free as I’m fairly partial to the odd beverage. So to answer your question - probably the time the promoter plonked a crate of beer in the dressing room and said “tuck in lads”.
Your best on stage memory...
As a self-confessed trainspotter, the Reading Festival appearance springs to mind…. Because I could watch the trains to-ing and fro-ing behind the audience.
And the worst gig you've ever done
Well, in some ways the best AND the worst. Portsmouth when we supported T Rex. Marc invited the Damned on to jam Get It On with him (effing great!) and I managed in my enthusiasm to break 3 guitar strings (not so great)… in 1 song!!!
What made you take up the guitar (after the bass!)
I’d played guitar in Johnny Moped… but Brian needed a bassist. Once I heard New Rose I instantly offered my services. The question should’ve been why did you take up the bass!
Which one song by another artist do you wish you'd have written
You Really Got Me… not just a pop song… maybe the world’s first heavy rock riff too.
And one - by yourself - which holds special significance
Life Goes On… people have told me it’s helped when they were depressed.
If you could step into the shoes of another musician, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
For the control he had over his guitar, Jimi Hendrix… he could pretty much get it to make any sound he wanted. Nobody has ever come close… of course, people can play the same notes but he was the one who invented it all.
And any genre of music that you simply can't stand?
Country. As soon as you’ve heard the 1st couple of bars you know exactly what’s coming. The same old drivel.
How do you think the music industry is doing now, when you compare it with what was happening during those early days of The Damned?
We were SO lucky to have been on the go when a label trusted you in the studio… they allowed you to make whatever record you wanted. I’ve no idea what it’s like now… I can’t imagine Cowell and his ilk are letting artists get away with what we did.
Finally, give the tour a plug...
There’ll be punk, goth and some theatrics. The Damned’s greatest hits… and a few surprises along the way. This line-up has been together the longest of the lot… that they really do the material justice may be the reason. It’s a bloomin’ good band at the minute!
The Damned play a 21-date UK tour this November & December – check www.officialdamned.com for tickets & further info.
BMG Music will release a very special 40th anniversary edition of the band’s classic debut album, ‘Damned Damned Damned’ in February 2017.
The band themselves also have great offers available re their forthcoming studio album right now via http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/the-damned-new-album