Forty Years Later, Punk Legends The Damned Still Have a Story to Tell
In an age of social media, pop culture, ordinary internet stars who have next to no talent, and fake news… there is nothing fake or ordinary about the Damned. Formed in 1976, these punk pioneers have the distinction of being one of the quintessential bands to come out of the era. They set the world on fire when they were the first British punk band to release a single, “New Rose,” which quickly became a fan favorite . It was followed by the release of their now classic debut album entitled Damned Damned Damned.
When you think punk, you think of UK groups like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Buzzcocks and the Jam. The Damned has the dubious distinction of being in that pantheon of great punk bands that influenced countless others that would follow in their footsteps. At the top of that list of bands they influenced, there’s Black Flag, Bad Brains, Green Day, Offspring and Guns n’ Roses just to name a few.
Deservedly, the Damned have earned all the accolades they get. Albeit, as punk pioneers, they veered to a more gothic rock sound in the 80’s. Other Goth-rock bands of the time include Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxsie & the Banshees and the Cure. In the early years, they had some lineup changes, but for the most part, they’ve had a constant set of bandmates for well over a decade. Today, the band consists of Co-founders David Vanian (lead singer), and Captain Sensible (guitarist extraordinaire). Today’s lineup also features Monty Oxymoron on keys, a dynamic drummer named Pinch; and another great artist Stu West on bass. Collectively, they are simply electric, and they have developed to be great showmen with a show that’s simply a breathtaking event to attend.
What’s also interesting about the band is their history and what’s become of a couple of their original band mates. Vanian and Captain were originally part of a band called Masters of Backside. That band never released a recording, or performed beyond practice sessions, but they are known notoriously for their chops. Masters of Backside included former Damned drummer, Rat Scabies, and guitarist Chrissie Hynde. It’s true, Scabies and Hynde are doing very well. These days, Scabies is a family man and still searching for the Holy Grail, while Hynde remains in that project she started so many years ago called the Pretenders. That project seems to have worked out OK for her.
Almost four decades after their freshman debut album, the Damned is still selling out venues from coast-to-coast and around the world. True, they still play a part in the Goth subculture, but their music transcends genres. The band just plays good solid music, with no reliance on today’s electronic music tools that far too many other bands use these days. The truth is, when you see the Damned, you won’t be disappointed in Vanian’s attire and showmanship, while Captain is as nuts as ever on stage. The band is tight, and the music sounds as fresh today as it was in 1976.
Bassist Stu West and Monty Oxymoron on keys
Given this band is 40 years in the making, here are a few notable things you should know about the Damned. They have put out 10 studio albums; the last was one was in 2008, it was entitled So, Who’s Paranoid. They also have 15 live albums, 31 compilations, 2 extended plays and 31 singles. Captain had success on his own as well with hits like “WOT” and Jet Boy, Jet Girl, a song first made popular by MTV by way of Elton Motello and Plastic Bertrand. The 80’s was very good to the band. With MTV, VH-1 and support from local New Wave pioneers, KROQ FM in Los Angeles, the Damned had success with songs like "Smash It Up," and their homage to ‘70s rock band called Love with their cover of "Alone Again, Or!"
David Vanian of the Damned
They guys are also working on new music. The forthcoming album was announced via the band's PledgeMusic page. Call it a sign of the times, or a new trend, but the album is being financed by their fans through a pledge site in the UK, which allows people to buy the album and coloured LP alongside some very exclusive merch in advance. As for the new tunes, it’s only tentative, but the guys are targeting a September release. At minimum, they’re trying to get the new album out by their UK Tour sometime in October or November 2017.
Luckily for all of us, the Damned is celebrating the 40th anniversary of their notable genre breakthrough that put punk on the map! The Damned is on the road again! You can catch them on their 2017 North American Tour, which hits the House of Blues, Anaheim on April 8th. If you want to see and hear true rock royalty as well as the roots of alternative music, check out the Damned!
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