As anyone who has been to one of the Prospector’s album tribute shows can attribute, seeing a band cover an iconic album is worth the price of admission. For the Mink Daggers, performing the Damned’s Damned Damned Damned proved to be a night that changed the lives of each respective musician.
Patrick Dean McQueen and Ho13 had been in bands before, and shared a mutual admiration for the iconic London punks. No group had tackled the Damned before, so Ho asked McQueen if he’d be down to take on the band’s seminal album. Upon agreeing, they brought in Mitchell Cartwright and Jorge E. Disguster from the Hitchhikers and Mr. Mirainga for the show. What happened on-stage that night 18 months ago change the trajectory of their respective careers.
“One of the first conversations Patrick and I ever had was about that Damned Damned Damned record,” Ho says. “We were familiar with it and it’s the kind of record that a lot of people like, but can’t really play it. It’s what we call an athletic record.”
“We weren’t going to do it unless we thought we could do it justice,” McQueen says.
Upon firing the first salvo at that gig, the band’s explosive energy and instant chemistry was obvious from the start. Having learned the record quickly, each member quietly knew that night as they blasted through the album that this was going to more than just a one-off performance.
After their first rehearsal, however, the musicians knew bigger things were in-store for what was slated to be a one-time only affair.
“The other dudes had and I hardly knew Jorge at all,” Ho says. “And as we were walking towards our cars, he asked me what I thought, and I looked around to see if anyone else was there and said, ‘I think it’s a band.’ And he said, ‘I know.’”
If there was to be a punk supergroup to emerge from Long Beach, McQueen, Ho, Cartwright and Disguster would have made sense to be a part of it. Each musician has a sterling reputation — Throw Rag, The Humpers, Disguster, and Doom Kounty Electric Chair —which includes stints in local outfits in the territorial local punk scene. Each member of the band would easily fit in to one other’s previous outfits. However, as this no-pressure project has percolated, the quartet has seen a flurry of activity. Songs have come quickly and nearly seamlessly, with nary an argument or disagreement over the direction of the band.
“We all became friends because we knew each other from our other bands,” McQueen explains. “It was such a good experience. There were no egos, no band politics. We’re just friends and were like ‘Hey man, this sounds great, why don’t we write a few songs?’”
The unexpected union of the Mink Daggers following that gig 18 months ago has been parlayed into spots opening for the Supersuckers and Cornfed Project playing original material. Later in 2015, the band headed into Pot O Gold studios in Orange with engineer David Irish and banged out the song of what became their first EP.
The instant connection brought out the best in each band member and has translated into their live show as well. Calling themselves a “show band,” the band’s theatrics have provided the appropriate visual to counteract the band’s ferocious straight-forward sound that recalls many of the classic, distinguishable elements of Southern California punk. They aren’t satisfied with a single EP. The Mink Daggers are slated to go back into the studio next month to hammer out another EP and to take advantage of this fruitful songwriting period.
“This was a great opportunity to have some fun,” McQueen says. “That’s what carried through to the band and everyone contributes, and that’s why I think it’s working so well.”
The Mink Daggers perform with the Cornfed Project at Old Town Vinyl, 447 N. Tustin St., Orange. (714) 602-8989 March 26, 6 p.m. Free. All ages.