|THE ARCHIVE ORGAN INTERVIEW... THE DAMNED 2002 HOME|
one day, in the middle of summer 2002, when punk rock was 25 years on was
all over the mainstream media and we were drowning in half-arsed nostalgia
and Johnny Rotten bleating on everywhere was driving us maaaaad, that and
the preposterous thought of that dribbling man Ozzy Osbourne playing the
Queen's garden party - a thought just far too ridiculous, I mean, what’s
going on? And The Damned playing a prog rock festival some 25 years from
the original punk rock explosion? Some sensible answers were needed.
So I (Sean O) made an urgent phone call to the good Captain Sensible, read on……..
“Hello, Brighton Sewage works…”
Would that be the Captain of the sewage works?
Indeed it is guv…
What’s going on? Seems like you and The Damned are as busy as ever (well it would have been rude of us not to ask him about his band first)
Yes, amazingly enough people still want us. We’re off on this big Warped tour of America…
You seem to be finding a whole new audience out there, all these new young Green Day fans.
Yeah, all these bands that ripped us off are now being good boys and name dropping us, so we’re doing this big tour and we’re happy to take their money and put it all to good bleedin use. It’s really good, we’re on this bill with about ten bands, people like the Foo Fighters, we all put our names in the hat every morning and pull them out to see who’s on first and who’s headlining
Talking about festivals, I’ve got to ask you about playing the Canterbury Fayre
You know, we’re more excited about that than anything…..
playing a prog rock festival?
Yeah but the Genesis fans hate evil destructive Tory boy Phil just as much as you do, Genesis were a pretty cool band in the earlier days with Peter Gabriel, The Lamb is a classic album…….
Well now I must confess that the first album is a classic.
The very first one where they sound like an English psychedelic Beach Boys?
Yeah, From Genesis To Revelation. In fact, I shouldn’t probably say this, and it will shatter a few illusions, but I’ve been trying to talk the rest of The Damned in to doing a version of Ocean & Motion (starts singing it down the phone). I mean they like the song but they just can’t get over the fact that it’s Genesis song, it’s that word Genesis, it make them ill, turns them green at the thought…. I mean Pink Floyd what a fat bloated offensive dinosaur of a band they became, but the Syd period is absolute genius so you can’t slag off everything and we’re delighted to be able to cause chaos at the Canterbury Fayre… Anyway Arthur Brown is there, what a total utter genius, a one man opera, ah gawd bless ‘im.
So what about all this nostalgia and 25 years on from the first onslaught of punk and the Queen’s Jubilee and Johnny Rotten on your TV again throwing out sound-bites everyday...
Yeah, I’d like to think we were above all that. I mean great single Johnny, God Save The Queen, just what we needed in 1977, but the Pistols were a bit one dimensional and they ain't half milking just one album and just one year of work. I’d like to think we’re a bit more than that. We’ve always been there making records, re-inventing ourselves, challenging ourselves. I’d like to think we’re relevant now rather than acting out some tired old nostalgia thing…. I mean what did the Pistols actually do? Swore on TV once and released a decent single and then kept repeating the same bleedin’ single with a different name. I mean swearing on TV, how radical, I watched Graham Norton last night, there’s about 50 f’s in the first ten minutes……
But you were being interviewed on the BBC last night while Graham Norton was on Channel 4…
Yeap, Guv, that’s a fair cop, I can’t stand watching any of this crap on TV about punk, and I hate watching myself and I have seen films of us performing, so yeah, you’ve got me there, I was watching the other side.
So you’re not tempted down to the National Film Theatre for this festival of punk rock films and documentaries?
Gawd no, f’ing hell! That little shit Jon Savage, he knows f-all about it and makes out like he knows the lot, what a tosser – that’s all I need, him bleating on about stuff he doesn’t know fuck all about but pretends he does and then having to watch myself on film?! No thank you, I’d rather be home watching Bewitched or something – and I don’t mean the bleedin’ band either.
The Damned haven’t really been about nostalgia, though, you’ve always been moving on, do you get bored with having to play all those old classics?
No…(Long pause) no, I think people deserve to hear them…. We like playing them, it’s part of it… but we don’t do it in an obvious way, we’ve tweaked things, updated, played around…. I mean we’ve always tried to move on, I always thought that punk was about challenging yourself as much as everyone else. It lost that when the third wave of punks came through and it became something that was just about a uniform. I’d like to think we rose above that and moved on, I mean if we hadn’t I don’t think we’d have stuck around and carried on releasing albums, I’d be a toilet cleaner again. I was once, and a bloody good one to I’ll have you know.
So this isn’t really the Brighton Sewage works I’m talking to?
No, you got me there, I was a toilet cleaner back in Croydon though - I’m not now…
We’ll I hope you were cleaning toilets before the Damned kicked off and not in some strapped for cash state in the mid 80’s?
No, no, came close. They said I was the best and they’d keep the job open. I nearly did have to re-apply … we’ve come close to financial disaster. You see, I though punk was about doing it yourself and taking control. So unlike The Pistols, The Clash and Siouxsie who all got straight in to bed with the cocaine-snorting major labels and put their hands out for as much cash as they could get, we did it the way I though it was suppose to be done. I mean we were always coming for a left wing political viewpoint.
So it wasn’t about some Warholian 15 minutes of chaotic fame?
No, it was about kicking Britain up her arse and taking control. Britain was a horrible grey racist little shit of a country at the time (1976) and the right wing was really pushing in, so the most important thing with punk was the anti-nazi stuff and the united front to fight the racists. For me, it was as much about the reggae bands and Bob Marley and really making a difference and making people think about what the politicians were doing and what bloated old bands with their racist sexist outlook were saying. I mean, all the bleedin’ Pistols were about was swearing on TV, they were the establishment with their big label and stuff, we would never have been allowed anywhere near a TV station for gawd sake – we were real, doing it ourselves, independent releases, I’m proud to say we were on Stiff records while they were on EMI. I mean the one time I did get on national TV I had a go at the bleedin’ Duke Of Edinburgh and the hypocrisy of him being the president of the World Wild Life Federation while he was out shooting every animal he could get in range of his gun. I mean would you want to be a lion with that bleeder around… so I had a go and strangely enough I wasn’t allowed anyway near a TV station for an age after that. The Pistols were part of the establishment: They were allowed on TV, we were banned. Punk rock was a force for change and, my god, look at the legacy, it’s everywhere – in art, TV, music, and it really did change lives. I also thank Christ that we chose not to just grab the cash and sign with a major label back in ‘77. Not doing that kept us ahead. We’d have probably burnt out with the rest of them ages ago if we had shown the lack of belief and the sheer greed they did. Our situation has always kept us on our toes, sure we’ve made bits of money here and there, always happy to, gawd bless yer, thanks for that, we’ll spend it wisely. We’ve had our share of bailiffs knocking on the door though, and it’s kept us fresh and kept us in touch… Yeap, we’re still relevant thank you very much and there’s still a lot of work to be done – I mean I saw that shithead Gary Lineker on TV and he was saying his favourite band was Simply Red!
Stuart Peace needs to have a word with him!
Yeah, that’s what’s needed…. There’s still bulshit to fight against, there’s good music out there though. It's like that Frank Zappa quote – 95% of music is crap and your job is to search out that 5%…. We’re here to help, it’s our job too and there’s work still to be done.
And with that the
Captain of the Brighton Sewage works was off to unblock more of the shit
that was building up…. The Damned can be found lurking at there web site,
the Captain says he’s happy to answer any questions. www.officialdamned.com