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Archive for Thursday, March 5, 1998

AFTER 22 YEARS.

March 5, 1998

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Before the legendary punk-rockers the Sex Pistols toured the United States, fellow English band The Damned released a record and hit our shores. That band gave Americans their first taste of punk rock with the explosive songs ``New Rose'' and ``Neat, Neat, Neat,'' which are regarded today as punk-rock classics.

Twenty-two years and 12 albums later, The Damned are still rocking hard and playing to multi-generational crowds in sold-out venues across the country.

Irreverent guitarist Captain Sensible and vocalist Dave Vanian remain from the original line-up and have recruited bassist Patricia Morrison, a veteran of the Gun Club and Sisters of Mercy, and drummer Gary Dreadful.

Captain Sensible spoke with The Mag recently.

What is the difference between your first tour of the United States and your current one?

Punk was kind of a dirty word in those days. In Britain we used to have people standing outside of the backstage door waiting to beat us up. They used to smash out the windows of our van and slash the tires. They'd be waiting outside with bricks and iron bars to fight us. That was true in Britain, in 1976. Over here people just used to stand there in the audience and stare at the stage with their mouths wide open.

I also remember several gigs where people would just sit there eating pizza. I like it when there's a reaction -- a good one or a bad one. I don't like people to ignore us. We would tip the tables over and stuff like that. I guess we were a bit of a freak show compared to what else was out at the time ... the Osmonds, Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

What about touring now? How is it different?

People seem to like us now, which is kind of nice. It's a pretty grueling tour schedule, but I love traveling. I get itchy feet if I'm at home for too long. I don't get destroyed on drink every night, which I used to do. I actually see something of the towns I play in now.

Have you seen people of different ages in the crowds?

Yes, it's really strange. Thank God people are sort of into what we do. Young people kind of like it. It is kind of rebellious and anti-establishment and that's got to be a good thing really. The kids today are more into The Damned than Phil Collins, let's face it.

Are you planning on recording in the future?

Oh, yeah. That's the main reason for touring, is to get a record label over here. We played Los Angeles last night. It was a really, really good show. There were loads of record label people there. As soon as the tour is over, we're hoping to go into the studio.

When you were younger, did you ever think you would still be playing now?

Absolutely not! When the band first formed I thought, to be quite honest, that it would last only a matter of weeks before the journalists would pull the carpet out from under us and say, `No, let's have Phil Collins, and the Osmonds back again.' It's unbelievable really that we've managed to go for this long.

One thing is, we've learned how to play our instruments in the 20 years since. There is something to this punk thing. It's a glorious noise. There was a trend in the `80s where all the pop stars wore suits, in their videos and onstage and to be quite honest ... what has that got to do with being in a band really?

People should want their pop stars to be slightly dangerous, dirty, sort of drunken yahoos running around the stage without their clothes on, which The Damned managed to do quite well.

Can we expect that at the show here?

Probably, yes.

-- The Mag's phone message number is 832-7146. Send e-mail to biles@ljworld.com.

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