40th anniversary brings The Damned to Brighton and Portsmouth
Punk legends The Damned are marking their 40th anniversary with a tour which takes in Brighton Dome on November 24 and Portsmouth Pyramids Centre on December 1.
Monty Oxymoron has been with them precisely half that time.
He recalls it was relatively straightforward to step into a band preceded by so huge a reputation.
“In a sense, I had no difficulty because I was already a fan of the band and knew all the numbers just from listening to them. But actually, the numbers were quite difficult, some of them. People don’t realise what a sophisticated band they actually are.
“But for me, it all started with me meeting Captain (Sensible, of the band) when he moved to Brighton in 85 or 86. I met him at the Zap Club, and we just got talking. I got to know him over a few years.
“He came to see some of my stuff that I was doing at the Zap Club. It was a very special place. Sadly it disappeared a long time ago now, but it was a great venue.
“What happened was that it took a few years before I actually played with him.”
But one thing led to another… and then another when The Damned got back together again.
Monty and Captain were touring when they met David Vanian, a key figure with The Damned.
“They got talking and suddenly there were rumours that David was reforming with Captain. The next thing I knew I was invited to come along. Captain had not been with The Damned since 1982 apart from, I think, one brief tour.
“He had been out of it for a long time.
“But the years since then have been really good. There have been ups and downs, times when you have wondered how long it was going to continue, but that was the case very early with the band, wondering how long they could go on for. There have been periods when it has gone a bit quiet, but then it has all started up again.”
For Monty, their place in musical history is as the great mavericks of music: “You can’t fix them in any one category. When punk started, the idea was to do whatever you wanted to do, and they just carried on from that. Things changed. I think you can say the way they looked was a big part of the goth movement starting, the way David dressed and that vibe from the old horror movies. But The Damned weren’t ever only one category.
“As I said, The Damned always did what The Damned wanted to do, some people have picked up on that. They are always being a bit different, never becoming uniform.”
Celebrated as the most entertaining of the original punk bands, The Damned were the very first British band to release a punk single (their debut New Rose, released on October 22 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.
Plenty of people will claim that punk was simply about shouting louder than the noise you were making with your instruments, but in reality, that’s where The Damned’s sophistication comes in, Monty says.
“You listen to some of the songs and they are quite strange tracks, some really interesting things going on with the chords.”
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