Posts Tagged ‘Rat Scabies’

The Damned are reforming their original, classic line-up of vocalist Dave Vanian, guitarist Brian James, bassist Captain Sensible and drummer Rat Scabies for four UK shows next year.

The legendary British punk quartet, who released their debut single “New Rose” almost exactly 44 years ago on October 22nd, 1976, will play four headline dates in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester in July 2021. The tour will celebrate The Damned’s 45th anniversary, and the setlist will draw upon the quartet’s first two albums, Damned Damned Damned and Music For Pleasure, which was produced by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

Tickets for the tour go on sale on Friday, October 23rd.

The band’s eleventh studio album, the Tony Visconti-produced Evil Spirits, was released in April 2018.

Director Wes Orshoski followed up his great Lemmy documentary with this funny, bittersweet, all-access look at iconic punk group The Damned, from their origins through the current line up of the band featuring Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible. Shot over a three-year period, “Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead” is, like The Damned themselves, supremely entertaining, with mountains of archival footage and new interviews with estranged members Brian James and Rat Scabies, plus Lemmy, Chrissie Hynde, Chris Stein and Clem Burke of Blondie, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd (who produced their second album, Music for Pleasure), Mick Jones of The Clash, Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, DJ/filmmaker/musician Don Letts, Buzzcocks’ Steve Diggle, Dead Kennedys’ founder Jello Biafra, Fred Armisen, Melvins’ Buzz Osborne, Ian MacKaye and many more. The real star of the film is Sensible whose charm and sense of humour hasn’t dulled over the last 40 years.

Official trailer for the film THE DAMNED: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead, the authorized documentary of the punk pioneers. Directed/produced by Wes Orshoski (co-director/producer of “LEMMY”), the film features all four original members of the Damned (Captain Sensible, Dave Vanian, Brian James and Rat Scabies), Shot around the world over the past four years, the film makes its debut at SXSW in March 2015. The third prong in the holy trinity of UK punk, with the Sex Pistols and the Clash, The Damned were the first U.K. punks to release a single (“New Rose”) and album (“Damned Damned Damned”), and the first to tour the U.S. Having logged hits in the punk, new wave and goth eras, they are one of the only surviving bands from punk’s first wave.

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BMG Records proudly present this limited edition set comprising of 5 x 7″ vinyl singles including the famed first ever punk single New Rose and all the other early hits from the impressively chaotic punk quartet. All singles have been recreated with their original artwork, including the ultra-rare, previously fan club only Stretcher Case Baby. These are all packed in a superb box, collaged with original press cuttings from back in the day. Also included is a Damned embroidered patch, exclusive to this boxset.

It was the summer of 1976 when Dave Vanian, Rat Scabies and Captain Sensible recruited guitarist and songwriter Brian James, they played their first gig supporting the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club and quickly signed to Stiff Records and began writing the very first chapter of the punk rock history books. Their debut 7” – New Rose – was written by Brian James and backed by a proto-thrash version of The Beatles’ Help. It was recorded by Stiff’s in-house producer, Nick Lowe and set the punk dream alight at exactly 9.00am when record shops opened for business on 22nd October 1976, stealing a march on the Pistols by becoming what is widely acknowledged as the very first punk record ever released.

The band really came into their own with their second single – Neat Neat Neat – which had two cuts on the B-side, Stab Yor Back and Singalongascabies. Produced, like New Rose, by Nick Lowe, the vinyl had a message from one band member scratched in the run-out groove: “this is your captain speaking…” So what were Captain Sensible’s favourite acts on Stiff, one journalist asked him in 2007? “I wasn’t interested!” he insists. “It was mainly pub rock in the early days, which we despised and sneered at in our young and snotty way…” After a special 7” – Stretcher Case Baby – cut to give away at gigs celebrating the band’s first anniversary, they went back into the studio, this time with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason at the controls. Third single Problem Child was written by Brian James with Rat Scabies and featured new recruit Lu Edmonds on guitar.

An incendiary two minutes of the band in their prime, it failed to crack the UK top 40 but did make number 27 in NME’s alternative singles chart. By the end of 1977, the Damned were ready to part with Stiff, just as Brian James and Lu Edmonds were ready to part with The Damned. Their last single was Don’t Cry Wolf, backed with another Nick Mason-produced track, One Way Love.

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In 1976, Britain was a cultural wasteland for some with prog rock bands like ELP and Genesis and then the dregs of glam rock.  But Mick Jones and Tony James – who’d later play in the Clash and Generation X respectively – were starting a band called the London SS. We were all in a dingy basement auditioning a drummer called Chris Millar, who had scabies at the time, when a rat ran across the floor. So Chris became Rat Scabies.

Mick and Tony liked Rat’s drumming, but said he didn’t look right because he had a shabby overcoat and messy hair. So Rat and I went off to form a band with another guy, Ray Burns, who Rat knew through cleaning toilets at Fairfield Halls in Croydon.

Ray had long hair and was into John McLaughlin, a jazz fusion guitarist, so I played him the Stooges and the Ramones – and he became our infamous madcap guitarist Captain Sensible. Rat suggested a singer called Dave Vanian, who was into vampire stuff. We got our name from two 1960s films: Luchino Visconti’s The Damned, about the Nazis, and the horror movie The Village of the Damned. It was perfect for us.

Captain wore a nurse’s uniform on stage and, at the third gig, poured a pint of beer over his head. After that, it was just chaos every night. Audiences hated us.

I had a bunch of riffs I’d written when I was in a band called Bastard. When I played New Rose to Rat, his drumming set it on fire. We signed to Jake Riveria Stiff Records to do a single, and Nick Lowe produced us in a tiny eight-track studio. We spent more time in the pub round the corner than we spent recording, but Nick captured how wild we sounded.

We thought we were a fast rock’n’roll band, but the journalist Caroline Coon coined the term “punk rock” so suddenly “New Rose” was “the first British punk single”. Everything happened very quickly after that. Contrary to belief, New Rose isn’t a love song. The words were just imagery to go with the riffs: “I got a new rose, I got it good / Guess I knew that I always would / I can’t stop to mess around / I got a brand new rose in town.” . The single’s B-side was a cover of the Beatles’ hit “Help!”, performed about twice as fast as the original. Both songs became staples of the Damned’s live shows,

However, some lines did express my excitement about the early punk scene: “I got a feeling inside of me / It’s kinda strange like a stormy sea.” It was everything I’d ever dreamed of. And there I was in London with everyone going crazy for it.

Dave Vanian, singer recalls The band were auditioning for a singer, and I went early to check out the the guy before me, but he never turned up. Turned out it was Sid Vicious. Could he have become the singer in the Damned, rather than the bass-player in the Sex Pistols? We’ll never know.

Brian shouted the lyrics in my ear while he played guitar, and I did the best I could. He’d seen me in the audience at some shows and told me: “You look like a singer.” Before it became all torn clothes and spiky hair, punk was about individuality. I wore winkle-pickers and was going for that 1920s Rudolph Valentino look. I’d seen a few Hammer horror films, too, and decided I wanted to live in Baron Von Frankenstein’s castle. 

So I left my gravedigger job to join the Damned and everything started moving very fast. We’d rehearse, get in the van, tear up the country doing gigs, then get back in the studio.

“New Rose” was a raw, visceral, classic three-minute pop song. My famous spoken intro – “Is she really going out with him?” – taken is from the Shangri-La’s Leader of the Pack, which I adored. I’d just been clowning around, but everyone liked it so we kept it. We recorded a whole album – Damned Damned Damned – in two days flat. In those days, there was never much food around. We were fuelled by amphetamine sulphate and cider. The Damned were funny and had such a strong image, sometimes that acted against them, and people didn’t recognise and realise how great their records were. As well as being the first, New Rose is definitely one of the very best singles from this era – or any other era to be honest.

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