THE DAMNED’S EVIL SPIRITS – TRACK BY TRACK!
Following a hugely successful UK tour, THE DAMNED returned last month with a double A-side single culled from their forthcoming Evil Spirits album – their first new album in 10 years – which is released on 13 April via Search And Destroy/Spinefarm Records. The single featured the tracks ‘Look Left’ and ‘Devil In Disguise’, two songs that perfectly represent the album’s many shifting moods and styles.
Last week the band put a cap on the first quarter of the year when they headlined the inaugural Vive Le Rock Awards, tearing to the roof of the O2 Academy, Islington and picking up the award for Band Of The Year into the bargain.
They now take a bit of a breather before heading off round Europe in May, returning in June to play a series of UK arena shows as special guests to Alice Cooper’s HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES.
In the meantime, read on for a track-by-track run-down of Evil Spirits….
‘Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow’ (watch video)
Up-to-the-minute garage psychedelia that gallops like Scott Walker’s ‘The Seventh Seal’, amid ominous ‘dies irae’ chorale and mucho post-millennial frustration. Vanian: “An optimistic song even though it is about a dark subject. In a world obsessed by ‘self’, this is a cry for humanity to recognize its humanity, before it’s too late. There is a strong influence of Joe Meek here: ‘Telstar’ was a glorious song about the opportunities of the future. I’d like to think that ‘SOTEOT’ reflects a similar sentiment.”
‘The Devil In Disguise’ (listen)
Another energetic garage-punk monster, replete with Monty Oxy Moron’s era-specific Farfisa organ. Pinch: “People gravitate towards blaming individuals rather than the systems they are part of. Figureheads are only puppets. It’s the puppet masters we should be concerned about. The enemy of our enemy is our friend, apparently.”
‘We’re So Nice’
“Where there’s dispute you’ll find us there…” Sensible’s broadside against Anglo-American imperialist meddling around the world bops along gleefully on a Motown beat amid a deluge of melodic excellence. Sensible: “With all that we know about the Iraq war, and its consequences, does anyone still think we were the ‘heroes’?”
‘Look Left’ (listen)
Sugar coated mind grenade, addressing post-millennial society’s “media-induced coma” Vanian: “The weird thing about Pinch is, he listens to the most obnoxious music a lot of the time – all the real hardcore punk stuff – and he a very loud drummer, too, but then he goes and writes this great big show tune – like a massive ensemble cast coming on to sing at the end of the play!” Pinch: “While everybody’s looking left, what the hell is happening right? Tough subject matter is easier to digest when coated in honey rather than vinegar and the message in this song is so important, I couldn’t risk it being a throw away aggro punk tune that was immediately overlooked. I see it more as a love song to the human race. The future is here, and until you awaken your mind, I’ll wait for you.”
Fantastically searching, in the best sense ‘progressive’, rocker, with vague echoes of The Who’s ‘Magic Bus’ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’, and some commensurately exploratory soloing from Sensible. An urgently free-spirited riposte to today’s political stasis. Sensible: “Whoever you vote for, nothing changes. Labour or Tory, two cheeks of same bum.” Vanian: “The Who are never far away from The Damned’s sound. We’ve had some big noses in this band, too. I suppose there are some parallels between us, because they were a high-energy band, too, but then Pete started writing his rock-opera stuff, stretching out, looking for different ways of writing. Queen did the same sort of thing as well – we’re one of those bands whose music can cover different genres of music, within one song.”
Quintessential Vanianism, about espousing the night and finding a better way forward than “chasing ghosts of the past”. Features acrobatic backing vocals from American singer-songwriter Kristeen Young. Vanian: ”Kristeen has a remarkable vocal range reminiscent of Yma Sumac [1950’s Peruvian-American soprano]. Her singing at the end of the song was originally played on a Theramin but once Kristeen sang the part, there was no need for the instrument anymore.”
Another garage-psych belter, propelled by a jaunty His Latest Flame-style bassline. “What makes a fish desert the sea?” ponders the Captain in this hard-hitting critique of whales and dolphins being driven insane by bombardment by deafening sonar.
Sensible: “What could it possibly be that drives whales and dolphins to prostrate themselves on beaches around the world?”
Noel Coward-esque study of creative deferral, with more mid-’60s Farfisa from Mr Oxy Moron. Sensible: “One of Monty’s, this one. A bit of self-analysis here: what could be the reason that this band’s last album was recorded back in 2008? It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself – well, at least I think he’s talking about himself there… Isn’t he? Or is it me? Blimey!”
Co-written by Sensible (tune) and Vanian (lyric), another anger-fuelled barnstormer, with a Kinksian introductory fanfare, a driving beat, and a stirring melodic ascent. All together now: say “no, no, no…no-no” to media misinformation! Sensible: “For his own selfish reasons, Trump started a discussion about ‘fake news’, but it’s one that some might say has been long overdue. Not a pinch of salt required – you need a whole cellar of the stuff these days.”
‘I Don’t Care’
Punk heedlessness rebooted as a triptych of political disaffection, spanning moody piano balladry, Who-y explosiveness, and nocturnal jazz
Vanian: “This should have been a short song, perhaps only a minute long, written on a rainy afternoon in my study. Demoing the song, I almost forgot that there were two more sections, turning it into a three-part epic in about the same amount of minutes, which seems longer because of the differing moods.”
Evil Spirits is available on digital download via Spotify and i-Tunes, on CD and 180g vinyl available to pre-order HERE
Catch The Damned live at….
May 17 – Frankfurt – Batschkapp
May 19 – Lausanne – Les Docks
May 20 – Milan – Magnolia
May 22 – Munich – Strom
May 23 – Berlin – SO36
May 25 – Hamburg – Fabrik
May 26 – Oberhausen – Turbinenhalle
May 27 – Amsterdam – Melkweg Oude Zaal
May 29 – Paris – Petit Bain
June 16 – Birmingham – Genting Arena *
June 17 – Manchester – Arena *
June 19 – Glasgow – The SSE Hydro *
June 20 – London – The SSE Arena, Wembley *
July 1 – Oakland – Burger Boogaloo Festival
July 5 – Vancouver – Commodore Ballroom (on sale 4/6 10am PST)
July 6 – Portland – Crystal Ballroom (on sale 4/6 10am PST)
July 7 – Seattle – Showbox at the Market (on sale 4/6 10am PST)
August 22 – Southampton – 02 Guildhall
August 23 – Holmfirth – Holmfirth Picture House
August 24 – Warrington – Warrington Parr Hall
August 25 – Belfast – Belsonic Festival (main support to Stiff Little Fingers)
* supporting the Hollywood Vampires