It’s been a hell of a ride!
Pioneering punk band the Damned, which will play at Greenpoint’s Warsaw club on May 5, are part of the “Class of ’77,” a group of British punk bands that exploded that year, along with the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Buzzcocks, among others. The movement did not have a name at the time, but the band members knew they were part of something exciting, said the Damned’s vocalist.
“There was a real buzz and excitement in London,” said Dave Vanian. “Things were changing. But no one had claimed a name for it or named it as a musical movement. The press built that all up, as they always do.”
The other members of the “Class” all had their own approaches, he remembers.
“The beauty of it was that all the bands were totally different from each other,” Vanian said. “And it didn’t all look the same.”
The Damned certainly had a distinctive look: Vanian struck a proto-goth pose with his all-black outfits, while bassist Captain Sensible, who eventually moved over to guitar, had a sense of style all his own with his beret and striped shirts.
The band’s first album, 1977’s “Damned Damned Damned” was recently reissued to commemorate its 40th anniversary, and its dozen tracks still feel immediate and exuberant. Part of its enduring quality may come from the group’s largely apolitical music approach, which set the band apart from it punk contemporaries.
The original members, Vanian said “had no political issues whatsoever; the band just wanted to be a band.”
Vanian has fond memories of those raucous nights playing live 40 years ago.
“It felt to me much how it must have felt for the Beatles in the very early days back in Liverpool,” he said. “Or when you had the Doors and bands like that playing three sets a night.”
He and the other current members of the Damned are thrilled to tour again, said Vanian, and the feeling of being on the road is much the same it was 40 years ago.
“The glamour doesn’t get any better; I’ll tell you that,” he said. “Surprisingly, it’s pretty much the same — except I’m a lot older.”
The Damned at Warsaw [261 Driggs Ave. at Eckford Street in Greenpoint, (212) 777–6800, www.warsa
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