by Johnny Papan
VANCOUVER – “It’s impossible to exist today without being impacted by modern media programming. We felt we had to capture the overall feeling of the times without dating the record. Evil Spirits fits perfectly: the currently overwhelming cocoon of impending doom is force-fed to us on a daily basis if you choose to absorb it.”
The Damned can be considered one of the most important figures in punk rock history. Formed in London, England during the mid 1970s, they are the first punk group from the United Kingdom to drop a single, release an album, and tour the United States, introducing North America to the garagey, thrashy, mutilated aggression from beyond the pond.
A respected name in counterculture, The Damned have steadily been voicing their message for over four decades. Their newest record, Evil Spirits, proves to be no different, as this album sees the band comment on modern media’s societal manipulation.
“Lyrically, themes such as media distraction and manipulation, nefarious political campaigning, and world governmental posturing are too important not to address,” explains Pinch, born Andrew Pinching, the drummer of The Damned. “Unfortunately, it seems that media censorship and ignorance will be the forces that manipulate opinion into a darkness that we hoped we had escaped from. Hard times require hard responses, but when million-person marches go unreported in the mainstream, I guess it’s hard not to just shrug your shoulders and go back to those cat videos.”
So far, The Damned have released two music videos from the album, both with social and futuristic themes. The recent video for “Look Left,” written by Pinch, tells the tale of a man and woman who live in a world that blends classic 1950s stylings and decor with futuristic technology. The tiny square box that we know as an early version of the television flips channels with programs and advertisements talking about the customer’s dollar, factory reproduction, the workforce, competitive business, and war, all of which remain key factors in today’s society. In different rooms, a man and woman stare at superficial holograms that dictate their full attention. However, once these two people realize that they cannot truly connect with what they’re seeing, they ultimately find unity through a real, shared experience.
“When I wrote ‘Look Left,’ I wanted the melody and style of the song to be easy enough for even the most jaded listener to be able to absorb musically and lyrically,” Pinch admits. “So they would stop long enough and perhaps look up from their handheld devices for a minute to really hear what the song is speaking about. Until we open our eyes and our minds to realize where we are being pushed, then maybe we deserve to fall off that cliff.”
The album’s first single, “Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow,” is a moody, atmospheric tune that seemingly speaks about our home planet running itself into a dystopia, giving us one final chance to change things before we’re forced to leave Earth altogether to save mankind. The song’s video is a pseudo-psychedelic exploration through space.
“Until humanity has an awakening, they will ultimately sleepwalk into a scenario that nobody dared imagine could happen,” concludes Pinch. “There will always be an underground, be it politically or artistically inspired. All people can do is stay positive and try and work towards a future they have a hand in changing.”
The Damned play the Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver) on July 5.Commodore Ballroom, The Damned