[Originally written October 1987]
After driving round in circles for bloody ages we eventually found the Strathclyde Uni place where the gig was being held. We went inside (smashing the doors down as I’d forgotten we were actually driving at the time) and saw the two delinquents who had our tickets. We had to hang about for ages as the band weren’t due to arrive ‘til about 5:30,
sitting in the bar I overheard some excited girl say the Damned had arrived, so
me and Dil-boy casually made our way up to the level where the gig was taking
place. There were a lot of student bouncer pricks wandering about trying to look
as if they were important. As they wouldn’t let us in I got one to take a copy
of S&S4 in to show the band and ask if they would do an interview. Finally
we got into the place and headed straight for the dressing room where the band
the door to be greeted by a new-look Dave Vanian and a same-as-ever Bryn
Merrick. Rat and Roman were out on the stage pissing about.
the massive list of questions and the interview started…
OF ALL, WHY ARE YOU ACTUALLY DOING THIS TOUR?
isn’t really a proper tour; it’s really just for the exercise of actually
doing it… [laughs]… the reason we’re doing it is that we’re working on
an album and we’re doing it for… [to Bryn] YOU tell ‘im!
I’m not fucking telling ‘im, it’s got nothing to do with me… you’ve
been in the band longer than me.
[laughing] If you must know, we need the money!
GOOD ENOUGH REASON!
thought we’d do a few gigs off our own back between doing the album.
IS “IN DULCE DECORUM” COMING OUT?
don’t know the date yet ‘cos everything’s changed this last week. It
shouldn’t be long though. ‘Cos we haven’t had time, there won’t be
anything new tonight unfortunately. You’ll have to wait ‘til next year and
get the whole lot in one lump sum.
ABOUT ANY NEW OLD ONES… LIKE HISTORY OF THE WORLD… YOU SHOULD PLAY THAT
Yeah, I wouldn’t mind doing that; it’s up to you though Shirley isn’t it?
History Of The World…
Don’t know it, who is it?
It’s one of ours isn’t it! Forget it!
YOU ANY PLANS FOR RECORD RELEASES? WHAT ABOUT THIS COMPILATION?
Yeah, there is this compilation album, which was difficult to choose but it’s
kind of like the best of everything. In a way it’s the final compilation album
that’ll ever go out. Instead of these people that put this that and the other
out, we’re actually putting something out that we like. So maybe it’ll stop
that a bit. Otherwise, the most important thing to us at the moment is the new
album we’re working on which is brilliant. We’ve only been in the studio for
a couple of weeks and already it’s gonna be much better than Anything, which
THOUGHT ANYTHING WAS QUITE GOOD
Yeah, but it had a lot of faults too. It’s a long story; there were things
that happened, that did happen, that won’t happen again. Although there’s
good tracks on it, on the whole it could’ve been a lot better. The next one
YOU NOT THINK THAT BRINGING OUT FOUR SINGLES OFF THE ALBUM IS A BIT MUCH?
didn’t like that. Unfortunately we’re on a big record company and we don’t
TAKE IT WAS MCA’S IDEA TO BRING OUT THE FIVE DIFFERENT COLOURED VINYL GIGOLO
Sometime you don’t even know about things like that. You’re away and someone
tells you about them. We always wanted to put out Dulce as the first single. We
never really wanted to put out Alone Again Or as a video, and when we did we
wanted to shoot something special but it never got done. So we did it in the
desert when we were touring Australia.
ABOUT THE GIGOLO VIDEO, WHO’S IDEA WAS THAT?
That was one song we didn’t really want out. It was a political move within
the record company. We went along with it to say you’re gonna make a mistake,
so we had to give them enough rope to hang themselves with. The guy we’ve
worked with on videos a few times, Gerard, is a bit of nutcase, a real eccentric
character. He came up with this idea and we didn’t really have our heart in it
so we just went along with anything. What you don’t see is that when all those
2000 toys come down, they’re all brand new and borrowed, and all these hairs
were falling. The air was so thick with all these hairs, so you’re suffocating
underneath them. They may seem like cuddly safe toys to you but I was buried
GONNA BE ON THIS COMPILATION VIDEO THAT’S COMING OUT?
That’s got some very early stuff… things that we’ve managed to find.
THE NEW ROSE PROMO?
Yeah, but there’s another version that I don’t think was ever shown.
There’s also bits and pieces of film that we’re gonna put in between, of
people that we were involved with at the time.
ABOUT THINGS OFF FOREIGN TV?
Well, we’re still amassing bits and pieces together so I’m not sure. I think
it’ll mainly be straight stuff. There is some footage though, there’s some
American footage that was never shown in England [what about fucking Scotland
eh?!-Ed.] Not the CBS things, this is interviews and live on a New York stage
[not sure if that’s meant to be Live On A New York Stage-Ed]
HEARD THERE’S A VIDEO OF YOU LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO 1979
Yeah? There’s loads of them about. Some of them must be terrible.
OF THE QUALITY OF STUFF IS PRETTY BAD
[laughing] I don’t just mean that, I mean the gigs themselves!
point Roman arrived]
Oh no, he’s not asking questions is he?!
Yeah, we’re doing it now
[reading my list of questions] How long is your penis? That’s not a very nice
fucking question to ask him is it?!
UP A ROPE, FUCK STICK!
YOU ANY IDEA HOW MUCH SOME OF THE RARE DAMNED RECORDS ARE WORTH NOWADAYS?
dunno, sometimes people tell me. There’s a collectors paper thing that I saw
once that did a feature on us and said we’re one of the most collectible bands
in Britain, and people pay things like £70 for things.
KNOW A GUY WHO SOLD A JAPANESE NEAT NEAT NEAT FOR £240
God, the guy who bought it must have more money than sense.
ACETATES THAT ARE GOING AROUND GET ABOUT £100 A TIME
Wait a minute, the acetates, there’s only about three or four, maybe not even
You know what happens there though don’t you. When you go in to cut the
record, there’s the engineer right, and the acetate is the first cutting to
make sure it’s fine, then they cut the actual record. Then you get some
unscrupulous engineer who’s still got the master tape there and he bungs out
about 20 acetates.
That’s what’s happened.
Then they sell them to dealers.
BOUGHT SOME STUFF IN THE PAST THAT’S ACTUALLY FAKE. I PAID £80 FOR TWO METAL
MASTER PLATES OF “BEST OF” AND THEY’VE OBVIOUSLY JUST BEEN MADE UP TO SELL
[now I’m not so sure, Dave 2003]
That’s terrible someone selling them.
Who sold you them? Was it a shop in Notting Hill Gate?
WAS A SHOP CALLED ON THE BEAT IN HANWAY ST
And they sold you them as the authentic article…
DO YOU THINK ABOUT PEOPLE MAKING BOOTLEG ALBUMS AND TAPES OF THE DAMNED?
I’ve got mixed feelings about them. If I bought something that was really
lousy quality I’d be really pissed off. But you can’t really stop
bootlegging as such. What I object to is if you go out to the shops and you buy
something and the quality is so bad, and you’ve paid a lot of money for it and
you can’t even hear it, the sound is terrible, it’s all on one side, people
louder than the music or whatever. If they’re gonna do it they should sell
People buying them should hear them first, and if they still want it then get
it, instead of going “oh yeah, the Damned” and just buying it, and when they
get it home and play it it’s crap.
I’ve bought bootlegs of other bands that have been good quality…
yeah [laughing]…I’ve got a couple of their original master plates, I paid 80
quid for ‘em! The tapes I
bought were good quality and it’s nice to have a live tape of a band
sometimes, ‘cos magical things happen and it’s nice if you were there that
night ‘cos it’s something you remember.
We had an idea to stop some of the bootlegging, we were gonna record the shows
ourselves, make sure it’s really good quality and then advertise in things
like the Flashmag. So say for instance, you came to see us in Glasgow
Barrowlands, right, and you really enjoyed it, then you’d have an opportunity
to buy really high quality tapes, which wouldn’t be over-priced…
You’d actually be buying an official bootleg.
Then you’d always have a tape to remember it by. You’d be able to listen to
it and say “oh yeah, I remember that, I fell over and I puked up during that
song” or whatever.
love it though… sometimes those tapes are great. I’ve got loads of Damned
things like that, and you get ones that are so badly recorded, and what’s
great about them is that they’re in the middle of the audience…
And you hear all the comments…
And when he song stops you hear all these people “look at that ugly
bastard”, “what the fuck’s Vanian up to man”, “that’s not
THE ONES WITH CAPTAIN ARE WORTH GETTING JUST FOR ALL THE CRAP HE COMES OUT
The only thing is, is the tape long enough for all of them?!
GONNA MAKE UP A TAPE OF ALL CAPTAIN’S IN-BETWEEN SONG TALKING
you ever do that and he gets an answer-phone, give me a copy and I’ll send his
own things to him. He hated that you know… there was one thing he hated, the
next day, when we used to tape things we’d play it back to him and he
couldn’t listen. He’d have to get out the van and stuff. He couldn’t stand
hearing what he said.
YOU THINK YOU ARE EVER GONNA CRACK DOWN ON ALL THE BOOTLEGGERS?
think they should crack down on their own stuff first.
What we really object to are the guys that just milk it for all it’s worth
money-wise to them.
MUCH CONTACT DO YOU HAVE WITH THE FAN CLUB, COS IT SEEMS TO ME THERE’S JUST
SOME GUY MAKING IT ALL UP
Dave: From time to time different people get involved with it. I’ve yet to get involved properly as such, but Bryn for instance, the last one he did he wrote two or three pages for it. We know the people that run it, we talk to them, read all the mail and stuff, but this year I think we’re gonna do a lot more personal stuff. The way some of it reads is, we haven’t exactly dictated it, but it’s what we’ve said.
THIS POINT RAT CAME IN THE ROOM]
DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW ANYONE THAT LIKES THE FLASHMAN SOCIETY AT THE MOMENT
How would you like to see it, ‘cos it is something that bothers me.
THINK THE MAGS BACK IN 1981 WERE MUCH BETTER. YOU COULD TELL THEY WERE WRITTEN
BY REAL FANS, AND THERE WAS MORE BAND CONTENT
Dave: I’m trying to get it away from the people who are doing it now, so someone else.
THE LETTERS IN THE MAGS ARE BLOODY TERRIBLE. IT COULD BE THE SAME PERSON JUST
CONTINUALLY WRITING IN ALL THIS CRAP. THE PEN PALS BIT IS THE WORST THOUGH…
ALL THESE PRICKS PRETENDING THEY’RE REALLY INTO GRAVEYARDS ETC
Yeah, I know…
point of interest, the guy who puts the Flashman mag together is selling the
t-shirts on this tour. I don’t think it’s very good either. If you’ve got
ideas on how it should be run, layout or anything, you should put them to him.
It’d be much appreciated.
THE THING IS THOUGH, I SPEND SO MUCH TIME DOING MY OWN ZINE I’VE NOT GOT TIME
TO DO LOTS OF OTHER STUFF
Well maybe we could do a joining up copy sometime. That’d be interesting.
I was saying, I haven’t gotten involved as much as I’d like to. There was a
time when we were first doing things, I used to do all the artwork designs for
the shirt and stuff, and what happened was in the last couple of years we got
stuck out on the road so much and everything else, I didn’t take as much
interest as I should’ve done, and I regret that. At the moment we’ve got a
lot of new ideas for things that I think you’re gonna like, cos it is more
going backwards to go forwards if you know what I mean. I think doing a link-up
would be good. There’s not only your fanzine, but there’s other fanzines…
THE ONE IN AMERICA, LIVELY ARTS…
Exactly what I was gonna say. There used to be another one which was brilliant,
which was called The Beano. It was this guy called Johnny Whiteside who used to
do it and he was brilliant, you know, his writing and everything was really good
and he used to have these interesting features about things like garage bands.
He ran it for about 7 or 8, maybe 9 years and then he got involved in country
music quite heavily, the early hillbilly type groups. Now he’s writing a book
on the Maddocks Brothers so he stopped the fanzine which is a real shame ‘cos
it was brilliant.
WHAT KIND OF THINGS ARE YOU PLANNING FOR THE FAN CLUB THEN? ANY MORE GIGS? COS
THAT’S THE BEST THING THE FLASHMAN SOCIETY HAS DONE…
Well we wanna do some other things, like you’re talking about a flexi-disc, we
wanted to actually record a record off our own backs in a small studio, which
might come out of what we’re recording at the moment ‘cos we’re not in a
big studio. It’s a decent size, but it’s not one of those big giant places.
It’s like someone’s living in it.
BE A GOOD IDEA TO BRING OUT A RECORD, OR EVEN A FLEXI JUST FOR THE FAN CLUB
thought of this ages ago…
WOULD PROBABLY MAKE A LOT OF PEOPLE JOIN. I KNOW A FEW PEOPLE WHO’VE LIKED THE
BAND FOR YEARS AND YEARS BUT JUST WON’T JOIN THE FAN CLUB
you said, it’s gotten to impersonal, I realised this quite a while back.
THE LETTERS PEOPLE SEND EVER GET TO YOU?
Yeah, they do actually, but unfortunately as you said, a lot of them are about
the same thing.
YOU READ THE STRANGLED MAGAZINE ‘COS THAT’S REALLY GOOD. IT’S ACTUALLY
INTERESTING AND HAS ARTICLES ON THINGS THE BAND MEMBERS ARE INTERESTED IN
Well that’s what I always hoped it would be. I actually took it out of the
hands it was in and tried to get it to this other guy, but unfortunately it
didn’t work out. Things will hopefully be different soon, but this last
year’s been a strange time, where everything almost came to a standstill for a
while. But it is all changing now. The Anything tour finished when we went to
Australia, Japan etc and we came back and for the first time in about three
years we said let’s have a couple of weeks not doing anything and then we just
started work straight off for this new album. We spent a couple of weeks in the
studio and then we did this little thing. Then we’re in the studio for as long
as it takes, but really until the end of December. This album is gonna be what we
YOU NOT TOTALLY HAPPY WITH ANYTHING?
Not totally no…
THINK PSYCHOMANIA IS REALLY GOOD, BUT I DON’T LIKE THINGS LIKE THE PORTRAIT SO
MUCH. IT’S THE KIND OF SONG YOU’D EXPECT ON A B-SIDE.
know exactly what you mean. The Portrait is only half the song as well. Half the
song we couldn’t put on for copyright reasons ‘cos it had something from a
movie in it that Roman and I had seen. I wasn’t there when we did that song.
There’s a lot of things wrong with the album though.
THERE ANY SONGS WRITTEN FOR THE ALBUM THAT NEVER APPEARED?
Yeah, there was stuff that was a lot better that was never finished. There’s a
couple of tracks that were really good. Also, as much as Kelly, who we also
worked with on Phantasmagoria, or sort of worked, we seemed to be working
against each other. You know, things we thought were good, he didn’t want and
it was a struggle. And that struggle wears you down.
DID YOU DECIDE TO USE A PRODUCER AGAIN?
Well, we need an objective viewpoint on it as well. They can point out things
that you maybe wouldn’t see otherwise.
POPULAR ARE YOU IN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE BRITAIN NOWADAYS?
Australia’s pretty good, they seem to really like us there. We’ve never
really been there enough to get to know it better. I like the Australian people
‘cos they’re so down to earth.
YOU WATCH NEIGHBOURS?!
Rat’s a big fan of the soaps, I like the theme tune though! [starts singing
said theme tune!]
IT’S TONY HATCH WHO DOES THAT… I’M A BIG FAN OF HIS!!
DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING WORSHIPPED BY LOADS OF 14 YEAR OLD GIRLS WHO CALL
THEMSELVES THINGS LIKE VAMPIRA AND VANYA WHO…
Who put adverts in the Flashmag!! I dunno really, what can you say? I’m here
primarily for the music, not the worship.
REALLY CAN’T STAND ALL THESE NEW FANS WHO ARE JUST SO FAKE
Yeah, you know what happens, you get a single in the charts, and they see your
face on TV and you get into that sorta Wham bit.Then they see your picture in
some magazine and go “waah, Top Of The Pops”, then they all dye their hair,
dress up and say “I like bats and graveyards”. It’s annoying in a way,
‘cos years ago I used to meet people who were really eccentric people and
really were into those kind of things. Whereas years later it became a trend and
a fad. All these people are just playing with it.
YOU STILL HAVE YOUR HEARSE?
Yeah, but it’s in a bit of a sorry state.
HEARD IT GOT SMASHED UP OR SOMETHING?
that was years ago, that story was put in long after it ever happened. It was
Christmas Eve and I’d gone to see my mum. It was parked outside and I heard a
crash. I looked outside and there was a gang of guys kicking the car. They ran
and I got in the car and drove after them and tried to run them down. Then I got
in this huge punch-up and I got my nose broken. The police came and broke it up,
but I couldn’t press charges ‘cos I had a walking stick on me and they said
it was an offensive weapon so I couldn’t get damages paid or anything. I got
free nose-job out of it though!
ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WOULD BE GREAT TO DRIVE A HEARSE AROUND THE TOWN
They’re nice cars to drive, but in town you only get about 18miles to the
gallon, and the tank holds 28 gallons.
YOU LIKE ALL THESE OLD BLACK & WHITE HORROR FILMS THAT ARE GETTING SHOWN ON
like a lot of different horror films…
DO YOU THINK OF ALL THE NEW ONES, LIKE DAY OF THE DEAD AND NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST.?
I’m not a big fan of all the gore and splatter films, like Friday The 13th.
I like a film that’s got something that really frightens you, because
there’s suspense there and you feel for the characters. I think Nightmare On
Elm St was good ‘cos I think everybody’s got a certain fear of being asleep
and not being able to control what you do. That was a good film.
OF THE FEW FILMS THAT HAS ACTUALLY FRIGHTENED ME WAS SALEM’S LOT… THAT WAS
Yeah, it’s great when the little kid, Danny Glick comes up to the window.
REMEMBER FOR ABOUT A YEAR AFTER IT WAS FIRST ON, I’D LIE IN BED AT NIGHT
LOOKING AT THE WINDOW EXPECTING TO SEE ALL THIS FOG APPEAR AND DANNY GLICK COME
It’s a good book that… have you ever read the book?
JUST STARTED IT RECENTLY ACTUALLY…
DID YOU MANAGE TO GET A SONG ON THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD LP?
Well, it’s a funny story, that what happened was the people that made the film
were on a very low budget, and I don’t know the exact political reasons, but
the person who was supposed to be doing all the backing music backed out at the
last minute and they were stuck. They just happened to know Roger Armstrong from
BigBeat/Ace/Chiswick who we used to be with. He knew that I really liked horror
films, and I’d been chatting with him at the time, we’d been doing Naz Nomad
with him, so he said “I’ve got this film, do you want to do it?” So I
jumped at the chance basically. The thing is, we only had a day and a night to
do it in, and luckily we were doing demos for Phantasmagoria, and we had one
song that was just like the Beatles [??? I think that’s what he said – Ed]
so we stuck it together and I managed to write some lyrics for it.
YOU EVER PLANNING TO PLAY DEAD BEAT DANCE LIVE?
have done it actually, a long time ago. I’d like to do it now actually.
BE GOOD IF YOU INCLUDED MORE OBSCURE SONGS LIKE THAT… ONES THAT PEOPLE DON’T
TAPE OF TOP OF THE POPS!
know. I keep trying to convince this lot to do that. I always want to do Beat
Girl as well.
SHOULD DO RABID OVER YOU… I’VE GOT A TAPE OF YOU DOING THAT…
That must’ve been quite a while back…
WAS ONE OF THE XMAS GIGS IN ’85…
yeah, that’s right, we did it specially.
I’VE ALREADY SAID, YOU SHOULD PLAY HISTORY OF THE WORLD… COMING ON WITH THAT
WOULD BE REALLY GOOD.
think probably what we’ll do is for the next tour we’ll have a much
THIS POINT HENRY (TOUR MANAGER) CAME IN AND INFORMED DAVE HIS PRESENCE WAS
REQUIRED UP ON THE STAGE, SO THE ACTUAL INTERVIEW FINISHED. WHAT FOLLOWS IS BITS
OF THE CONVERSATION AFTER THE SOUNDCHECK]
[looking at the original fanclub photo, with Captain dressed up like a Clint
Eastwood western] Now you know where the Mission got their look from!
right bunch of drunken bozos they are…
In Germany they got completely legless… the bass player was a bit like Bryn,
getting carried out.
Y’know, I’ve only ever done it once… at that Siouxsie gig, that’s the
only time I’ve been carried out anything in 11 years. I don’t think that’s
bad actually. No, I tell a lie, twice in 11 years, there was one other time.
First time he’s been wheeled out at an airport
That was the quickest flight I’ve ever had though, it was great!
started handing round some stuff to get signed, including my CD’s]
All of your stuff is out on CD now isn’t it?
I’ve only got Anything, The Black Album and Phantasmagoria.
SHOULD GET THE STRAWBERRIES ONE, THAT’S REALLY GOOD…
Yeah, I know I should… I did make it you know! [laughing]
I WAS MEANING QUALITY WISE!
You know that picture on the back of the Black Album, with the light bulbs, well
Gray kept saying he was getting electrocuted, his eyelids. They were run off a
battery or something. It was these little tiny LED lights, which ran on bare
wires, taped to our heads with a battery hidden behind the back. You can see
that Sensible’s right off his eye and Gray’s even got his eyes closed. He
kept going “oh it’s hurting my eyes, it’s electrocuting me!” A wimp he
was. You know we did that ‘cos of that old film Children Of The Damned
[THERE WAS A LOT MORE, BUT I’M NOT GOING TO PRINT IT… SO THERE!! SO AFTER DAVE BEING EXTREMELY KIND AND GIVING ME A T-SHIRT FOR NOTHING WE DECIDED TO MAKE OUR EXIT SO QUICKLY BUILT A DOOR (HAHAHA). ON THE WAY OUT I CAME ACROSS RAT SO HAD A CHAT WITH HIM, BUT AGAIN I’M NOT GONNA PRINT IT. ANYWAY THANKS A MILLION TO ROMAN, BRYN, RAT….. AND ESPECIALLY TO DAVE. GOD BLESS YA!!!]