It was 31 years ago today that The Damned released ‘New Rose’
Written by Brian James, a first class chap who was good enough to give up some of his Sunday to speak to me about the history of ‘New Rose’.
“I’d had part of the song for a while, and even been jamming it with my earlier band Bastard, who were into The MC5, The Stooges and The Pretty Things, but it was when I played the riff with Rat(Scabies) – who drummed like no one else I’d ever played with, that the energy of Rat’s drumming and his style fitted the riff so well that the song came together and was created out of that moment
Jake (Riveria) signed us after seeing the Damned at Mont De Marsan, on the strength of ‘New Rose’ and saw it as a single straight away even though Captain (Sensible) wanted ‘I Fall’ as the first single. There’s no demo’s for it we didn’t really bother with things like it we just went straight in the studio and recorded it.”
Is there a real life Rose? “No, it’s not about a girl, it’s really about what was happening at that time the speed and the energy of the movement – The Damned were always about the energy.”
We also covered all sorts of other areas during our chat – guitars, previous bands, current gigs, and future projects all of which I’ll be logging in the blog soon.
Certainly I see New Rose as one of the most important singles ever released, and being equal to anything Elvis , The Beatles or the Sex Pistols ever unleashed.
I love the Pistols and their two fisted filth and fury (even though they booted the The Damned off of the Anarchy tour). But New Rose snapshots the mood, the moment and the DIY ethic of early London/Brit punk more authentically than anything else from this explosive era.
Crash! Go the drums. Thrash! Goes the guitar. Rev up the riffing and they’re off like Bash Street brats out of hell and God help anyone who gets in the way. The Damned ram raided the UK charts by releasing the first punk single and album and even appeared at the first Punk Festival in Mont de Marsan (attended by a pre Joy Division Ian Curtis, and held a month before the 100 Club Punk Festival). But it was the impact of New Rose, and The Damned being the first UK Punk band to tour America that sent a Punk rocket to the epicenter of the States causing a sonic bang so explosive that the fallout is still being felt today.
The Sonics, The MC5, Iggy and The Ramones may have already been grinding out garage anthems and had some success in their home towns – but none of them raised more than a blip on the ‘punk-o-meter’ across the States. The Damned blew the bastard thing to smoke and shrapnel.
Consider this – what speed do the first wave of US Punk bands – The Dead Kennedys, The Dickies, Bad Brains or Black Flag – play at, Damned or Pistols tempo? From here you go to Hardcore to Thrash Metal to Metallica to Guns N Roses(who covered New Rose) and Nirvana (who ripped off Life Goes On for ‘Come As You Are’). Not all this may be your type of tune, and not all of it’s my type of tune, but it’s undeniable that it all leads back to the Damned and New Rose.
“I thought the Damned caught the true spirit of Punk, as understood by Punks, better than their rivals. They devoted less time to striking attitudes & never forgot, as many historians have that Punk could be quite funny as well as exciting.” John Peel – 29/05/02
New Rose – Peel Session
Recorded 30/11/76 and broadcast 10/12/76
Help – The B Side of New Rose
Brian is currently remixing The Lords Of The New Church back catalogue at Abbey Road (more on this soon). And will be playing the 100 Club on 31/11/07 with Lords Of The New Church for a Halloween Night Special – only 350 tickets are available for this special event so grab them while you can.
The Offical Brian James site
Brian James Gang myspace site
The Official Damned Site
One Way love – The Number One Damned fan site
Lords Of The New Church fan site
A special thank you goes to Brian James for his insights into New Rose, Punk and all things Damned, and also for allowing the use of Mp3’s in this posting