Maybe it's just me, although I don't think it is. Perhaps I'm becoming jaded, but I don't believe that's the case either. I love all types of music. I've never hidden my affinity for huge guitars, big pop hooks and radio rock, but over the past few years commercial rock has generally become stale and predictable, needing a firm kick in the throat.
When The Damned Things appeared out of left field last December, it arrived with boots on, ready to deliver that blow. I'd heard nothing of the band in advance, so when the group released its debut less than two weeks before Christmas, I was immediately intrigued. As I learned the lineup included Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy with Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano of Anthrax, I had to find out what was going on. Adding the vocals of Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die was just icing on the cake.
Admittedly, this band is a risky proposition on paper; but if Ian and Caggiano were involved, I had to hear it. I bit the bullet and downloaded it immediately with no idea what to expect and what I got was just the kind of surprise I had desperately needed. Nowhere near as poppy as Fall Out Boy, nor as heavy as Anthrax or Every Time I Die, The Damned Things isn't a metal band. If anything, it's a hard rock band with the kind of muscle and attitude that commercial rock has been missing.
After doing a little research, I found that the partnership may not be as odd as it initially seems. Trohman grew up in Chicago's hardcore scene before forming the more melodically inclined Fall Out Boy with Pete Wentz. Still, a collaboration with the guys from Anthrax seems a little outside the box. Or is it?
While preparing for the band's current headline tour, I was able to catch up with Trohman, who explained how the band came together by stating "I was introduced to Scott through a mutual friend. The same guitar company (Washburn) endorses both of us and when we met, we hit it off and started talking about doing something together. I showed him some of the stuff I'd been working on and he liked it..."
"Getting Andy involved is obvious, because we've played together for so long and I knew Keith because I'd been in the punk/hardcore scene before Fall Out Boy, so he was an old acquaintance," he continued. "We talked about it and he seemed interested, but when we sent him the demos, he was quick to get involved."
"It really just started as an exciting, fun idea; but the more we did with it, the more exciting it got," Trohman divulged.
The real question is whether that excitement can translate to the audience, however. When asked how the material has gone over live, Trohman shared that response been positive thus far, both as the band was introduced as an opener on the last winter's Jagermeister tour and on its recent European tour, which drew great crowds and the audience reaction.
"We haven't started our headline tour yet, but we've played some shows on our days off from the previous tour and the audiences for both the off shows and tour have been amazing," Trohman said. "We haven't had one bad response yet."
When discussing the challenges the band has faced so far, Trohman didn't pause in stating his opinions. "The state of the music industry is shit right now and the state of music in the US is shit," he shared. "Here, people in general follow whatever trend is pushed on them and right now they're following pop music - really bad pop music."
"The big challenge is getting people to go out to shows. Ticket sales have gone down and we all know the economy is hurting, so unless you're a really established band, it's hard to get people to come out," he continued. "Once you get people in the room, though, they usually respond well: they're hungry for real rock & roll. I think it's that either people didn't grow up going to rock shows or older fans have become jaded and need something to get excited about again..."
With Ironiclast, The Damned Things debut disc, the band presents both something for the jaded to get excited about and a live show to win over the kids who aren't accustomed to such an energetic performance. Tracks like "Handbook for the Recently Deceased" and "Friday Night (Going Down in Flames)" effectively combine the driving guitars of Anthrax with the melodic sense of Fall Out Boy without sounding like either band. The secret weapon, however, could be Keith Buckley, who proves to have one of the best singing voices in hard rock when he steps outside of the metalcore screaming that most fans are familiar with.
The band's real strength lies in a chemistry that's as obvious in Trohman's conversation as it is in the songs. When asked about the songwriting process and interaction within the band, he shared that although it began with him writing most of the music and Buckley writing the lyrics, once Rob Caggiano joined the band, the writing process became more collaborative.
"We like a lot of the same kinds of music and are influenced by a lot of the same bands," he explained. "Once we got to hang out and get to know each other a little, we immediately had a great chemistry. I think if you're in a real band and are a professional, though, any well rounded musician can talk to any other musician and find a common ground to work from."
Although they seemingly come from three different corners of the rock scene, the guys in The Damned Things have definitely found their common ground and niche. When discussing the band's first headlining tour, which launched August 13 in San Diego, Trohman commented "We're really thrilled to be playing with (Maylene & the Sons of Disaster and Fair to Midland). These shows will be a lot of fun and fairly intimate, so it should give people something to get excited about."
The tour stops in Tulsa for a show at Cain's Ballroom this Thursday night, August 18 at 7:30pm. Unfortunately, we're one of the few stops on the tour that doesn't include Fair to Midland, so local acts Woebegone and Triple Fang will open the show. Even so, The Damned Things will undoubtedly deliver a great show -- and the kind of swift kick to commercial rock that many music fans have been waiting for. Tickets are still available for $21 at the door.
Share this article: