God Damn are a band I’ve loved ever since I heard “Half-Soaked Shuffle” on the radio several years ago.
Singer and guitarist Thom’s gravelly howls and screams are even more raw than his guitar riffs. The sound of God Damn gets even the most die-hard of distortion junkie audiences bouncing and thrashing with delight. It’s a stripped-back kind of sound- large enough for a stadium, but fast and vicious enough for the small intimate venues this kind of music was invented for.
Drummer Ash is one of the best – and hardest-hitting- drummers I have ever seen. He gets a huge range of sounds, interesting beats and blistering tom grooves out of a five-piece kit. He’s one of the special kinds of drummers who you can identify over a radio because they don’t sound like anyone else.
Together they are a musical force to be reckoned with, and their hard work and talent is paying off- they have released several albums, toured the UK and Europe, and supported the Foo Fighters.
Originally a two-man band from Wolverhampton, Thom and Ash recently added talented multi-instrumentalist James to their ranks, bringing a sweet new dimension to their sound.
Genre-wise God Damn are a cocktail of different musical styles. If you took a random handful of 90s bands, ground in some heavy riffs, added a generous dash of adrenaline, then shook it to make it angry, you might get something like their screaming, insolent blend of mutant metal-grunge punk.
After their gig at The Garage, Glasgow, I got to meet God Damn. They're kind, friendly guys, and small-framed in size, which surprised me after seeing them play. After a gig which looked exhausting, they still took time to chat with me at the after party across the road from The Garage venue and answer my questions about music, touring and how do you sing like that, Thom?
Things being as busy as they are, the real catch up is with Thom (vocals and guitar) over the interweb, and much appreciated.
Hi Thom! How are you?
I’m fine and dandy thanks Jenny, just taking a break from mixing some demos, giving my skull a rest…my headphones are too tight!
How did you and Ash find James to create your new line-up?
James has been knocking around on the same Birmingham/ West Midlands music scene for a while with his band, Mutes. I was a fan of his style of playing and he’s a bigger music nerd than I am, really talented musician and it’d be annoying having someone play catchup; I want someone who brings me on as a player and he ticked so many boxes, it was a bit of a no-brainer. He started off just hanging out as our guitar tech and coming on for a few songs so that I could get out into the crowd and put on more of a show but then it just made more sense that he became a full time member, it all felt very natural.
How did the European tour go? Could you tell us about any awesome things you encountered on the road which you weren’t expecting?
As in the Euro tour with Frank? It was brutal in all the right punk rock ways, we learnt a lot playing with those guys every night… they just don’t have a bad show. Our crazy stories always just end with “and then he was sick out the van window.” I don’t think we need to say any more than that really.
Who are your musical influences? Are there any local or unsigned bands you're enjoying listening to right now?
Oh jeez…Smiths to Slipknot. Really into Chelsea Wolfe, Idles and Part Chimp at the minute. Local or unsigned; one of our sound guys Greg is in an awesome Noise Rock band Called “Angular Merkel” and Check out James’ band “Mutes” also “Table Scraps” “Black Mekon” “Pig called Eggs” (Who I’m producing) and “Matters”
Where does the inspiration for your music come from?
Anything and everything that makes me think and that I think about.
How has music been a positive force in your lives?
I see it as a blessing and a curse, I’d be making it for myself as a form of therapy and obsession even if nobody listened to it.
Your song, When the Wind Blows, shares its name with a novel about an ordinary English elderly couple struggling through the aftermath of a nuclear attack. Is there a political element to your music?
Vultures (Album) was a highly political album, ahead of the sudden youth and general heightened interest in politics that’s around right now. I feel that vultures was released a little too early and would have been more topical if it had been released say last year or this year.
What was it like being asked to support the Foo Fighters twice? Is it true that Dave Grohl is "the nicest man in rock"?
It’s crazy really, they’re just friendly easy going people when you meet them and hang out, so it helps ground the whole situation.
Ash told me you practice in an old Cheese Factory! Are you currently working on new material?
We used to practice in an old cheese factory but we’ve moved to the building across the road, still in the same post-industrial canal side dystopian waste land though, if my spirit was going to haunt anywhere I guess it’d be that place. It kinda looks like the slums from Oliver Twist but with amps and drum kits. Yep, we’re working on another album, we’re about 15 demo’s deep, we’d like to demo maybe another 10, and then pick the best or whatever flows right/ sits right to make the best album, we’ve never really done it this way before and we’re taking our time for a masterpiece.
Each of your albums has a different sound- what do you think has made your music change or evolve each time round? What was different about the process of recording Vultures, versus your new album, Everything Ever?
Vultures was a really expensive and expansive, layered, proggy album that we spent a ridiculous amount of time and money making, the label were like “do what you want, you can only make your first record once” which was nice. Everything Ever just happened so quick, the songs were written in a matter of weeks and we recorded the album in three weeks in a tiny studio in Sheffield, I still think we spent more time in the pub and or waiting for Ross Orton (Producer) to clean his oven or something than actual recording, it was fun being up in Sheffield, we’ve got a tonne of pals there, so it was a slight party I guess.
What was the most fun part of recording or getting your ideas together for Everything Ever?
Ross Orton was great fun in the Pub but cracked the whip in the studio, some hairdryer moments and tension for sure. I would say personally I enjoyed spending time with Ross, he’s the kinda guy you want to impress and instantly feel enamored by but I wouldn’t call his studio time fun that's for sure, intense is the word.
The video for your single, “Dead to Me” involves Ash carrying around Thom, who is looking convincingly dead. At one point Ash cheerfully pushes the corpse of Thom around in a shopping trolley while getting some groceries in at the supermarket, and takes him for food at a chip shop. Did you run into any trouble or frightened passers-by while filming?
We stole a shopping trolley from Waitrose, I’m told the film crew took it back, the funniest thing was, that video shoot was in the very posh Chiswick where the film crew were based, so yeah we got some very snooty looks.
What does the future hold for you? And where can we see you live next?
We’re taking a break to write and record the next album to be honest with you, forming a cocoon and allowing ourselves some creative freedom, we’re in no hurry to meet anyone’s goals or timeframes but our own. It’s a really positive time and we need it.
Playlist for the Party at end of the world- Things seem to be going downhill recently with a lot world leaders making up for what they lack in intelligence with sheer aggression. As a band, which song would you choose if it was the last thing you could listen to?
What was the film where it was the end of the world and one dude shouts “Let’s take heroin and listen to Radiohead”? I’m going to say “Video Tape” by Radiohead.
Thanks for your time!