The UK is full of so many good bands at the moment. Like Ireland it is an island full of so many people bringing out their own records and not worrying about signing record deals or careers in the music industry. One such band is Dealing With Damage. Their pedigree is enough to get you to listen to them but why not have a listen yourselves to the new single out now on Boss Tuneage Records
I’ve know Guitarist/Vocalist Ed Wenn since he came over to Ireland to play a gig with his band at the time, Sink I was lookoing through some old fliers and books at the weekend nd came across a letter Ed wrote after we organised the bands tour. It is one of the few we received from over 180 bands that Hope Promotions/Collective have put on. That gesture really stuck with me and through the decades Ed and others involved in DIY (or a better term I’ve heard recently – DIT, Do It Together) have become a family to me. Anyway, Dealing With Damage have a sound that pays respect to DC Hardcore and a big slant to Government Issue and I sent Ed off a few questions by email.
First question is who is in the band and if you’ve the time, what other bands have you all graced the stage with?
The current line-up of DWD is James Sherry on drums, Paul Grier on bass, John Ruscoe on guitar and me on vocals and guitar. James has played in a ton of bands over the years, but most people will know him from Done Lying Down in the 90’s. He also played in K-Line with me a few years back. Paul Grier is a childhood friend of James. They formed the Scum Children – their first ever band – together back in the 80’s, but then never played together again; until now. I think it’s great that we could get the in the same band again. I met Paul a few times over the years, but didn’t really get to know him until he joined DWD after our original bassist quit. He’s a rock; exactly the type of player and personality that we needed. John Ruscoe, my old sparring partner from numerous bands, joined recently to take over from Rich Matthews (another former K-Liner) who left earlier this year just after we’d recorded the EP. John’s played in so many bands it’s not worth trying to list them all, but Space Maggots, Perfect Daze, Sink, Big Ray, Chocolate and Mover are probably the ones that you may have heard of. He also plays bass in Stupids at the moment. I have previously played in Bad Dress Sense, Sink, Chocolate, Big Ray, K-Line and Billy No Mates.
Next question has to be why? Why keep doing this after all this time?
I can’t speak for the others (and that disclaimer goes for the rest of the answers here), but all I can say is that over the years – for various reasons – I thought about stopping, but I just keep coming back to it. I love it. Love, love, love it. I remember once in the late 90’s, lying in bed sweating and not being able to sleep after my ex had spent the evening telling me I needed to grow up and get a proper job. I was almost in tears thinking about a life without playing in bands. Luckily, I managed to bluff my way into the world of work and carry on with the music, but that was a scary night.
There’s no question that my motivation for making music – certainly the reward I get from playing – has changed as time has gone by and after quite a few years spent struggling with a version of your question pinging around inside my head, I’m finally OK with why I do it and am probably more into it and fired up than I ever have been.
I love the process of putting together a song in the rehearsal room and everyone starts adding their parts and voicing their opinions; that’s when the magic happens. It’s all about having the right people with you.
Primarily though, I love playing live and meeting new people, seeing new bands, catching up with old friends; sometimes for the first time in years. The punk scene has finally become the huge family that I always thought it could be and I can’t remember a time where there wasn’t a better feeling at gigs. As a 51 year old there’s probably equal parts ‘rose-tinted-glasses’ and ‘bloody-hell-we’re-all-still-here’ influencing the way I see things at the moment, but that’s how it is. It might be really different for youngsters, but I hope they’re as fired up about it as I am.
Does it get harder to get motivated to ask people to buy your record or go see your band as time evolves?
I’ve never been good at self-promotion. I’ve never been someone who has that rock-solid belief that what they’re doing is worth anyone else’s time or money, so to that extent, it’s not become harder to do because I never liked doing it in the first place. It’s not a shyness thing; I quite happily sell other bands’ merch, but when it comes to my own stuff, it tends to stay in a box under a table unless one of the other people in the band can be arsed to set up a stall. That’s stupid of me, really, because records cost so much to put out that we really do need to start selling some so that we can get enough money back to make the next one.
How do we make facts matter?
Well, in terms of what I’m banging on about in that song (“Lost Soul” on our new EP) I’d say it’s about being or becoming a critical thinker. Try to look behind the headlines and the sensational sound bites. Take a step back and try to connect the dots. It’s hard to answer this without sounding patronising, but you’ll need to read some books, watch some documentaries and search out non-corporate news sources like Democracy Now! and Intercepted. If you’re in the UK, read Private Eye too. Think about why is so-and-so saying such-and-such in the media? Research the people who wrote the story you’re reading so you can try to get some idea of what their motivation might be for writing it. Don’t just throw your lot in with a story because it lines up with your views; question it.
I feel that we’re living in an age where we can have virtually instant access to everything ‘they’ want us to hear, but it’s still pretty hard to just stumble across the type of stuff that maybe we should be accessing. There’s so much noise that it’s easy to get sucked in. I see people all the time, debating some pointless shit online, whilst missing the big picture. Take a step back and read some history books, watch some documentaries by John Pilger, listen to lectures and read books by Chomsky, Naomi Klein or Howard Zinn. You will build up a level of background information that will help decipher the news and come to your own conclusions.
I still remember the first time I read “Vietnam Inc.” by Chomsky and Philip Jones Griffiths and as the veil fell away and a new level of understanding settled about me it just felt right, you know? Like, I had finally had war explained to me in a way that made sense in relation to how I was beginning to see the world. The same when I read, “Diary of an Economic Hitman”, “How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World” or “The Shock Doctrine”. These are all works that will take you out of the news cycle for a few days, but leave you better equipped to work out what might really be going on once you get back into it. There are probably better examples out there than the ones I’ve listed, but these are some of the books that have shaken some sense into me.
Finally, if you have kids, try to bring them up as critical thinkers too.
Your line in Hate Can Set You Free “the sound of enterprise drowning screams of poverty in a racist society” is a perfect reflection on today’s society for many.
Thanks very much and if anyone doesn’t think that’s true then go and read “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap” by Mehrsa Baradaran, or for a quick fix, at least listen to her amazing interview with Jeremy Scahill on Intercepted Podcast (October 11th 2017).
Is it difficult to grasp that we have evolved from a world of Reagan, Thatcher and National Front to Trump, May and UKIP?
Absolutely not; unless you mean in terms of, “Didn’t we learn anything, the last time?”, in which case the answer is apparently not. It strikes me that a lot of consolidation has been going on behind the scenes since 1979. A lot of thought has been given by those in power to branding and distraction tactics and it’s been very effective.
But seriously, that’s something you want a short answer to? 😊
Brexit? For many in Ireland it is difficult to grasp the fact that a physical border may be put back in place on our island, and all the security trappings that a border will bring. Do you think Brexit was about somehow making Britain great or a harkening back to an empire from centuries ago?
Honestly, don’t get me started! The way I see it is that Cameron agreed to a referendum to keep UKIP and some elements of the Tory party happy before the previous election. So, not the best reason to have one in the first place. The referendum itself asked the UK to pick one of two apparently simple choices, however the knowledge required to make an informed decision was beyond a lot of us; especially after 30 years of pretty full-on, anti-EU propaganda in the mainstream media. Furthermore, no-one could really say what either of the two possible futures would look like. So…it got very complicated very quickly. These days we don’t do ‘complicated’ very well and it wasn’t like the Government went out of its way to help educate the public on the key issues. Into that vacuum stepped the manipulators and the crazies and the discussion inevitably shifted away from the actual issue, and onto a ton of other subjects.
My guess is that, faced with what had become a very complicated choice, which required a lot of thought and knowledge to make properly, a lot of people voted leave or remain based on pretty much anything OTHER than what our continued membership of the EU would mean.
Even after the result was in, I was surprised that the government decided to actually leave the EU. The referendum was just an opinion poll after all; they didn’t have to act on it. I think it’s a crying shame and it’s absolutely divided the country.
The Brexit result and the election of Trump in the US, has 2017 marked down in my thoughts as the year that people let hatred, fear and intolerance guide their decision making.
You are originally from Ipswich which voted for getting UK out of EU, why do you think that is?
I like the question, mainly because I have a short answer for it. I wasn’t born in Ipswich. I moved there when I was thirteen and I haven’t lived there since 1993-ish, so I honestly don’t have a clue on that front.
I know you’re a family man and maybe other band members are too. Where do you get the time to fit in music? Is it a difficult balancing act?
Yeah, life’s a huge whirl these days and it just seems to get faster and faster. You could even say that things are speeding up 😉 Family, work, music…my head is spinning constantly, but I think that’s pretty typical for a lot of us. You just have to get good at prioritising and focussing on what’s worth doing and leaving out what’s not. For instance, in London these days there are so many amazing bands playing pretty much every night and I’d love to get out more and watch them, but that’s just not possible, so I tend to only see the bands that we play with. Any spare time I have away from the family is spent doing band stuff of one sort or another.
I think it gets a bit easier as the kids get older though. When they were younger there was no let up, but mine are 10 and 12 now so there’s a little bit more scope for me to nip out every so often to go and kick up a racket.
I remember when James and I were in K-Line together around 2003 and his second kid had just been born. We were playing and rehearsing a lot and he’d frequently fall asleep at the drum kit between songs. None of the rest of us had kids then and we thought he was a lightweight, but by 2007 I had a whole other perspective on that situation!
Is it difficult to justify the cost of being in a band knowing that the money spent on a putting a record together can be spent on music lessons, or whatever, for the kids?
Nice one, Niall. Now I feel terrible!
Right, so the last EP was paid for by us and Aston at Boss Tuneage going halves on the production costs. Our 50% was split three ways (because Rich quit just before we needed to come up with the money), but to reduce the amount we each had to come up with I gave James some of my rare punk vinyl to sell on Discogs and that really helped keep the outgoings to a minimum. Of course, with all of my rare records gone, we do actually have to sell the current EP to get enough money back to pay for the next one.
I know you’ve been to rebellion a couple of times. If you had a stage to curate for 1 evening what five bands would you put on and why.
For once, this is a simple question to answer 😊 I’ve gone for 4 bands which changed my life when I was 19/20, but which I never saw play live. I’ve topped the night off with The Slits who I only started listening to a few years ago, but with whom I have fallen completely in love. Their story is starting to be told now and I hope they continue to get the recognition they deserve for all of the ground-breaking, subversive stuff that they did. Obviously, Ari has to come back from punk heaven for this gig.
1. The Slits
2. Rites of Spring
3. Articles of Faith