Duke It Out with Damn Damn PatriotsCultureMusicAlbum reviews
Damn Damn Patriots’ debut album pierce the ear drums with their lo-fi, grungy, punk-rock sounds with a throw-in of pop to make for a noisy and liberating listen. The four-piece band from Reading, UK, originated as a house band and have taken time from their constant gigging to produce their first album, Duke It Out With…
Their music is exquisitely raw, which could be mistaken as musically sloppy but truly gives their sound character and essence and leave us panting for more. Their track-list only provides one song that is over three minutes long, but the Patriots’ buzz-saw punk would feel out of place in sprawling tracks.
The album begins with the explosion of noise that is Keep Swimming, which sets the tone for the rest of the album with its intense lo-fi chugging rhythms topped with vocalist Jason’s heavily reverbed harmonies and shouts. Track of choice to gauge the band’s talent is A Bible and a Bottle of Pills, a lyrically clever song, that breaks their distorted guitar twangs to a nifty riff giving promise to the depth of the work Damn Damn Patriots can produce. Family Unit, the newest single from the album, is by far the poppiest; the vocals are clearer, unveiling an impressive voice that doesn’t necessarily justify the amount of effects on the other tracks.
Duke It Out With Damn Damn Patriots is musically like a punch to face, but one you actually quite enjoy. The band aren’t one to mess around, and after a couple songs you discover what the band are all about – short, fun, distorted noise. Influences are definitely recognisable such as MC5, but they manage to crank up their own music to produce a distinct and head banging album.
The Upcoming caught up with Jason Aplin (guitar, vocals, songwriter) of Damn Damn Patriots.
Let’s start off with who is in the band and what instrument they play?
Well there’s me, and I play the guitar and sing, a guitarist called Kevin Wells, and our drummer is Pat Bingley. The bass player on the album was Mark Smith, but he left just before the album came out and we now have Mikey Sherwill as our new bass player.
So how did the band come to form?
Originally I wanted to start a three-piece band, and I wanted to be in a band that concentrated on noise and less of sort of serial aspects. The band I was in before this had eight people which had lots of strange instruments like banjos and accordions. I wanted something that was simple. I can’t stand bands like Mumford and Sons, does my head in completely! It sounds pompous but this country is a sh**hole, for most days and most people. I wanted to make music that reflected that feeling rather than escapism. I wanted something aggressive and that could let out frustration.
How long have you all been playing together?
We have had the line-up with Mikey for about three months now, but the band has been together for about a year.
The name of the band Damn Damn Patriots, where does that originate from?
It actually came from a Dexys Midnight Runners song called There There My Dear: there’s a lyric in it which I believe actually says “You’re a dumb dumb patriot”. As a kid growing up I always thought it was “You’re a damn damn patriot.” I really liked the line so we thought it was a good name for the band.
Your newest single Family Unit – what is the meaning behind the song?
Well, it’s essentially about how you deal with loss, and where you place that loss in your life. So it’s all about deconstructing family units; it’s a very personal song.
Who creates the lyrics and the music for the band?
I write all the lyrics and then Kev will come up with the occasional riff. Most of the album is written by myself.
Tell us a about the recording process of the album?
I think it took us about two weeks, if you put all the time together. We play it live, and I try to compress it all and mix it so it sounds as powerful as possible. I wanted it to be methodically challenging to the ears.
I noticed the album has a very strong live vibe to it, was this your aim?
Yeah it was, it’s always been trying to capture that live performance and the energy, but it’s extremely hard to do. Our way of doing that was to attempt to do the songs in one first take just like you would on stage. If there were any mistakes I wanted to leave them on, as I wanted that sound to it.
With the loss and gain of a new member, does this affect the dynamics of the band?
I think with Mikey the band sounds better, he has a similar outlook on life to the other three of us. He’s a guitarist by trade so his bass-playing has a more lead orientation which has been fun to work with. We wouldn’t have chosen to lose Mark but it turned out as a happy accident!
Has your music changed since you have started the band?
Yeah, we started the band to be a sort of Marmite band, either people love it or hate it. I don’t think we intended the songs to be so short, but as everything started going down that way, we used it as a blueprint. Now we are writing stuff recently for the new album: we had a song that was over three minutes and we were debating whether it was too long! The brevity of what we do was not exactly meant to be, but that’s just the way it has turned out.
What makes a gig really enjoyable for you?
I think we’ve done gigs where we’ve played the first couple of songs and Keep Swimming, and literally there will be no clapping whatsoever, partly because they’re thinking “What the f*ck was that?!” – and I quite enjoy that because at the time we get to say “This is the last few songs” people are really into it. For me, a good gig is when people come along not knowing what to expect, being uncomfortable about it. And then they warm to it because we’re very nice people, we communicate with the audience – you know, we don’t just stand there, backs to them. So I just like the idea of them coming to see a show and just thinking they’ve had a short little party: that kind of works for me. We played a gig a few weeks ago, supporting an Italian band (fantastic!), and we played in this garage and it was really packed and people looked terrified. I’d be terrified watching a band there because it’s just so small, and we were on the stage with the band. That feeling of a good gig is having that slight feeling of nervousness and anxiety on behalf of the audience, because at least you know they’re feeling something.
So what’s next for Damn Damn Patriots?
We were thinking of doing a hip-hop album, with hip-hop beats. Our drummer has a vast knowledge of old-school hip-hop and we had some ideas about that.
Stuff has been written for this next record – we considered calling it The World is Full of Beautiful Women. The last one is kind of post-punk, so I think it coincides. It’s still going to be aggressive; the problem with that is keeping under three minutes!
We’re playing in Kilburn on the 10th, and a couple of shows in London. We’ll continue to do spot shows, because that’s what we like doing. We’re just going to keep on keeping on. We’ll just see how we go. It’s not a case of keeping it underground, as we don’t want anyone to hear it, we just know the reality of what we’re doing really.
Check out their single Family Unit here: