THE DAMAGE DONE
My friend Dave asked me to do an interview for his new zine in August of 2003 just as I was leaving for the Sink With California festival... We ended up getting the interview done sometime near the end of August via email, but a lot of complications happened and his zine never materialized.
Later in the fall, after our last show, Dave and I were talking about how Maximum Rock N Roll had requested an interview, but we broke up before we ever submitted the interview to MRR. We decided to bring the old interview that never ran up to date a little bit and submit it to MRR. We did just that, and the interview finally ran in March of 2004 in Maximum Rock N Roll Issue #250.
- Kyle: kyle@RivalRecords.NET
MRR: ok lets start from the first practice. give me a little history about how the band started, and did you think you'd make it this far?
KW: Well, The Damage Done really started in spring of 2001 in the small college town of San Luis Obispo, CA with me and Nick (our original guitarist) just wanting to start a band that could get out there, have some fun, and really have something to say. There was this kid Dave that was moving in next door to a friend of ours, and we started hanging out and found out he played bass, so we recruited him and this other guy Ryan to play drums. Things just never really came together with Ryan, and Dave had just started learning to play drums. So it quickly become Nick on guitar, Dave on drums, me singing, and we finally talked our friend Chris into playing bass (he'd played bass when he was a kid and stuff, but felt like he wasn't really capable of playing in a band and shit. He was wrong. He's done great.). Things started moving along nicely until summer hit... Nick went to Europe, I moved to the SF Bay Area for an internship. Everything was on hold... While I was working in the Bay Area, I was living with our friend James and his parents. He had played guitar a bit when he was younger and he started talking about possibly joining TDD as a second guitarist. When Nick came back from Europe and school picked up again, we started practicing and James fit right into the fold. That's when everything REALLY came together. We recorded a demo and played our first show in October of 2001. We spent that whole winter writing for our next record, the 8 song "Never Wash Away" EP. We recorded that in May of 2002 and promptly went out on an coast tour for 10 days in June of 2002. We had a great time hanging out and seeing some new things, but the actual shows on the tour went pretty rough, and on the plane ride home from tour, Nick quit the band because his heart just wasn't in it anymore. ...I had just graduated college, so after we got home from tour, I went off to Europe for the summer. In Europe, I met up with a guy named Giampaolo Bilia, someone who I'd traded records with for years. We talked a bit about The Damage Done and we decided that he and his friend Dario would like to work together to put out something by TDD on the Italian label, Goodwill Records. Once I got home from Europe, I moved up to the SF Bay Area, creating a long distance sort of thing with this band (San Luis Obispo is 4 hours south of SF). We sorted everything out and figured out that we would do a 5 song 7" on Western Front Records, a 3 song split 7" with a band called DAY OF THE DEAD from Portugal on Goodwill Records in Italy, and then release all 8 songs on a CDEP with Western Front. In the meantime, we had some lineup changes - we needed another guitarist, and after looking for a new one, we decided to move Dave from drums to guitar, and find a new drummer. We picked up my friend Justin, who I've known since elementary school, to play drums. He played in a great band called Conscientious Objector from Northern California that broke up way before their time. Anyways, there were countless delays with all of the records, and shit got kind of messed up. We played a record release show on November 23rd, 2002 for the Never Wash Away 7", then the split 7" came out in February, and the CD didn't come out until June of 2003. During all of this time, Justin and I (living in the bay area) were driving down to San Luis Obispo almost every other weekend to practice and/or play shows, and we pushed pretty hard at that. I think that's when we really started to get a little burnt out and realize that this long distance thing was pretty hard on us. We managed to write 5 new songs during this period, and we were planning to write a full length and record it in the fall. But around May of 2003, we all sat down and had a talk and realized that with Dave and Chris going into their last year of college, and with James re-locating to the Bay Area, shit was going to be too difficult. We decided to call it quits, but keep it kind of quiet and just play Sink With Cali and Che Fests during the summer. In August, we went in with a friend and recorded those last 5 songs we wrote and released it as our final release "City Of Hope".... You asked me if we're proud of how far we've come? Fuck yeah I am, man. We started this band as a group of friends, 3 of which were learning their instruments as we fucking went along. Shit man, we didn't even know what we were doing. We had no ex-members-of hype, nothing like that at all. We just worked our asses off, and I think that last 5 song record we did is a really good hardcore record. The other records, they're pretty sub-par, pretty average hardcore... But I think the last record is something to be really proud of, especially since we just went in and recorded it for like $300 and in one day. We just wanted something for people to remember us by, to see how much we've grown, you know?
MRR: are you involved in anything else besides the damage done? bands/zines/whatever
KW: Yeah, me and my best friend, Zach Harlan, just started a label called RIVAL RECORDS. With this label, we want to try and give more of a voice to good bands out there that aren't hyped, don't have ex-members-of... Good bands that somehow get overlooked because they aren't what's
"cool" or whatever. Of course I'm not saying we won't be putting things out that have ex-members and all that, but what I'm saying is that we are not doing this label to "get big" or make money or any stupid shit like that. We're doing this label because I think hardcore is moving more and more from its DIY roots and I feel like good kids are slipping through the cracks because they don't wear the right kind of running shoes or cargo shorts. You know what I mean? Anyways, our first three releases are available NOW! The first is a 5 song CDEP by PHYSICAL CHALLENGE (from Portland, Oregon), entitled "Some Still Care." The Damage Done played with them in Portland on our last trip to Seattle back in March, and they really blew me away. They're just good kids, playing good hardcore. Zach and I both agree that musically and vocally it's sort of Striking Distance meets Stay Gold. It's always hard to describe a band's sound real easily, but I think that most people could agree with that comparison. If anyone's interested in hearing a song, you can go to www.RivalRecords.NET (be careful, because RivalRecords.com is some defunct R&B label). The title track of the record is up there in MP3 format, along with ordering information. It's $6 postage paid ($5 at shows). Seriously, if anyone out here has a few extra bucks or a few extra seconds, at least check out the MP3 and give them a chance. They're a hard working band that deserves to be heard. Our other 2 releases - Rival #002 the debut 10 song CD from the SF Bay Area's TIME FOR LIVING. It looks and sounds really awesome... Mix the strength of NYHC style hardcore like Madball or Killing Time with the heart of modern bands like Modern Life Is War and you've got Time For Living. I'm so psyched on this band, both as an individuals and as a band, and it's great to get to work with them. Check them out at one of their local shows and pick up their record. We also put out The Damage Done final recording entitled "City Of Hope". It's the 5 song CDEP I was talking about before. We also have a few new releases planned for this winter - watch out for a 7" by Seattle's Rosary + some more. So yeah, this stuff is keeping me pretty busy lately - check it out at www.RivalRecords.NET.
MRR: what was your motivation to start the band, and what continues to motivate you?
KW: Ok, as for THE DAMAGE DONE... We started this band just as a tight group of friends that wanted to make some music together. As for me personally, I had a goal with this band to get out there and actually try to SAY SOMETHING. I feel like these days in hardcore it's OK to just try and be the hardest, or the fastest or the catchiest, and no one seems to give two shits about what's actually in the lyrics, as long as they sound good with the music. And there's a fine line there, and I've struggled with that because I want to fit a certain amount of content in the songs, but at the same time, the vocals have to fit everything else, just like the guitar has to fit the drums, etc
etc. But anyways, I've realized all along that nearly EVERYTHING has been said in one form or another in the past, but I do feel like some things aren't said enough, and some things can be said differently. Maybe I can't say it better or even as well as someone else, but every person has their own experiences and should be able to add something to a topic without just re-hashing someone else's thought. And so far, I think this band has done a pretty good job of not being cookie-cutter in what we are about. We don't have one particular agenda, we don't have any cheesy slogans or anything like that, we're just a hardcore band that really doesn't give a shit about classifications or what clothes you should wear or anything like that. I guess what I'm trying to say is: we started this band to be a fucking hardcore punk band that has something to say, plain and simple. We didn't get together and go "ok, let's start a youth crew band", or "dude, we need to play THIS kind of music" or anything like that. Unfortunately, I think we sometimes get categorized into one genre of hardcore or another and because of that, kids don't give us the time of day, but I wouldn't say that we're just your typical ANY type of band... We're kind of all over the place... (which can be both good AND bad. haha.) As for what motivates me to keep moving on in this band, well.... This band is breaking up, and our last show is at 924 Gilman St on October 4th, but that has nothing to do with what does or doesn't motivate me. I'm still motivated by the energy, the sincerity, the passion, and the anger that is embodied by hardcore and most likely will be for a very very very long time. A lot of people try to say that it's time to throw in the towel, that things are fucked and hardcore is completely "lost" at this point, but when I see certain kids out there at shows that have that fucking "look in their eye" (and Dave, I know you know the look that i'm talking about), I know that this shit isn't dead. There's just certain people out there that won't let it die. People that see through all the shit, people frustrated as fuck with how the world is turning out, people who are just plain angry and/or depressed, and peope who want to make things fucking better. Those are the real deal hardcore punk kids, those are the kids I surround myself with, those are the kids that motivate me, and THOSE are the kids that I look up to, no matter if they're 15 years old or 35 years old.
MRR: how has being in the band affected you? good or bad.
KW: I think this band has taught me a lot about how things in hardcore really "work." It's taught me a lot of BAD things about how there are some really shitty people out there that play in some really good bands. It's taught me that there are a lot of bad things that happen behind the closed doors in hardcore, dealing with money, record labels, getting on certain shows, kissing ass, etc. But it's also taught me some really valuable things about what it takes to keep this thing moving, to be successful enough to put on shows, to do bands, to do zines, what it takes to make these things EXIST. I don't mean "successful" as in "make money", please dont mis-understand. But once you've done a band, a label, a zine, whatever, for a few years, you start to figure out just how to do things cheaply and efficiently so that you can actually make things happen and keep things moving along. I mean, yeah, it's DIY, but you gotta know what you're doing or one of two things will happen: 1. you'll have this great band or zine out there, but NO ONE WILL KNOW ABOUT IT, or 2. you'll work your ass off putting all this positive energy into something and get burnt out because it just kind of sucked the life out of you. Basically, I've just learned a TON of things doing this band for about 2 and a half years now, and it's going to help me out a lot with doing Rival Records and putting shows and things like that.
MRR: are there any common themes to your lyrics?
KW: That's kind of a hard question. When we started this band, we definitely wanted to say something relevent, to have a fucking MESSAGE. ...But definitely NOT one particular message or "agenda" or any shit like that. What I mean is, even though every member of this band is straight edge, we didn't want to be a "straightedge" band, or be a band that is all about one particular topic you know? I just wanted to be able to write songs that were revelant to both punk rock and the world today, and have people be able to relate to some shit and hopefully make them think a lilttle. Writing lyrics is hard man, because everything's pretty much been said before. But what makes them unique is the personal experiences you bring to the table, to actually fucking say something that maybe someone hasn't heard before... Like I everyone else involved in punk rock (for the most part), I've had some fucked up shit happen in my life, that's why I'm part of this punk community. Some people haven't experienced the exact same things I have in the exact same why I have. Some people aren't as angry about a particular thing that I'm angry about, and maybe they SHOULD be... Maybe some people could read some lyrics and go "shit, i never really thought about it exactly in those terms." That's what makes personal experience and communication so important with lyrics. Take a topic that you care about, and fucking add something to it, don't just regergatate the "buzz word" hardcore topics. I know that's what separtes punk rock for me from other genres of music.. The intensity, the aggressiveness, the fact that it's thought-provoking. So anyways, I woudln't say I have one particular "theme" in my lyrics, besides the fact that this world is FUCKED and you can either sit around and feel overwhelmed and depressed about that, or you can keep your fucking chin up go out and try to make a positive impact on the people and things around you. The stuff I write about ranges from growing up in a broken home and trying to raise younger siblings on your own, to dealing with the loss of people you love to cancer, to being disheartened and angered by the rat-race and money grubbing world where everything is measaured by "net worth". Basically, I'd prefer to write about relevent social issues rather than write so many songs about "hardcore" related stuff. I have a few songs about the "scene" and shit like that (the song "STAND" for example), but I feel like I've used those one or two "scene" songs to get some shit of my chest and say some things that needed to be said, so i don't feel the need to continually write about it. Some people do that a lot, and do it well, so there's a place for that, certainly. But if we're in this little sub-culture where all we do is discuss "scene" issues, how are we really going to make any REAL sort of changes inside ourselves and those around us? Yeah, it's easy to say one person can't change the world. But fuck all that, every person "changes the world" each day by simply getting out of bed in the morning, or driving down the highway... So you can either choose to have the aggregate of all your changes make a change for the BETTER, or you can have those changes make a change for the WORSE. ...Your choice. Personally, I'd at least rather take the 50-100 people I interact with on a weekly basis and try to help make their lives better, you know? It just takes a little thought....
MRR: it seems like record collecting is getting pretty crazy these days. its not uncommon for people to own 5 of the same record because of different colors/covers. what are your thoughts on this.
KW: Honestly, my thoughts on this are sort of mixed: on one hand, who the fuck am I to tell someone how to spend their money, right? I mean, seriously, if a record is worth $100 to a kid because it's his favorite band EVER and that band got him through some tough times and there's just a lot of sentimental value involved, then who am I to tell him that record isn't worth $100? But by the same token, when people are buying records for $50 to $100 to try and gain some sort of bullshit status, that is just plain stupid and I doubt those kids will be around for long. As for owning 5 copies of one record - hey man, I'm a huge vinyl collector and I have 5 versions of LOTS of different records... But you know what? I really like those records and I don't brag about my stupid vinyl collection (honestly, how cheesy is it to brag about some nerdy shit like a slab of vinyl anyways?) I guess I kind of sum it up like this: a record is worth whatever the person paying for it says that it is. YOU should decide how much a record is worth to you. Don't let someone tell you "this is a $50 record", because if you don't think it is, then you shouldn't be buying it, right? And if you're buying a record for a shitload of money, you may want to ask yourself "well, a typical meal costs me like $5. If I pay $100 for this, that's 20 meals. Is this rrecord worth 20 meals to me?". If it is, then fucking buy it! If it's not, and you're just buying it because it's a "good deal" or because you think it'll make you look cool, then don't do it... Go spend your money on 20 brand new 7"s of great new bands, you know?
MRR: you've recently announced that the damage done is breaking up. do you guys have anything planned for the future or are things still up in the air?
KW: Our guitarist, James, is currently playing guitar in Lights Out. They're a great new band from the SF Bay Area that sound like Side By Side. Get into it. It's good stuff. Connor of the Lab Rats sings and he's a great front man. I love that dude, he's like my little brother. As for me, I'm doing Rival Records. Our other members don't have anything planned for the definite future, but I can tell you for sure that our other guitarist, Dave, is a great musician and will most definitely be doing new bands. They may or may not be hardcore bands, cuz the guy is just plain talented and can do whatever he wants, but there will be new bands, believe me. I told Chris he better sing in a band. That dude NEEDS to sing in a band, haha. And our drummer, Justin,
I really hope he does another band, even if it's not a hardcore band, because he's a really solid drummer and it's shame for all that talent to go to waste.
MRR: one thing i noticed about the damage done is that you did a split 7" with a band from portugal. how did that come together?, and are you concious of the worldwide hardcore scene?
KW: Oops, I guess I kind of answered that before in the "history of the band" question. To elaborate a bit, Dario Adamic put out a record for Day Of The Dead on Goodwill Records a while back. Dario is good friends with Giampaolo Bilia, a guy I've known for years through record collecting. I met Paolo when I went to Italy, he showed me around Rome and shit, and we talked about The Damage Done's latest recording and how it didn't all quite have a home yet. Paolo and Dario decided they'd do a release on Goodwill with Dario's band, Day Of The Dead, and The Damage Done. I think it's awesome we got to put out a record in Europe, and I think it would have been really fucking awesome to be able to tour over there. It never happened, but I think we would have been able to do it successfully... As for the worldwide hardcore scene, I'd have to say that I wish I was a LOT more conscious of what's going on elsewhere. I try to keep up on things, but it's hard sometimes to know all the good shit that's out there. It sucks though, because U.S. kids are so stuck up about international hardcore, and won't give it a chance at all. The irony is, so many of the kids in Europe or so much more sincere and dont' take the shit they have for granted. You can tell that they REALLY love hardcore and will go way out of there way to make sure they stay involved. I mean, shit, I get mail order for The Damage Done stuff to random countries where it costs me like $18 to ship a Hoodie to them. They pay $25 + $18 for a hoodie from some small band from the west coast simply because they really like our music. That's a rare kind of kid that is becoming increasingly rare in the U.S. Shit, it's hard to get people to throw $4 in the mail for a 7" these days! So I really appreciate the support that both my band, and now my record label, has gotten from the international hardcore scene.
MRR: what do you think of the scene. both locally and as a whole. good or bad.
KW: Every scene has its highs and its lows. The SF Bay Area's best asset is its sense of family. Seriously man, a lot of the kids around here are really tight and I really dig that about this area. I think that we take care of each other and when I say that, I don't mean that in some cheesy hardcore "unity' sort of way. I really mean that if I was in some trouble, I think that there are dudes around here that would really be there for me, no matter what. Unfortunately, in the last 2 years things have started to segregate a lot, and that sucks because we just don't have a big enough scene to support like 6 different "sub-scenes". But as a whole, i think that the bay area does a VERY good job of shutting out the stupid "cool-guy" bullshit attitudes about what bands are cool to like and which band is the most hyped, and I think most kids genuinely like what they like and are vocal about that. I mean, I just feel like in other scenes around the country, there's more of a groupthink kind of mentality where you like a particular band because they're on a particular label and playing a particular kind of hardcore. And yes, we have that to an extent, but I think it's not nearly as bad as other places in the country and I think that is a real asset to us. The only "bad" thing that I can say about our scene is kind of the flip side of what I just said. Because the kids here tend to just sort of close their eyes to what's hyped or what's cool out there, i think that sometimes the bay area doesn't have much of a "national hardcore" type outlook. And I think that hurts both our local bands, and the touring bands that come through here. I just think that the kids here sometimes overlook a lot of bands that are out here, and so when they come through, the shows are really small. And for local bands, the same thing happens - they dont' get out there and tour and make contacts around the country, and so they just play the same SF Bay Area shows for 2 or 3 years and finally break up, you know? But, I do think that the good definitely outweigh the bad and I'd rather have a more naive type of scene anyday than some jaded old fucks telling me what is cool and what isn't currently cool in hardcore.
MRR: do you have a favorite show you've played with the damage done? if so who played/where was the show.
KW: I have 2 favorite shows. They were about one month apart. One was November, 23rd, 2002 - our record release show for the Never Wash Away 7". We played with all of our friends at Gilman - Embrace The End, Scissorhands, Allegiance, and For The Crown. It was an all local hardcore night at Gilman and over 300 people paid to get in. It was the first time I really felt at "home" somewhere because The Damage Done is from all over the state of California, but that night, I really realized that the Bay was our home. The vibe of the show couldn't have been better, and every band just had a great set and an all around good time. The second best show was in December of 2002 at SF State. It was a show I booked for Champion and Embrace Today when they were touring. I put my two favorite local bands on it - Allegiance and Time For Living. Again, it was the vibe that made the show so cool. There were really only like 100 kids there, but I don't know that I have ever felt that way about a show before. It was both friendly and kind of calm, but at the same time so sincere and pationate. Just like a big party with a good group of friends, you know? I just had a really good time. But honestly, I think that our last show on October 4th is going to top both of those. Again, all of our friends are playing. This time it's Lights Out, Allegiance, For The Crown (their last show too!), and Champion. I can't wait.
MRR: now that the band has come to an end, what is the most important thing you hope for people to get out of the damage done?
KW: For kids that are trying to start bands, I hope The Damage Done can help offer some encouragement. We were just a bunch of kids, who didn't really know what we were doing, and we got together and made some shit that was pretty special for a few hundred kids. ANYONE can start a band, do a label, do a zine - it just takes some sincerity, some honesty, and a TON of hard work. If you love what you're doing, and you're sincere, you'll probabyl come out on top. And for kids that pick up The Damage Done records in the upcoming years, or even those kids that picked up our records while we were around, I hope that some people out there can find some things to be comforting and/or thought-provoking. Sometimes just realizing that someone else out there has been through the same shit as you can be a real help. It makes you feel a little bit normal in a world where I'm feeling increasingly out of step with the rest of the world, you know? I hope that the lyrics put forth in The Damage Done songs will make people realize 2 things: 1. you don't have to always talk about the same old "hardcore" things in your songs, and 2. some of the best songs can be songs where you're talking about a familiar issue, but you're adding your own experiences to it and therefore making that topic more relevent.
MRR: any final comments? and how can people get ahold of you?
KW: SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL HARDCORE PUNK SCENE. Ignore fashion, it's a non-factor. Don't categorize bands based on how they LOOK. Get into bands based on what they stand for, what you like about their music, not what they look like on stage. Go to all different kinds of shows, check out bands from ALLEGIANCE, LIGHTS OUT, CROSS THE LINE and TIME FOR LIVING, to bands like LIFE LONG TRAGEDY, ALL BETS OFF, and EMBRACE THE END, to bands like WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? (RIP), SCHOLASTIC DETH (RIP), THE LAB RATS (RIP). If you think that those bands aren't hardcore, that they're "just punk bands" or some stupid shit like that, you need to do some research and re-think what hardcore really is. Punk is hardcore and hardcore IS punk. period. People can get ahold of me at Kyle@RivalRecords.net. Check out www.RivalRecords.NET. Thanks so much for the interview Dave, you rule.