My Dinner With Major Mistake (The Damn Bats)
Okay, I did not literally have dinner with Major Mistake - singer for the band The Damn Bats - I had a phone conversation and some texting back and forth with him about a week ago.
But here he is:
To be honest, The Damn Bats (a Chicago Band that grew a following in the UK) don't even really exist right now.
Most bands I like are in a constant state of "don't really exist right now." So, whatever.
And if you are wondering how he got the name, he was named by the legendary Captain Sensible of The Damned - and there is history there, not only was he named by Sensible, they did a kickin' cover of "New Rose", and later played with Rat Scabies (more on that in a second):
It is strange how you "meet" folks between blogging and being on social media platforms. I don't exactly remember how we originally started chatting, but it had to do with liking many of the same bands.
I know some people think asking about influences is lazy journalism, but:
A) I am not really a journalist and
B) Understanding someone's influences help establish an easy shorthand for discussion, so I ask about influences.
Anyway, our conversations originally started around liking UK punk.
In our phone conversation, I remember us starting with how he worked backwards into punk. That he started being a fan of bands like Duran Duran or Roxy Music and ended up gobsmacked by bands like The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and UK Subs.
I hear a lot of UK Subs in The Damn Bats:
Yes, UK Subs - who have been around since 1976 - are still making music after all these years (which is awesome).
Founder Charlie Harper promised to have one album for every letter of the alphabet and they are about out of letters. Supposedly they announced via Facebook that this would mean the end of their long-playing albums (but that hey would continue to release EP's).
That Damned Connection
Apparently, according to Major, he had heard of the Psychedelic Furs doing some work this way once too and decided to see if he could pull the same thing off with The Damned Bats.
Basically, if I understand things correctly, Major had a track lying around that he liked, he contacted Rat Scabies (drummer for The Damned) and sent him the demo of a song which he was hoping that Scabies would add drum tracks on.
Oddly enough, Rat agreed to do the track as long as Major paid for his studio time, and the result was this great track:
Interestingly enough, The Damn Bats drummer Zac D'Licious was so jazzed to be involved with Rat that he is singing in the call and response.
Major also told me a cool story about seeing Psychedelic Furs and almost getting kicked in the head by Richard Butler (having almost gotten my ass kicked at shows a million times I felt like I could have been there myself).
What Is The Deal With Bats?
Turns out Major is actually really invested in Bat conservation and has even provided Damn Bats tracks to raise money for conservation efforts.
His reasoning was that they are "misunderstood creatures, like me." He was also angry when several Bat Conservation compilation albums were released and they were never asked to contribute - so he just started contributing on his own.
I personally don't know too much about bats one way or the other, but I do remember seeing them fly around in Austin Texas :).
What About Chicago?
The other question I always want to ask is about the scene where people live. I especially like to ask about other area bands that people should hear.
Major recommended The Jetbirds:
And Felony 4:
One of his big complaints about Chicago club culture right now is that most venues are showing way too much love to nostalgic cover bands.
This is not exactly a surprise, but not great for the development of new music in one of Americas great music cities. Let us not forget the great WaxTrax
(And yes, I am a bit disturbed that North Korea's favorite band starts of the set).
I want to thank Major for the really great discussion. It was great trading stories with him from our punk histories.
You can check out more about The Damned Bats, more of Major's music and also his blog posts here.
Let me know what you think of The Damned Bats and the other bands I referenced. Would love to hear your opinions, leave a comment!