Full steam and sexy brawls: an interview with Jack Kansas of Damn Vandals

Jack Kansa photos by Julian Simmons

Jack Kansa photos by Julian Simmons

In every decade there is a band which flouts the rules, kicks up sonic dust, and sets new templates for the following young protagonists of rock to set their inventions by. Right now it is hard to look past UK psyche rockers Damn Vandals as one of those inspirational rioters, especially taking their new album Rocket Out Of London as evidence. Their second album is a mentally twisting maelstrom of psychotic goodness from the London based quartet, a scintillating brawl of garage punk, psyche, and raw rock ‘n’ roll which brings addiction, dementia, and vigorous pleasure into a feverish union. Greedy to find out more and celebrate our competition to win a copy of their brilliant album, we accosted frontman Jack Kansas who, with the rest of the and breathing down his neck, talked about origins, killer riffs, the turn of a vicar’s ankle, and Star Wars analogies…

Hello and welcome to the site. Thanks for taking time out to chat with us.

Great to be here, the pleasure is all ours …

First up can be get some background to Damn Vandals and its members, their personal histories and how you all linked up?

Damn Vandals are a pan-European sludge (part Swiss, part Sheffield, part Northern Irish, and part London) that evolved and crawled on to land just over three years ago. We’ve now mutated in to a rock monster sustained purely by a love of rehearsing alongside a blue plastic bag full of beer.

What was the spark with brought the band to life; any specific intent?

Foremost, we just try to entertain ourselves. If you’re going to spend the day lugging amps around and dodging over-zealous traffic wardens, then it’s best to ensure you’re getting your fun come show time.

What about the band name…an admission of a misspent youth? 😉

Hell yeah. Here at Damn Vandals HQ we strongly advocate misspending as much time as possible. Benefits include better song titles and a higher quality of pool playing.

It is fair to say that your debut album Done For Desire was eagerly devoured by fans and the underground press upwards, but it looks like the release of your new incitement Rocket Out Of London is poised to stir up a bigger hornet’s nest. Did you have any feeling in its making as to how it would impact on people and so swiftly?

We recorded the album in about ten days so there wasn’t really much time to think. I remember a lot of shouting and a lot of noise. Being in the studio can be a narcissistic process, but I can’t recall much of that sort of thing. If anything, it was like running naked through a hall of mirrors whilst bashing yourself on the head repeatedly with a hammer. Great fun if you like that sort of thing. Glad people are picking up on the urgency in the music.

Both albums have that Damn Vandals distinctive sound but the new release feels like it explores deeper depths and shadows within your songwriting as it brews a stronger almost intrusive virulence to its imagination. How do you see the difference and evolution between the two?

Yeah, Done For Desire is a bit bonkers, but Rocket Out Of London is full-on bonkers … this time we just plonked a bag of bricks on the accelerator and fastened our seat belts really.

The new release draws on the rich essences of everything from punk to noise rock, psychobilly to garage rock in its own form of rapacious DV coverrock ‘n’ roll. Have you taken any deliberate directions with Rocket Out Of London or has it emerged predominantly organically?

Adam the bassist has been yelling for the songs to be faster, shorter and harder for quite some time now. Basically he’s worn us down. He’s the Frankenstein. Personally I put it down to the soft abrasion of his Northern Irish accent – so trustworthy, yet so compelling. I love that man.

The album, as the first, seems to find inspiration and themes either lyrically or musically from the darkest seductions available. Where do you find your strongest sparks and inspiration seem to brew from?

You only have to turn on the internet to realise that the world is ablaze with billions of screaming voices, each with a bunch of weird stories. I guess we tap in to that and form a playground in the darkness. It might scare some, but hey Star Wars would be the dullest movie on earth without Darth Vader. You’ve got to a least entertain the dark side a bit, shake the tree and see what fun can be had with it – else there’s no sense of wonder when you finally blow the death star to smithereens and speed off in a blaze of glory screaming yee-haa. If in doubt, a highly complex Star Wars analogy answers most difficult questions – that’s what I usually say ….

How does the songwriting generally emerge within Damn Vandals?

All good rock songs should just start out as a killer riff – I learnt that by watching a BBC documentary on Black Sabbath, I think it’s the only thing TV has ever taught me. The riff works better if there’s a punchy hook. After that we smash the idea around the rehearsal room and see what joy we can have with it.

Does it run smoothly for the main or is there a tendency for vivacious debate when it comes to creating songs initially?

You can’t polish a turd. We learnt that early on. If an idea isn’t getting all four of us excited then it’s best to bin it as soon as possible and move on. That’s the ideal. We’ll probably have a blazing row now tonight …

I believe you were going to call the new album This Music Blows My Tiny Mind, also the title of one of the tracks on the release. What triggered the change to Rocket Out Of London?

It just sounded cooler. TMBMTM was a great working title that reminded us to keep the music on the edge of crazy. It just had too many words in it. ROOL just seemed to exactly fit the 10 songs.

The band and albums have been graced with comparisons to plenty of bands even with your uniquely flavoured sound and we have been no different though we seem to differ in finding a healthy flavour of Irish eighties rock band Fatima Mansions and now additionally Rocket From The Crypt in the new release also. What are your strongest inspirations personally and upon the band which have added a breath to your music?

At the end of the day, all we want to be is Led Zeppelin in their prime. That’s all any guitar boy really wants. Only a few of us are man enough to admit that.

 Marcus Maschwitz Photography 2012

Marcus Maschwitz Photography 2012

Is there a particular moment within Rocket Out Of London which gives you a naughty tingle of satisfaction, an essence where you feel the band has found the sweet spot?

One moment that hits the tingle button for sure is in Too Lazy To Die, Too Stoned To Live (Adam the bass player gets the credit for that song title, he said it down the pub once). Tingle time comes at about half way, as the tempo gears up and Frank flings himself in to one of his demonic trademark solos. Watching Frank lay down guitar tracks in the studio blows my mind. I love that guy.

You recorded the album as you did the first with producer Julian Simmons, what does he bring to the recordings which sparks the band’s creativity further in the studio?

Julian Simmons is the most aerodynamic man I know. He is also a genius and a man of considerable wit. Like most super heroes, however, he does have a weakness – his being a soft spot for hot female vicars. It’s his Kryptonite. Just the thought of a toned lady’s ankle swathed in the trim of a swaying cassock turns him to jelly. Other than that, he’s a dream to work with. He brings light, warmth, happiness, but most of all discipline in to the studio. Love that kid.

Did you change anything around or to the recording of the album which differed or evolved dramatically from the creation of Done For Desire?

There was just way more sweat this time around. I remember Chris the drummer emerging from the live room after takes looking as if he’d just sprinted at full tilt down to the Cost Cutter and back. He really shredded those skins to bits, relentlessly for days. Great drummer…Got to love that dude.

The first single from Rocket Out Of London certainly raised extra appetite for the album and makes a contagious opener for the album. Can you give some background to Twist Up And Tangle and its breeding?

Twist Up was the most recently written of the ten songs. It came together quickly in the rehearsal room and just made the recording session by a whisker. Frank’s guitar sounds as if it’s going to tear your ears off at the beginning – just seemed like a lovely way to start an album …

You have a big reputation for your feisty and fiery live performances too; we can expect plenty of shows in support of the album across the rest of 2014?

We’ll be playing as much as we can. First up, this May bank holiday we’ve got a couple of back-to-back festivals – Off The Tracks in Castle Donington on the Friday and Lechlade on the Saturday. They’re two great festivals – looking forward to those … of course there will be others too …

Are there any other plans for the year from Damn Vandals you can give us a sneak preview of?

Let me just open the pad lock on the DV’s box of top secrets … ah, I see wonderful things … some plans for a video involving 20 dancing girls, a Pooh bear suit and a giant pot of honey – not sure where we’re going with that one … oops, Frank’s coming – better shut the box …

We cannot let you leave without hearing about the wonderful story behind a song from the first album, The Revenge Of Spider Toothy.

No one believes me when I say that song was written by a three-year-old child. But once again I’ll scream it’s true … It’s based on a conversation I had with this kid. He had an imaginary anti-super hero friend called Spider Toothy who was out to seriously f-up human kind. I just nicked all the crazy things he did and all the creepy places in which he hid then made the odd bit rhyme. Bingo…Instant rock ’n’ roll. The kid’s got another track on the new album called I Hate School. Nobody believes he wrote that one either.

Once again our big thanks for sharing time with us. Have you any last thoughts to leave us pondering?

The pumps don’t work ‘cos the vandals took the handles. Bob Dylan said that. Thanks for having us Ringmaster, love Jack and all the DVs xxxx


Check out the Rocket Out Of London review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/damn-vandals-rocket-out-of-london/

And win yourself a cd of the new album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/win-a-copy-of-damn-vandals-spanking-new-album-rocket-out-of-london/ but hurry as closing date is Saturday May 17th

Pete Ringmaster
The Ringmaster Review 09/05/2014

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dv cover

Without doubt one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2014 has been Rocket Out Of London, the sophomore full-length from UK psyche rockers Damn Vandals. It is quite simply an exhilarating romp of psychotic rock ‘n’ roll which more than lives up to the greedy hopes and feisty expectations lying in wait for it. The album has not only reinforced the reputation of the band bred with debut album Done For Desire as one of the most original and promising propositions in British rock but cast the London quartet as a new template for psyche rock and sonically twisting ingenuity.

Featuring brawling incitements made from maelstroms of garage punk aligned to psyche and stoner rock, the album is a raw and hypnotic riot of insatiably addictive and demented rock ‘n’ roll. With tracks such as the aurally rapacious Twist Up And Tangle, the swamp-esque I Bring You Love, and the volcanic This Music Blows My Tiny Mind as well as the wickedly virulent title track, Rocket Out Of London is a dark and mischievous masterpiece and one you can get your fevered hands on for free.

Damn Vandals and Manilla PR have linked up with The Ringmaster Review to offer the readers the chance to win a free copy of Rocket Out Of London. It is the opportunity to romp voraciously one to one with one of the year’s major highlights from one of Britain’s most creatively dramatic and dynamic bands and we have two CDs up for you to win.

Simply answer this question in the comment box below leaving your name and email address. Submit your answers by Saturday May 17th when we will choose two winners randomly from the correct entries and be in touch for mailing details.

Now for the question…

What is the title of the first single taken from Rocket Out Of London?


Good Luck!


Read the review for Rocket Out Of London @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/damn-vandals-rocket-out-of-london/ …it might give a clue 😉

Check out Damn Vandals @ http://www.damnvandals.co.uk and the new album @ http://damnvandals.bandcamp.com/album/rocket-out-of-london


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Damn Vandals – Rocket Out Of London


It is fair to say that psyche rockers Damn Vandals swiftly set themselves a place in British rock as one of the most exhilarating and promising propositions with their 2012 debut album, Done For Desire. It was an encounter drenched in originality and a feverishly diverse flavouring setting the band apart from most. To confirm and stretch all of its potency within a new mentally twisting maelstrom of psychotic goodness, the London band now unleash the senses infestation that is Rocket Out Of London. It is a glorious swagger of caustic abrasion and acidic ingenuity honed from a brawling incitement of garage punk, psyche and stoner rock, as well as a vein of raw punk, simply put demented rock ‘n’ roll at its most addictive.

As for a great many, our admittedly eager affair with Damn Vandals began with the release of their Beautiful Mind EP, a widely acclaimed encounter awakening attention and appetite for the potential and instantly impressive presence of the band. The release and subsequent songs though was only the taster for bigger and major things to come, Done For Desire thrusting the quartet to new levels and into a richer spotlight with its release. Uncompromising but with a contagion to its presence which works under the skin like a welcome niggling itch, the band’s sound has found a new depth and power to its virulence with the new release whilst still retaining the raw dark textures and unhinged threat which stirred up the passions so quickly upon their emergence. As evidenced by Rocket Out Of London, it has become a twisting intrusive beast which wraps with almost insidious intent around the ears, permeating every pore and synapse with an exhaustive toxicity which simply ignites the imagination and passions. Produced by Julian Simmons (Midlake, Ed Sheeran, Guillemots, Goldheart Assembly) as was its predecessor, the album takes the listener on a dirty and intimidatingly shadowed ride through explorations of themes such as celebrity stalking, hard liquor, death by dreams, madness and homeland security amongst many but ultimately just through the creative mad ingenuity of the band.

The album opens with the first single uncaged from its wonderful aural rapaciousness, Twist Up And Tangle. Released mid-March, the dv coversong laid down the strongest bait for the full-length and still holds its intensive grip with an epidemic bait of granite sculpted rhythmic punches and scything sonic swipes of guitar. From its first second the song is an inescapable cage for the senses and emotions, a scarring provocation soon given richer fuel by the ever distinct and voraciously delivered vocals of Jack Kansas. The track is swiftly into a predatory stride, prowling around the ears with a sonically slavering intensity from the guitar of Frank Pick and the dark throated voice of bass held in rein by Adam Kilemore Gardens but still adding commanding menace to the whole of the psychotic fare. It is a masterful and insatiable stalking driven by the magnetic beats of Chris Christianson, but one which with its spewing discord and melodic flames as well as corrosive hooks and breath, provides a raucous dance to shield the fact we are being preyed upon.

Like a mix of Fatima Mansions meets The Birthday Party, the opener alone wakes a hunger to which the following Cities Of A Plastic World adds its own imaginative virulence. The track opens with a rhythmic drama speared by a ridiculously contagious hook, its abrasing hot touch a niggling pleasure just hard to get enough of. Around its tempting Kansas again parades the song’s narrative with unbridled expression whilst the guitar of Pick continuously lights up new corners and adventures to court his primary enticement with skill and enterprise, the album easily his finest inventive and moment yet, as it is of the band itself. The track sculpts another immediate pinnacle in the impending lofty range of the album and is soon equalled by Too Lazy To Die Too Stoned To Live, a sultry stroll with a citrus edge to its grooves and melodic teasing. There is a definite lick of Queens Of The Stone Age initially and Eagles of Death Metal later to its constant erosive taste and hypnotic stance.

I Bring You Love which made up part of the earlier mentioned single keeps the album coursing potently through the body, its psychobilly/Cajun swamp-esque stomp with sliding toxic mesmerism and blues bred frisking irresistible. The track just gets better and more virulent with every crossing of its red-neck terrain with dirty violating rock ‘n’ roll scenery. With more than a feel of Screaming Blue Messiahs to it and always an essence of the previously mentioned Cathal Coughlan led band to the presence of Damn Vandals, the track is a delicious lingering antagonist to unreservedly submit to.

Both Number One Fan and Whisky Going Free provide a new mischief to fully devote attention and passions to, the first merging classic and incendiary garage rock for a rampaging stomp built upon the intensive frame work of Christianson, a cage again laced with riveting guitar revelry and craft. Its successor sidles boisterously up to the ears with tight sinews and deviously coaxing addictive grooves, the track a less expansive dark tango than say the last but with a no less leaner determination in its air and voice to seduce and inflame the passions, which it does with ease.

The following I Hate School hits the spot perfectly but lacks the spark of other tracks, a familiarity and somewhat predictable essence to its body slipping up against the surrounding triumphs. To put it into context though, with absorbing blues/psychedelically teased guitar invention from Pick and a certain unavoidable catchiness to its lure, the song still has feet and emotions fully engaged before next up Mad As Hell takes them on a similarly successful and potent ride, if again without quite matching earlier heady heights. The track rumbles and strolls with attitude and a thought immersing design all the same to keep the fire for the album burning eagerly.

The closing pair of tracks takes the release back to its highest plateaus, the first This Music Blows My Tiny Mind, another incitement with the stance of a predator and the drive of a volcanic eruption expelling sizzling melodic flames, searing hooks, and climactic rhythms building to a quite scintillating final drama. Its successor, the title track brings the album to a glorious closure, its addiction forging rhythmic slavery and scorching guitar endeavour an inescapable virulence guided as masterly as ever by the gripping tones of Kansas. Like a mix of QOTSA, Julian Cope, and Rocket From The Crypt, the track is a brilliant finale to a quite outstanding taking of the soul.

Rocket Over London with ease reveals that Damn Vandals is no longer the potential future of certainly raw British rock ‘n’ roll and garage punk but the template.




RingMaster 07/04/2014

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Damn Vandals – Twist Up And Tangle


Marcus Maschwitz Photography 2012

Marcus Maschwitz Photography 2012

    Ahead of their new album, the highly anticipated Rocket Out Of London, UK sonic rock ‘n’ rollers Damn Vandals release new single Twist Up And Tangle. It is a manipulative little treat which brings the brilliance of debut album Done For Desire into an equally masterful but even more psychotically honed sound. It is a feverishly tasty temptation for what the new full-length is likely to offer; actually having heard the upcoming beast of a release, look out for a review soon, it is a very accurate indication of the triumph waiting in the wings.

     Damn Vandals has developed into one of the UK’s most ferociously compelling and ingeniously contagious rock protagonists since making their early bow with the widely acclaimed and remarkably masterful Beautiful Mind EP. With surrounding encounters and songs leading into the outstanding Done For Desire album, the London quartet announced themselves as an uncompromising and highly addictive proposition. Lyrically and musically sharp, their sound with its additionally earthy and raw breath consistently made an easy capture of the imagination and passions upon their debut, its stirring qualities built upon riotously incendiary live performances which also have earned the band a mighty reputation. Recorded with produced by Julian Simmons (Midlake, Ed Sheeran, Guillemots, Goldheart Assembly) as the previous release, Twist Up And Tangle and the upcoming Rocket Out Of London take all the recognised potent elements of the band on a dirtier, darker, and more intensive exploration.

     Twist Up And Tangle lurches into the ears with heavy punching beats and sonic scythes of raw scuzz kissed guitar, both coverthrusting the song forcibly and magnetically upon the senses. It is a scarring introduction which is soon riled up further by the excellent distinctive tones of Jack Kansas, his delivery as ever rigorously expressive and voraciously attention grabbing, much like the surrounding sounds. Soon into its sinew flexing stride, the track is prowling and bruising with every swerve and leap of its caustic dance. The track is a predator, but one offering rich infectious bait which seduces and romances the primal instincts within. The guitar of Frank Pick alone is sheer magnetism, his cutting riffs and sonic toxicity right through to a synapse scorching solo insatiably addictive and matched in aural kind by the throaty rapacious tones of Adam Kilemore Gardens’ bass and the wickedly intrusive rhythms of drummer Chris Christianson, not forgetting the persistent vocal devilry of Kansas. Like Fatima Mansions meets The Birthday Party at a demonically cast liquor orgy, the song is one of those corruptive pleasures which sets the heart and year ablaze.

    It is not alone though as its partner in crime I Bring You Love is equally as insidiously addictive. Merging psychobilly and dark Cajun licks within its dirty swamp of heavy duty rock ‘n’ roll, the song is a commanding drama reeking incitement with a swagger and dark hearted narrative to match. Pick again simply mesmerises as his riffs and slide guitar spawned hooks lustfully fondle your naughty bits whilst Kansas encourages the exciting violation with another expulsion of gruff syllables and angst kissed enticement. With rhythms that robustly resonate in bone and thoughts, the track is a riveting teaser for the album ahead and supplier of another bulky slab of pleasure.

    Released as the album through Sexy Beast, Twist Up And Tangle leaves the passions basking. It is a must have appetiser for the sure to be confirmation of the new Kings of British rock ‘n’ roll through their new album.

Twist Up And Tangle is released march 17th with Rocket Out Of London uncaged April 7th.



RingMaster 16/03/2014

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