The Damned were the punk band your mother didn’t know about. Sure mom had a clue about the evils of the Sex Pistols, the joyful mindlessness of The Ramones and even could hum about rocking the Casbah with The Clash, but she was clueless about Captain Sensible and company. The English punk band was an amazing mix of bubble gum pop, Gothic beauty and chainsaw rock. Now their story will be told with the arrival of The Damned: Don’t You Wish We Were Dead in theaters across North America. Here’s the press release from the band about screenings:
Los Angeles Screenings Begin 7/28, New York on 8/3
“Funny, fast-moving and gloriously chaotic” — The Hollywood Reporter
“Excellent” — Uncut
“Fascinating” — The Arts Desk
“Searingly honest” — Hot Press
After packing cinemas and collecting rave reviews across the U.K. in June, THE DAMNED: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead opens in North America on July 28 and screens in select U.S. and Canadian theaters throughout August. (See full list of dates/cities/cinemas below).
Hailed as “excellent” by Uncut, “fascinating” by The Arts Desk, and “funny, fast-moving and gloriously chaotic” by The Hollywood Reporter, the film was directed/produced by Wes Orshoski, and is the first fully authorized documentary on punk pioneers The Damned.
Ireland’s Hot Press raves: “Orshoski came onto our radar with the acclaimed Lemmy documentary in 2011 [which he co-directed/produced] and has once again created a tour de force, presenting an entertaining and searingly honest depiction of the grievously overlooked punk legends.”
The U.S. screenings begin Tues., July 28, with the first of seven Southern Californian screenings. The New York premiere is Mon. Aug. 3 at Village East Cinema. Damned drummer Andrew “Pinch” Pinching will participate in three Southern California Q&As (see details below). Orshoski will take part in post-film Q&As following the New York and L.A.-area screenings, as well as those on Aug. 16 in Philadelphia (Underground Arts) and Aug. 21 at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland.
Shot around the globe over three years, and world-premiered in March at SXSW, THE DAMNED: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead tells the story of the third prong in the holy trinity of U.K. punk. In advance of both the Sex Pistols and the Clash, The Damned was the first U.K. punk band to release a single (1976’s immortal “New Rose”), the first to release an album (‘77’s frenetic Damned Damned Damned), and the first to tour America (planting their flag at CBGB in April 1977). Now in their 39th year, The Damned are the only band from London’s 1976 Punk Rock Big Bang still touring the world today.
In addition to Damned founders Captain Sensible, Dave Vanian, Rat Scabies and Brian James, the film includes appearances by such one-time bandmates as The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones (The Clash) and Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, as well as such rock and/or punk luminaries as Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Steve Diggle (Buzzcocks), JJ Burnel (The Stranglers), Duff McKagan (Guns N Roses), Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Keith Morris (Black Flag/Circle Jerks/OFF!), Dexter Holland (The Offspring), Jack Grisham (T.S.O.L.), and more.
Taking its name from the title-track of the Damned’s 1979 album, Machine Gun Etiquette, the film charts the band’s unique history, bitter infighting and legendary bad behavior (drummer Scabies is blamed for creating punk’s “gobbing,” or spitting, phenomenon); it takes viewers into the toilets once scrubbed by Captain Sensible and viewers follow the Damned on their world-wide 35th anniversary tour in 2011—which estranged band founders Scabies and James are seen on screen answering with a snarling celebration of their own. In a bizarre twist of fate, other former members find themselves being treated for the same form of cancer by the same doctor in the same Welsh cancer ward; elsewhere, the band’s founding members are seen grappling with their legacy, and the fallout from missed and/or bungled business decisions that have kept them painfully working class for most of the past four decades.
The Arts Desk: “Where many music documentaries have a similar dynamic arc—rise, fall, rise again—Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead is a fascinating, rambling saga that emanates a rich, sometimes morose, sense of what it’s really like to have a whole life defined by the oh-so-brief explosion that was punk rock.”
In the film, The Damned is credited with helping to ignite the punk scene in America. In 1977, the Damned were the first of the U.K. punks to play in both New York (at CBGB) and Los Angeles (at the Starwood).
In 2010, The Huffington Post’s Binky Phillips recalled the band’s U.S. debut: “I was down at CBGB with a chip on my shoulder. My town was Punk Ground Zero…. I was, in fact, without a struggle, reduced to fan boy within 30 seconds. It was as if the entire evening proceeding them had been in black and white and suddenly we were thrust into Technicolor Oz.”
July 6th marked the 39th anniversary of the band’s first gig (at London’s fabled 100 Club), and in May 2016, The Damned will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a performance at The Royal Albert Hall.
THE DAMNED: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead U.S. and Canada Screening Dates and Locations are listed below with more dates soon to be confirmed. For more information on ticketing and screenings please visit the documentary’s official website.
7/28: Los Angeles, Laemmle Noho 7 (North Hollywood)***
7/29: Los Angeles, Laemmle Royal***+++
7/30: Los Angeles, Laemmle Playhouse (Pasadena) ***+++
7/31: Boston, Regent Theatre
7/31-8/1: Santa Ana, CA, The Frida (Friday screening is sold out) ***+++
7/31-8/1: Long Beach, CA, The Art Theatre of Long Beach***
8/1: St. Louis, MO (Mad Art Gallery)
8/3: New York, Village East Cinema***
8/4: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Nitehawk (sold out) ***
8/5: Ashburn, VA, Alamo Drafthouse
8/7-13: Phoenix, FilmBar
8/8-9: Richmond, VA, Visual Arts Center of Richmond
8/10: Austin, TX, Alamo Ritz
8/10: Portland, Maine, SPACE Gallery
8/12: Washington D.C., Angelika Pop-Up
8/13: Dallas, Texas Theatre
8/13: Baltimore, Ottobar
8/14-16: Seattle, Northwest Film Forum
8/16: Philadelphia, Underground Arts***
8/16: Baltimore, Ottobar
8/16-23: Portland, Oregon, Clinton St. Theatre
8/17: Vancouver, Canada, Rio Theatre
8/19: Columbus, Ohio, Gateway Film Centre
8/19-20: Ottawa, Ontario, The Mayfair
8/21: Cleveland, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum***
8/22-23: Atlanta, The Plaza Theatre
8/24: Littleton, Colorado, Alamo Drafthouse
8/28: San Francisco, Roxie
8/30: Yonkers, NY, Alamo Drafthouse
11/13: St. Paul, MN (Sound Unseen Film Festival)
*** To be followed by a Q&A with director Wes Orshoski
+++ Damned drummer Andrew “Pinch” Pinching will take part in the post-film Q&A in Los Angeles, Pasadena and at the first screening in Santa Ana (on Aug. 1)
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.