July 19, 2016 The Damned – Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead (Movie Review)
Originating in the ’70s, Punk Rock took the world by storm with its rebellious ways and unforgiving attitude; mostly centered around making one’s own carefree decisions while disregarding the opinions of others. Mainly taking refuge in the streets of larger cities such as London, England, and New York, New York, this new and daunting scene held no boundaries, and surely presented those who took interest were not afraid to show their true colors.
While taking their own spin on Punk Rock and emerging through the scene with big names such as the Ramones and The Clash, it was easy to get overlooked, even for another pioneering band such as The Damned. Heavily influenced by Punk culture and their own creative minds, this band has impacted the scene in their own unique style; paving the way for many Punk groups to come, through their ostentatious and intriguing music.
For those who were not alive in the 1970s to see it for themselves, Filmmaker Wes Orshoski (Lemmy 2010, Shuggie Otis: Live in Williamsburg 2015) takes them on a journey that will show the real ins and outs of a true Punk band such as The Damned. Taking an interest in the ensemble, Orshoski digs deep into the history surrounding the band and even gets the inside scoop through a series of interviews with the group and some close friends, alongside fellow musicians. Titled Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead, the Documentary first premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas back in March 2015, being hyped up by long-time fans, and even gathering a new audience for this long-time band.
Now available on DVD/Blu-ray as of May 20, 2016, Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead was shot over a three year long period and features live footage of performances, ranging from their earliest days to present time, alongside the drama that came along with the whole ordeal. Following their story of musicianship, this Documentary takes fans through a growing list of lineup changes and discography, what it was like to be in the band, and gives exclusive access to the minds and souls of The Damned.
With honorable mentions, such as being the first for many in music history – release a single in the UK, release an album (UK), and tour overseas (United States) – The Damned took pride in their accomplishments, and better yet, music. With their current lineup consisting of Dave Vanian (Vocals), Captain Sensible (guitar), Monty Oxymoron (keyboards), Pinch (drums), and Stu West (bass), the band did not always look so collected; considering there being a switch in vocalists and a shuffle in instrumentalists, not all fans and even the band were at their happiest in all moments. But after throwing their initial lineup together, the group took off in the underground scene, playing their first show supporting The Sex Pistols in 1976; and soon after releasing their first single as a band, making Punk Rock history. After their first and second album release – 1977’s Damned Damned Damned and Music for Pleasure – and a full tour around The United States, The Damned called it quits and broke up in 1978.
Through the hardships that came alongside The Damned, Orshoski was able to get insight through a group of interviews conducted with Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Mick Jones (The Clash), Lemmy (Motörhead), and members of Pink Floyd, Black Flag, Guns N’ Roses, the Sex Pistols, Blondie, and a whole lot more. Putting a whole new light on The Damned, this once ignored band soon came to their senses and decided to stitch old wounds, resulting in getting back together, but only going by a new name; Les Punks.
This new group consisted of some original members while also picking up some new for the ride. Les Punks featured Rat Scabies, Vanian, Sensible, and Lemmy (Motörhead); a thrown together version of The Damned. After some studio time and not a lot of thought, the guys decided to go by The Damned again, as it did not make much sense as to why they did not initially; the band continued on to write more music and play shows for their growing audience.
Through more lineup changes and singles dropped here and there, The Damned was still going strong, on their own road to success. Even after so many years of writing, recording, touring, changes, and an overload of drama, one can still find The Damned playing live shows for their old and believe it or not, new fans.
Well-written and produced, Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead is a perfect example of a good Documentary. Covering all of the basics, and even getting further in depth through interviews with fan favorites, viewers are not to be disappointed with the work of Wes Orshoski. Nowadays, when newer generations hear the words “Punk Rock,” their minds immediately jump to bands such as Green Day, Sum 41, and Blink-182; who would not be here if it were not for pioneering bands along the likes of the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and of course The Damned. Through hearing their stories of dedication, frustration, hardship, and true Punk Rock in all of its glory, CrypticRock gives Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead 3.5 out of 5 stars.