RAT’S JOURNEY TO LONDON
The Damned’s drummer Rat Scabies was born in New Morden, Kingston in Surrey. “It was kind of a council estate with houses after the war. It wasn’t that bad really, we had quite a nice garden and it was an alright area. I spent some of my early years there and then my folks moved out into the sticks up near Gatwick. There I eventually found myself moving up to London and Notting Hill Gate.”
My first musical loves were probably Pinky and Perky and Speedy Gonzales but that didn’t mean anything I suppose. My first love for real music probably came with Sandy Nelson and The Dave Clark Five. Anything with a lot of drums on because there used to be a lot of jazz on the radio and there’s a drum solo in every jazz song. That held my attention and I loved the sound of the instruments.
Choosing the drums was just one of those things. God said: “You’ve got ginger hair and by the way you’re gunna be a drummer!” I was always quite unpopular in bands because I only wanted to play fast. People probably thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to play a wistful ballad. It was running into Brian James (Damned guitarist) and everyone who had a lot of energy that we could channel into our own thing. Brian was responsible for using my fast energy in the right way. The way you feel emotionally is reflected in the way you play. I was saying “This is how I feel!”
WEST LONDON PUNKS
It was very strange because we were very alternative. We had the ‘Pink Fairies’ and ‘Deviants’ and that whole underground London feel. There were about 12 people that had punk hair and weren’t hippies, there was a bit of rebellion there. We were encouraged and we’d go and drink in the pub on a Saturday afternoon. It would be Paul Cook and Mick Jones, then Tony, me and Brian. There were quite a few other people around who weren’t in groups or didn’t want to be but they wanted to dress in drainpipe jeans and pointed shoes. This was 1975.
I think everybody worked alongside everybody else. There weren’t that many people who played but everyone had a go or they were just part of the scene. Everybody wanted Sid Vicious to be in their band because he looked so cool. It was that thing of “you can’t teach someone how to have a personality but you can teach them how to play a bass”.
I DON’T CARE
My image in The Damned was just kind of broke and poor I think! When you’re a musician, it’s easy to say there’s two personalities. Like for me, there’s one who plays the drums and then there’s Chis who sits at home reading about the Holy Grail! But I think that’s too much of a cop out, you are one and the same person otherwise you’re gunna end up with severe psychological shit going on! There are different moods, different drinks, different things going on but you’re the same.
It took me a long time to really understand what The Damned did, what it was and whether it was any good or not. It’s taken me this long to be able to listen to the records. I like it now but sometimes you can be so close to something, you can’t see what it is. I used to feel like a sad old git if I sat and listened to the records but then I thought, hang on, well I made this record so I can listen to it. It would have been nicer if we’d played it a bit smarter. Every record takes me to that period and it’s a good place to go back to. I’m very pleased we did ‘The Black Album’. It was experimental and we got away with it. That was one of the greatest things the band ever did.
SS-GB AND RAT’S SOLO ALBUM
I’m in a show called SS-GB, it’s a BBC series. It’s not really acting; I’m just walking up the road mumbling a sentence. Apart from that I’m putting a few albums out. I wasn’t sure how I was gunna feel about it because it’s like baring your soul. I always put it off. Matt and Brian at Cleopatra have always shown an interest and stayed friendly. Matt thought the album was a really good idea and that was enough to tip it over the edge and get it coming out. I’m really pleased I did it. It’s been quite well received.
NEW YORK WITH THE MUTANTS
We were there a couple of months ago and did the fourth album which is kind of soundtrack stuff really for TV ads and movie inserts, or whatever we can get from it. We are stopping being the Mutants because Paul Frazer the guitar player quit. But Chris and I decided the two of us are gunna carry on. We’ve got to come up with a new name but the best news is we’re already at least three quarters of the way through the album. I’m really pleased with it and within the next couple of weeks we’re starting a crowd funder.
There were times when we were on a rampage and hotels would get trashed before we’d even checked in.
The other day I found a lino cup that Viv Stanshall made for me and signed. That was nice. He was in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. He was on The Damned single ‘Lovely Money’.
Always ignore the advice of “Go on, it will be alright.” When someone says that it always ends up in disaster.