Could the four get together once again? While Sensible and Scabies keep their counsel, Vanian and James are more vocal in their support for a reunion. “Dave would do it, I know Rat would, I would, as long as everybody kept their promises,” James says. “But I worry that it’ll take somebody dying before the other three say we should have done it.” That’s echoed by Vanian. “I’d love to play with the old lineup,” he insists. “It’s something the audience would love and the band, while they can do it, should do it at least once. It would be nice for closure. Is it impossible? Not while we’re still alive.”
It’s been a long journey since Vanian’s deadpan opening line, “Is she really going out with him?”, and Scabies rat-a-tat drum introduced “New Rose” – and punk – to a record-buying public. Much of their story can be seen in Wes Orshoski’s fine 2015 doc, The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead. In May this year, The Damned’s present five-piece lineup, led by Vanian and Sensible, celebrated the group’s 40th anniversary with a show at the Albert Hall, a venue from which they were banned in 1977. Much has changed during the intervening years – not least, lineups, musical direction and inter-band violence – yet Rat Scabies, for one, believes there is still unfinished business. “Even today, I believe we could make a brilliant record,” he says. “I had that faith then and I have it now, faith in the people and attitude, the way they did things. They were all talented, there were no wasters. I’ve always thought we could pull it off.”
Uncut: the past, present and future of great music.