When Lyle of Das Damen explained the reissue to us, the thing we had the most difficulty understanding was the “reimagined” tracks. These were tracks dating back to 1986 – unfinished studio recordings that, for whatever reason, were incomplete. And the band wanted their friends to help finish these 37-year-old tracks. How was that going to work?
In practice, though, their pals – some of whom they’ve known since these songs were recorded – breathed new life into the music. Gary Lee Conner’s (Screaming Trees) guitar solo to open “Trick Question” transforms the song, from the slow burn of the original to an explosion of energy, right out of the gate. Dez Cadena (Black Flag) and John Robinson (The Fluid) add blasts of hardcore and thrash to the proto-grunge of “Behind My Eyes.” A Girl Called Eddy adds experimentation to the previously unreleased “Tsavolution #9.”
But it’s Thalia Zedek (Come, Live Skull) providing a new lead vocal on “How Do You Measure” that’s revelatory. The immediacy of her voice, singing over tracks nearly four decades old, is stunning. It’s almost shocking to know that this track is as old as it is, with Zedek’s voice capturing the almost desperate pleas of the original, and wrapping it in the wisdom of experience.
If you buy the entire album from our store, you get the download of “How Do You Measure” now. Or, you can listen to it on this visualizer.
We are beyond stoked to announce that we’ll be releasing a deluxe, reissue of the legendary Das Damen’s debut ep, titled 1986: It Keeps Me Wild. Newly remastered and augmented with an array of previously unreleased demos, reimagined tracks, and a brand-new issue of drummer Lyle Hysen’s legendary fanzine Damaged Goods (featuring a comprehensive timeline, show flyers, oral history, testimonials from Tom Scharpling, Thurston Moore and more), the LP will be released digitally on Friday, September 8, with deluxe vinyl and digital download available in October. Pre-saves and preorders are available now.
In addition to two never-before-heard demos, It Keeps Me Wild is highlighted by reworked versions of cuts culled from the EP’s original 1986 recording sessions, featuring new contributions from such friends and fans as Dez Cadena (Black Flag), Thalia Zedek (Come, Live Skull), Gary Lee Conner (Screaming Trees), John Robinson (The Fluid), and A Girl Called Eddy. A video for the song “Trick Question,” directed by Dave Rygalski, is streaming now on YouTube.
“When we got the tapes baked several years ago, upon listening to them we discovered we had a few unfinished alternate takes from the original EP sessions,” says drummer Lyle Hysen. “We didn’t feel we could bring the same 1986 enthusiasm to finishing the tapes, but by bringing in a few people who we respect or are pals from back then, the re-imaginings would have a new energy of their own.”
“In the spring of 1991, we did our first US tour as a major label band after the release of Uncle Anesthesia,” says Screaming Trees’ guitarist Gary Lee Conner. “As the tour began, chaos ensued. A van wreck that should have been fatal led to Mark Lanegan falling off the wagon to start drinking again after nearly six years sober. My brother Van and our drummer at the time, Dan Peters, enthusiastically joined in the alcoholic debauchery which began in Chicago and ended the tour prematurely in Pensacola, Florida a month later. Our good friends and former label mates Das Damen were the opening band for most of the tour. Watching them play every night kept me sane. They have some of my all-time favorite songs, like ‘Grey Isn’t Black’ and ‘Bug.’ Now I even get to play on one of their songs. Pretty fucking cool!”
Das Damen will mark the release of 1986: It Keeps Me Wild with their first live date in more than 30 years. The one-time-only performance is set for Drom30, Dromedary Records’ weekend-long celebration of independent rock in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley, on Saturday, September 16.
Founded in 1984 by singer/guitarist Jim Walters, guitarist Alex Totino, eight-string bassist Phil Leopold Von Trapp, and drummer Lyle Hysen, Das Damen immediately proved themselves to be the electric children of the Stooges, MC5, Cheap Trick, and the Beatles, whipping up a glorious cosmic swirl of stadium-sized proportions that flattened East Village clubs while earning them a hardcore following of devoted fans across America and around the world. Originally released on Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! imprint in 1986 (and later reissued by SST Records), DAS DAMEN remains an earth-scorching touchstone in the downtown NYC underground movement and a milestone recording in the annals of American indie rock. The six anthemic songs contained therein remain as fist-pumpingly huge and evocative as ever, dripping with the grit, grime, chaos, and sludge of the 1980s downtown scene where the band members first converged as fledgling teenage punks attending New York University. But while Das Damen certainly shared an affinity for jacked-to-11 amps and ear-busting volume akin peers like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., songs like “Trick Question,” “Slave Bird” and “How Do You Measure” stand alone with otherworldly singalong harmonies, tasty hooks, monster riffs, and miles and miles of paisley-draped, hair-exploding style.
Originally recorded with iconic noise-rock producer Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, Pussy Galore) in the narrow, concrete-lined confines of his famed Fun City Studios in NYC, the EP’s ecstatic maelstrom expertly mirrored the tension, frenzy and white noise that earned Das Damen a reputation as a mind-blowingly epic live band, as heard on tours alongside Nirvana, Soundgarden, Black Flag, Green River, Screaming Trees, and DC3, amongst other like-minded luminaries. Remastered from the original Ecstatic Peace! tapes by Sean Glonek at SRG Studios and overseen by Walters, Hysen, and best-selling author/producer Tom Beaujour (Guided by Voices, Juliana Hatfield Three, Nada Surf), the new mix of DAS DAMEN brings a fresh layer of sheen even as it retains the signature primitive din that was the band’s trademark, its Stooges-on-speed rippers rife with King Crimson-esque time signature intricacies. Almost four decades after its explosive arrival, DAS DAMEN remains as thrilling, explosive, and forward-looking as ever before.
(Photo: Naomi Petersen, courtesy of Chis Petersen Images/Punk Life Naomi)
Single-day tickets for the Drom30 festival go on sale today at noon. Friday tickets are still available for $25 at tubbyskingston.lyte.com, and Saturday and Sunday tickets will be available for $40 per day, at https://www.viewcy.com/e/drom_30
The lineups for each day are as follows:
Friday, September 15: Tubby’s (Kingston, NY): • DJ Jeff Economy (WGXC) • Speed the Plough • Yung Wu
Saturday, September 16: The Avalon & Left Bank Ciders (Catskill, NY) • Das Damen • Antietam • Guy Capecelatro III w/Carrie Bradley • Cathedral Ceilings • Civic Mimic • Flower • French • Joy Cleaner • Sleepyhead • DJ Mark Shue (GBV) & Betsy Wright (Bat Fangs) • DJ Nick & Lysa (Radiant Point – WGXC) • DJ Al C (Dromedary/WIOX)
Sunday, September 17: The Avalon & Spike’s Record Rack (Catskill, NY) • Dippers (formerly Thigh Master) • Lotion • The Mommyheads • Monsterland • Overheard • Stuyvesant • Jenny Toomey & Friends • Bela Koe-Krompecher • DJ Metal Mark (Worldsucks) • DJ JC (Rigorous/KMES)
If you’re coming from out of town Saturday/Sunday, here’s why we hope you’ll buy a VIP pass.
In Ulster County, NY, where Dromedary is based and where the Yung Wu/Speed the Plough shows will be, approximately 1.5 in 10 residents, and almost one in five children, at times lack adequate food to meet their basic nutritional needs. About 12% of all residents in Ulster County have incomes below the poverty level.
In Greene County, NY, where the Avalon Lounge is located and where all the Saturday and Sunday activities will be, the numbers are similar. About 11% of residents are food insecure.
The Drom30 lineup is pretty special. It’s a great opportunity to see some amazing bands in an intimate space for a very affordable price. We are thrilled to share such a great lineup – in such a beautiful setting – with our out-of-town friends who are planning to spend a weekend.
But we’re also hoping that our out-of-town friends will give a little back by purchasing a VIP pass. The difference is $10 per ticket, you’ll get a free Dromedary CD sampler, and for every VIP pass sold, we will make a $10 donation to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
Drom30 tickets go on sale FRIDAY, May 19 at noon. We expect there to be a lot of demand, and the participating venues are small and tickets will be extremely limited.
This means that if you want to attend, you should be ready to buy tickets at noon on Friday. Don’t sleep on this!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Friday tickets are sold separately from Saturday/Sunday tickets.
For Yung Wu/Speed the Plough:
Tickets are $25 and will be available at the Tubby’s ticket website, which is at https://tubbyskingston.lyte.com. Visit that page, and scroll down until you find the Drom30 link. NOTE: Friday night tickets do not gain you admittance into Saturday or Sunday’s shows!
For Saturday and Sunday:
Tickets are being sold as two-day passes ONLY at this time. Early-bird passes are $60, and VIP passes are $70. Early-bird prices will only be available for a limited time.
VIP passes include a free Dromedary Records sampler CD, and a $10 donation to the food banks of Ulster and Greene County, NY. Especially for out-of-town visitors, we strongly suggest the VIP pass. It’s a great way to help give something back while you enjoy the amazing music and beautiful scenery of the Catskills and Hudson Valley.
We are working on pulling together some resources and guidance on weekend accommodations, so stay tuned for that!