Nearly three years ago, Joe Trohman and Scott Ian met up, drank a fair amount and started talking about — of all things — their mutual love for Thin Lizzy. That initial conversation was the de facto beginning of the Damned Things, their heavy-riffing, hard-strutting new band.
Of course, back then, both men were still busy with their day jobs — Trohman as the guitarist of [artist id="1235716"]Fall Out Boy[/artist] and Ian as the epicenter of thrash legends [artist id="1033"]Anthrax[/artist] — so rather than pursuing the idea of forming a group together, they simply recorded a demo and kept the project under wraps, referring to it only with a super-secret (and sorta-awesome) code name: Methuselah.
As you probably know by now, in the time since those initial sessions, things have changed , which means that, as 2010 comes to a close, Trohman and Ian now have a full band (joined by FOB drummer Andy Hurley, Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano and Every Time I Die yowler Keith Buckley) and a brand-new album, Ironiclast, due next week. About the only thing that’s changed is the name of the project. Seems no matter how rad of a handle it might have been, Methuselah just wasn’t going to cut it.
“It was a really a good name; we couldn’t use it for legality’s sake,” Trohman laughed. “There’d probably be some guy in a Florida trailer park that was like, ‘I was in Methuselah in the ’60s, and check out this band with these current dudes that I think are rich. That’s my money!’ ”
“There were a few bands called Methuselah,” Ian added. “But nobody actually had it trademarked, so we could’ve used it, but the second we would’ve done anything, our lawyer was like, ‘Expect to be sued,’ so we didn’t want to start this with a lawsuit.”
So instead, they settled on the Damned Things — “Keith thought of it, because he’s a words guy,” Trohman joked — and got to work, reshaping their older material into a lean, mean batch of songs that somehow manages to incorporate the best elements of each member’s other bands (the speedy riffs of Slayer, the hooks of FOB and the growl of ETID) while still remaining, at its core, a very retro-leaning record, with the blue-collar heart of Thin Lizzy and the majestic fretwork of Led Zeppelin being two obvious touchstones. And, somewhat surprisingly — given, you know, the whole Fall Out Boy connection — they’ve managed to win over even the most die-hard of hard-rock fans. For the most part.
“It’s gratifying. I love the band and love the record, and everybody else in the band loves the band and loves the record, and that’s, first and foremost, the most important thing to me,” Trohman said. “And we all have made music in the past partly for ourselves and partly for other people, so it’s nice to see people digging it whether they want to or not. … I’m actually happy to see that there’s people that really, really like it, or don’t like it, because of the fact that we’re able to invoke some sort of strong feeling. It’s a good thing, I think.”
And despite the varying nature of their respective groups, Trohman and Ian say the Damned Things remain, for the foreseeable future at least, their main focus. That’s sort of the whole point of the thing, really.
“We’ve got tours lined up to the summer at this point — actually, options and opportunities to do stuff worldwide all the way through October. And that’s obviously what we’re hoping for. We were hoping we’d make a record that would stand on its own and not be about, like, ‘Well, let’s just book this band because it’s these guys from this band and these guys from this band,’ ” Ian said. “It’s really been about the record. The record’s been the driving force. If anything, with the success of [first single] ‘[We've Got a] Situation [Here]‘ on the radio, it’s been more about that than even who’s in the band anymore, and that’s kind of what we’ve been hoping for, and that’s why we get to go on tour, and that’s why we’ll keep playing shows. … Really, when it comes down to it, nobody really cares who’s in the band if you make a crappy record.”
And to that end, they’re already lining up plans for their upcoming shows (including a two-month run on the Jägermeister Tour alongside Buckcherry, All That Remains and Hellyeah), which may or may not include a cameo by the star of the Ironiclast album cover: a thoroughly zombified George Washington. Because, really, all great metal bands need a solid mascot.
“That might happen,” Ian laughed. “Because, you know what? If we’re ever that big, where we could have a 20-foot zombie George Washington come onstage, we will.”
Will you check out the Damned Things on tour? Let us know in the comments!