Speaking in the latest issue of Music Week, Jennings said he couldn’t turn down the chance to sign the punk legends to his label JV with Universal’s Spinefarm. Evil Spirits is released on April 13.
“It’s a massive privilege to work with them – I’ve always been a fan,” said Jennings. “I first saw the band in 1978 and I probably saw them another 25 or 30 times over the next four years. We understand The Damned – it’s about respecting the past but making a modern record that felt like it was relevant for today. I feel like it’s their best since [1980’s] The Black Album.”
While the campaign will be built around the band’s live reputation based on 40-plus years of touring, Jennings said he’s hopeful of a new demographic coming on board.
“I’m hoping that we can get younger people into it,” he said. The label team will be working at getting the band on “the right playlists” – Jennings is on record about how tough it is for rock bands on streaming.
“It’s going to be challenging, but we’re making some inroads [with The Damned],” he told Music Week. “I think it’s a bit of education, really, for the fanbase and getting people into devouring music in different ways. So, it’s always going to be a challenge for a band like this who do have sort of an older demographic.”
The album was produced by Tony Visconti in Brooklyn. Jennings said David Bowie’s former producer is “a massive fan” of The Damned.
“I just think it’s a really modern-sounding rock record,” he added. “They are a punk band in terms of their heritage, I suppose, but they have always been pushing boundaries.”
With the comeback album set to drop this week, Jennings is confident there's a lot of goodwill for The Damned.
“What we’ve found is that there’s an awful lot of kids out there that are big Damned fans, and a lot of people in the industry that are maybe lapsed Damned fans," he said. "I hope that it will bring people back with this record, and maybe people will even reappraise the band’s catalogue and history. I genuinely think [Evil Spirits] is right up there with their best work. They are still relevant and they can still write fantastic songs.”
To read the full interview with Craig Jennings, The Damned and their mananger Jamal Chalabi, subscribers can click here.
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