Damarge
Damarge - Live at The Cliffs Pavilion - Cliff + Iain - October 1983
Damarge - Live at The Cliffs Pavilion - Iain 'Oaf' Weir - Bass - October 1983
Damarge Live at The Cliffs Pavilion - Cliff + Iain
Iain 'Oaf' Weir - Bass (October 1983)
 
...The Story...
 

Damarge - Live at The Cliffs Pavilion - Bill 'Kirt Tempest' Bailey: keys/tapes/electronic beats - October 1983Damarge existed as a functioning unit between late 1981 and 1984 and were based in the Southend-on-Sea area and comprised: Bill 'Kirt Tempest' Bailey: keys/tapes/electronic beats, Iain 'Oaf' Weir: bass, Cliff Gee: voice, Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove: percussion. The band was originally formed by Kirt, Oaf & Cliff who all attended Westcliff High School together. The band was later complimented by the addition of Hadleigh's greatest musical export - Snowboy - sometime in early 1983 after a chance meeting with Kirt at Honky Tonk music store (in Hadleigh) earlier that year.

The original 3-piece band practiced in Oaf's bedroom with pretty minimal equipment. The first song to be written was 20,000 Souls - a chorus chant about West Ham United's Upton Park football ground in East London (Kirt & Oaf both supported the club).

The name of the band is subject to some confusion - and rightly so as no-one in the band could actually get it right. Originally the suggested band name was "Malicious Damage" (Killing Joke's record label) but this seemed a bit cliched. As Kirt was utterly (and famously) inept when comes to do with anything related to foreign Damarge - Live at The Cliffs Pavilion - Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove: percussion - October 1983languages his pathetic attempt at translating that name into French was (phonetically) "Mal-shay-hers Dam-arge" (but in awfully heavily-accented pseudo-French). The thing was no-one knew how to spell Kirt's pitiful (almost shameful) attempts at the French for "Malicious". Although the word damarge was quite easy, everyone agreed with that, the first word caused some debate regarding how to spell it. Various (somewhat elaborate) variants were tried such as Malcéeurse, Malschheeursse, Malshooheurrse, Malshéeurres, Malsheeurse and so on (Malshoes was also tried but didn't last long).

The problems with the first word was a source of amusement (for a short while at least) so it remained in the band's official name - although the spelling tended to vary significantly. However, most people opted for the sensible approach and simply referred to the band as "Damarge". The band's output was marked by three relatively distinct phases.

Damarge - Photo BoothEarly Period: 1981 to early 1982
A period of early exploration and experimentation - usually undertaken in Oaf's bedroom-cum-studio or Kirt's lounge. Snowboy was not a member at this time and no polished recordings were made and just one gig performed (Zero 6 where all these songs were performed). Songs written at this time included 20,000 Souls (the first song ever written by the band), The Awakening, Are You Getting Enough (Sex In Your Life)?, In Remembrance of M.P. (about our good friend Mark Paveley who tragically killed himself while only 18 years old) and Jazz-Funk - a concoction of self-indulgent solo Fender-Rhodes improvised jazz riffs (in the vein of the jazz-funk style popular at the time) and an eccentric cacophony of sounds and effects resulting from feeding the Dr. Rhythm through a Big Muff distortion peddle and a Korg x911 guitar synthesizer (not what it was meant for). Note: Are You Getting Enough (Sex In Your Life)? was based on a Test Card tune Kirt heard while off school one day.

Mid Period: 1982 to early 1984
This was the most productive era and was marked by Snowboy joining the band (any connection anyone?). Bodyrock was written and Damarge played at The Cliffs Pavilion band contest (one of the biggest venues in Essex). This phase marked the use of more sophisticated equipment, notably - all be it on day hire - the E-mu Drumulator sample drum machine and completion of the main demo tape using some borrowed digital effects. Other songs written/recorded here was Cold (a 5 minute instrumental that would be described as Dark Ambient nowadays and of which only a couple minutes survive), I Feel Love (the classic Donna Summer track from 1977 who some say was the best thing the band did) and Break On Through (To The Other Side) - a cover of the classic Doors song.

Late Period: 1984
Damarge - Live at The Cliffs Pavilion - Cliff + Iain - October 1983This period was marked by a more fragmented set of styles and a few songs that were never recorded but performed live a few times. These songs include Bostok & Chandler (the authors of an A-level mathematics text book), 'The 60's Sound' (never completed nor given a complete title), OBN (which stands for Old Boy Network and was a reference to the real OBN Kirt encountered on a daily basis while working in The City) and Heteroman - an outrageously pumping gay-disco anthem with a catchy Eastern-style riff. The band also wanted to perform a version of Hendrix's Purple Haze - but only a Simmons syndrum track was recorded by Nigel Wilshire (now lost). Nigel - a great drummer and neighbour - also recorded the drums for Heteroman and the high-hats heard on the main recording of The Awakening. One of the catchiest songs that was never recorded by the band itself was The Maceeursse Waltz, a catchy little song that was later recorded (in demo form only) by Oaf for his unreleased solo album Neuf Oaf beuf Damarge - Live at The Queens Hotel - 17.01.85 - The Last gig sur la plat (that album title was given to the album by Kirt whose knowledge of French was limited to the phrase "neuf Oaf beauf sur la plat" - which is meaningless nonsense). Kirt played this tune to Oaf one day and it also stuck in his head, so much so that he later crudely recorded it himself using a casio VL Tone. This was during his brief (one afternoon) solo excursion into keyboard orientated music that was a piss-take of Damarge.

This period was mainly marked by more gigging and some loss of focus as band members started their working lives and going to college (the usual stuff). The only surviving record of these songs is on the pretty poor-quality live recording from The Pink Toothbrush concert - however upon closer listening to these tracks one hears some pretty good songs - shame they never got recorded properly. Oh well.

The band never officially broke-up, members just went on to do their own things and still keep in touch. There is always talk (or should we say 'threats') of reforming for a one-off gig - but current obligations and logistics may make this worthy goal unrealistic. Well, at least for the time being ? but then again ?

Profile by Bill Bailey

Discography

Damarge - Les Box Set (sur la plat) - (2x12" + 4x10" + 8" + CDr (Equation Records (US) E=mc03 / E=mc04 - 2004) - (Limited Edition of 23 Copies)

Les Box Set (sur la plat) - (2x12" + 4x10" + 8" + CDr) (Equation Records (US) E=mc03 / E=mc04 - 2004)
(Limited Edition of 23 Copies)

 

 

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