As recently announced by Dromedary Records, iconic but oft-overlooked underground porto-grunge band Das Damen is reissuing their eponymous debut EP in remastered form, retitled 1986: KEEPS ME WILD, expanded from 6 track to 17 tracks (!) alongside a new issue of drummer Lyle Hysen’s fanzine, Damaged Goods (also the name of Hysen’s record label) featuring a comprehensive timeline of the band, show flyers, oral history, and words from Thurston Moore, Tom Sharpling, and more.
The reissue includes a few new demos and reworked/updated tracks featuring a few other rock legends: Dez Cadena of Black Flag, Thalia Zedek of Come, Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, The Fluid’s John Robinson, and A Girl Called Eddy. After being out of print for decades, these tracks will be back in action on September the 8th, 2023 (deluxe vinyl and digital download available in October).
The first single off the project, “Trick Question” is available for streaming now, along with an official music video (see above). Listening to this song is about all you need, while walking around the city—especially if pumped through the ‘phones of a portable CD player—to feel like it’s 1986 again and to pretend the East Village hasn’t become a bit of a big frat house. It was in this legendary, filthy scene, that Das Damen got their start as little punk NYU students, back when NYU students could be punk. Listening to this record smells like the streets of the 1980’s downtown scene.
“Trick Question” is among the six songs found on the original EP, expanded (as previously mentioned!) to a whopping 17 tracks for 1986: Keeps Me Wild. To this day, the original EP represents a vital piece of the downtown NYC underground music scene—a sound that got built upon and built upon until today, when the indie scene has evolved greatly, but is very much still alive and kickin’. Basically, they walked so later bands like the Strokes could run.
In other words, this collection of songs is truly a time capsule into the history of New York’s downtown music scene, a scene with which I personally am involved, and a scene, I presume if you’re reading this, that you care a bit about! Let the history lesson begin…
“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 to 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.” – publicist, Ken Weinstein
Das Damen was conceived of in 1984 when singer/guitarist Jim Walters, guitarist Alex Totino, EIGHT-STRING Bassist Phil Leopold Von Trapp (what a name!), and drummer Lyle Hysen joined forces, playing clubs in the East Village and absolutely crushing crowds with their hardcore mixture of punk, metal, and alternative rock.
“When we got the tapes baked several years ago, upon listening to them we discovered we had a few unfinished alternative 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.” – quote grabbed from BigHassle Press Release
This band, and in particular, this body of work, represents a moment in time, a pillar of NYC music, having been originally recorded with noted noise-rock producer Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, Pussy Galore), in his famed Fun City Studios.
“The EP’s ecstatic maelstrom expertly mirrored the tension, frenzy, and white noise…earn[ing] 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.” The upcoming remastered EP, augmented from the original Ecstatic Peace! Tapes will add a little bit of glimmer and shine to their trademarked grit. Sean Glonek at SRG Studios made sure of that when he took a stab at the tapes, overseen by Walters, Hysen, and best-selling author/producer Tom Beaujour.
And as if that’s not enough, the East Village Punk OG’s have announced their first live date in over three decades at the Drom30 Festival on September 16th, 2023, which will take place in the picturesque, magical place that isthe Hudson Valley. The EP arrives digitally through Dromedary Records the week prior, on September 8th, followed by a Vinyl release in October.
In conclusion: A little nostalgia never hurt nobody, and I, for one, enjoy a little mood curation courtesy of some mid 1980’s punk rock music. And if you do too, be sure to check out Das Damen in 2023…