It seems like everywhere you turn your head these days, there's another supergroup popping out of the woodwork. (We wrote about a different one, Stockholm Syndrome, last week!)
Enter The Damned Things. Combining members of Anthrax, Fall Out Boy and Every Time I Die, the group initially started as a fun project and elaborate jam session and quickly developed into something worth unleashing on audiences in more than one of the member's hotel rooms or living rooms.
"It's approached as a way for all of us to express ourselves a different way and take out any frustrations that we have with any of the other bands and put them into this," guitarist Joe Trohman says. "This is stuff we can't get out with the other bands. This is becoming too good just to keep it always on the back burner or have it be something that only we know about."
Trohman, who is a member of the currently on-hiatus Fall Out Boy, started the group with Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian after a hotel room jam session grew to include friends and recruit others.
Trohman quickly brought in Fall Out Boy drummer Andy Hurley. Ian recommended fellow Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano.
While on the way to a rehearsal, Trohman and Ian were listening to Every Time I Die when singer Keith Buckley seemed like the obvious choice to lend vocals to The Damned Things. After a quick text message, Buckley was on board and his bandmate, Josh Newton was added later.
Of course, when Trohman and Ian added Caggiano in a drunken state, an "oh shit" moment quickly became a benefit. Having three guitarists enables the band to continue if one of them has a good excuse to not make a gig — Ian, who recently had a new baby, missed a number of recent tour dates.
"[Three guitars] wouldn't work if our styles didn't compliment each other," Trohman says from his New York home. "If Rob wasn't going to gel with it, we would have gone back to doing two, but Rob is awesome. The longer you're a musician, the more you learn that less is more and learn when not to play and learn that you're never the focus and can't just go off on your own tangent. We try to have people step out and come back in so that when you hear the three guitars together live, it really matters."
Having so many different band members has its benefits in other ways. None of the six band members has been a primary songwriter in the past. With The Damned Things, each has an opportunity to bring something fresh to the table and vent whatever they're not able to do in other groups.
"Initially, Scott — not in a bad way — intimidated me," Trohman says. "He made me feel like I had to bring my A game. He liked my ideas so much that I realized that I needed more confidence in myself. He helped me step out of my comfort zone and get more confidence in showing people my music. I wouldn't be nervous in showing him something, but I wouldn't show him something I didn't think would work for the band."
While The Damned Things are currently touring in support of their debut, Ironiclast, there have been thoughts toward a follow-up. Before that though, Every Time I Die will release a new record, as will Anthrax. That's not to say The Damned Things will be on hiatus, but it may be "put on ice" until they can all get back together.
In the meantime, Trohman continues writing — whether the music will end up with The Damned Things or any other project he might be working on. "I love the band and am flattered people like the record," he says. "We want to make another record and want to keep doing it, but there will be breaks between it. We're going to do it as much as we can though."
Trohman and his bandmates are also aware of the challenges facing them, but their goal remains clear. "It's tough to — I hate the term supergroup — get a bunch of dudes together from different bands and have them make a good band. There are so many bad versions, but there are good versions, too. You can't forget Cream. You have to work and gel and, at the end of the day, it's about the songs. Are the songs good? That's what really matters."