An Interview with DAMNAGED frontman Nick Woodward
by Alicia Downs
We are now in
the year 2002 and the older that metal gets, the more it seems that the pure sounds
of the underground are fading. With nu-metal spitting on all that is sacred, one wonders what the
future of heavy music can be with the youth of today being influenced by bands like Disturbed or
Limp Bizkit. Despite questions like these, hope for the heavy scene and underground metal lives on
in the likes of Damnaged, a four-piece of high school students out of Seattle. These kids sound
more like old Metallica in the vein of thrash metal rather than saturated nu-metal pop. And for a
group of kids not even out of high school, living in the epicenter of post-aggro grunge,
such a tight pure metal sound truly is an accomplishment.
If could be their age, but the appeal of Damnaged comes from their fearless take on music. They are the very definition of fresh blood, playing pure the true to their thrash metal influences. And just how tight and impressive is Damnaged? Tight enough to secure an opening spot on this summerís Danzig tour. So, while some kids will be spending their summer in band camp, Damnaged is spending it touring across America with metal icon Danzig (a band formed when these tykes were still in preschool) and a recently re-united Prong.
With all that in mind I took a few minutes to talk with Damnaged front man Nick Woodward about his band, his influences, and just what it means to be in such a coveted position in underground metal at only 18.
Rough Edge: One of the inevitable things associated with the band is that you are all still high
school students. How do you find the time to prioritize music and being a teenager?
Nick Woodward: Well, it is basically like you just have to make sacrifices. Obviously you know out here we have lost half of our summer. So it is basically you don't have the summer to be a teenager because we have to go out here and be a band. But it is kind of like you have to figure out what you want. Do you want to be a musician as a career? Because if you do then you have to make the sacrifices. Some nights I have to go into the studio and other nights rehearsing. And you just have to look at it like that. If you want to be a teenager then that is cool, you can prioritize being that, but the majority of [Damnaged] wants to move on. So we are on the same page that we are going to put Damnaged above everything else.
Rough Edge: When did you realize that this is what you wanted to do?
Woodward: It was probably about a year after we formed Damnaged-, which is our first band for all of us. It was about a year after that when I realized that I loved doing this. Originally I wanted to be in film and I just found out that music has more freedom and so I thought this is just what I want to do.
Rough Edge: What goals has the band set for itself?
Woodward: Basically our goals are pretty much right now to attract the attention of a major label. We would like to be able to have major label support so that is what our goal is right now. To find a major label and just to tour and get the music out there to the people. That is the biggest thing when it comes down to it - we just want people to hear our music.
Rough Edge: Well, surely you all are on the right path with an opening spot on the Danzig tour. Tell me how you all got to be a part of this tour?
Woodward: We had done some shows with this band out of Vancouver and they had originally had the chance to take the slot that we now have but their management wanted them to go back and record another record. So their management put in a good word for us and Glenn and his management said to send them out a press packet. There was some hard deliberation but eventually Glenn decided that we were the band he wanted to come out. Called us up and said get ready to come out.
Rough Edge: What do you think that you get out of touring with a band like Danzig?
Woodward: To be out with those guys are cool for so many reasons. Number one, I loved Danzig, I loved the Misfits, and it is really cool to be out with one of my influences. It is also cool because we get to learn a lot from these guys. Glenn has been out here for twenty plus years making music because he knows how to get people's attention and you can learn a lot from just watching his stage show every night. Which is basically what we do after we get done signing autographs or whatever we sit there and watch his show and take notes.
Rough Edge: You all were basically pre-schoolers when the underground metal movement was in full force in the late 80s. Was this something that you grew up with from your parents or discovered on your own?
Woodward: I basically discovered it on my own. It is kind of a funny story how I got into everything but like I said I wanted to be a director and be into the Hollywood business. I was a big fan of John Carpenter and I noticed that he composed all his own music. So I wanted to do the same so I started playing the keyboard. And my keyboard teacher got me into Van Halen and from Van Halen it was all downhill from there. I started loving Eddieís playing so I grabbed the guitar and then started listening to Megadeth and Metallica. And it has just grown from there and now I listen to Cannibal Corpse and pull from everybody in between.
Rough Edge: Being from Seattle, the biggest association is that post-grunge era. Were you into that explosion at all?
Woodward: No, not when it was happening. When it was happening I did not want anything to do with it at all. I was like leave me alone. I donít like it. Now I do like some of the bands. I like Pearl Jam and I loved Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. I have always had respect for Nirvana but I have just never wanted to buy one of their albums. It seems like everyone is influenced by Nirvana so I just wanted to try something new.
Rough Edge: Are there any particular bands out there today that you are attempting to mold your career after?
Woodward: There is not any one band. My favorite band out there is Megadeth. Dave Mustaine is that one guy that I look at and I think what Dave did is that Dave is extremely smart about the way he ran his band which was basically no one sacrifices my vision. I look to what he does and I look up to that in a lot of ways. Also he is the lead singer and the lead guitar player just like me so that has an impact on me. And guys like Glenn too; I really realize how smart Glenn is when it comes to running his business.
Rough Edge: Nowadays the white male teen angst seems to be huge yet listening to your lyrics, it seems that you are more mature not dwelling on things but still managing to express a sense of disenchantment, almost like a young Hetfield. So is there a particular theme or direction that you try to take your lyrics? And on the flip side is there anything you try to stay clear from?
I am just trying to stay away from something that I cannot really relate to. If the song is
not about me, it is about someone close to me. Like the song "Life of Pain" is not about me but it is about a friend of mine. A lot of people get that confused and say, well,
what do you have to be sad about? I come from a wealthy family and that is really no secret if you know me. So a lot of people question what I have to be angry about but it is just that if something makes me upset or causes a strong emotion, then I feel the need to write a song about it. I cannot really make myself write happy
lyrics - it does not really work. When I try to write a "happy" song it just sounds stupid so I go to the
dark stuff because it seems to flow for me and I use music as an outlet for that. But I am not out here
shouting that I hate my parents. I would not be out here if it were not for my parents. They are some
of the most supportive people in the world. They come out here and my dad listens to our CDs,
which is really funny, because he likes Chicago and Boston. I have even gotten him into some
Megadeth. My parents are awesome.
Rough Edge: Well, just one last question in closing, what is the one thing that you would want to tell people to encourage them to check Damnaged out?
Woodward: If you are looking for something - a nice in-between. Damnaged is really heavy and dark but it also allows people to listen to it and walk away with something stuck in their head because it has a melody. If you are looking for something to mosh around to and get the anger out but also remember the songs then come check out Damnaged because that is what we are trying to do.
For more information, check out http://www.damnaged.com or click here to buy their CD.
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Copyright © 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:11 -0400.