Interview: Jack Kansas from Damn Vandals

Here we are with the first interview of When the Music is Over. If you’ve been following the blog the name Damn Vandals would sound familiar. For the ones who don’t know what I’m talking about, we can introduce them as a London-based band, who mixes old blues, shoegaze,  some gothic rock, creating fascinating videos shared on their YouTube. Jack Kansas (vocals) is giving us some interesting news about their forthcoming single, music influences, videos and also an unexpected passion for Rolf Harris (an Australian songwriter, painter, TV personality).

Can you tell us something more about your forthcoming release?

The single’s a route one statement of fact rocker with some mind-frying guitar work from Frank in the middle – it’s called Can’t Go Dancing When You’re Gone, out on Sept 12th. Damn Vandals song titles sometimes get misinterpreted but hopefully this one won’t confuse too many folk. There’s also a sped-up giant graffiti stencil video to go with the single which I would urge/beg people to track down.

Which are the bands you grew up with? How much did they influence your music?

I was a bookish child with few friends. I mainly sat in my bedroom listening to Nick Drake. It took me a few years to discover the pleasures of the harder stuff.

Which are your musical guilty pleasures?

As a band it’s Guns n Roses for sure – any longer than four hours in a van and someone’s bound to stick Appetite for Destruction on. We then listen to it in its entirety. After that Adam the bassist will insist on playing the same AC/DC and Black Sabbath songs over and over again. Motorways send you guilt rock crazy.

In which musical era would you place your music?

With so much decent guitar music from the past to plunder from, it’s hard to say what decade or era we’re influenced by the most. The words ‘post punk’ seem to crop up a lot, but I don’t know what that really means. A bloke with mad eyes once came up to me after a gig and said we were from the future, maybe 2015. We’ve arrived a bit early though – like a kid turning up to a party hours before it starts, we’ll drink all the booze, have a great time and pass out on the sofa just as everyone else arrives.

How is graffiti art influencing the process of creating your videos? Which is the video you enjoyed most making so far?

Good graffiti art makes people stare, think and laugh. It’s a subversive, controlled form of anger and can also be beautiful. If I could make videos and music with those qualities, I’d die a happy man. The videos tend to take far more time to make than the music, but I enjoy doing them. Getting a spray can out for the Can’t Go Dancing vid was a lot of fun. Standing outside a Soho sex shop with a white fluffy soft toy bunny in one hand and a camera in the other is another standout, weird, moment – trust me, gets a few funny looks.   

How much are visual aspects relevant to your performances and music?

At present we don’t really have the means to put on a visual mind-blowing extravaganza. In general I dress all in white then cover myself in Guinness stains in the hours leading up to playing. The others wear black, so they don’t have that problem.

With an unlimited budget, what concert experience would you put on?

A 2am show at a Roman amphitheatre with a Chinese fireworks display and dancing girls.

Who would be your dream person to collaborate with?

Rolf Harris.

Are there any famous people, dead or alive, with whom you’d like to hang out?

Rolf Harris

What does the future look like for Damn Vandals? 

If we don’t get to collaborate or at least hang out with Rolf Harris in the next 12 months this band’s splitting up.

Thank you very much Jack, I wish all the best to you and the other Vandals. For the ones who got interested, check their MySpace and get in touch with their music.


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