BRIAN JAMES (THE DAMNED/LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH): “Royalties From The GUNS N’ ROSES Cover Of ‘New Rose’ Bought Me A House In France”

Brian James
Photo: Barry Pitman

45 years on from writing the iconic riff to “New Rose” that heralded the start of the UK Punk scene, guitarist Brian James has returned to The Damned for a special reunion of the original lineup to mark this momentous occasion. Mick Burgess called him up to talk about the reunion and also touring with Iggy Pop, forming the Lords of The New Church with Stiv Bators and the possible reunion of that band with Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks as well as his plans for a new album and an autobiography.

2020 has turned out to be a rather strange year. How has COVID-19 impacted on you?

I’m the same as everybody else. You’re kind of hampered in what you can do. Fortunately, I live in a nice part of the world down in Sussex so I’m 10 minutes’ walk from the sea and the Downs are nearby too so we’ve been taking walks around and finding things that we didn’t know existed and just trying to make the best of it.

The big news that’s recently been announced is that you will be returning to The Damned for a tour featuring all four original members. Are you looking forward to that?

We’re going to be doing a line of gigs. It should be fun. I’m really looking forward to it but then again, at the moment, I’m looking forward to anything.

I interviewed Rat about his new Professor and the Madman album literally a day or two before the news broke and he never even hinted at this. Were you all under pain of death not to mention anything until the official announcement?

He’s a canny lad is old Rat. We were asked to keep it schtum until the formal announcement so we did as we were told like good little boys.

When were you first approached about doing this?

I got a call from The Damned’s manager around late February. Just a few months before that I was told I was receiving an award from Viva Le Rock as a pioneer of the Punk thing. They asked if, when I accepted the award, I could get back together with the Lords Of The New Church, which was another band I used to be in. As Stiv is no longer with us the idea was to get Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks in and he was well up for it. He’s an old friend and used to live with Stiv and he used to get up on stage with us and play sax. He was the logical choice if anyone was going to step into Stiv’s shoes and that’s not an easy thing to do. Mikes the man as he’s part of the Lord’s family. There was all that going on and I was meant to be doing that on the 1st April. So, I got this call from The Damned’s manager saying that the Captain and Rat had agreed to play together. That was always the bugbear and Captain hadn’t wanted to do it with Rat but he’s come to his senses and everyone has come to their senses so we’re doing it now. It never rains but it pours, I’m now supposed to be doing reunions with both of my old bands now.

Is the Lords of the New Church reunion still on the cards then?

Oh, it is for sure and with Michael Monroe as well. He’s a great guy.

It must be over 30 years since you last played together at the Final Damnation show?

I did a few shows after that when we did a Reunion tour of The States but I walked out after a few gigs. I’m not going into that now because it’s an old thing but at the time I vowed never to do it again…Ha!! That was a long, long time ago though. I’ve been playing with Rat for ages since then going out as Scabies and James with Texas Terri basically doing the first Damned album. People wanted to hear me and Rat play it because the current lineup of The Damned had been playing it. Now everything’s forgiven. This tour is going to be really good fun. I think it was Rat that said that it would have been horrible for three of us to stand around the grave of the fourth member and say that we should have got back together again. Life is much too short. I see Captain a fair bit as he lives in Brighton but I’m really looking forward to working Dave again as his voice has gone from strength to strength. It’ll be cool to see how he delivers those songs. Dave had never sung before he joined The Damned, he learned it as he went along.

Have you had the opportunity to get together in a room and play yet or is COVID-19 getting in the way of that?

No, we haven’t been able to get together and play anything yet. I think when the rehearsal studio down in Brighton is open again then it’s easy for me and Captain and Rat also knows people there too. So, I imagine we’ll do the instrumental rehearsals, thrash about a bit and make a lot of noise and get Rat back into drumming mode doing the fast stuff. He’s the one who will suffer energy wise as none of us are getting any younger. We’ll do that initially then go up to London and do some rehearsals with Dave. Then we’ll have a rest for a while and before the shows we’ll have another couple of rehearsals to brush up on things.

You have 5 shows in July 2021. You must be pleased to hear that they are all pretty much sold out?

I think they’re doing very well. It’s kind of funny as nobody knows who else is going to be on the bill but the tickets are selling very well anyway. That’s nice to hear but there’s a whole new generation of Damned fans out there since my time in the band. It’ll be interesting to see how the younger kids will take to it.

Are you thinking of adding any additional dates, in Newcastle for example?

There’s talk of it but that’s all it is at the moment as everyone is waiting to see how the tickets sell and if indeed, they go ahead with Covid, maybe these vaccines aren’t going to be everything that we hoped for. Who knows what’s going to happen. We might be living with this for quite a while. Everyone is being careful about making any plans other than these gigs that have already been announced so far. I know there’s been interest from other areas of the world but we’ll have to see.

As far as the shows go, these are to mark the 45th anniversary of the release of “New Rose” in 1976. Did you have any idea when you first wrote that song, that it would become such an iconic song not just in Punk circles but in music in general?

In a word, no. Not at all. It was just a song that I quite liked. I had the riff previous to meeting Rat and was in a band called Bastard and we just couldn’t get it to work. I played the riff to the drummer but he couldn’t get his head around it so I almost forgot about it. When I first started playing with Rat, I thought I’d play him that riff. I asked him to give me some jungle drums and said I’d go into a riff then another riff. He just took to it straight away. He did exactly, well not exactly, he actually did better than what was in the back of my mind and what I was looking for. I gave him an idea of what I wanted and he came up with the great drum intro. I went away and wrote the rest of the song just like that.

Who were the bands and artists who were influencing you at that time and who was it that inspired you to pick up the guitar in the first place?

At the beginning it was bands like the Stones, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things and The Who then I started searching from where they came from by looking at the credits on their albums, so I discovered Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Then there was a Blues boom in this country and a lot of that was down to John Mayall. He had Clapton and he was replaced by Peter Green and I thought that he was a really, really fantastic player. It was a really fertile time as then Jimi Hendrix came over from America and I used to follow him about. After meandering around with different bands for a while, I discovered The Stooges. So, I was really into The Stooges when I wrote “New Rose” and I don’t think you ever really lose your influences. They are always there somewhere and they come out in your playing even if you don’t notice it yourself. I think all of these build up like an alphabet of influences. The 60’s was such a great time for players coming out and everyone had their own identity.

Do you recall the first time you heard yourself on the radio?

I don’t remember that but I do remember hearing in the office of Stiff Records when the copies first came in. I was so knocked out by it and thought that if it all stopped now I’ve got this great single that I’ve done and would have been happy with that. Nick Lowe and the engineer Bazza did such a great job on it.

What did you make of the version Guns N’ Roses did on their Spaghetti Incident album?

Yes, it’s alright. I quite liked it.

That sold over a million copies so I’d assume that the regular royalty cheques were a nice bonus all those years after you’d originally written the song?

It was nice because a lot of things were going on at the same time. Stiv Bators had died, Johnny Thunders had died and my parents had both died and then this influx of money suddenly arrived which was great. My wife and I had just had a baby and wanted to move out of London away from the fumes and live in France for a while and that enabled us to do it. It also brought some new fans to the band that weren’t aware of The Damned until they heard that.

Did you only record “New Rose” and the Beatles cover “Help” at those initial recording sessions or did you also record some of the songs for your debut album at that time?

We just did the two songs initially and then it was decided that we’d sign with Stiff and do an album. We thought we’d do what we did before. It worked and sounded great. Nick was the man for the job if he wanted to do the album, which he did. Why mess with it when it worked.

You were part of the notorious Anarchy tour with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and Johnny Thunders. What are your recollections of that tour?

We played just one show at Leeds. The Pistols had done the Grundy show and all of a sudden, they had this new found infamy. McLaren needed The Damned to play in the beginning to get people in because we’d played outside of London. As soon as the news hit, he said to us that he’d changed the billing around and that we were no longer Special Guests of the Pistols anymore, we were going on first. We walked. We said “Fuck You, we’re not doing this”. So, that was it. Johnny Thunders had been brought over by McLaren and The Clash were in cahoots with McLaren because their manager Bernie, worked with him doing screen prints and all this kind of stuff. They had their own little gang, travelled around in a big coach and stayed in Holiday Inns. We were going around in a transit van and stayed in little bed and breakfasts because they had this money coming in from prospective record labels. We’d signed to Stiff and we liked the people there. They were people who did it for the right reasons. They loved music.

In 1977 you released two albums, Damned Damned Damned and Music For Pleasure. Had you written most of the material for both albums at the same time or did you have to start from scratch for Music For Pleasure?

Basically I had to write the second album from scratch. Most of the stuff on the first album had been kicking around for a bit. I think we had one new song that we’d been playing live so suddenly we had to write a whole new album. I’d basically written everything on the first album and I turned round to the other guys and said “This is nuts, they want another album. You guys are going to have to help me out here”. They hadn’t really had a great deal of experience in song writing except maybe for Captain. Everybody had to scratch their heads and come up with ideas.

As the main songwriter in the band, did you feel the pressure to come up with a follow up to such a successful debut album?

Yes, because we’d playing non-stop. I can’t write on the road. I’m no good at that. I need to get back home, kick back for a while and let the ideas come naturally in an organic way.

Why did you bring in Lu Edwards as a second guitarist?

I wanted another guitarist as a back-up so it’d give me more freedom to do solos. It didn’t go down too well with the other guys. It was an experiment which worked to a degree. I did it with the Lords too for a while when Dave, the bass player, left to do a thing with Andy McCoy of Hanoi Rocks so we got another bass player, Grant Fleming, in but it didn’t sound enough so I thought we’d get another guitarist in so we brought in Alastair Symons. It helped and it meant that we could do things I wanted to do but being on my own I couldn’t. It also gave us a fuller sound live.

Whose idea was it to get Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason to produce the second album?

We wanted Syd Barrett but he wasn’t in any decent shape to do anything. It was suggested that Nick Mason was up for doing something and we thought well, OK. So we just did what we were told.

Did that raise a few eyebrows in the Punk world when you announced that?

Yes, it did, Ha!!

What did you learn from working with him?

Never to get anybody from Pink Floyd to produce a Rock ‘n’ Roll album. If you want to know a lot about Ferrari cars, he’s the guy to go to.

You left The Damned after that second album. Did you feel that you’d taken things as far as you could at that point?

What happened was that during a tour in the late summer of ’77 Rat decided to leave. He was knackered. They got Jon Moss in, he was a good drummer and still is, but it wasn’t the same. Me and Rat started the band and the band came from the energy and chemistry between us. When a more pedestrian drummer played those songs, they weren’t set on fire like when Rat played them. Also, I felt that the Punk scene seemed to be going round in circles. The original idea of different bands with their own identities was what Punk was all about. Then these other bands came along and copied what The Pistols, The Clash and The Damned had been doing. They just didn’t get it. Everybody was walking around in bondage trousers and safety pins and stuff. They could have been in the Bay City Rollers. It’d lost its identity so I told Dave and Captain, as they deserved to be told, that I wanted to split the band up as it wasn’t working without Rat and it was time for me to move on and work with other musicians. They were upset about it, particularly Captain, so everybody went off and did their own thing. After a while they decided they wanted to get The Damned back together again. I was busy in a band called Tanz Der Youth at the time and that was a new challenge for me of doing something different.

Were you asked to re-join at the time?

No, not at all. I think they felt that they wanted to continue on their own terms.

Did you follow what they did after you’d left?

I heard “Love Song” and I thought it was a really good song but after that I didn’t really take much notice because I went off and toured with Iggy for a while which was great as I got to work with Glen Matlock and a great drummer called Klaus Kruger.

How did you first connect with Iggy?

Iggy was my favourite singer and I knew those early Stooges songs inside out and we did “I Feel Alright” with The Damned. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I’d just been in the studio putting some tracks down and was really buzzing. When I got home, my girlfriend at the time said that I’d better sit down as she had some news for me. She said that someone from Iggy Pop’s camp had phoned and wanted me to go down and play with him with a view of doing a tour. I thought someone was winding me up. Then this Scottish guy called Henry, who has since then become Iggy’s manager for years, called me up and said they’d send round a car to pick me up and for me to go and play with Iggy.

How long did you play with Iggy for?

The tour was meant to go from New York and up to Canada and then work its way down everywhere to Los Angeles. The feedback from the gigs was so good that they added more shows and we worked our way back up to New York to play some more shows there. It was initially supposed to be for 6 weeks but ended up being for a couple of months.

Were you disappointed not to record an album together?

To tell you the truth, I’d achieved my ambition and I wanted to get back on with doing my thing. I found it hard being a hired gun. I’ve always had my own bands and a say in what was going on. Of course, with Iggy it was a whole different thing. He had David Bowie’s management team behind him so it was very much out of the band’s hands what was happening. We just got told what to do which was fine because I was working with my favourite singer which was great. He was sensational and didn’t let me down at all. Every gig was like an event and I’d be standing on the stage looking over at Iggy thinking “Fuck me, how lucky can I be?” When it came to an end his manager asked if I’d like to do some more. Part of the deal of me doing the tour was that Iggy would be paying my current band so that they wouldn’t go off and do other things. I thought I’d done it, it was cool to play with Glen Matlock too and I wanted to go and do my own thing again. I didn’t really think about not recording with Iggy but in a sense, I did as there were some great bootleg recordings of the shows that we’d played so I have some wonderful recorded testimonies of those times but I was happy to get back with my guys and then of course later I got with Stiv and formed Lords Of The New Church.

How did you end up putting Lords of the New Church with Stiv Bators, Dave Tregunna (Sham 69) and Nick Turner (The Barracudas) together?

I first met Stiv in 1977 when The Damned played with the Dead Boys. Right from the start I thought it’d be cool if Stiv and I worked together. We had just released Music For Pleasure and the Dead Boys had Young Loud and Snotty out. We were asked who we wanted out on tour with us and we said Dead boys, straight away. They were like our American brothers. A couple of years later I got a call from Stiv saying that he’d split from the Dead Boys and had done a solo album and had a string of gigs. He asked if I’d come over and do some new songs, a couple of Damned songs and some Dead Boys songs so I said yes. I thought that sounded like really good fun. That cemented us. Stiv then got an offer from the guys in Sham 69 as they’d split with Jimmy Pursey. Stiv was flown over and worked on an album and recorded it and put it out but it didn’t do much.

What happened while Stiv was involved with Sham 69?

All the time this was going on me and Stiv would get together furtively write songs. “Living On Living” was one of the first songs we wrote. When the Sham 69 thing fizzled out me and Stiv teamed up with Terry Chimes, the drummer from The Clash and Tony James, who I’d played with in London SS. Tony decided he didn’t want to work with my manager and then Terry decided to go with Tony. I asked Glen Matlock if he wanted to come down and we brought Steve Nichols in from the Hot Rods. That sounded OK but didn’t sound quite right. Stiv then said when he was in Sham 69, he’d worked with this really cool bass player so Dave Tregunna came along and we got on well and had a bit of a play and Terry came back for a while. Stiv used to hang out in this S&M Rock ‘n’ Roll bar run by a guy called Nicky who used to be in a band called The Barracudas, they were like a Surf type of band. Nicky and Dave just slotted together. His style was more like Jerry Nolan from the New York Dolls where he played a lot of toms. Dave plays in a more rhythmical way too and it just fitted together so well. They worked perfectly with the songs we’d written. That was it, the Lords were finalised.

The great thing about Lords of The New Church is that you didn’t sound like The Damned or the Dead Boys, it sounded totally different. Was that always the idea to create something different to the bands you’d started in?

Yes, it was. The only time we played anything by our previous bands was when we were in The States and Cheetah Chrome got up with us to play “Sonic Reducer” but other than that we didn’t play anything by The Damned, Dead Boys, Barracudas or Sham 69. It was all our own new songs. People called it a Punk supergroup but we were just four guys who played in those bands who were now in a totally different band.

Musically, it was very different from The Damned and The Dead Boys bringing in elements of Gothic and New Wave with more keyboards. Were you at a point where you wanted to explore your creativity more widely and break out of the confines of Punk?

There was no clear manifesto. When it came to the music, we had an open lane and would do whatever we wanted. We were no Punk band or Goth band we were The Lords. We never went in to do an album and thought it wasn’t Punky enough. It’s not like we went in a thought Fuck you if you like it not, it wasn’t like that. We just had to do what was true for us especially with the first two albums. With the third album though management wanted us to appeal to a Heavy Metal audience. Stiv and I produced the first two ourselves but for the third they brought in Chris Tsangarides who’d worked with Thin Lizzy. He was alright but the sound of it was what I considered mainstream and a lot of the Lords flavour was kind of lost. He took forever doing things. When we had produced ourselves, we used the same studio and sound engineer and just got on and did it. Me and Stiv had a good working relationship on the production side and everyone would put their own two pence worth in too but as song writers me and Stiv would have the last say on the production. Sometimes we wanted to take something in a different direction. Usually, he’d want to make it more commercial and I wanted to keep it more Rock ‘n’ Roll with an edge to it so what we’d do was play 10 games of ping pong and whoever won, got the final mix. He was a good player and in those days I wasn’t too bad so we were fairly evenly matched. Luckily Dave and Nicky went along with it. We just had to roll with it if the other one won. It worked for us.

Have you heard David Hasselhoff’s version of “Open Your Eyes” with James Williamson from The Stooges on guitar?

Yes, I have. That’s the guy from that surfing programme or something like that. I don’t really like it. I was a bit disappointed as I thought James Williamson sounded a bit pedestrian on it and held himself back but it’s great that he’s played a song that I wrote. Who’d have thought that would happen back in 1975?

The band broke up in 1989 and a year later Stiv was dead. Do you think if Stiv hadn’t had his accident that you’d have got back together again and made another record or was the band done in your eyes at that time?

I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that we would have. Things weren’t made easy as he moved out of London over to Paris. I didn’t get on with his latest girlfriend. She was hard work but obviously cared for Stiv but she wasn’t good for him. I promised Stiv’s Dad that I’d keep an eye on him in London as he thought that I looked like the sensible one. When he moved to Paris, the communications seemed to come down. That was a drag, a big, big drag.

In the early 2000’s you recorded one album with Mad For The Racket. That was an incredible band with MC5’s Wayne Kramer, The Police’s Stuart Copeland, Clem Burke from Blondie and Duff McKagan from Guns n’ Roses. How did you get such a huge bunch of talent into one band?

It was just after moved to France. Wayne would come over and play in Paris and I lived just outside of Bordeaux and I’d come over and see him. I’d met him a few times in The States as he came to Lords shows. When I came back to England and got my son settled into school, which was part of the reason we came back, I was talking to an old friend called Ian Grant and I told him I had a few songs that I’d written in France. He suggested that I made a wish list of musicians I’d like to work with and contact them and see what happened. One of the first names was Wayne. I told him I had an idea of doing songs with different musicians. He thought that was a crazy idea so he suggested I went over to see him and write an album together. I thought it made perfect sense so that’s what we did. Then we brought in Clem from Blondie and Stuart Copeland from The Police, both great drummers. Then we wondered who’d play bass. I suggested Lemmy from Motorhead but Wayne said Lemmy would want to sing. Then I thought about Duff from Guns n’ Roses who did “New Rose” and Duff sang that one on the album. I got a number for Duff and gave him a ring and met up with him just off Sunset Boulevard and explained what I was doing. I asked if he’d be up for playing bass on a couple of tracks. He looked at me and said “Nah, I ain’t playing on a couple of tracks, I’m playing on the whole fuckin’ album”. So, I thought OK, OK, you’re on board.

Did you get to work with everyone in the studio?

Me and Wayne laid down the bare bones to make life a bit easier and then we replaced a few things when we got the bass and drums added in the studio.

Did Lemmy ever find out that his name was in the frame for the band?

Yes, he did but he was busy with Motorhead anyway. He goes way back with both me and Wayne so he wasn’t upset or anything.

Was that only ever going to be a one-off project?

I had Ian on my side who helped put all this together and he’d been offered Track Records, the 60’s label who put out stuff by The Who and Hendrix. Wayne was also in the process of putting together his own record label so there was this acrimony going on between the two management camps. Wayne’s manager wanted to put the album out through Wayne’s thing and Ian wanted the album on his label and it all got rather silly. I didn’t give a Fuck and said that one should put it out over there and the other could put it out over here and we could see what happened after that. It was talked about doing another album but people started doing other things. Wayne was going out doing MC5 songs with various people so nothing more came of it.

Did you play many live shows?

Duff couldn’t do any live shows as he was going back to Seattle to study and he wanted to finish off something that he’d started. A few shows came up and we wondered who on earth we could get in on bass. At that time, I’d been in a pub on Portobello Road and two videos came on. One was “Paradise City” by Guns n’ Roses and the other was “Fools Gold” by this band called the Stone Roses. Both the bass players impressed me so I thought I’d try and get in touch with the bassist from the Stone Roses. I got a number for Mani, who at that point was with Primal Scream. He jumped at it. We rehearsed at this place at Gatwick Airport and the moment Mani walked in he was one of us. He used to tell us how he nicked off school when he was 11 to come and see The Damned. It’s a small world. Of course, he was fantastic and we did a few shows together with Clem who came over to play.

For the last few years, you’ve been working as a solo artist. Chateau Brian was a great way to do something totally different being a more acoustic roots album. What inspired you to make an album that was very different to your usual style?

It was one of things I always wanted to do. I was jamming with Mark Taylor, who used to play keyboards in the Lords and he lived just along the coast in Eastbourne and I’d go over there and mess around and play some Blues. I said to Mark that one day I’d love to do an album, strip it right down and go back to my roots of more Bluesy stuff. I didn’t want to do it on digital, it had to be on tape if I was going to do something that was very sincere on just piano and guitar. Mark found a reel to reel and we worked in the studio where I usually work in Brighton. One of the songs had a little French feel to it and I asked Mark how he felt about playing accordion. He’d actually picked up an accordion in New Orleans and he said he had the basics of it. He brought it along and played on the track and I thought it sounded so nice. I told him to stick it on everything and when it came to the mix, we’d decide which songs to keep it on. I always wanted to add some harp to it as well so I got one of my childhood friends called Ian Anderson, nothing to do with Jethro Tull, in to do that. We used to play in the park with me on acoustic guitar and him on the harp, just jamming, smoking some dope and drinking stuff. If he could still blow the harp half as good as he could, I wanted him on the record. He was up for it and he came down to Brighton and played on a couple of songs. It was a very satisfying album to make on a lot of levels. I got to make an acoustic Bluesy album and I got to play with my old mate Ian again. I also got to play with my old drummer mate again, Malcolm Mortimore on The Guitar That Dripped Blood album and also the one that I’m working on now. It’s all coming full circle. Here I am playing with my old friends and doing Damned and Lords Of The New Church reunions

Why did you decide to re-record an album of songs by The Damned back in 2013 on Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don’t?

It wasn’t so much wanting to record them with the benefit of modern technology but when my first Brian James Gang album came out in Japan, they wanted some songs that were different to those on the European and American versions and they asked if I could do a few bonus tracks so I did a few Damned tracks including “I Fall” and “Fan Club”. I’d also been doing things to mark the anniversary of “New Rose” seeing as though it’s such an important song to me. Carlton, who has been looking after me lately, said that as I had all of these Damned things that I should do a few more and put them out as The Damned today and how you’d record them today after 35 years’ experience. I thought it was a good idea and I did things like “Feel The Pain” which now has a bit of accordion to it and “Born To Kill” has a bit of Jerry Lee style piano on it. It was a chance to do all these things and have a latter-day version of the songs.

Your latest album, The Guitar That Dripped Blood was a return to the dirty Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll style that you’re known for. Is that where you feel happiest?

Absolutely, that’s what I wanted. It was great working with Cheetah Chrome on that album. He’s always good value. He’s a nutter, a loveable nutter. It’s another thing like working with my childhood friends Ian and Malcolm, working with Cheetah. It ties up loose ends. We discovered that we had the same birthday which was a bit strange seeing as though we are probably the two main guitar players in Stiv’s life. That was kind of a turn up for the books.

You mentioned a new album. How is that coming along?

When Boris Johnson gives me the nod I’ll be in there finishing it off. When he deems that it’s OK to reopen the studio, I’ll be straight back in. I’ve got about three quarters of the basic tracks down and most of the overdubs done. I think I’ll put in a couple more songs on it and they are already written. I think it’s going to be quite a diverse album. There’ll be some in your face stuff that The Guitar That Dripped Blood hinted at. This is even more hard hitting and it’ll be mixed with a few other bits and bobs. I don’t really want to say much more until it’s finished as it’s difficult to know. I have some vocals to do and when it comes to the mix things take on a whole different life.

Christmas is just a couple of weeks away. What are you doing for Christmas this year?

I’ll be eating and drinking. My son and his wife are living with us at the moment until they find their own place next year. We’re just going to enjoy ourselves. It’s going to be like it has been for the last few months I think but there’s a nice celebration sort of groove in the air which is nice.

Other than the shows with The Damned, what are your plans for 2021? 

Yes, there’s The Damned shows and a new album, so quite a bit to look forward to next year. I may do a Brian James Gang show as well. This guy called John Wombat wrote a book about me last year which took the heat of my book so I’m also working on my biography next year. I’m half way through it so it won’t be out for a while. I’m going to compile tracks for it as well as there’ll be a compilation album of rarities that I mention in the book that I’ve played on that people maybe don’t know about, songs I played with Saints and Chelsea and whatever. The idea is that you can read about it and hear about it at the same time. I think it’ll be fun and like a music book should be. The book will be called The Bleedin’ Book and I’d imagine the accompanying album will be called The Bleedin’ Album. 2021 is certainly going to be fun.

For more on Brian James visit on Facebook and for full details on The Damned reunion see:

Interview By Mick Burgess

Main Photo By Barry Pitman.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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