We caught up with Damage for an in depth interview about their career at the moment.
When you think of Damage you recognize them as UK R&B legends that have paved the way for other artists to break through. If it wasn’t for these guys you wouldn’t even know about Craig David, reason being he won the competition to record the B side single of a Damage hit record when he was unsigned. 20 years as the no 1 group is an achievement in itself and no one can say in this genre that they are still around up to today from the 90’s and still have the vibe like these guys.
Damage are the freshest cutting edge band that continue to captivate fans and the buzz for them is more strong than ever. From sold out concerts to having hits and tracks featured in movies these guys have definitely raised the bar and you wont get a much better act live on stage, these guys are tight and set the trend from the music to their fashion. Many have come and gone in UK R&B from the likes of Eternal, M&8, Ultimate Kaos, Mark Morrison etc but Damage are still the force to be reckoned with and are truly adored by millions of fans young and old. How can you forget the hits ‘Forever’, ‘Love To Love’, ‘Wonderful Tonight’, ‘Rumours’ and ‘Still Be Loving You’. This is a group that has been an inspiration to many acts from the UK and if there is anyone to show you how to do this game then Damage are the teachers for sure.
In 2013 we witnessed an amazing performance at the 10,000 plus R&B superstars concert in Wembley and has to be said they have been the most talked about performance. We catch up with the pioneers in a world exclusive interview held by Streetcred magazine In Birmingham.
We speak about the direction Damage are going with their music, thoughts on JLS, the tough music industry and much more. As you can see the boys are in good shape and ready to make a huge comeback in the music world due to the demand from their loyal fans
This was the press conference we held for them at the Hampton Hotel before their big sold out show at Gatecrasher.
Q: You guys are the pioneers of R&B UK as a group in the 90’s would you say it was hard to get the sound accepted?
Andrez: We had to really rely on our fans to push and tell radio that our fans wanna hear us, We want Damage as much as we want Take That and Boyzone. What we did was no different to what James Brown did in his time where he would push to get black music heard
Jade: At the time we came out we were competing with the American acts like SWV, Jodeci, Blackstreet and at that time people were so into supporting America so we did a collab with Lil Cease from Junior Mafia called ‘Anything’ and that got airplay because there was no mention of us being from the UK and it blew up.
Q: You guys have been together for a while, how long?
Jade: We’ve been together for over 20 years. We all knew each other from school and we are definitely a family unit.
Q You all split up for a while didn’t you? tell me about that?
Noel: It was important for us to do that and we needed that space at the time we were living in each others pockets and not getting a chance to grow up and find who we was.
Jade: Doing Cherry Blackstone was like starting from scratch as we learnt how to play instruments and because we did Damage for so long it was nice to try something new.
Q: You’ve done Mobo’s, Smash Hits big Festivals and recently played to over 10,000 people at Wembley performing alongside SWV, Jodeci, Blackstreet and Changing Faces, how was that experience for you?
Jade: You gotta remember we grew up listening and admiring those stars of the 90’s and we all came out at the same time and to be on the show was very rewarding plus the love we got from the crowd was amazing.
Ras: Yeah its mad like when we was in rehearsal we were hearing Teddy Riley doing the sound check and that alone was an awesome experience to be a part of.
Q: In the early 90’s a lot of UK acts were being signed like Hinda Hicks, Beverley Knight, Honeys, Shola Ama and Lyndon David Hall, then what happened, it all died. Why do you think?
Andrez: At that time the record labels PR companies heavily invested into this British sound yes.
Noel: Problem was they didn’t know how to market the music.
Jade: I think its good now we have the social networks so now we can get the music straight to the public without having to rely on the industry.
Andrez: I think when the Brit Awards came the industry changed then its like all of a sudden they wanted the American R&B more like the Lauryn Hills, Destinys Child so if you were British doing R&B IT WAS RIGHT they was backing pop music more.
Q: You guys have proved that you can do timeless music, hits like Ghetto Romance are still being played in the clubs and can say its the only urban track from this country that still has the buzz. What do you think of what’s out there now and will we hear it in 20 years time like your music?
Andrez: Artists are making the hits but I really don’t know if we will hear it in 20 years time,
Q: What do you think of the whole R&B fused with Electro thing?
Andre: Blame Akon [Laughs] he came with it and people realised that both RnB and electro people like this and then Usher and every other RnB artist did it.
Ras: I suppose it opens doors for you doing it, some times you have to do what you don’t want to do to break through. Speaking of struggles, Smash hits didn’t want to put us on their cover because they weren’t sure black would sell but we shared a cover and it sold the most that year.
Andre: The industry was strange because we were achieving a lot more than many acts and some shows they wouldn’t let us headline, yeah we always thought one day you’re gonna realise that this is the music I look back and all it was they just didn’t know RnB urban was the big thing people wanted.
Jade: But we loved the battle. We had a lot of fun with it all and it never stopped us doing our thing, for us we achieved because it was ground breaking, a full black act coming through.
Q: What were your thoughts of JLS when they came on X FACTOR?
Jade: We felt proud and we were like finally there was an urban band that came through on the show which was great to see.
Andrez: it worked out great for us because those guys bigged us up and it had our fans asking where are Damage and it kind of helped promote our return and campaigns started on Facebook to bring Damage back, but yeah JLS worked in our favour because they said that they got a lot of ideas from us and we are mates they come to our shows we go to theirs.
Jade: And they are genuinely great guys all of them.
Q: Trevor Nelson released the Collections Album, are you surprised he didn’t put Ghetto Romance on there considering its the UK R&B club classic?
Andrez: We’re gonna have to speak to Trevor about that one for sure [laughs] but sure he has other collections to be released and we will be on there
Q: A lot of people don’t know that your hit ‘Ghetto Romance’ was written by Joe so how did that link come about?
Ras: We were working with Tim and Bob the producer of Thong Song etc in America and he was going through the songs that were available and we heard Ghetto Romance with Joe’s vocal on which was good believe me and the thing is he said he would only put that song out if Nas was on it so we said we’s take it. [Laughs]
Q: What other shows have you done recently?
Noel: Jazz Café was great we had Alesha Dixon and Kele Le Roc and to be fair probably the best show we’ve ever done.
Q: So are we going to hear new music?
Andrez: For sure, but we are not rushing anything as we want to come with the right sound right now we are concentrating on live shows and bringing that funk and soul to the audience. JLS got the kids but Damage is needed for the mature crowd.