RIVINGTON STARCHILD ( Vocals )
ROMAN LEWIS ( Drums )
LUCAS GARZOLI ( Guitar )
DT 500 ZINE: – DAMEHT guys, my pleasure to meet you all, it was the reopening of the Clayton Gallery & Outlaw Art Museum, what was your role in it?
DAMEHT: – We were blessed enough to be able to work and live alongside Clayton after many years of idolizing him.
DT 500 ZINE: – Can you explain more how does this kind of blessing work?
DAMEHT: – We needed to do this show with him – it was the next step. We went through his archive, collaborated together – not in a way that we manipulated his work, but mainly in helping release these Caps again which were a Downtown staple for a while. He had already achieved a level of success with them in the 90’s then he stopped when he pivoted more into activism. It was a desire to wear the Caps that drove us. And now we get to share them with other people.
DAMEHT: – Clayton embodied in his designs what a lot of people strive – to be themselves even in hard times – as an oppressive force behind him which tried to push him out from remaining true to himself.
” …it was the normal way how an artist was enjoying his credibility in an original manner of L.E.S. community in the 80´s…before the great gentrification…”
– says Clayton Patterson about his Caps production in one of his interviews.
It is essential to note the range of Clayton Caps, each designed after styles the artist embroidered and sold from his home during the ’80s. Featuring iconic checker cab motifs and variations of Patterson’s cartoon devil, DAMEHT’s Clayton Caps aim to bring attention back to one of NYC’s most unsung style innovators—a man whose signature all-around designs revolutionized the baseball cap and attracted everyone from Keith Haring to Matt Dillon.
Publishing in the GQ Magazine`s article by Richard Merkin, named Clayton Hats as one of the two best baseball hats made in America. Many used to remember some of Clayton Hats’ essential customers included artists Jim Dine and David Hockney, actor Matt Dillon, directors Gus Van Sant and Rob Reiner, the Pet Shop Boys, and Mick Jagger, for whom they designed a custom jacket back piece.
DAMEHT: – Now, in 2016 with the reissue, it’s not about money because none of us really come from it. We don’t know what that even means. We’ve been doing this for years with no return. This is just our time for giving- our work has been returned by Clayton’s generosity working with us and the love we have around us with each other.
DT 500 MAG: – WhO is Clayton to you?
DAMEHT: – He’s the role model – and the ability to not just meet him but be part of his history is something he has allowed us to be part of.
” It’s confused in a sense – what is Clayton, what is DAMEHT – it is one group of people sharing an idea, it crosses generations, races and our view of the future and how to move forward from here.”
It will take time to acknowledge the greatness of Patterson’s collection of photography, video, art, press clippings, and books comprise a vast archive of Lower East Side history. The collection includes approximately half a million print photos, hundreds of thousands of digital photos, thousands of hours of videotape in multiple formats and numerous artworks by Mr. Patterson and his wife Mrs. Rensaa as well as other New York artists. The archive also consists of various ephemera from the streets of New York City including brand stamped glassine heroin bags, protest banners and fliers, graffiti stickers and art. Controversially some of his documental material was banned by NYC Court and not allowed to be exhibited…
DT500 ZINE: – What is the difference between DAMEHT and other bands?
DAMEHT: – We have a fantastic team around us, not just the three of us in creativity and management, and Clayton Patterson – it’s a magic crucible.
” We’re not just working on the music – photography, video, aesthetic that translates from the way we dress to the way we present the content, it’s more of a “lifestyle package,” but it exists because we are living it. “
DT 500 MAG: – What does DAMEHT mean?
DAMEHT: – DAMEHT itself came as a symbol to us, but it’s THE MAD backward.
There is some gossip that DAMEHT did find the old drawing in Clayton’s archive that is actually visual of DAMEHT’s logo on leather jackets. It was personalized by Clayton Patterson, who designed the matching “Tiberius” logo on each member’s leather jacket. “Tiberius,” which resembles a mythical three-headed cat, is who the band equally attributes its successes too and blames its calamities on.
DT 500 ZINE: – What is still new to your concept today vs. other current talents?
” The idea could create a lot of disturbance in a human being – it can create a lot of neuroses.”
DAMEHT: – A new is us even having all of this and wearing it, putting in on and out. The way we are presenting it in this format, with a band.
“ Clayton had “the conversation” already, we are just quoting it and have other things to say.”
DAMEHT: – Clayton brought a very solid aesthetic. When we came to him we needed to solidify the aesthetic – we had the music, concepts, and visuals, he tied it all together with the first collaboration, Triberus, and now, beyond.
” Clayton is to us what Warhol was for the Velvet Underground. We want to connect people and create a conversation for everyone who wants to participate in it. “
DT 500 ZINE: – Wherever you are playing, what is valid with your listener? What kind of crew are they?
ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY SAID, “SOMEONE AND SOMETHING Are DREAMING US. EMBRACE THE ILLUSION. LIVE!” THERE IS AN AUDIENCE WHO IS DREAMING US AND ALLOWS US TO BE A PART OF THEM.
DT 500 ZINE: – How were you gathering “your people”?
DAMEHT: – We’ve been gathering audiences through different mediums music at our concerts, through our art shows, our videos, and visuals. The people who find us through Clayton and the Caps, the shoe collaboration with George Cox, people who have only seen us through Facebook. It’s building on a lot of different fronts, but it’s hard to consolidate it into one group at this point.
DT 500 ZINE: – I would love to find more about your agendas’ angles?
DAMEHT: – Content-wise – what is the most important thing we can say to the world? – More than a message, in particular, it’s more a need of relating, trying to bring our words and stories within a relatable context or narrative. There’s not a lot on YouTube, but we’re telling our story in a different way than a lot of people. It’s a natural and evolving process.
DT500 ZINE: – The message to your listener, what is it?
DAMEHT: – To Trust Life. We do it all the time and face all of the same exact reasons why people stop working on their projects and dreams every day. These things eventually reveal themselves as helping us where we need to go.
“ It’s all done with love towards whoever is watching and listening – we are with them. And if they are with us, we are together in DAMEHT.”
NYLON MAGAZINE writes:
” A new video for their single “Creeper Creeper” and it’s a campy blast. Taking cultural hints from the likes of Steve Strange, Soo the Cat Woman, and New Romanticism, the video is a visual treat and an appropriate ode to a band known best for their secret shows.”
DT 500 ZINE: – Tell us more about your new record ‘Creeper Creeper’? Why did you choose that kind of creative direction?
DAMEHT: – It indeed suggested itself, that song came with that idea and respect for the record. We started the record in Los Angeles, and the song indicated the art direction. The reference to Pamela Rooke (Jordan) was indeed an archetype for punk rock. This title that’s been following us – “there it is” – coming in all of if insecurities to us, indeed they are the sweetest and most vulnerable people usually – it’s not as dark as when it’s in a suit-and-tie perhaps. She comes in as an archetype to us – who are not punk – and dancing with us.
” We are her – everyone is her.”
(*To renounce the girl, her real name is Pamela Rooke, also known as Jordan. She is a British punk legend, she was a model and actress noted for her work with Vivienne Westwood and the SEX boutique in the King’s Road area of London in the mid-1970s, and for being a fixture at many of the early Sex Pistols performances. She was also known for her style and dress sense—a bleached platinum blonde bouffant hairdo with dark raccoon-like eye make-up—made her a highly visible icon of the London punk subculture.)
Along with Johnny Rotten, Soo Catwoman and Siouxsie Sioux, she is credited with creating the W10 London’s Punk Royalties. Jordan is a biggest London punk queen and became one of the most outrageous and sussed Punkettes on the London Scene. Legendary Sex Pistols’ own Johnny Rotten wouldn’t go on that Scene if there were no Jordan around.
DT 500 ZINE: – We were having a great conversation with Jordan and Joe Corre just last week, it’s a bit funny, isn’t it? However, I`m talking your new video CREEPER CREEPER, which is apparently inspired by Jordan. Can you remind what had triggered the actual idea?
DAMEHT: – We mean well! One big inspiration was the film ‘Jubilee’ (that she stars in). Within that film, they were all themselves. It was really how they were -perhaps that’s our movie, perhaps that’s us. Much less about playing parts and more about being yourself as part of anything. You really can’t script too far, remain yourself and even if you fail at it, you come out with you but just a little more of it.
DT 500 ZINE: – To your mind what does manifest Jordan or punk tradition?
DAMEHT: – Jordan represents everyone who is on the outside who desires to find their own voice. Regarding the London punk scene, without that look, the world would lack certain individuality.
DT 500 ZINE: – What do you think is the origin of that kind of passion?
DAMEHT: – In short, the search for individualism and staying true to yourself. Which is a reoccurring theme in our music and Clayton’s work?
“In the whole mix of it, it’s a sweet message.”
DT 500 ZINE: – Any good stories besides the record making?
DAMEHT: – It was one of the most fun productions, a lot of people involved.
DT500 ZINE: – Got drunk and broke something?
DAMEHT: – You’d expect that right? But not really. Between a couple of liability issues… In the end, it was tough for us to make a video like that under normal circumstances. When we got the chance to do it, we had to get the best camera ever and time was on us, and we had to do it super professional and diligent.
DT 500 ZINE: – I have heard tales about you making I LOVE YOU TOO video, guys, expose yourselves!
DAMEHT: – There are stories about that night yeah– that video was really a party, it was our first party – those bottles weren’t a prop, everyone was wasted. We got cell phones videos from everyone and edited it together.
DT 500 ZINE: – Tell us more…
DAMEHT: – It was pure chaos but very well orchestrated. We threw a dance party, and it was our first performance. We thought, well, if we played the song twice and asked everyone to film, something would happen – and it did. In this case, in particular, it was quite nailed. And dangerous.
DT 500 ZINE: – What is the last impression you have had?
” We are in the desert right now so experiencing incredible sunsets. “
DT 500 ZINE: – Did you move to California for a winter?
DAMEHT: – We didn’t have a particular premeditated thing. We came, and we stayed and got absorbed. We’re here, working, living our lives.
DT 500 ZINE: – West Coast vs. East Coast?
DAMEHT:– That’s old, was a hip-hop beef thing. Not to us now, not anymore.
DT 500 ZINE: – Any difference?
DAMEHT: – The weather. We are living life the same way we did in New York.
DT 500 ZINE: – What is next for DAMEHT? Where can we see you next? Calendar 2017?
DAMEHT: – In LA, we are preparing a single for January which will be followed up by an EP in early Spring. We will be playing in LA in our warehouse Downtown. We’ll use our website and social media to keep announcing what’s happening. The name of the EP is still a secret to us – let us know what it is going to be named!
“ WITH YOU IN DAMEHT ”
DT 500 ZINE: – Big up guys! See you around! #RAPTURE!
© Photography: Clayton Patterson, Johnny De Guzman
© Interview by Arthur Sopin