“WHAT CLAYTON IS TELLING US IS THAT HIS WORLD IS GONE AND THAT HE’S GOING TOO, “
– SAYS ALAN KAUFMAN, A WRITER AND A FRIEND OF MR.PATTERSON’S
” THIS OUGHT TO SEND UP A RED FLAG FOR SOMEONE… IT’S REMARKABLE, REALLY. IT’S KIND OF LIKE EUGENE ATGET QUITTING PARIS…”
#DT50015MINOFFAME IS EXPOSING
POW! CLAYTON PATTERSON THE NR. 1 UNDERGROUND LEGEND OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN NYC IS STILL ALIVE! A LONG TIME WANTED CONTEMPORARY HEROES ARE FLESHED AGAIN AND DAMEHT THE BAND IS UNPLUGGED ON THE L.E.S. WALLS !
IN THE END OF NOVEMBER ’16, DOWNTOWN 500 CREW WERE GETTING SHAMELESSLY DRUNK WITH PUNK ROYALTIES: JORDAN AND JOE CORRE AT THE GATHERING OF THE BRITISH OLD-SCHOOL PUNKS, IRONICALLY AT THE MUSEUM OF LONDON. SHORTLY IT WAS UTOPIAN KIND OF DEBATE IN GOOD TRADITIONS OF A DISASTER WITH SLOGAN “IS PUNK DEAD ?” IT WAS A CONVENIENT WAY TO TEST IF THE REBELLIOUS IDEAS ARE GETTING OLD OR IF THEY ARE STILL BURNING? A WEEK LATER ON A RACING BARGE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE THAMES LONDON ABOVE-NAMED JOE CORRE WAS DEFINITELY BURNING HIS 5 MILLION POUND-VALUED COLLECTION OF PUNK MEMORABILIA…
COINCIDENTALLY THE TIMING WAS RIGHT ACROSS THE DAM TOO, ON THE HOLY STREETS OF L.E.S MANHATTAN, ONE OF THE BIGGEST DEGENTRIFICATOR OF THE AREA -THE GRANDFATHER OF DOWNTOWN’S UNDERGROUND PHOTOGRAPHY- CLAYTON PATTERSON WAS APPEARING IN A CURRENT SOCIAL ARTISTRY COLLABORATION WITH A PUNK-SYNTH BAND NAMED DAMEHT AT THE RE-OPENING OF AN ON-GOING ARCHIVE, THIS AT HIS OWN GALLERY AND OUTLAW MUSEUM AT ESSEX STREET NYC…
AFTER ALL DEBATES AND MEETINGS BY HAVING A HEALTHY LAUGHS, SOME FAIR SENTIMENTALS AND SUMMING UP A CREATIVE BOOZE OF ALL THE BEFORE-MENTIONED COMPONENTS; DOWNTOWN 500 IS PULLING OUR #DT500REDSOFA UNDER THE DAMEHT’S AND CLAYTON’S ARSES TO HEAR OUT ALL THE UNHEARD-OFF TRUTHS, RIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH.
IN BEST TRADITIONS OF D.I.Y
WE ARE SKYPING A PORTRAIT INTERVIEW
DAMEHT BOYZ ARE BUSTED!
RIVINGTON STARCHILD ( Vocals )
ROMAN LEWIS ( Drums )
LUCAS GARZOLI ( Guitar )
Obviously Clayton Patterson is to DAMEHT as Andy Warhol was to The Velvet Underground. In good old school habits. Where the frontman Lou Reed and fellow band members haunted Warhol’s Factory throughout the ’60s, DAMEHT’s Rivington Starchild, Roman Lewis and Lucas Garzoli all center today at Patterson’s longtime Lower East Side home, The Clayton Gallery & Outlaw Art Museum, which he’s recently reopened after nearly 10 years of being closed to the public. Today DAMEHT guys are on his agenda.
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 a 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.
For your clue, in 1983, mr. Patterson and mrs. Rensaa bought a two-story former sewing factory and storefront at 161 Essex Street NYC. It was in the times before Corporations were getting loose and starting to speculate in the Downtown and the local majority still owned reasonable rights to hire or even to buy suitable pieces of fable location. The bottom floor paid the mortgage, and in 1986 he converted the small storefront into an art gallery and Clayton Cap store. From 1986 to 2003, they showcased a variety of New York artists, writers, neighborhood personalities including Quentin Crisp, Dash Snow, Angel “LA2” Ortiz, Boris Lurie, tattoo artist Spider Webb, Genesis P-Orridge, Peter Missing, Mary Beach, Taylor Mead, Agathe Snow, Manwoman, Swoon, Herbert Huncke and Elsa Rensaa.
DAMEHT: – Clayton embodied in his designs what a lot of people strive – to be themselves even in hard times – with an oppressive force behind him which tried to push him out from remaining true to himself.
DT 500 ZINE: – How deep is the element of consumerism connected to this?
DAMEHT: – Clayton was an outlaw artist living on the fringes, and opposed to focusing directly on consumerism. But the Caps are how he survived. They sold the Caps for money to live.
” …it was the normal way how an artist was enjoying his credibility in an origin 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’ notable 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: – What 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 video tape 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? Why did a legendary man named Clayton Patterson adopt you guys?
DAMEHT: – We have an amazing 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 backwards.
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 “Triberus” logo on each member’s leather jacket. “Triberus,” which resembles a mythical three-headed cat, is who the band equally attributes its successes to and blames its calamities on.
DT 500 ZINE: – Guys, behind your backs appear really serious crews… What is still new with 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 neurosis.”
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.”
“The conversation” of Clayton Patterson’s established in his one and only archive which contains a large number of interviews, concerts, and street protests (including the ACT UP AIDS protest). This very man Patterson’s documentation of the NYC hardcore punk scene of the 1980´s and early 1990´s includes rare footages of Bad Brains, Murphy’s Law, Sick of it All, Side by Side, Reagan Youth, Sheer Terror and G.G. Allin. His legendary videos interviews with artists Richard Kern, Nick Zedd, Joe Coleman, Annie Sprinkle, H.R. Giger, Kembra Pfahler (of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), Ira Cohen, Pyramid Club dancers Phoebe Legere, Dee Finley, folk historian and ethnomusicologist Harry Smith and numerous tattoo artists, colorful characters and NYC community leaders comprise an extensive historical document of the city… There is a comprehensive library of survived memorabilia reverently preserved by Clayton. Probably Clayton is owning a revealing Kompromat on somebodies who doesn’t want to give more wide publicity on that kind of subjects… Fortunately, fellow Clayton Patterson is a living social artist who carries the universal rights and freedoms of the individuality.
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: – Clayton states, ¡No pasarán! We are living today in “quite” sterile generation, we are easily brainwashed, well-thought-out disoriented, mainstreamed whatever… Wherever you are playing, what is valid with your listener? What kind of crew are they?
ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY SAID, “SOMEONE AND SOMETHING IS 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 difference fronts but it’s hard to consolidate it into one group at this point.
DT 500 ZINE: – I would like to hear more about your musical and content repertoire?
DAMEHT: – How can the music be defined? We just don’t really…
DT 500 ZINE: – Sorry mates, you have been moving a lot of heavy creds and legacies, I would love to find more about your agendas’ angles? Let’s embrace some slow-minds.
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 messages 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: – If you would have to define your main 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.”
DT500 ZINE: – I would like to go more deep with the content. You do agree there are a lot of currently and generally restless people out there, no wonder why… However, I am curious, how do we manage compromise so far? Where is the limit? Back to the Clayton’s subject of ” the great manners” of gentrification and mainstreaming etc… -the main hemorrhoid of authentic artists today. Guys, what are your thoughts about that? Compromism vs Conformism or Conformity? To compromise or to be a conformist? There is an old movie from classic cinematography, named The Conformist, made some time back in 70´s, a political drama film directed by another legendary man -Bernardo Bertolucci. The film is actually a case study in the psychology of conformity and fascism, quite a current theme ah ?! Shortly: there is Marcello Clerici, the main hero, is a common bureaucrat, very cultivated and intellectual but… largely dehumanized by an intense need to be ‘normal’ and to belong to whatever is the current dominant socio-political group. Clerici is willing to sacrifice his values in the interests of building a supposedly “normal life.” …
DAMEHT: – At some point you always make compromises…
DT 500 ZINE: – Doesn’t this lead to conformity and by slowly becoming a conformist ?
DAMEHT: – It could, but depending on how you do it, the outcome can be met to your standards. We live out our rights within each other. The salvation is now within yourself. It’s no longer about fighting for rights – we’re making music and we’re trying to preserve what’s an inner self of being. That’s far more important than the rights that get taken away by people who are put into position to do so without proper consideration from the public.
” But the public needs to find that within themselves and then you know you can deal with the outside once you know you can deal with that is on the inside. “
DT 500 ZINE: – To compromise or to be a conformist?
DAMEHT: – To answer your question, we rarely settle. Rarely settle for the circumstances. We will compromise to make things happen but we won’t cookie cut our ideas to make them fit. There is a lot of understanding within ourselves to know what we have to do to make things happen.
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 for 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 art direction?
DAMEHT: – It really suggested itself, that song came with that idea and respect of the record. We started the record in Los Angeles and the song suggested the art direction. The reference to Pamela Rooke (Jordan) was really an archetype for punk rock, this title that’s been following us – “there it is” – coming in all of if insecurities to us, really 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, 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 was no Jordan around. Quite a muse!
DT 500 ZINE: – We were having great conversations with Jordan and Joe Corre just last week. That is matching DAMEHT´s contemporary production theme again, 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 much, 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. In terms of 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 with our music and Clayton’s work.
“In the whole mix of it, it’s a very sweet message.”
DT 500 ZINE: – What kind of record is Creeper Creeper?
DAMEHT: – It’s a dance record, we dance, and that can never get left out of what we do.
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 Cost 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 announce 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
Special thanks to Andreas Roed, Liz Cornine, Justin Moran, Jorge Liloy, Solva