The Van Damned

I’ve been in three bands during my lifetime. Two of them, Spewing Fish Vomit, and Harassing Sandy, I’ve discussed previously. I have forgotten the name of my first band. Although, I have three distinct memories of my time as the guitarist of said band. This was 1991, and I was about 12 or 13. We wrote one original song, which was a sort of a R.E.M. “It’s the End of the World as we Know it (And I Feel Fine)” type song about the threat of imminent nuclear war. 

Of all my “bands” this was the only one who had the potential to play a gig, which brings me to memory number two. We had been scheduled to play the junior high talent show, but our drummer had second thoughts. I was all for it since I would have to go home to get my guitar and miss class, but in the end, the drummer’s decision was final. So, we never played the talent show, which in hindsight was probably for the best. 

The third and final memory included going to an HMV with the lead singer while he picked up Nevermind by Nirvana. It was my introduction to a band that would have a profound effect on my life. HMV is an acronym for His Master’s Voice, about “Nipper” the Jack Russell terrier mascot next to a gramophone. At the time, I was under the impression the acronym stood for Her Majesty’s Video. Someone had told me it was a British store, and once they opened locations in the United States, HMV became an acronym for The Music Lives. At the time, it seemed reasonable, so I never questioned it. Even though, acronyms are made from the letters at the beginning of words. Although, I just learned HMV would be an example of initialism, and acronyms are truncated words. For example, Laser is an acronym for light amplification stimulated emissions of radiation, and it’s spoken whereas HMV is spelled out.

Over a decade ago, I was in a band called The Van Damned. It was my first foray into playing heavy metal music. Some song titles were “Unnecessary Surgery,” “A Fistful of Blood” and “The Wrath of Achilles.” The vocalist/bassist managed to work the phrase Satan/Death/Blood/Piss into every song. My favorite line in any of the compositions was “Only one wields Thorgrim’s Hammer. Who? Satan, fool. Satan.” 

The Van Damned never played any gigs outside of accidentally ending up on a playlist during a roof party. The Van Damned never broke up, but they went on hiatus. Since then I’ve continued to make music as the band Ironbar, named for one of the villains in the film Max Mad Beyond Thunderdome. All of the songs, which coincidentally are available on Bandcamp for pay what you want, all address various characters or plot points from the film. Even though I have written/recorded all of the music, I credit the compositions to two fictitious band members “Rembrandt Van Pain,” and “Hell.” 

Originally, they were going to be stage names for musicians, but they’ve come to embody archetypal characters similar to the band Gorillaz. Whereas all of the music of Gorillaz is composed by Damon Albarn and credited to the fictional band, I’ve done the same here. There are 21 singles/EPs of Ironbar’s work on Bandcamp. Within the last month, I’ve toyed with the members of the band having a falling out and the group splintering into different factions like the band Great White. Currently, there are two incarnations of the band Great White that are touring. There’s the originally named “Great White” and there’s also “Jack Russell’s Great White.” Russell had been the original lead singer. 

I had been thinking of creating a similar rift within the Ironbar Camp and having them split. Hell would remain with Ironbar while simultaneously competing with “Rembrandt Van Pain’s” Ironbar. 

However, I also remembered a great sketch from the television show “The Kids in the Hall” about a band named Armada. The drummer argues they should change the name of the band so his name is featured more prominently. He suggests renaming them Rod Torfulson’s Armada. However, the guitarist balks at this. So, as a compromise, they agree to call the band Rod Torfulson’s Armada featuring Herman Menderchuck (The guitarist). Therefore, it’s inevitable: Hell’s Ironbar featuring Rembrandt Van Pain. 


Andrew Davie has worked in theater, finance, and education. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant and has survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. He has published short stories at various places, a chapbook with The Daily Drunk, crime fiction novellas with All Due Respect and Close to the Bone, and an upcoming memoir. His other work can be found in links on his website https://andrew-davie.com/

Categories: Essay

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Shawn Berman runs The Daily Drunk. You can follow him on Twitter @Sbb_writer.

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