THE DAMAGE MANUAL, at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Tuesday (June 20). $15-$18. 870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
T hough he stood shoulder to shoulder with John Lydon in the original and devastatingly groovy lineup of Public Image Ltd., bass boss Jah Wobble never really made the punk scene in full. That's because his subsequent -- and groundbreaking -- dub work in the Invaders of the Heart was more ambient than angry.
So it's a bit surprising to hear the man who drafted the elegiac, calmly stunning Heaven And Earth opus slapping the bejesus out of his instrument as one-fourth of scorching hardcore outfit the Damage Manual alongside industrial pioneers Martin Atkins (PiL, Ministry), Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks, Pigface) and Geordie Walker (Killing Joke) even if the four share links stretching back two decades.
On the horn from his home in England, the chatty Wobble admits that the Damage Manual permits him to let loose like he did when he was a kid, adding (threatening, maybe?) that this is the loudest band he's ever played in.
"I'm talking louder than Motörhead," he chuckles. "I've got the biggest bass rig in the world. Honest, it's ridiculous."
Fortuitous fate But if so-called supergroups tend to be less than the sum of their parts, Wobble insists the Damage Manual came together entirely by fate. Evidently, some rock and roll pixie with a rad magic wand determined that what the world needs now is a loud, aggro cross-pollination between industrial, techno and art rock. Who's to argue?
"About 18 months ago Martin, who had been living in the States, came back to Britain. I hadn't seen him in ages, but we were quite chummy in the PiL days. He contacted me to ask if I'd put down a few bass lines for some material he was working on.
"I was quite fed up with that -- you know, working outside a band, so I said, 'If you're still playing drums, why don't we just get together and play?'
"Next, we contacted Geordie. He's one of the few guitarists from that generation who's doing something good, and I wanted to play with him. As fate would have it, Geordie, who also lives in the States, just happened to be in Britain visiting his mom and dad. Total coincidence.
"So we laid down some tracks and two live sessions formed the basis of the album. We didn't think of adding a singer, just leaving it as kind of an instrumental thing, maybe with some spoken word over top.
"The only singer I would have considered was Iggy Pop. Then Martin started talking about Chris Connelly, and sure enough, he was totally up for it, had lyrics together. That was it, really."
The resulting album, the self-titled The Damage Control, references the punishing sonic assault of Killing Joke and Pigface, but also leans hard against guitar loops, weirdly distorted vocals and myriad other studio-created effects. In other words, fans of industrial, goth and hardcore will go apeshit.
"We really didn't approach this with any kind of mandate," Wobble confirms. "That's usually when all the big arguments happen. And I think the live gigs are generally going to be better than the record. We've had more time to practise, and the group's loosened up a bit."