Q: Tell me where the name Chrome comes from.
D: It's like Deco, Art Deco. It comes from the Surrealistic movement in the same time as the Art Deco movement. Kind of...surrealistic, it's like a simplicity, it's kind of
dreamy to me, it reminds me of French opium
addicts like Cocteau, doing all their stuff in the 30's.
Q: So you're interested in that decade? '
D: Yeah, 30's is, that's where it comes from.
Q: Tell me briefly about your background, how you came to play music, how
long you've been playing and so on, that sort of brief background.
D: Three years we've been playing together. Helios
and I met after the first Chrome album. The band that was on the first album
broke up when we started with the second album. All the albums we do all the music ourselves. We met in San Francisco, in a really run-down hotel (laughs), and we just liked each other. We just seem to feel magic things in a certain way. So we started working together.
We worked together so well. I had been doing music
alone a lot of my life, so was Helios. When you meet somebody you
can really work with, when you can work with somebody and it's what you
want but it's better with him; like if you wanted to do something it's
alright, but when you do something
together it's better, the two people together, better than what you do
by yourself, and that's good.
Q: Was your first album only you?
D: No, it had like three other people on it, and I and Helios started working
together after that. But that album is out of print now.
Q: Here's a pair of questions; the first of which is, what is music (in
general) to you?
D: Music to me, music is...you mean what music do I like or what?...I mean
music I like is something I can feel, or I'm inspired, I'm mentally,
or emotionally or physically inspired, move me, makes me think, it affects,
music is something that affects me.
Q: What is YOUR music then?
D: What is it?
Q: Describe it...
D: I know, I understand. What it is to me is like... well, I was in search, I was trying to find to dig out from ourselves' dreams. Trying to find them on tape
or to make them real. If we do a song and it is like dream, it's like an
audio track to our dream. It's like a soundtrack to a
dream you might have had but you don't remember, but
when you make the music and finish it, you start to see the dream that you
had before. You didn't ever remember it but after you do the music then
you remember the dream, because it's part of you, it's part of something
that's way down deep in you, and you dig it out. Not every song we do
gets that deep... Have you heard Alien Soundtrack?
D: No? That's the second album. Have you heard...
Q: No, the only one I've heard is the latest one.
D: The new one, okay.
Q: Then why did you choose music as your medium of expression?
D: I don't know, I mean...I used to paint a lot, and whenever I was painting I'd always be listening to music and always feel the music to my
painting. I played music too, I thought I would be
a painter but whenever I listened to music I liked music so much more
than the painting, because painting I could see it and I could feel it,
but music I could feel it more somehow.
At Beggars Banquet
Q: Have your songs got any messages to listeners?
D: Yeah, they do, but not like a preacher or something. Nothing like that.
It's more like messages to ourselves, and then maybe to people, yeah.
But I think we're maybe trying to talk to
ourselves in our music. We talk to other
people till they can see, people must see us talking to ourselves, and
then maybe they see something in themselves when they see us talking to
ourselves. But we're not telling anybody they should do this and do
Q: Whom is your music for?
D: Who is it for? It's for people. We make it for us, we make the music we want to buy and we can buy. If we wnated to go and buy a record, we'd go and buy Chrome, because
that's the music we want to go and buy. We make it, so in that sense it's for people, because other people like us, they would want to go to hear a band like us. We do it because no one else was doing it, and it's needed to exist. I feel like we
need to exist.
Q: I've read the lyric sheet of the album, and there seems to be a lot about perception of being outsiders.
D: Outsiders? Yeah, that's true.
Q: Do you think you want other outsiders to listen to your music, or is it not
importat, it's just about you?
D: It doesn't matter if other outsiders listen. I mean I don't, I never
thought about what you asked me. I don't know who listen to us, I don't
know. I don't need a lot of people because I, we're always off
making music, we don't need a lot of people. We're outside, a lot of
people are outside, maybe there're three billion people on the planet,
three billion outsiders. I don't know. Maybe everybody in the world
feels like that. I don't know, but for us, we definitely feel
outside. We don't fit in here. It doesn't matter, I mean we don't want to fit in, we don't want to be
outside, we don't care one way or the other. We just do what we do,
but we got a lot of projections on us about being outside. When we weren't
successful, people said we were outside, our music was too strange. I
would say 'fuck you', then we have been successful, then what are
we supposed to say? Now are we insiders? (laughs) We're still outside,
our lives are not like we're inside. We live in San Francisco, and
people next door have no idea what
we're doing. Most people don't know what we're doing. We become so
involved with what we do, between Helios and I. We are outside and nobody
can talk to us about certain things because we can only talk to ourselves.
So then we're outside.
Q: Have you done any live gigs at all?
Q: Is that because you're different from the others, you're outsiders?
D: Yeah, that's one reason.
Q: What else?
D: That's about it really. Other reasons are money. We're preparing
something but we like to do things...because when we make records,
we change the style, on every record we have a slightly different statement.
For us to have people playing with us, to go through those stylistic
changes would take us three times as long. And since we didn't have the money
to play live in the way we wanted to play... if we don't have enough money to do that, we won't do it.
When we can afford to do that we'll do it. When we can't, we won't do it.
We're not going to go set up in a club for crap, you know what I mean.
Q: What was the reason for signing up with an English label? I mean, did you feel
like a change?
D: Yes, yes. We were very bored with the Americans.
Q: Then are you going to be based in England, or are you still going to be San
D: I don't know, I live in Paris and in San Francisco, and the record company's in
Q: Suppose things are very different in America from England.
D: Oh, yeah.
Which do you think is better, England or San Francisco, for musical activities?
D: Oh, I don't know. I mean it's great to be here, I prefer to be here. I
prefer to be in England. When Helios and I are in San Francisco, a lot of our music
is inspired because we are so...there's nobody, hardly any people going to
like us in S.F. People in Japan, I think, have the illusion that there
are a lot of incredible people in San Francisco or something, but it's not like
that. You know what I mean, they're brain-washed.
Q: Well, I went to an American school in Japan so I know lots of
American people there, and I think their reaction to new
things is just ridiculous, they just reject it.
D: Right, they reject it, right, I know. They need to be brain-washed, because
in America the commercials and advertising and everything just convinces
people that it's great. It has to be seen on TV like 100 times, and
'oh yeah, I gotta buy that shampoo' . But, God, you imagine them hearing a
Chrome record! Now Americans, because we sold a lot of our records in
Europe and stuff like that, then they started to recognise this and say
'oh yeah, Europeans, they're doing OK'. So now they start to buy our
Q: It's ridiculous.
D: It's really crazy. Even in San Francisco, the people in San Francisco were one
of the last people to recognise us, they didn't want to recognise us because
they were all into three-chord punk bands. Maybe we are a bit punk,
I don't know. But it's like we're doing what we identify with... I'm sorry, I
forgot what we were talking about.
Q: Do you think you're going to do any gigs in future, perhaps in
D: Yes, I think so.
Q: What are they going to be like? I mean are you going to use any visual
elements like films?
D: Oh, yes. They'll be like plays, I think. We have designs for stages, like surreslistic
sets, not like the normal set for just equipment and stuff. Things that
are very surrealistic kind of stage settings. Sculpturous kind of, you
know what I mean.
Q: Have you seen any other group who use films and that kind of visual
Q: Which ones?
D: Oh, God, I saw a lot of 60's bands do that. And I saw the Pop Group...
Q: Do they use films?
D: Yes. There are a lot of bands using films and stuff, so I don't know if
we can do that any more, because it'
becoming standard in avant garde. We're not doing anything anybody else does. We never have done anything anybody else does. We never take ideas of other people. Us
Q: Do you think your music works visually?
D: For me, it' a visual kind of thing.
Q: Do you thinks it works on the audience in a live situation as well?
D: You mean if you play live, it inspires people visually?
D: Yeah, yeah. But I think if you're going to be visually present, you should
project what is visually there... no, I think an audience, a person that
listens to our records in your home is more likely to see your visual
kind of idea than somebody that goes to a concert, Like maybe you're at
home listening to your record you really like, and you see something
visual in that, especially late at night, lights are low and you imagine
stuff. If you go to a concert, you're not imagining any more. You're in
reality, you're presented with a visual image, so visual image is what
you get... So that has to be as good as somebody's imagination is late at
Yeah, I think you can affect people visually live. You've got a lot more than a record. Maybe a video
disc should be able to affect people visually very well, but I think
ultimately, we're just people doing our music and just
trying to do things right to us, and trying not to do anything that's
cheap or crap or too soon, (just) because we're supposed to do it. If it's not right,
forget it. We'll do it when it's right. We're just doing our project.
me our records have always been very visual. This is the first time we've
actually done a project that was a visual product. And this week I'll go
to San Francisco, we'll make a video of a kind of live thing that I was talking
about. That's actually really close to our performance thing,
and we're just developing towards a live performance. Maybe our live performance visually will be the best
thing we ever did, I don't know. When we play live we want to put people in a different
world. We're not...I don't know how to explain it, but I know what it is.
At Beggars Banquet
Q: The editor of this magazine asked me to write something on groups that he calls
'alternative music', a sort of psychedelic, like magic or chanting... Do you have any objections to your music being called psychedelic?
Q: Have you been influenced by psychedelic music?
D: Yeah, I like it a lot. I think that's exactly what we do. We do psychedelic
Q: It's about imagination, isn't it?
D: Psychedelic is something that inspires some sort of dream. I just don't
think dream is always evil. I don't think dream is really a bad thing. I
love psychedelic. Not like the 60's psychedelic stuff though. To me, when we are psychedelic, is something totally different.
Q: Can you think of any other groups which are doing psychedelic music?
Q: Yes, at the moment.
D: Hell, I don't know.
Q: The Residents?
D: No, I don't think the Residents are psychedelic. Maybe a little bit, but
I don't consider them psychedelic. Then what? I don't know what they are.
I think maybe Snakefinger, maybe Wire, maybe Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing
Gristle...I know Genesis, he's psychedelic. So many different bands are
touching on different types of psychedelic music, but it's all got very New Wave
influence. Our new album, we're trying to avoid the New Wave influence. I'm sorry I can't... David Bowie is psychedelic.
Q: Who's your favourite author?
D: Author? Favourite author...Arthur C. Clarke, Edgar Allan Poe, Arttaud...
Q: Are you political?
Q: But what does the word 'political' mean to you? In what way are you
D: Political means to stay yourself.
Q: Do you think your music is polltlcal°
D: Yeah, sure.
Q: But it doesn't contain any political message, does it?
D: If you're talking about who's going to be the next President...
Q: No, not that sort of thing.
D: Ho. Yeah, sure it does. You mean in the lyrics?
D: No, not in the lyrics.
D: Yes, in the iryrics it does too, actually.n
Q: So it's musically political?
D: Musically it's political, and it's political psychically. It's psychic
political. It's mystically political. Do you know what I mean? it's
industrial mystic music. It's industrial psychic music, I guess.
Q: Where do you get the ideas for your music and lyrics?
D: We don't get them from outside. Sometimes from movies, but mostly from life. Feeling about things. Feeling gives me ideas.
Q: Are you and Helios equal in the group?
Q: Do you influence each other?
Q: But you don't get influenced from outside.
D: Oh, that's not true. Sure, influence, that's different from getting ideas.
Q: What are your influences then?
D: The whole lot, I mean the state of the world. Then the world and my life,
there are things happening around me, and there are books, movies and things,
records and things that artistically influence me or
that I might notice. Influence is a wrong word, because what I might like
doesn't mean what influences me. I don't get too influenced, we don't seem to get too influenced by other people's
music or anything. We might like it, but not want to sound like it.
lot of people I like, but I would never want to sound like them. I mean
we are Chrome, we are not Devo, you know what I mean. We're not the
Eagles, we're Chrome. The reason why we're Chrome is because it's real,
we do what we do because it's us. It's not necessary for us to get ideas
from anybody, it's us.
My mother, when I was a kid, I would tell her about some ideas, some visions I had, and she would say 'where did you get those ideas?' She used to say that.
I used to get really pissed off with Mom. That was my idea, I was
offended that she would think that I had an idea from somebody. Sometimes I think that's why we're outside, because I don't
think most people are getting any ideas. I mean I see a lot of it in
music. A lot of times I can listen to people's records and I can go 'God,
this guy's totally ripping off this band' or I
could look at photographs and say 'this guy's just fucking ripping off
this guy', the whole thing. And it's bizarre to me, because it's so much
easier to do something like that because you see something you like, to
copy it is so easy. You have the formulated structure, right, and you don't
have to think of it, you can just say - 'oh, I know
exactly how to do that'. Like, to look at somebody's photographs and figure
out exactly how he did that style and just go and do that.
That's the trap, and fortunately for us,
our music is so complicated, our albums have so many layers of sound and
production and different musical things going on, that it's not really
possible to copy us. I haven't heard anybody copy us. I heard a lot of people who
tried. A few bands in San Francisco, they tried to copy us, but they couldn't. They wanted to but they couldn't. Because we came out
before the New Wave, our first album came out right at the beginning of the New Wave, by
the middle of the New Wave trip wee were putting out records, what people call psychedelic records. By the time we started to get noticed, people were like 'oh, yeah,
they're making it, we should do that'. But they couldn't, because we were
already too developed. It wasn't simple what we were doing, it's very complicated. If you were a musician and you wanted to do what we did, you listen to our record, you wouldn't know how we got those sounds. You wouldn't be able to figure it out. That's what I
mean. We're just lucky that we're like that.
Q: Are'you interested in, or sympathetic towards, electronic music, like Gary Numan and stuff?
D: Yeah, I mean, I like it. For us, we don't have any limitation
of what we like. I might listen to Tchaicovsky, I might listen to classical
music in my appartment, I might listen to
Gary Newman in the car, I might listen to some new records in a record store,
like that, might listen to my wife's band.
Q: So you listen to the kind of music that's totally different from
D: Yeah, oh yeah. I listen to classical music, I listened to Ligetti with my wife lest week, and I bought this
cassette of this bluesy Arab music. I listened to that
for a week. Just anything. It has nothing to do with our music. But I
heard some things there that I liked, that gave me kind of ideas, but
Q: Do you find any similarities to your music in any other group?
D: Only vaguely, but... yes, sure, I find similarities. But I find
similarities with a lot of stuff, find similarities with Fellini,
between our music and Fellini's music.
Q: The list of groups which my editor wants me to write on,
are people like Joy Division, Chrome, A Certain Ratio,
Glaxo Babies, Pop Group, Slits, PIL, and so on. What do you feel
about being categorised with this lot?
D: That's okay, I mean that's just what's happening, so they put us there.
Then that means maybe there's a collective consciousness of different
people, that something is similar that's going on. But we won't go down the street and talk to Public
Image and say what we're going to do next. They don't tell us what they're
going to do next, you know what I mean. I like these bands very
much, they're alright. I don't mind if they imagine us with them, it's
okay, but I just don't care.
Q: You're an individualist, aren't you?
D: Yeah, I hate feeling part of things...
Q: What is your philosophy?
D: My philosophy?
Q: Yeah, I mean if you don't want to call it philosophy it's ok...
D: 'Don't think too much'. When you get done
working, don't think too much. Just be... survive.
Sue (from Beggars Banquet): Are you nearly finished?
Q: Nearly, yeah.
D: It's wrapping up. This is cool, I want to just talk for a few more minutes.
Q: The film you've just done today, is it for the...
Q: Just a promotional thing?
Q: Have you made any other films?
D: Yeah, we've got the film for the album.
Q: What are you going to use it for?
D: Video cassette. That should be coming out in a month or so, a video
cassette. So I can't wait to see the whole album on film.
Q: Have you got anything else to talk about?
D: Hope the world makes it.
Q: Do you like the States? I mean living in the States?
D: Not all the time, I find it a bit boring.
Q: But if you can ignore the whole environment it's the same anywhere...
D: Yeah, but I don't like to ignore environment, so I like to be in
beautiful environments. I prefer to be in a beautiful palace on the
beach, in a sail boat.
Q: Do you find it easier to work in that sort of environment?
D: No, I find it easier to have fun (laughs.) No, it's probably better to work
in an environment that's almost negative, because we feel a lot of negativity
in environment of San Francisco, and that's probably why our music is so fucked up
and strange. We really feel alienated a lot there.
(c) Akiko Hada 1980/2020
There are a couple more photos of Damon on my Music Photography page
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