Prism

The 10th Annual Damn You Christmas Covers Party

16 December 11 words: Paul Klotschkow
An evening of inexplicable pop hits, drunken dancing and festive frivolity
The 10th Annual Damn You Christmas Covers Party

This year will feature eight of Nottingham's finest bands including SWIMMING, HHMYN, AUGUST ACTUALLY, GUILTY PARENTS and a couple of specially formed projects featuring members of FISTS, KOGUMAZA, GARRISON, POPPY SEED, SOUVARIS and CANTALOUPE.

Now in its 10th year, Chris from promoters Damn You! tells LeftLion why it's become such a highlight of the Notts music calendar.  


For the uninitiated how would you describe the Christmas Covers Party?

It’s like the office Christmas Party for Nottingham bands. A chance to unwind at the end of the year and do something stupid. Put your arse on the photocopier or snog the person in accounts you’ve always fancied. Metaphorically of course.

How did the idea come about?
A gang of us used to do a monthly club night called Why Can’t We Just All Get Along? and it came out of that. I can’t take any credit for the idea as I believe it was the folks in the band Seachange who originally schemed it up and what a good idea it was.

What makes it different from the usual covers nights you get around town?
It’s better - simple as that. It’s developed over the years so now any idea a band might have of covering something that is somehow “cool” or in keeping with their normal bands is pretty much out of the window. It’s genuinely the highlight of the year for me and a lot of people because it’s good to see otherwise serious music types doing something silly for once. The standards are always really high as well, people really raise their game for it so it’s only ever a shambles in a good way.

Can you remember much about the first one?
Not at all. I can remember playing with Wolves Of Greece and we did New Rose by The Damned and Clear Spot by Captain Beefheart. I recall Punish The Atom doing Cokane In My Brain by Dillinger as well. I believe the first year was recorded somewhere but I hope to God it never surfaces.

This year’s is the 10th anniversary – why do you keep doing it?
Like I said, it’s brilliant fun. Any time we’ve considered not doing it people have been really upset and so we’ve given in and put it together again. That says something I think. Plus there are now versions in London, Brighton, Portsmouth and Geneva happening...

Elvis Presley Damn You Christmas Covers Party
Elvis Presley Always on My Mind at The Damn You Christmas Covers Party 2008

It’s almost become a bit of an institution, are you surprised that it has lasted this long?
Not really, playing covers is good fun and the night always brings people in bands together so it’s inevitable that people will always have enthusiasm for it. Plus, it’s a rare occasion where getting pretty messy is acceptable and we all like a bit of that.

What are your highlights of Christmas Covers past?
I think The Chemistry Experiment’s regular appearances have always somehow raised the bar of what is expected from a band. They were the first band to really take the idea and go with it and make it something extraordinary, so I have to say every time they’ve played has been amazing.

Other things that stick in my mind are Scout Niblett doing Black Sabbath, Savoy Grand doing I Want To Know What Love Is and the incredible medley of Godspeed You Black Emperor and Gold by Spandau Ballet that happened at the London one a few years back. Mind blowing! Then there was the Maneater/Maneater Nelly Furtado/Hall & Oates medley by Jingle Belles. And how can I forget Wander Phantom tackling Ol Dirty Bastard? Brave lads.

Some of my own favourite musical memories have happened at Christmas Covers but (from my point of view) our set of Elvis covers from a few years ago complete with Elvis impersonator in jumpsuit is going to take some beating. I cried a bit when we were playing Always On My Mind. I was pretty hammered though.

What can we expect at this year’s covers party?
More of the same but bigger and better! We’re aiming to break our fundraising records this year and all the cash is going to Nottinghamshire Hospice where we think the money would be most appreciated, so we urge everyone to not only come along but to donate any change throughout the night as well. After all, that’s what it’s about. I can also confirm that you can expect some serious squeezing going on onstage as some of the bands have far too many members.

The  awesome bands involved this year either in their own right or in ill-advised supergroups put together for the occasion are – Swimming, Fists, Souvaris, Savoy Grand, Kogumaza, Guilty Parents, August Actually, Fonda 500, Garrison, Cantaloupe, 8mm Orchestra, Hhymn...
Undoubtedly the highlight of the millenium for Nottingham music!

Has anyone ever turned up and played the same songs?
The setlists are always a closely guarded secret, but a few years back 2 bands played the same song by The Doors (serves them right for covering The Doors), so now we have an adjudicator who vets the choices to make sure no one else is doing/has done them. It’s very professional Paul. It might not sound it but we run a tight ship here mate.

Is there one song that you’ve always wanted to hear covered but no one’s done it yet?
That’d be telling. There is one and we came so close to doing it one year but it was like the Holy Grail or the secrets of the Sphinx, impossible to tackle, unscalable, insurmountable. One year though.

Fists Christmas Covers Party 2009
Fists Breaking The Law at the Damn You Christmas Covers Party 2009

Away from the Christmas Covers nights, what is your favourite cover version and why?
Easy peasy – At Last I Am Free by Chic covered by Robert Wyatt. With All Along The Watchtower  by Dylan covered by Hendrix coming in a close second.

Finally, for those reading this who have never been, what would you say to them to get them to come to the Xmas Covers party?
It’s the best musical night of the year. No chin stroking. No coolness. Just a lot of merriment and fun all in the name of charity. That’s what Christmas is about right?

The 10th Annual Damn You Christmas Covers Party with Swimming, Fists-O-Maza, Hhymn, Unique Moments, Blade Runner The Band, August Actually, Guilty Parents, The Lukewarm Equation and Burly Nagasaki takes place at The Bodega on Saturday 17 December 2011.

Raising Money for Notts Hospice.

The 10th Annual Damn You Christmas Covers Party website
The Damn You Christmas Covers Party Database Project