The Damage Done was a band that I started with my closest friends during college. Though we only existed for about a 3 year period, this band and the extended group of friends surrounding it were crucial to my life and development. For a lonely kid far away from home who didn’t fit in with the typical “college crowd” , The Damage Done basically became my family in San Luis Obispo, CA. This band created bonds that have lasted well into adulthood, and I still treat these dudes like family.
Despite this band being very important to me, what you’ll see here is primarily just photos. Refer to the Rivalry Records entry for my reasons behind not including lengthy stories or pressing info for all of the Rivalry stuff…
Test pressing. Scott Magrath saw our god awful logo on our cassette demo and offered to do us a cool new logo. I was stoked on this one that he designed. It kinda reminded me of the Right Brigade logo. I’ll try to dig out a copy of the demo cassette to show that original hideous logo that I used on our demo tape. “The Demos” (plural) on the test pressing cover is somewhat of a mistake by the Western Front dude that made it. We only had one demo – the Demo 2001.
The colored vinyl was a dark blood red vinyl, which is made by mixing transparent red and black vinyl. It can be hard to tell if you have a red vinyl copy vs. a black vinyl copy, until you hold it up to the light.
Western Front put “Whitlow Can Suck It” covers on any “swirl” copies that were found, though the “swirl” is pretty subtle. The “suck it” covers weren’t really a joke… The dudes at Western Front were definitely annoyed with me, haha.
Turning Point rip-off covers were made for an East Coast Tour. Billy Weber at Western Front did an awesome job putting this together. He replicated the original Hi-Impact logo, the hand written font, and the live photo from the original TP 7″ really well.
Billy ran off a few blue covers, given only to the label and band. The rest were white. That’s Zach Harlan and Connor Spencer (Lights Out) singing along in the photo at one of the early Damage Done shows.
Billy wrote “Prada Tour 2002” on the tour copy that he gave to me. I think they were clowning me for being a pretty boy or a diva or something during the whole process of getting the layout done, haha.
The Damage Done – “Never Wash Away” 7″“Never Wash Away” was technically released on Western Front Records, but I financed the release myself. Western Front did not have the time or resources to put out the record at this time, and I did not really have a record label up and running. So we worked out a deal where I would pay for the pressing and they would help me with sending out mail order and getting into the small distribution channels. In a way, I guess this was the first record I ever put out… I sometimes think of it as Rivalry #0 or Rivalry #-1 (negative). In fact, when I started sending copies to Revelation, it needed a new catalog number, so I called it RIVAL000.
Zach Harlan made this test pressing cover. I guess this was also the beginning of him making all of them! In the future, he would go on to make every single Rivalry Records test pressing cover. The photo features James playing guitar and Connor Spencer (Lights Out) stage diving at 924 Gilman St in Berkeley, CA. We used this photo on the back of a grey “varsity” hoodie design too.
After the record release, we still didn’t have the covers. We made these covers just to sell at shows until we got the real covers (which ended up being quite a few shows). We used the left-over orange vinyl from the record release (but removed the “record release #/90” portion of the stamp), as well as some blue copies when the orange ran out.
To match the layout, I ordered the vinyl as transparent blue vinyl mixed with clear vinyl, to lighten up the blue into a cool “ice blue”. Most copies came out looking ice blue, but some are the typical transparent blue color (top left) because the clear vinyl ran low in the mix at one point in the pressing. Also, the one in the bottom right hand corner has some weird dark black circles in it.
Scott Magrath did this layout for us. When he asked me what kind of layouts that I liked, I told him that I loved In My Eyes “Nothing To Hide” and the Champion “Count Our Numbers” layouts. The Damage Done layout is obviously a 100% complete bite of those two layouts, but that’s not Scott’s fault – I told him to do it! haha. To this day, I’m still a total sucker for really nice, clean “design-y” looking layouts.
This was a cool drawing that our friend Zane did for us. Zach Harlan once asked me if I named our band after the Neil Young song with lyrics “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done”. I definitely didn’t, but thought that was a cool tie-in for a band full of straight edge dudes. I asked Zane to do a drawing with that as the theme. I think it turned out cool, but unfortunately we never got a chance to do a shirt or anything with it. Back then, digital photography wasn’t what it is today, and I was having a hard time finding a scanner that was big enough. Scott Magrath finally helped me by scanning it in pieces, but that was near the end of our band and we never got to make the shirt.
The Damage Done – “City Of Hope” 7″The Damage Done was a band that I started with my closest friends during college. Though we only existed for about a 3 year period, this band and the extended group of friends surrounding it were crucial to my life and development. For a lonely kid far away from home who didn’t fit in with the typical “college crowd” , The Damage Done basically became my family in San Luis Obispo, CA. This band created bonds that have lasted well into adulthood, and I still treat these dudes like family… The Damage Done decided to break up in May of 2003. We had been writing several songs for a full length album, but with doing the band long distance plus work and school, life had just gotten in the way. At first we decided to just scrap the songs and enjoy the summer by playing a couple of last shows. After giving it some thought, we really wanted to record the songs, just to have for ourselves. We never intended to release it, since we were breaking up anyway. With the death of our friend Jeremy Johnson heavy on my mind, I finished up the lyrics to the few songs that we actually had ready to record. We recorded in our friend’s bedroom, and our guitarist Dave Copp did a lot of the recording and mixing himself. It couldn’t have come out better! This is far and away the best material we ever recorded, and it’s one of my favorite/proudest things I’ve ever done in my whole life. The entire process, from beginning to end, was so personal and honest, and I think it will forever bond me to that group of guys. I had recently started Rivalry Records with Zach Harlan, and was so stoked on how the TDD recording turned out, that I decided to release it as Rivalry #3. This recording will forever be dedicated to Jeremy Johnson and the positive impact that he had on the lives of every member of our band. The song and album are titled “City Of Hope” because that’s the hospital in L.A. that Jeremy was in when I was writing the song before he passed away.
Originally we only released this recording on CD and sold it at our last show. Scott Magrath did a quick little 4.5×4.5″ cover/lyric sheet for me. We were trying to save money and do this entire CD pressing for under $500. So everything was just black and white DIY printing. Scott went with the bright orange CD color as the only color used for this entire release. I think it looks perfect with the black and white layout. The stickers didn’t come with this CD or anything – I just threw them in the photo.
About a year later, when Rivalry was going well and I was feeling comfortable with the costs of pressing vinyl, I decided to go ahead and release it on 7″. I knew it would be impossible to sell very many copies since we had broken up a year prior, but it was worth it for me to be able to hold a piece of vinyl in my hands. Zach Harlan used Scott Magrath’s original layout on the outside, but created this cool collage of photos for the inside. I’ve always loved this 7″ layout because the way it is put together is super un-conventional… Usually 7″s have color outside, with black and white inside. This one is reversed, and the color just kind of surprises you when you open it up. Not to mention it’s kind of unique with the lyrics on the back cover, with the inside being solely photos. I love how bright it looks with the orange vinyl too. All in all, I think it perfectly captures what this release was all about for me and my friends.
Jeremy Johnson made these “Cloud Mafia” stickers after his brother Jordan passed away. I think “The Cloud Mafia” was his way of celebrating and remembering his brother. A few years later when Jeremy passed away, someone made stickers for him too. I think it was probably his wife Megan, and/or his sister Kate, that made them.
The pressing was supposed to be simple: there were only supposed to be transparent orange vinyl and white vinyl. But the grooves on the entire 1st pressing were fucked up (despite the test pressings being fine – long story!), so we had to trash the entire pressing. I wanted to keep the theme of orange vinyl because I thought it looked cool with the black layout, so I did solid orange vinyl and blue vinyl when they did the re-pressing to fix the groove issue. Just for fun, I kept all the various shades that showed up with the solid orange pressing. The 2nd row is the original fucked up 1st pressing transparent orange, the 3rd row is various shades of the solid orange re-pressing.
We also got a weird white variant with the fucked up 1st pressing. A few of them had inverse labels (the “more silver” labels). They must have quickly realized it and had to re-print the labels, because there were only a few of the inverse labels.
Zach Harlan made this flier for a show when he was living in Portland, OR. The drawing was done by my friend’s boyfriend and was used earlier as a Damage Done t-shirt design. This weekend of shows with Allegiance was really cool. I have a bunch of photos of all of the bands hanging out at the venue in Portland. We had this funny mini-bike that we found somewhere (??) and were riding around everywhere, haha. I’ll always remember this weekend with bittersweet memories…. We had such a fun time, but when we returned home, we found out that our friend Jeremy Johnson had passed away due to a complication with his bone marrow transplant while we were gone. Needless to say, it hit us all really hard.
Crew photo in Portland, featuring mini-bike! The Damage Done + Allegiance + Rosary. Voegtli was sick and couldn’t make the trip with us. I think Eightclip played bass for TDD on this Northwest weekend!!
Dave made this giant potato gun just before heading out on that Northwest weekend. He is an engineer, so this dude was always coming up with something… We were young and dumb, so we definitely fired this thing off while driving down the interstate with the mini-van side-door wide open. So sketch!
Here’s a better look at the size of this damned thing. We pulled over on the side of I-5 somewhere in Oregon, and were just firing this thing off into some dude’s farmland. No wonder they hate Californians! This time Horwitz is handling the aim, while Justin Hoffman handles the firing responsibilities.
SLO/Simi crew + IBC rootbeer 40’s! An old-ass photo when I was still in college, living in San Luis Obispo, CA. All the homies from Simi Valley came up to party, straightedge stylee. Yes, that’s me wearing a Backstreet Boys shirt. I’m ironic, get it?
Below is a write-up that I originally did for the Carry On blog entry. I’m copying and pasting The Damage Done portions of it here…
Next up was the double record release show with Carry On and Over My Dead Body at the Ojai Women’s Club. That show was particularly cool for me… First off, all of my friends and their bands were playing that night! Some Still Believe, Breaker Breaker, Diehard Youth, Carry On, and Over My Dead Body. Secondly, my band, The Damage Done, was going to hop up and play our first hardcore show that night! Me and all my best friends – Nick Koets, James Gianello, Chris Voegtli, and Dave Copp – had started our band in San Luis Obispo that summer, and Jeremy Johnson had recorded our demo for us the month earlier. I was talking with Todd online one day and we got to talking about the demo, and I asked him if we could hop up on either the SSB or Breaker Breaker set and play 3 or 4 songs. I’ll never forget what he said – “Kyle, you know I wouldn’t do this for anyone else, right?” And trust me, he pretty much meant exactly that, haha. Todd was an abrasive dude back then man, and most people didn’t get in that inner circle – but there was this crew of us that were tight. Todd is a very loyal dude to those that stick with him and return the favor, and this was just another example. It was really special to me that he was letting us do this, because Todd ran a super tight ship when it came to booking shows with keeping them short and sweet. This was awesome for me and my band mates, to feel like we were a small part of what all of our other friends were doing in California with SSB, Breaker Breaker, Diehard Youth, Carry On, and OMDB. And it was obviously a huge hook-up to play a first show in front of that many people at a high-profile show. Todd had made us keep it a secret, so it was not announced and we didn’t tell anyone other than SSB and Breaker Breaker what we were doing (because we had to borrow their stuff). We hopped up and played a couple of songs, opening with an Insted cover – “Feel Their Pain”, my favorite vegetarian song. John Eightclip actually filmed our little set, and he recently uploaded a bunch of his old hardcore videos to YouTube!
You can see a young Dennis McDonald (shaggy hair back then) being so pumped on the cover and going apeshit, haha. Dennis is my buddy, another O.G. Central Coast kid, plus he has a Carry On panther tattoo on his arm – fuck yeah. You can see young versions of a bunch of my other friends running around in that video too – Skones (Some Still Believe, Right On), Walter Yetman, Aaron Menesez, Zack Nelson (In Control), Ryan Fredette (In Control), Jeff Givens, Zach Harlan, Chris Williams (Champion), Anthony Torres, Eli Horner (Killing The Dream), etc. Obviously looking back at this video 10 years later is kind of embarrassing – we were just a shitty little hardcore band! But this was the first time we’d ever done this, and I still think this was a pretty fucking cool first show!! I rambled on and spoke so fast you can’t even make out what I’m saying in between songs, but at 6:58 I say something to the effect of “If you don’t have any money for a demo, just come talk to me, I’ll just give you one. We just wanna give you guys another band in California to mosh to.” That pretty much summed it up. There weren’t a lot of bands doing this shit in California back then, and we just wanted to contribute. The Damage Done went on to release three 7″s, and we were never a great band, but our friends were always super supportive, and I really appreciated that. That night was awesome, and the Ojai Women’s Club went off when Carry On played. It has an old elevated wood floor, and I remember stepping back for a second during “Off My Chest” and watching everyone stomping, it looked like that fucking floor was going to cave in. Seriously, the entire building felt like it was shaking.
In March of 2003, our friend Jeremy Johnson passed away after a fight with leukemia. As mentioned above, Jeremy’s brother Jordan played in Carry On and passed away about 3 years earlier. I’m including this here because this blog post has kind of turned into a memoire of my time on the Central Coast of California from 1998 to 2002, and how my life was changed because of the friends I made during that time. Jeremy had been suddenly diagnosed about a year earlier when he went to the hospital because he kept feeling really sick/tired. Dave Copp and I would always go to the hospital in San Luis Obispo to visit him and his girlfriend, Megan. We would bring in pizza, listen to music, and play video games. We hated seeing him in there, but we wanted to try to make it as fun as possible for him in there whenever we could. After a few months, I graduated college in 2002 and moved up to the Bay Area, but I would drive back down to San Luis Obispo for band practice about once a month. Eventually Jeremy started spending time down in L.A. at City Of Hope hospital, and I know Dave would still go visit him there when Dave was back at his parents house in El Segundo, CA for the weekends. In between Jeremy’s rounds of chemo, he would get out of the hospital for a while, and he always wanted to hang out and do as much with my band as he could. Jeremy had recorded The Damage Done demo for us in 2001 in a little home studio that he had built, and he was always super supportive of everything we were doing. We weren’t a very good band, but we were learning as we went, and he was always trying to help us in any way he could. He went down to San Diego with us when we recorded our Never Wash Away EP at Double Time Studios, and he would travel south with us when we’d play little shows in Ventura or at The Smell in L.A.
In March of 2003, The Damage Done went on a weekend trip to Seattle with Allegiance. We all had such a fun time together, it was one of those weekends you really remember. The photo above is from that weekend – James Gianello and I doing a photo at “Brotherhood Park” in Seattle. The night we got home, I listened to my answering machine (I didn’t have a cell phone, even in 2003), and there was a message from Mike Stelle’s (ex-)wife Sara that just said “Hey Kyle, it’s Sara, can you give me a call when you guys get home?” I remember a shiver running down my spine, and I knew exactly what was up… I could hear the tears in the shaking of her voice. I took the phone in the bedroom by myself, and I just broke down and couldn’t even dial the fucking numbers on the phone. I already knew what she was about to tell me when I called her. Once I was able to dial, she explained to me that Jeremy had passed away while we were already in Seattle. She explained that she didn’t call earlier because she knew we would have canceled the shows and tried to come back, but we’d never have been able to make it back in time. So she wanted to wait to talk to us when we got back. She did tell me that Corey Williams was able to make it out to the hospital in time, because he lived in the L.A. area. Corey was able to do a marriage ceremony for Megan and Jeremy at bed-side before he passed. Whenever I talk about that marriage thing, I always just break down and cry… It’s like a bitter-sweet feeling. I’m just really glad Corey was able to get there in time to do that. Like I said at the very beginning, Corey is a good fucking dude, and you can always count on him. After I hung up the phone with Sara, I remember just sitting in my bedroom crying, feeling fucking empty. I finally got up and went out into the living room to tell the other guys. I don’t even remember how I said it, but I do remember their faces looking like they’d seen a ghost the second I walked around the corner. There had been a lot of hope that Jeremy would beat it, but a final blood marrow transplant didn’t take, and it was ultimately unsuccessful. It was fucking tragic that the Johnson family lost both of their sons so young, to completely different things, leaving their younger sister Kate as an only child. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that this happened to one family. But all of this made a really lasting impression on me, and it changed my outlook on a lot of things in life. In the months after that, our band lost a lot of steam. Part of it was the long drives back and forth for me between the Bay Area and San Luis Obispo, and part of it was just the emotion of dealing with Jeremy’s death and the feeling that another time and era had passed. He was part of this band for me, and it was just time to call it quits. We had been writing for a full length, and Dave had about 7 songs queued up. I thought they were good fucking songs too! Only 1 or 2 them had lyrics, and only 5 of them had been practiced with drums and everything. We decided that we would play one last show in October 2003, but we wanted to record these songs, just to have them for ourselves. I finished up the lyrics for the other 3 songs, with Jeremy heavy on my mind, and we were ready to go. We just did a simple in-home recording with Dave’s friend Brett in El Segundo, CA. Eventually we realized that these were far and away the 5 best songs we’d ever done, and it was ironic that we’d done this for pennies in our friend’s bedroom. We never planned to release these songs at all. But I had recently started a small record label, Rivalry Records, with my best friend Zach Harlan, and we decided to go ahead and release the 5 song “City of Hope” EP on Rivalry. The two songs below are obviously about Jeremy Johnson. I included the other 3 songs from the EP too. I’ve never been much of a creative or artistic person, I’m more of a “numbers guy”, so these songs are without a doubt some of the things I’m most proud of that I’ve ever created. The Damage Done was never a great band, but I fucking love this EP and I hold it super close to me to this day. I feel like in a weird way, Jeremy was still with us when we were working on this EP, pushing us to be the best we could be.
Here’s footage from the last show we ever played on October 4th, 2003. We asked all of our closest friend’s bands to play the show: Champion, For The Crown, Allegiance, and Lights Out. We had finally kind of learned how to do this “band thing”, and this performance is quite a bit better than the video of our first show when we didn’t know what we were doing, haha. You’ll see lots of my friend’s familiar faces singing along that would later go on to do a lot of cool things in hardcore. Little Matt Wilson from Set Your Goals has a big sing along in the first song, Eli Horner from Killing The Dream on the 3rd song, Zach Harlan (Rivalry Records) all up in the mix, Connor Spencer, Andrew Dilburger, Kevin Williams from Lights Out up front bobbin’ around, Ross Ferrar from Ceremony crawling all over people, John Eightclip from Allegiance and Brian Horwitz (Crazy-B) mashing it up, Matt McCall and Aaron Menesez from Right On singing along, Aaron’s nephew Jakob Menesez (RIP) up front too. I’d like to think that Carry On and all the bands of that era, The Damage Done included, were able to make an impression on dudes like this, and push them to try to make hardcore whatever they wanted it to be. If California wasn’t going to listen, just keep pushing forward until they can’t ignore you anymore. Look at the 300-400 people in this room? All there for straight up local California hardcore. FUCK YEAH, we did it. Watching this video in hindsight, it just felt like “mission accomplished”. All that was left to do now was start a record label, Rivalry Records, to help all this great shit on the West Coast get some (inter)national attention. This is what my friends and I in Carry On mean when we say “It’s all our effort, it’s all our blood, these feelings will never fade.”
The Damage Done – “City Of Hope” mp3: “It’s taken one away from us, I’ll die before it’s two. This isn’t fucking over with, this isn’t fucking through. They’re telling you there’s nothing left they can do. This can’t be real, no fucking way. This can’t be true. I’ve never seen a will to live as seen in you. We’ll beat this thing, don’t give up hope. Fight this through. Fight this through.”
The Damage Done – “Love. Life. Laughter.” mp3: “Laughter. Lend your ear. This world has enough pain and fear. While I was screaming, ‘It’s unfair’, you were laughing, even as you were gasping for air. Your time here was so fucking short. So how did you make the most profound impact on those you touched? You left your mark on me. You changed me every way. It’s a travesty, that it takes a tragedy. It’s a travesty, that it takes a tragedy…. Love. Life. Laughter. is what you would always say. Love. Life. Laughter. You’re with me every day. You’re with me every day….”
This is a painting of a tattoo that Jeremy had on his forearm, thus the song title above “Love. Life. Laughter.” A photo of this tattoo was put on the back of the pamphlet at Jeremy’s funeral ceremony. After Jeremy passed away, my (ex-)girlfriend Isa could see how much it had affected me. For my birthday that year in 2003, she secretly took my funeral pamphlet out of my files and had a woman she worked with who did paintings in her spare time paint this for me. I love Isa for doing that for me, and this is one of my favorite possessions. It hangs right next to my front door in my home, so I see it every time I walk out the door. A constant reminder to keep my head up and make the most of my life around me. This is the speech I gave at Jeremy’s Memorial Service in 2003. Megan asked both Corey and I both to speak that day. Corey went first… Man, Corey is a tough ass dude, so watching Corey trying to get through his was so hard on me – he could barely speak he was so choked up, and I’d never seen him like that before. This was my contribution:
“Jeremy’s outlook on life is and always will be an inspiration to me. For those of you that didn’t have the chance to visit Jeremy while he was in the hospital, you’d never believe the attitude that he had, laying on that hospital bed with tubes hanging out of him everywhere, telling us not to worry about him, that he would be just fine.
He believed in himself, his family, and his friends so much, that he flat-out told me that collectively, we were all stronger than this disease he was fighting, that he could beat this thing with enough support from everyone. …And I never doubted him for a second. That’s just the way Jeremy was – he could take the bleakest situation, put a positive spin on it, and change the way you looked at things. He could make a believer out of anyone.
I’ve never seen a will to live like this kid had… People talk about “seizing the day”, well Jeremy didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. Whenever I was complaining or upset about something, he was always the one to say “Kyle, take a step back and look at this situation, does any of this really matter, are you even going to remember this five years from now? Probably not, so quit worrying about it and let’s go grab some dinner.” He was right. I don’t remember any of those little things that I was stressed out about… But I do remember nearly every single night that I spent hanging out with Jeremy, whether it was going to shows or just hanging out at Farmer’s.
That is what I’ll remember the most about Jeremy. He made the best of every moment that he had, right up till the very end. And while most people would have folded when dealt the hand that Jeremy Johnson was dealt, he didn’t give an inch. Instead, he lived every day like it was his last, and he did it with a smile on his face.
Some may say that two weeks ago, Jeremy lost the fight with leukemia. Well the leukemia may have won the battle, but Jeremy Johnson won the war. His spirit lives on in my heart, and in my head. Jeremy was too special of a person to be kept down and out. He touched every person in this room, and a little piece of him lives on within all of us.
Most people say that one person can’t change the world, but I’ve always disagreed with that. The way I see it, every single person changes the world every single day, simply by going about their every day lives. When all is said and done, it’s up to each individual to decide whether they will change the world for the better or for the worse.
Jeremy made this world a better place each and every day, and he continues to do so. He is one of the best human beings I’ve ever known, and he’s made me a 100% better person, simply because he was part of my life. And I can guarantee that if you asked anyone in this room, they would say the exact same thing. He made an impact on hundreds of lives and those that he’s touched will continue to live on, affecting the world more positively than they would have if they never knew Jeremy Johnson. I challenge anyone to think about that, then take a look around this room, and tell me that Jeremy didn’t change the world.
I refuse to allow the memory of Jeremy Johnson to become past tense or fade away. Jeremy, I don’t know if you can hear me, but you know that I always say what I mean, and mean what I say. This is no exception. I hear you everyday when you tell me to keep my chin up, when you tell me that things aren’t so bad; and I hear you when you tell me not to sweat the small stuff, when you to tell me that I just gotta roll with the punches. I won’t ever stop listening, your voice won’t ever fade away. You’re an inspiration, in life, and in death. You’re always with me. Rest in peace, buddy.”
James Gianello, Dave Copp, and Jeremy Johnson outside Dave Copp’s parents house on one of The Damage Done’s little trips down to the L.A. area. There had just been a big pellet gun war waged in the front yard (instigated by none other than Mark Kelley, of course) and everyone was recovering, hahaha.