Damage are out on the road for the next two months with Gabrielle taking British Soul Music to the masses. 2001 has really been the year of Urban British Music and it's hard to believe that the band have been going for ten years now. We caught up with Noel from the band to find out the truth behind the feud with So Solid Crew and also the rumours that the next album is set to feature collaborations with the likes of Starsailor and Texas. Read on for the story of true soul survivors.

Q: You've got the single out December 3rd. "After the Love Has Gone" - a cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire classic. You've had a fantastic year with your own material, why did you decide to release of cover version?
A: Its the fifth single from the album and last before we head into the studio for the 3rd album. I guess we chose because it was a great classic song to do. We took a lot of inspiration off Earth, Wind and Fire as well as people like the Commodores and the old skool soul acts to make the whole album. We have got a great R&B mix of the track by Mushtaq, an artist were working with at the moment on the 3rd album.

Q: As far as I know you've only ever done two cover versions. Does it piss you off when you get a manufactured band that release cover after cover after cover?
A: We did a B-side cover version of "Just My Imagination" and it was the flipside of "Forever" and a duet with a girl group called Truce so yeah there's only two covers that the general public would know - "After The Love Has Gone" and "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton.

The thing with manufactured bands is they like to follow what has already been done and which is known to sell...and that's the problem with manufactured acts. With real artists you have to reinvent yourself and come back with something different and try and be original. With manufactured groups they just seem to want to make money and that's the frustrating thing.

Q: The Gabrielle tour is a great little package of UK Soul music. Sort of British Soul been taken to the masses?
A: Yeah, its a market that we haven't tapped into yet. These last two days we've been on tour the response has been great - old couples and young kids really getting into it!!! We don't purposely aim for the pop act support slots and hopefully our core audience will be album buyers over 14. Due to the circumstances we couldn't take a live band on tour with us so we've got our band to record all of tracks live onto a live DAT.

Q: Russ was speaking in our last interview with you guys about the third album being more alternative than we'd expect. So what's different this time around?
A: This album you're going to dance. There's some really pumping tracks on there. As I said before the last album "Since You've Been Gone" took a lot of influences from Earth Wind & Fire, The Commodores and stuff like that...this albums going to be a lot more George Clinton / Isaac Hayes style funk. We've got a track on the album that sounds like Daft Punk gone R&B!!!

Q: Collaboration wise the current album has Emma Bunton, Kelle Le Roc amongst others. Russ was talking last time about Starsailor and Texas for the new album? (Read the previous Damage Interview)
A: The difference between manufactured groups and groups like us is that your constantly trying to look for that new sound and new direction to reinvent yourself. We want to come up with something different this time and you never know Starsailor and Damage might just make a wicked combination or someone like Jamiroqai or Sharleen from Texas. Just something different for the fans to grab onto and something new.

Q: You're on the same label. Is the Starsailor collaboration a real possibility?
A: Well you never know. We really like Starsailor and we could be in some talks soon with their people. There was an EMI dinner gathering where they performed and from the moment we saw them we knew they were a brilliant group.

Q: Finally, what's the truth behind this So Solid Crew Feud then. Is it really a case of the clean-cut boys of British Soul verses the UK Garage heads?
A: Its basically some So Solid fans getting together and our fans retaliating. There's nothing between us guys though, we see them about and nuff love for the So Solid Crew!!!

You can't help but listen to UK Garage - it seems to be blowing up everywhere in your face!!! There's a lot of rappers and singers out there who couldn't necessarily do it on the hip-hop and R&B scene's have been given the chance to step into the commercial market and make something of themselves. I'm really feeling So Solid and Misteeq at the moment and you can't stop its now.

Damage tour with Gabrielle through November / December

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