London R&B group Damage have been acquiring the sort of respect and support that marks them as future stars. British R&B finally came of age last year with high-level success for acts like Mark Morrison, Michelle Gayle, Ultimate Kaos and Sholo Ama, but this year may bring its biggest act ever. Damage are Jade, 18, Noel Simpson, 19, Andrez Harriott, 17, Coree Richards, 18, and Raz Bromfield, 19. The four guys met each other through stage school. 'We were friends for about three or four years before forming Damage,' said Raz. Damage formed in 1992 and signed to Big Life record company two years ago. 'We have spent the last two years playing more than 200 gigs,' said Raz. Throughout the past year Damage have shown they can handle live performances, touring with the likes of Aaliyah, Hi-Five and Lo-Key. Having built up a huge female following, Damage decided to take their music to a different level. Young, enthusiastic and highly talented, Damage have an original streetwise style. On the street the word is spreading - they can cut it vocally and they have a fresh and exciting vibe. Damage believe they can stand apart by emphasising each member's own individual talents. 'That's very important. We definitely feel that if we can show people that we all have different skills and that we are cloning no one, then we will gain more respect,' said vocalist Jade. 'We are also doing most of the writing ourselves. We feel that people need to know that when they buy a Damage record they are actually buying a piece of Damage themselves and getting to know us as people.' While their forthcoming debut album sees Damage combining the production talent of Brits like Ethnic Boys, Don-E and Linslee with New York's Terri Robinson - who worked with Total and Soul For Real - they are adamant about retaining their British identity. 'We are not typical British R&B artists trying to look and sound American. In contrast we use a lot of British slang in our music which creates a different flavour,' said the group. What's Music Record Company has just gained the right to distribute Damage's debut album in Hong Kong and the company is quietly confident that the group will enjoy success here. 'It's unusual to have more than one great singer in a group, but all members are world-class vocalists,' said What's Music promotion manager Steven Tsoi Chin-fai. His claim is supported by one listen to their silky, emotive hits, Love II Love, Forever and Love Guarantee. The band's debut album shows a maturing lyrical style when compared with their first hit, the cute teen-romance ditty Forever. Strong vocals make this a collection pleasing to the ears, from the ballad Forever to the sharp Be My Baby.