On a crisp November evening, sea air blowing in from the beach, Brighton’s seafront venue, Concorde 2 hosted the opening night of Deaf Havana’s tour, marking the release of their new single, Happiness.
Support from Decade:
Decade opened, desperately trying to loosen up the lethargic crowd and injecting some much-needed energy into the room. This was met at first with the occasional head-bob but nothing much more (excluding the girl at the front who screamed out absolutely every word of every song). Spurred on by tambourine-wielding singer Alex Sears, the crowd eventually became a lot livelier and the band finished strong with Daisy May. Despite still being relatively small the guys’ sound managed to fill the room, even with guitarist Joe Marriner having to deal with a rogue guitar strap and the crowd were primed – credit to James of Deaf Havana being on hand to help him out. 3.5/5 Bytes
Support from Black Foxxes:
Power trio Black Foxxes stepped the game up. They pack a big punch and with ’90s grunge and indie rock influences combined with early-2000s emo and alt-country elements they’ve got a strong sound. Opening with critically-acclaimed Husk, frontman Mark Holley demonstrated the raw emotion the band are known for, something I personally think really comes across throughout their live shows. This has got to be the first support act I’ve seen receive an encore as well, the Bath boys had worked their magic and the crowd were well and truly in the palm of their hand; chomping at the bit for when Deaf Havana came on. 4.5/5 Bytes
Having nervously fumbled through my first ever band interview with James and Matt Veck-Gilodi, I was looking forward to getting stuck into the music. I’d also played All These Countless Nights on repeat for weeks before the gig and, excited by the newly remastered release, I was certain the night was going to be a good one.
The crowd were still in awe of Black Foxxes and, as a result, Deaf Havana were greeted with an extremely warm welcome. Having sold out, the intimate venue was inevitably packed by this point, sweaty bodies tense and ready to mosh – the guys had an easy job to start with and got stuck well and truly in. A few songs in James stopped to wish Matt a Happy Birthday as the crowd sung along, retelling a story of how he’d been a bit ‘worse for wear’ the night before and that he wasn’t best pleased about the state Matt (and his stomach) had left his house in.
Following this, Happiness was played and the new single did its job well, despite certain members of the audience getting rowdy. In fact, James and Matt had to deal with a lot of banter from the crowd throughout the night with one man, in particular, insisting on shouting irrelevant comments such as “GARY LINEKER SHAGS CRISPS”. As funny as this interlude was, you could tell James wanted to bring the attention back to the stage and what came next didn’t disappoint. Pretty Low was an obvious choice to bring the atmosphere back to the room and the audience erupted, screaming and cheering all the way to the stragglers at the back. Lyrics spilling from everyone’s mouths, this was the highlight of their entire set and it continued into Trigger before the band left the stage.
“MORE” was demanded from the crowd and, expectedly, the 5-piece returned to the stage to finish off the evening. Introduced by James as the “most miserable song I’ve ever written”, Anemophobia from their 2011 album Fools and Worthless Liars was an odd choice to go out on; a strong and meaningful song lyrically but more of a ‘sit back and enjoy’ rather than ‘throw everything you’ve got left into it’ kind of ending to the gig that I would have anticipated.
This ties in with the fact that a lot of older songs were played; more than I would have expected from a band who’ve just re-released a new album, but they certainly didn’t let the long-term fans down. Overall, it was a great show and I look forward to what comes next from these guys, they’re definitely finding a strong, unique sound.
In this interview; JVG = James Veck-Gilodi, MVG = Mark Veck-Gilodi and FW = Fraser Wakeling.
FW: I’m at Concorde 2 in Brighton with James and Matt from Deaf Havana. How you feeling guys?
JVG: Pretty good.
MVG: Yeah good, all things considered, it was my Birthday yesterday so I was a little bit ropey earlier today.
FW: Oh, Happy Birthday!
MVG: Thank you very much. If this is what 24 feels like I’m not sure I want in. But no good, really good.
FW: How you feeling about being in Brighton? Played here before?
MVG: A couple of times
JVG: he lives here
MVG: Yeah I live here so it’s ideal for me yeah
JVG: Yeah I love it man haven’t played here, we haven’t played here for ages.
MVG: We did a tiny little thing at ‘The Great Escape’ this year didn’t We?
JVG: A proper festival when was the last time, a proper show when was the last time?
MVG: 2014 when we were here
FW: 2014? Obviously the band has changed quite a bit since then. How do you feel is it like progressing in a new direction?
JVG: That’s how it feels for me yeah, we always get bored really quickly so I think every album sounds slightly different
MVG: So we accidentally expand our sound from just being bored
JVG: Yeah just from having the attention span of a 2 year old
JVG: Yeah we’ve got less members now. We had 6 members last time we played here didn’t we?
MVG: 6 when we played here and we had about 15 crew members. No wonder we didn’t make any money on that tour (laughs)
FW: That was the first time I saw you guys actually, at Reading Festival. Obviously you’ve come up with a new album, you’ve remastered that as well, any reason for the release? Came out recently wasn’t it like two weeks ago?
MVG: The thing for me is that James is really good at it basically and it stems from the idea that like if a song is good at its core, you can take it in a different direction and it’ll still be a good song and whereas there are certain things that we’ve attempted and done on this that I don’t know if we could necessarily put out if it was just on a record. It gives you a real artistic licence to um…
JVG: Do whatever you want
MVG: Yeah just run with it a bit
JVG: But again it just stems from us getting bored really easily so I was like what should I do with this. I think we were going to re-release it any way and we just wanted to do it well instead of just chucking a couple of old tracks on it.
JVG: Most people just chuck two garage band demos on and some shit live song
FW: Yeah because it like kinda came along with like ‘Happiness’ didn’t it? The release of happiness so you wanted to basically give more?
JVG: Yeah I guess so, but also just because we got bored and we wanted to experiment. It’s just fun, I’m like a nerd, my favourite part of music is the recording side as opposed to some people who love playing live, I love being in the studio and like experimenting so for me it was like a real it was more just to entertain myself (laughs) but I’m really happy with it, we’re playing some of the songs tonight obviously, some of the new versions so it should be cool
FW: Just like playing around with things, trying different things with it?
MVG: Yeah man, it just keeps it a bit fresh
FW: So you keep saying you get bored, when do you think the next change will be then? What’s next basically?
JVG: Well I have already started demoing new stuff, I’ve got a few demos for a new record, I think I’m gonna try and release that fairly soon
MVG: Next Summer?
JVG: Obviously if the songs aren’t there yet we’re not gonna rush it out but we want to get it out relatively soon because we took way too long with our last one
FW: Yeah I mean you’ve had ‘All These Countless Nights’ come out recently so you’ve got something out there. You’ve got something to sort of play around with and you’ve got time basically
JVG: Yeah but I kinda wanna bang it out fairly quickly, next September would be a good time to release a new album I think, you know if we don’t have a good album by then, then we’re not gonna release it.
MVG: I reckon we will do by then because like James said he’s already got a couple of songs on the go
FW: Yeah… you’re playing with Black Foxxes and Decade tonight, have you played with them before?
MVG: We did play with Black Foxxes at a festival once like 2 years ago
JVG: Yeah we have done the same festivals as those bands but we’ve never played actual shows with them and I’m a massive fan of both bands so we’re really looking forward to it
FW: Yeah because you guys did 2000 Trees didn’t you?
JVG: Oh yeah Decade played that but I missed them
MVG: So did Foxxes and we missed them as well
FW: Yeah Black Foxxes were there yeah I saw both of them actually. So any idea about festivals coming up next year, anything planned?
JVG: No we haven’t had anything through yet, it’s a bit early for that for us yet, that’ll start rolling in next Spring I guess. Yeah hopefully. I mean we’ve got a couple that obviously we wanna do but we’ll see whether they want us
MVG: We did loads of festivals this summer and it was pretty monotonous towards the end
JVG: Yeah it’s just different, flying in or driving miles playing a festival in another country to no one then coming home it’s like every weekend we were doing that. I mean obviously there were some good ones but it gets a bit like
MVG: Don’t get me wrong we’re not moaning about having this job (all laugh) it is great, but it’s not the same, it’s really gratifying playing at a show like this with like other good bands and people like people are there to see you it is obviously a very different atmosphere when you’re trying to win new fans and… not be shit
FW: I suppose there’s that certainty if you’re playing a gig then you know people are gonna be there
DF: Yeah exactly mate, whereas it’s sometimes nicer playing to no one than it is playing to 15 people who fucking hate you (laughs)
FW: (laughs) Sure sure, where do you guys take most of your inspiration from like any bands in particular?
JVG: I don’t really know, I think I’ve just stopped taking inspiration
MVG: Well the way I hear it is you say oh I’ve written a song that sounds like this and I hear the initial idea and I think oh it does sound like that and then when it gets fleshed out it doesn’t sound derivative at all of that sort of thing.
JVG: I do change what I listen to quickly like I’m always listening to something else so I always want to be in a million different bands because I always wanna play so many different kinds of music so it’s hard to actually get all the influences that I want into this band because it would just sound ridiculous it would sound like a compilation of… it would sound terrible. So I think you have to like hone it in a bit
FW: Growing up who did you guys listen to, do you think it like comes from that?
JVG: Michael Jackson (laughs), The Smiths, Björk, Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers… I guess you can hear influences of that but not really I don’t know
MVG: Yeah but it’s not like an obvious thing it’s more in a song writing sense for me
JVG: A lot of people say to us that we sound like bands that I’ve never even listened to so I dunno where that comes from
JVG: I’m trying to think, people always go ‘oh you sound like this” and I’m like “I’ve never listened to them so I dunno how that’s possible”, Old Souls for instance that record we did before this I very much took like direct influence from like old Americana songs like Bruce Springsteen and stuff like that. You can really hear it, but recently I don’t really know, I get my inspiration from experiences like places I go and films
FW: What kind of films?
JVG: Anything epic and like ‘Into the Wild’ kind of movies like that I always put them on when I’m trying to write because it like frees…
MVG: Yeah I know what you mean it gets your creative juices flowing I guess the term is
FW: Is that like something you use in the song writing process, do you stick a film on?
JVG: Yeah I always have something on in the background
MVG: But James is really odd with it I find because he won’t be able to write a song as he would want it for months and months and then all of a sudden he’ll be able to bash out 5 in a week that are great
JVG: Yeah it takes me ages, I have like a weird block for ages and then it just sort of like comes up it’s weird
MVG: Yeah but it’s because you are the sort of person who if you haven’t got anything worth writing about, don’t write
JVG: Yeah I know people that wake up every day and write something like why? It’s probably rubbish, if you’re writing a song a day how can they all be good?
MVG: Get 3 minutes that fucking mean something as opposed to 68 that mean dog shit
FW: Yeah I mean it goes back to quality over quantity doesn’t it?
MVG: Yeah man for sure and that’s one thing that’s been quite warming for us this year because obviously we were away for 4 years without really releasing anything and the way it’s just stuck and people have taken to it has been incredible.
FW: Yeah, I’ll just finish up on one last question, what’s your favourite song on the album, either to write or play?
MVG: They’re all different mate, I’ve got different favourite ones to play and to listen to
JVG: ‘Happiness’ is one of my favourites but it’s not my favaourite one to play
MVG: My favourite one to play is probably ‘Fever’ because it is a laugh but my actual favourite song on the record is ‘Pretty Low’, I think it’s unbelievable
JVG: Yeah we’re playing that on this tour, I don’t know what my favourite song to play is
MVG: It’s ‘Fever’ for me because I don’t have to think about it, it’s trashy
JVG: ‘Fever’ is just fun for me, it’s so easy, it’s all single notes
MVG: Yeah whereas ‘Pretty Low’ for me, I don’t have much fun because there’s a lot going on
JVG: ‘Happiness’ is one of my favourite songs on the record but it’s not my favourite song to play
MVG: Do you know what mate? Actually, even though we only did it a couple of times yesterday, ‘Seattle’ is great when we’re all in the right mood because it very much depends on if everyone’s getting the same vibe together, it’s very fluid and we didn’t even record that to a click track just because we ended up going off tempo but it just seemed to work
FW: I suppose it depends a lot on the night as well, the vibe you’ve got
MVG: Yeah like if you ask me this same question in a week it’s going to be a different song
JVG: Yeah 100%
FW: Sure, cheers guys, it’s been a privilege, thanks a lot
JVG: Thank you
MVG: Thank you