Deaf Havana - Interview
Interview with Deaf Havana September 2013
Alt rockers Deaf Havana formed in 2005 whilst attending the college of West Anglia. The band performed original, aggressive, post-hardcore material featured on their debut EP 'White Lines No Camera' released in August. Since then, the band have developed musically performing original, alternative rock and pop punk songs, establishing themselves as a predominate band in the British rock scene.
Front man James, rhythm guitarist Matthew and drummer Tom talk to us about the band's latest album, the pressures of touring and performing with Bruce Springsteen!
CM: Your new album 'Old Souls' is due for release on 16th September, can you tell us a bit about it?
Matthew: We recorded it earlier this year, it's the first thing we've done with producer Youth and Lee [Batiuk]. We really happy with how it's gone.
James: I think it's a more well-rounded record; it's just more mature songwriting and storytelling really. It's the first thing we've done where I think we're all, certainly us three, are completely happy. We're just proud to be a part of it really.
Tom: Yeah, it sits very comfortable with where we're all at.
CM: This is arguably your most anticipated release to date, does that excite you or do you find the expectation pressurising?
James: Bit of both really. Excited for people to hear the songs but I can't wait to start playing new stuff! It's always worrying when you release an album because you don't know if it's gonna do well or if people are even gonna like it.
CM: In terms of song writing, you're known for your often dark yet very honest lyrics, is this maintained in the new album?
James: Yeah, I think so. Maybe not quite as miserable as the first few. The difference on this one is I wrote a lot of songs about other people. In the last album, I pretty much wrote everything about me and personal experiences but this one I wrote loads of songs about other people. It's probably as miserable but slightly less self-loathing.
CM: The album is being co-produced by Youth, how did that collaboration come about and what was it like?
Tom: I can't remember how it came about exactly, I think one of our guys at BMG's wife is friends with Youth's manager or something like that and he happened to be playing the demos and Youth heard them.
James: He got in touch with us and asked to get involved.
CM: Very exciting! You've also got a documentary being released with the deluxe edition of the album, what was it like filming that? Was it quite difficult in terms of the emotional content?
James: It was quite nice for us to see the final thing it just shows the whole journey from coming from absolutely nothing to getting to where we are now which isn't, in the grand scheme of things, particularly far along but it's just such a long way for us coming from where we come from. I think it'll be interesting for people to see the documentary because then they'll really understand everything and get insight into what's happened.
Matthew: They guy who filmed it, Jon [Stone], he's done a really good job on it.
CM: Throughout your history you've supported some iconic bands; YouMeAtSix, Feeder and Muse; were they able to provide you with any advice which has helped you in any way?
Tom: When we first met Feeder I was a bit sort of. I thought they were gonna be completely different to what they were. At one point they were such a big band and the first thing Grant, the singer, did was just come into our dressing room with a bottle champagne and "really nice to have you guys on the tour and stuff" and from that, I've always made support bands and stuff like that feel welcome on our tours. I think I learnt that not everyone has to be a diva to get successful. No-one's really sat us aside and said "you gotta do this and you gotta to that" but we've certainly learnt some lessons from people along the way.
CM: Is there anyone specific you'd like to support you?
Tom: There's loads of people but whether they'd do it or not, I don't know.
James: Actually, the band that were supporting us, Big Sixes, I really liked them. They're pretty original at the moment! There's not that many completely original bands about, I think they appreciate something different.
Matthew: I really like Butch Walker.
James: He's massively famous.
Matthew: He's not.
James: And he's a millionaire and he's a massive songwriter.
CM: The 'Old Souls' deluxe edition contains a Counting Crows cover, are there any other songs you've been particularly interested in covering?
Matthew: We've done a few covers live.
Tom: We've really just done one!
Matthew: Yeah we've covered Robbie Williams (laughs).
James: I would like to do a cover in October a little bit. It's hard to always agree on one but it's always nice to cover so many famous songs. Don't know any in particular really.
CM: The deluxe edition of Fools and Worthless Liars contains an acoustic rendition of the album, is that something you aim to continue doing?
James: Well, if we do a re-release of 'Old Souls' we'll definitely do something different, we definitely won't just put demos on the end of it and shove that out. Whether it'll be acoustic or electro or whatever I don't know but it was nice to do that because I think we've fused the two together really, in the new album there's a lot of acoustic stuff on there and live as well.
CM: In terms of performing live, what's the comparison like between electric sets and acoustic sets?
Matthew: A lot more relaxed.
James: But we put a bit of both in the headline sets, a couple of acoustic songs in there and mainly rock songs but when we do the acoustic tour I just felt a lot more relaxed.
Tom: Only 'cause we're on chairs.
CM: In the trailer of the documentary, you spoke about touring and how that can be difficult in some ways, do you think that's still true today now you're a bigger and more successful band?
James: I personally don't like being away from home because I'm a bit of a hermit. It's a bit of hard lifestyle because one minute you're doing actually nothing at home and then the next minute you're doing.
Matthew: It's quite intense sometimes.
James: I lose my voice all the time as well which gets on my nerves. Actually, you go mad as well sometimes when you're away from home. Me personally; it's different for everyone.
CM: So Matthew and James (brothers), what's it like working with family?
James: I'm a bit sick of it to be honest (laughs). Nah, I like it! It's fine.
Matthew: It was just pretty natural because we've been playing together obviously all our lives.
CM: You've also opened for Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling, what was that like?
Matthew: That was really good.
James: It was nice because we basically played to a completely new audience. Hardly anyone there who knew who we were.
Tom: A lot of older people there as well. That's what I really enjoyed, just walking around the site and being greeted by 40-year-old bloke saying, 'That was really good, man, well done'.
Matthew: It's just a nice to have that broader demographic.
CM: Would you like to see yourselves doing the same thing at 40-years-old, let's say?
James: Maybe not in this band playing this sort of music but I'm certainly gonna play music for my entire life. Can't do anything else so. I will be pretty annoyed if I'm not playing some sort of music when I'm 40. If I'm still alive that is.
Matthew: I was gonna say, if we are still then we certainly won't look as healthy as Bruce does.
CM: You formed when you were still young, is there any advice you have for your people starting bands nowadays?
James: Keep going. There's so many times when we could've broken up because it was just crap and we didn't gain anything from it, we had no money, nothing. That was for years, and so many bands split up but if you really wanna do it and you really care about it, you will keep going.
Matthew: Don't be arrogant. A lot of bands get together for the wrong reasons as well. We got together purely because we wanna have a laugh and we've always kept that mentality.
Tom: We're still the same. don't take yourself too seriously. That's it don't take yourself too seriously, don't be arrogant and don't take things for granted. Don't think that because you get opportunities like this it makes you any better than everyone else.
James: And enjoy it. Keep going!
CM: You spoke about financial difficulties, what made you get through them and continue as a band?
James: Having friends that will put you up and let you live off them. Me personally, a lot of lucky breaks and when I met my girlfriend she had a flat that was already paid for and I got to live there for free. For me personally it was just a series of lucky events that happened and allowed me to just do what I wanted and we'd literally no money.
CM: In terms of the song writing on this album, you've opened up about personal issues, has music become therapeutic in some ways?
James: If I have something sort of stuck inside, it's like a weight off my shoulders if I write about it and get it out.
Matthew: It is like a very cathartic experience.
CM: This has been your most financially secure album; have you felt a difference between recording this album and your previous ones?
James: Yeah, definitely. Previous ones we would stay at my grandparents' house and just drive to the studio every single morning. Now it sucks because we're always tired and have to get up early and stuff but this one was residential so we stayed there. We'd get up when we wanted, start when we wanted, finish when we wanted. The people that owned it were amazing and we'd hang out with them. It was a really nice place and it was much more relaxed and it definitely showed because it's just a much better album.
Tom: I think we had much more freedom there as well and so much space.
CM: What are you looking forward to doing in your future? Are you just progressing with new albums and more touring?
Tom: We'll see what happens.
James: The time before you release an album is always a bit limbo. You don't know if anyone's gonna like it or if it's gonna do well.
Matthew: We're just looking forward to going to other countries, especially America because it's being released there. Travelling as much as we can and I guess hoping the album does well.
CM: Thankyou very much for your time! We wish you the best of luck for the album!
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