Deaf Havana back on the road - exclusive interview

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Local fans of West Norfolk band Deaf Havana will be heading to Norwich UEA on Thursday to see their favourites in concert. That will be the fifth gig in a headline UK tour which starts at Manchester tonight and ends in London next Friday - and comes just weeks after the release of the band’s fourth album, All These Countless Nights.

The album was released on SO Recordings at the end of January to critical acclaim and the band’s frontman, James Veck-Gilodi, says: “We’ve been sitting on this album for so long now that I’m literally itching to get out on the road and play some new songs. It’s been a long while since we have done a proper tour of the UK and to say I can’t wait would be a tremendous understatement, 2017 will be a good one!”

2013’s brilliant Old Souls album had successfully catapulted the band into the UK rock big league.

It crashed into the Top 10 of the UK’s Official Albums Chart, earned rave reviews for its bravura songwriting and saw the band sell out ever bigger venues, appear higher up the bill at festivals and even support Veck-Gilodi’s hero, Bruce Springsteen.

“It made us feel like a proper band,” says Veck-Gilodi, after Deaf Havana’s many years on the fringes of the scene. “It stepped away from that emo-y world; there were a lot more layers to it and the songwriting was much more mature.”

Deaf Havana feature James Veck-Gilodi and his guitarist brother Matthew, multi-instrumentalist Max Britton, bassist Lee Wilson and drummer Tom Ogden.

Ahead of the Deaf Havana tour, James Veck-Gilodi talked to Jon Seymour about the album, touring and changes in the band….

Jon: How does it feel to finally have the album released?

James: It seems a little weird, because at one point it felt like it would never happen. The whole band are really excited about it, though. We’ve been sat on it for a long time, some of the demos have been around for a couple of years, so we’re all pleased to be able to say it’s finally out there.

Jon: There’s been a lot of change in your band since the last record, has that made a difference?

James: Yeah, we’ve got new management, as well as a new record label, and a new producer, Adam Noble, who’s phenomenal, so it’s been like a fresh start for all of us. After everything that went on with us, it was good to put everything behind us and start over. We did miss being together as a band, so getting back together was a great feeling.

Jon: There was also a change in the recording process on the album, did that make a lot of difference?

James: Definitely. The last few times, I’d send the guys some songs and they’d say whether they liked them, and I’d end up recording a lot of it myself. This time around, we got together for a few weeks, playing together and learning the songs, and really working on them. We even recorded the core of the album in a live studio setting. When we were recording before, we wouldn’t even see each other, but after recording this album the way we did, this is the way we’ll be doing it from now on.

Jon: The album goes to some very dark places, which has kind of become a trademark of yours hasn’t it?

James: Yeah, I guess it has. I like to explore the darker places, because as strange as it sounds, that’s when I find the most excitement. When people feel vulnerable and exposed, that’s when they’re less likely to be fake. I can’t write any other way. If it’s not personal, it doesn’t feel real.

Jon: The album continues down a similar path to the last one, although it’s not quite the same, was that deliberate?

James: It’s not so much deliberate, we just put out the music we want to play and write. There’s no intention to sound like something, it just happens. There are so many artists who get stuck in the trap of writing what they think people want to hear, but we don’t play for anyone but ourselves, and hopefully people will like it. The slower songs on the album are probably my favourites, as they’re the ones written with the most energy, which doesn’t make too much sense really.

Jon: It’s also been a while since you guys went out on tour in the UK, are you looking forward to going back out on the road?

James: Oh yeah, it’s been a long time since we’ve done any live shows, so we’re all excited about it. Norwich is always good to play, because that’s where we saw all of the bands that we liked growing up. We’re all looking forward to that show.

After the UK, we have a short break before going out to Europe for a month, so we’ll be away for a while.

Jon: You do a little as the patron for West Norfolk Mind, too, don’t you?

James: Yeah, although I’d like to do a little more. I do a couple of gigs every year, but it’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things. There was some talk of a music video, and I’d be up for getting involved in that if I can, it depends on scheduling though.

Jon: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

James: I just hope people like the new album as much as we do. It’s been a labour of love, but the result is better than we could have imagined, and hopefully we’ll see a few familiar faces when we come to Norwich next week.