Following the release of their reworked version of All These Countless Nights, our resident Fanboy, Mark Lunn chatted to DEAF HAVANA lead singer James Veck-Gilodi about the thought process behind it, what the fans can expect from their upcoming UK tour and the possibility of a new record in the not too distant future, read on to see how we got on....
Hi James, thanks for taking the time to talk it’s much appreciated… I’ve been a massive fan for about 5 years now so it’s quite a surreal experience to chat to the lead singer of my favourite band! Fools and Worthless Liars is my favourite album of all time, although the new one is closely catching it up!
Thank you very much!
Before talking about the new reworked album I just wanted to ask about this year and how it’s been for you? As a fan looking in, it looks like it’s been your biggest year yet with the amount of shows and festivals you’ve done and you’ve been supporting Kings of Leon, Aerosmith and Placebo…
It’s kind of a shock because the previous year and especially the previous couple of years we literally didn’t do anything, we weren’t really in a band and we hardly even talked to each other. So to be so busy this year, yeah it’s been kind of surreal because we’ve been supporting all these people we’ve been listening to for years and touring quite a lot is new for us, so yeah it’s been by far the best year for the band. It’s down to a few things, it probably is down to the fact that we stopped doing stuff for a while. We’ve got new management and stuff, it’s just everything’s sort of in place now, it’s really cool.
Has it vindicated your decision to carry on with the band?
Yeah, yeah absolutely.
Obviously you’ve done a reworked album before with Fools and Worthless Liars, but what was the inspiration behind this one? I saw a version of "Trigger" on YouTube, did that make you start to think about it? Was it always planned?
I don’t think it was always planned, I mean we joked about it when we recorded the record but I didn’t ever think we would do it. The label and everyone were like ‘we should re-release the album’ and I just thought we need to do it again because I hate it when people just put two bonus tracks on and re-release an album and charge more money for it. We’re actually giving you a new record, plus I’m always bored and I always want to do a million different versions of our songs because I’ve got the attention span of a 5 year old child! Any opportunity to do anything different and a bit more creative I was up for. I think it was probably my decision to do it to be honest. The actual recording and stuff was mainly me and our producer Adam, everyone else was busy doing stuff, I don’t know what… Tom had a kid and Lee worked, but we just kind of sat around and worked out these weird versions. I don’t just listen to rock music so it was good opportunity to put some electro stuff and some strings and just change it up. It’s a bit refreshing to make different versions of the songs and hopefully play them live.
I was going to say there’s some quite different styles on the new album that I’ve never really heard you guys do before like "England", "L.O.V.E." and "Like a Ghost". Even a sort of Latin American feel to England, so how did you decide what to do for each song, was it kind of just playing around with things and seeing what worked?
Well for instance "England", we just played on the Latin thing and put in some drums and made it sound a bit more Latin American on the rework and it’s kind of acoustic. The rest of it, we always wanted "Ashes" to be just strings but we never thought it would be able to happen because you can program strings but they don’t sound that good and we never thought we’d be able to get an actual orchestra to play it, but luckily we did. Like I said it was mainly just me and Adam our producer, the guy who recorded this and he recorded the actual version of the album. It was just me and him sitting in his studio playing through songs and trying to think of cool ways to do it. A lot of them we didn’t have ideas for we just pressed record and started coming up with weird ideas. Some didn’t work, like "Seattle" is pretty much the same. We couldn’t think of anything to do with that, to be fair it sounds like the original recording! I was going to do a solo thing and that song was originally going to be a song for that, so we kind of just recorded the version that I had before. But mainly it was just us bored messing around with instruments trying to work out ways to do different songs.
I saw you play in the Clapham Grand on April 2014 with a string quartet and London Youth Gospel choir and on the new album you used the Prague Philharmonic orchestra on some of the tracks, is that something you like to experiment with?
Yeah definitely man, it’s any musicians dream to be able to play with as many people as possible on stage. You See Bruce Springsteen and people like that and they have a 16 piece band! Obviously you have to be a certain level to be able to be able do that because it costs a lot of money, but yeah it’s always a privilege for me to be able to turn just a sh*tty little song that I’ve come up with in my bedroom in to a mental, orchestral piece of music. So yeah I really want to do more stuff like that in the future, I always want to keep experimenting with stuff and, like you said, I want to bring some stuff to the live tour, it won’t be on this tour but maybe on the next one. It would be great to be able to do a whole tour with a choir and a few string players.
Are there any of the new songs that you prefer the reworked versions?
Yeah I prefer ‘Pensacola’ I think, it’s a bit more like....upbeat.
That one seems to go down quite well live, I saw you Bristol at the start of this year and it seemed to go down really well there. I think it was one of the last tracks of the set…
Yeah I think we played it last. That’s one of my favourite songs anyway off of that record but I think I prefer the re-worked version. I think there’s a couple I prefer, I think I prefer ‘Ashes’, I prefer ‘Like a Ghost’ as well because that’s really weird.
I thought with "Ashes" it kind of gives it like a movie soundtrack type feel.
Obviously you’re probably looking forward to going on tour again. Is it literally "lads on tour", getting p*ssed every night?! I follow you on social media and it looks like you have a very good time whilst you’re on tour!?
I want to say no… haha! I don’t know, it’s weird we always go in to it like "yeah we’re going to take it seriously this time". The problem is because we’re too good a friends with each other so all we ever want to do is hang out. If we all had our own little thing and went off and did it, we wouldn’t end up like that. I mean, I do take it a bit more seriously when it’s a headline show but it’s probably going to end up like that. I’m going to try to not be that bad but I think a good portion of it will be hectic! Haha, it becomes draining after a while though!
Obviously you’re going to play some of the reworked tracks on the tour, how do you decide which ones? Have you looked at that yet?
Yeah we’ve looked at it, we’re going to play "Like a Ghost" just because it’s way better than the original, I think we’re going to play "Pensacola" as well because it does go down well and the end part of the song is pretty much the same as the actual record so it’s still going to have that sing along bit at the end. It’s kind of a weigh up against the actual record version and what people want to hear, we’re not going to play too many of the new ones because I don’t think people will be that familiar or some people might not like it. We’re going to keep it pretty standard but we’re going to play about four reworked songs I think.
So is this tour and the Germany tour the end of the All These Countless Nights chapter? Then a little break and back to it?
Probably, I’ve already started writing for a new record and I think we want to try and release it quite quickly because obviously we had a three and a half year gap between ‘Old Souls’ and ‘All These Countless Nights’. So I think we’re aiming to get it out in the third part of the year next year after the summer, but hopefully in the summer. That’s our goal, whether it happens or not is down to me and whether I can write. I’ve already got a few demos and stuff, I just want to crack on and get the next one out.
You said you had about 30 odd songs for the last album, are there any you could use for the new one?
Yeah definitely, there’s a couple, we actually talked about that. There’s one I’ve completely re-done which is an old demo and we might use that. There’s a couple which I think they’re good songs we just had too many songs so had to pick and choose, they were maybe too ‘not heavy enough’. For this record we can go whatever way we want, so yeah I think I might be using a couple of songs that I wrote a while ago.
I’m going to the Exeter show because I live in Plymouth which is about an hour away from Exeter, it's the last night of the tour so should be fun! Also, you’ve got Black Foxxes on the bill and Exeter is their home city, were you involved in picking them as one of the support acts?
Yeah, yeah we picked them because we think they’re a f*cking great band, there’s not that many really individual, cool bands in the UK and they’re one of them, I think they’re great! Mark’s a genius, so yeah we picked them because we absolutely love them and Decade as well, the other support band.
Yes I’ve been listening to them as well on Apple music so it should be a good show. Sometimes I don’t really bother with the support acts a lot of the time…
Everyone’s the same man, if I go and see a band I really want to see, it’s terrible to say, but I’ll just turn up when the band I want to see are on. But yeah this is probably the first tour I’m like ‘yeah all three bands are solid’, well both support bands are solid we’ll probably be a f*cking mess! The support bands will be good! I’m looking forward to it, it’s a really good line up.
Yeah definitely, I’m looking forward to it. So that’s it really, I got to listen to your album last week and it was amazing, I absolutely loved it. I had an e-mail from Amazon this morning saying my pre-order has been despatched.
Congratulations on another awesome record, it’s been amazing to chat to you thank you so much for giving me some of your time.
Ah mate, pleasure, my pleasure absolutely no problem at all.
I look forward to seeing you play in Exeter on the 25th November.
Yeah man, I’ll catch you in Exeter.
Cheers James, thanks very much for that.
No worries, take care.
Interview by Mark Lunn
We'd like to thank James for taking time out of his hectic schedule to chat to us and we wish the band every success with the reworked album and forthcoming tour. For tickets, please click HERE and to purchase the album, click on the link below.