Having recently released a reworked edition of their latest album, All These Countless Nights, and after spending time in Australia as support for Placebo, UK alt-rock band Deaf Havana have returned home and are about to embark on an extensive UK tour. Before heading out on the road, front-man James Veck-Gilodi spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about career longevity, fan favourite tracks and the bands’ future plans.
TITL: Having formed in 2005, what do you think it is about yourselves as a band that’s enabled you to remain a fixture of this ever-changing industry when several of your counterparts have fallen by the way-side?
James Veck-Gilodi: Persistence probably – we don’t give up. Being in a band isn’t easy unless you’re incredibly lucky, and without wanting to sound harsh, I think a lot of bands aren’t cut out for this business and what it can and does demand of them. A lot of them can’t cope with living in a van, touring round for like two years; it can be really difficult, and I think that’s why some of them give up – because it’s not how they thought it was going to be. I guess we just have a lot of persistence, and we came from like the shittiest little town ever (Kings Lynn) and for us, anything was better than staying there, so we just always wanted to get out of it.
TITL: You’re recently released a reworked edition of your album All These Countless Nights. Why did you decide to release such a collection and how did you get producer Adam Noble and The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra involved?
JVG: Adam Noble recorded the original version of the record so I was already friends with him. Our label were like “We should re-release the record” and I was like “I don’t want to just re-release it…” because, really, what was the point? So we decided to re-record it. I just get bored easily – it was really because I just wanted to have fun because I get bored super easily and I wanted to experiment with different instruments. As for the Prague Orchestra, a guy at our record label – the other half of their music is like, music for soundtracks and stuff, so they know all these classical musicians – put us in touch. Adam Noble and I wrote the score and they just recorded it – it was pretty awesome.
TITL: You’re also heading out on a huge UK later this month. How excited are you to be getting back out on home country roads again, especially having been in Oz recently supporting Placebo?
JVG: Incredibly excited. We’re incredibly excited to be doing our own shows in the UK. Australia is and was really cool, but it’s hard when you’re on tour with another band who you don’t necessarily…the people that went to those shows were there purely for Placebo; they didn’t care about us. It was a cool experience, but I’m so happy to be playing to our own fans again. I literally can’t wait.
TITL: How did you come to decide on Black Foxxes and Decade as tour support?
JVG: They’re just really good bands. Black Foxxs I’ve been a fan of for ages and we asked them to do a previous tour but they were busy so they couldn’t do it, so I think we just kept asking them until they said yes. And Decade…we were in Sweden at the start of the year and we had a day off. There was a show on which I went to and Decade were one of the bands playing. I basically asked them there and then if they wanted to come on tour with us later in the year because I just thought they were pretty fucking good.
TITL: Is there any particular venue on this tour you’re most excited to play or do you just enjoy the thrill of stepping out on stage every night no matter where you are?
JVG: I’m excited to play all of them to be honest. There are a lot of places on this tour we haven’t played in ages, but I can’t say I’m excited to play any one more than any other. I just love, love playing music in front of people that actually like our songs and know the words.
TITL: For anyone who hasn’t seen you live before, what can they expect from a Deaf Havana show?
JVG: Just fun, I guess. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We don’t speak in weird voices on stage or anything like that – you know how some bands have a stage persona? That’s not us. We’re very real I guess. Our shows are a good laugh; it’s just five guys who like playing music to fans who like such music and want to have as much of a good time as we do.
TITL: Which of your songs do you find are fan-favourites on tour? Do and can they vary show to show and do you find audiences differ country to country?
JVG: You can kind of guess by looking at lame stuff like Spotify plays, but there’s a track on our latest album, the last track, “Pensacola”, which seems to be popular – the last time we played it, it got like the BIGGEST sing-along; and we haven’t released that as a single. There are a couple of weird album tracks that fans like, but I think the biggest one is “Anemophobia” off our first record.
My favourite shows are always here in the UK. I’ve lived in London for years and years, so the shows in London are always the best, think. But it’s nice to be able to travel, and the audiences do vary of course. We’ve been concentrating on England quite a lot and we have an okay following here, but everywhere else is a bit different. It was amazing to go and play in Australia because it’s literally the other side of the world, but I do love coming back and playing here, especially in London – it’s like coming home.
TITL: I ask almost every band or artist I speak to this question, so I’m intrigued to hear what you say. I’d like you to create your dream-show line-up, featuring five bands or artists who can be living or dead. Who would they be and where would you play?
JVG: There’s a festival in Norway called Slottsfjell. It’s on the top of a hill, on the top of a mountain, overlooking a massive lake and there’s a castle behind you. That’d be the setting. As for the line-up, that’d be…oh God….Nirvana headlining….this is going to be completely random and none of these bands are going to go to together. Nirvana headlining, The Smiths second, Bjork third….I have no idea…Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith. The most depressing line-up ever.
TITL: You mentioned Spotify earlier. Do you think you’d have the following and the support that you do without the power and influence of streaming and social media?
JVG: I’m not sure to be honest; it goes two ways. I’ve always been a fan of streaming and stuff – although we get less money it does allow more people to listen to our music. But if we went back to the 90’s, or the 80’s, we would probably be doing a lot better as streaming etc. didn’t exist back then. People would physically actually have to buy records and we’d be rich – not that that’s what matters. Nowadays, I think it’s pretty essential because it’s pretty much the only way people really listen to and discover music. It’s essential I think.
More personally, I only use Twitter occasionally. I use Instagram to promote stuff and make myself laugh; I’m not really a fan of social media if I’m totally honest, but I understand that if you’re a band or a business, you need it now.
TITL: With the end of the year fast approaching, looking back, have there been any stand-out moments for you and what does 2018 have in store?
JVG: There’s one particular period of time that was stand-out. We did a headline tour in Europe that was about a month long, in March, I think and we shared it with this band called Dinosaur Pile Up who are now like our best friends. I don’t know, for some reason that tour was just like…you know the tour that EVERYONE goes on about, where they say to anyone and everyone “Oh my God, that was incredible!”? I’ve never had that before but that tour was just…I’ll never forget it and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to top it; we’ll never be able to have a friendship as good as that with another band. So yeah, that European tour we did with Dinosaur Pile Up was the best thing about this year.
Next year, we will release another album I think. I just need to get writing and demoing so for me, 2018 will consist of a lot of studio time.
TITL: One final question, then. Given your career longevity, what advice would you give to bands and artists just starting out and perhaps struggling to make their mark in this ever-competitive industry?
JVG: It’s hard because when we started out, things were completely different; we had a different set of goals and things we wanted and needed to achieve, in comparison to what today’s bands and artists need to strive for. I think the main piece of advice I would give is to just do it because you love it. Don’t do it because you want to be famous; do it because you love playing music. In the end, if you do it for any other reason, you’re going to hate yourself and you’re going to resent it. Don’t lose sight of why you started in the first place.
Deaf Havana kick off their UK tour on November 9th. Tickets can be purchased here. For more information on the band, visit their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. All These Countless Nights (Reworked) is available now.