DEAF HAVANA TALK THEIR UK TOUR & RE-WORKING ‘ALL THESE COUNTLESS NIGHTS’ 141

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.

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REVIEW: THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS – AMERICA 36

Five years in the making, Thirty Seconds To Mars’ new album ‘America’, which Jared promoted this week by hitch-hiking his way across his home country as part of an event called #MarsAcrossAmerica, is most certainly a considerable shift away from what members of the Echelon have heard from the trio (though current duo) over the years. But is this said shift good or bad?

Beginning with “Walk On Water” which introduced both old and new fans alike to the bands’ new rather electro-edged sound, ‘America’ starts off well, especially given that the rather radio friendly “Dangerous Night” follows on from it.

“Rescue Me” ups the tempo somewhat, and with its toe-tapping, body swaying rhythm, combined with Jared’s rough edged vocal, it’s just over three and a half minutes of enjoyable considerably upbeat rock, and the simplistic chorus in particular will work well when – or if – its performed on their current Monolith tour.

Prior to the release of the album, the band gave a sneak peak of one of the album’s collaborations, with A$AP Rocky. Having watched said sneak peak, this reviewer personally felt his involvement was random and pointless. Fortunately however, and for reasons unknown, he doesn’t feature on my (likely all UK albums) version and with the song performed for the most part in a breathy, almost dream-like manner, it would most likely have been completely ruined with Rocky’s inclusion.

The “Monolith” instrumental, AKA track 5, doesn’t really serve any purpose, however it does lead into the album’s one collaboration that REALLY does work – that of Jared and Halsey on “Love Is Madness” – one of the darker tracks, but not the darkest, on the album. She compliments Jared perfectly, enhancing the song and its sultry mood/feel to the point where it easily stands out as a highlight of the collection.

“Great Wide Open” is an inspiring track, and one that’s perfect to listen to when you’re out discovering yourself or exploring this world we live in, or most likely, doing both at the same time. It’s the type of song you can see playing behind a montage of a person’s life, as their friends and family pay tribute to or celebrate them in some form or another, and with that in mind, it’s one of the album’s strongest, and most emotive, pieces.

Mixing simple electronic hooks, plenty of synth and a chorus which, it could be argued, is rather understated, “Hail To The Victor” almost flashes back to the ‘Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams’ era of the band, perhaps included to draw that chapter to an undeniable close. The darkest, deepest number on the album comes in the form of “Dawn Will Rise.” With lyrics including “Come and hit me, strike me while I’m down” and “Fortunes fade in time, I must change or die.”, it’s certainly not a track to listen to if you are in a good mood, as its sombre, almost depressing tone, matched by Jared’s almost defeated vocal performance, will soon shatter said mood to pieces.

If there’s any real surprise on the album, it’s Shannon’s Leto’s vocal on “Remedy.” It’s raw and stripped back in comparison to any track that has come before and comes after it. There’s an organic feel to the song, and Shannon’s performance, although different, is so in a phenomenally good way, and he’s no doubt going to find himself requested to play it live.

The chorus of “Oh Oh Oh”, on “Live Like A Dream”, in a nice touch from the band, was recorded at one of their Camp Mars events, and serves as an audible reminder for those who were there of the project they were involved in (though it’s unlikely they knew what it was for at the time) and the fun they had, while for other members of the Echelon, it’s a nice throwback to the ‘This Is War’ era when many of them featured on that album, having participated in ‘summits’ around the world.

“Rider” has so far proved to be quite a strong, albeit new, inclusion to the band’s tour setlist, and with its rising crescendo as the piece nears its end, it’s quite stirring and powerful. Meanwhile, on the deluxe edition of the album, the acoustic, choir-inclusive version of “Walk On Water” might lack the energy of the original, but with the electronics removed, it brings Jared’s genuine vocal ability to the forefront again, and such has been considerably lacking up to this point.

With remixes growing in popularity, it’s not that surprising to find the band have included 2, the first being a R3hab remix of “Walk On Water.” For those who like a more dance-like and continued electro-feel to their songs, it’s not a bad version by any means, but it’s not the best remix ever made either, and the Cheat Codes remix of “Dangerous Night” doesn’t fare that much better.

Despite the new sound and styles with which the band have experimented on this collection, ‘America’ is still at its heart, very much a Thirty Seconds To Mars album, and if the social media reaction is anything to go by, it’s proving a hit with their huge following. Yes there are tracks on the album that don’t quite work as well as they should, like the remixes, but for the majority, lyrically and instrumentally, it’s a considerably solid piece of work that fans hopefully won’t have to wait another five years for in order to hear its follow-up.

KAYO WASHIO OF JAPAN’S WOWOW BROADCAST NETWORK TALKS HANDLING PROJECTS & PRESSURE 46

As the head of US Operations for what has been described as Japan’s version of HBO, WOWOW, Kayo Washio is used to working under pressure and alongside some of the biggest names in the business. With five projects currently in development, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Kayo to talk about how much the broadcast industry has changed and continues to evolve, the acquisition she’s most proud of and her advice for anyone looking to follow in her footsteps.

TITL: What is it about broadcasting that encouraged you to make it a career path and how did you get started?

Kayo Washio: I have a relative who worked for the U.N. in New York City and was a licensed attorney who passed the New York State Bar. She was born and raised in Japan, like I was. Because of her, I wanted to be an international attorney, starting from the time I was in high school.  When I enrolled and attended University, I selected International Law as my major. While studying, I learned that law practice and enforcement has a lot of gray areas and I soon came to the realization that this was not the field I could spend a lifetime working in. At that time, while I was in the midst thinking of what I truly loved to do, I discovered a unique ‘unknown’ person who accomplished a remarkable feat, and thought it would make for a great interview feature for an outlet. I arranged a job interview for myself with a TV broadcaster to become a reporter/creator and to make a program for reporting on this great figure I discovered – in Japan, you don’t need to work for a company that relates to your major at your college. This experience allowed me to begin working for WOWOW right after I graduated university.

TITL: It could be argued that, like film, the broadcasting industry is dominated by men. With that in mind, how much, or little, of a struggle has it been for you to pave your way and make a name for yourself as well as you have in recent years? Are you seeing a rise in the number of women joining the business and if so, does such please you?

KW: Having worked for an established ‘old guard’ type of Japanese company for about 20 years and working in Japan for about 15 years before moving to Los Angeles, I can say I have much more freedom and flexibility here in U.S. The entertainment industry in the U.S. is much, much, much less dominated by men compared to Japan.

There are many cultural and business rules in Japan that play into gender inequality. Some of you might realize that we exchange business cards by holding our card with both hands when we meet a new person – right at the onset of the meeting before having any conversation. The order in which cards are exchanged is important, and rules dictate that you should exchange cards with the person with the highest title, which in Japan is normally the oldest man. I’ve often seen the awkward situation here in the U.S. where senior executives try to exchange a business card with an American older male first, even if a female has higher position.

I understand it’s very difficult, but eventually I would like to have a society where we do not need to talk about these gender disparity issues. Like most, I just want to work with talented people who I enjoy collaborating with – regardless of gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, etc. Life is short and we are all one human race.

TITL: For those who don’t understand the way in which broadcasting and its companies work, what are the main objectives of your job as the head of U.S. Operations?

KW: Basically, the objective of my job is to secure the best content – films, TV series, special award shows, concerts, etc. – for our service in Japan. WOWOW has established and maintained tremendous relationships with studios, networks and content rights holders for about the last 30 years, which positions us well to make great acquisitions. Growing and nurturing these relationships in the U.S. is so important for a foreign company like WOWOW. I am diligent in trying to foster even more relationships through an open and transparent exchange of information with new companies on a daily basis and explore new relationships not only from the sales side, but also on the production side through our co-production projects. This all dovetails another very important objective – building the WOWOW brand name here in the U.S.

TITL: Is there one aspect of your job you like more than any other or do you just enjoy the different every day challenges that come your way?

KW: I love waking up every day to the opportunity of working with very talented creators and artists. These kinds of opportunities have motivated me to keep aiming high and stoke my passion for the next hit project! I’m always mobile too. I’m not a type of person who can sit in an office from 9-6 every single day.

In Japan, most companies have a job rotation system whereby every 3-5 years employees are transferred to a different department within the company and assigned new job duties without any reason. Because of this system, Japanese people are used to working with various titles. But here in the U.S., more value is placed on experience, expertise and relationships and how these are built over time by working in the same field. I very much prefer the American approach on this front.

TITL: WOWOW is essentially the Japan version of HBO – how do you feel about the comparisons, and would you agree with them?

KW: While there is a difference in brand name recognition worldwide, where HBO is bigger and more widely recognized, I think HBO and WOWOW are alike in that the two companies strive to be the preeminent suppliers of premium content.

Comparing WOWOW with HBO is not an apples to apples comparison though. The base systems are different. In Japan, people don’t need to pay any fees to watch network TV and many households still do not carry cable nor satellite. WOWOW as a business is not worried about chord cutting in the same way HBO and other television channels have been, but are intelligently adapting to now. Viewers would have been able to subscribe to WOWOW directly since the launch of our service in 1991.

Systems aside, when it comes to programming, I think WOWOW has similar programming selection criteria to HBO, and that is a great thing for audiences who expect the best quality of movies, TV series and events. As a premium pay television service, we would like to show only best quality content from all over the world to our subscribers. For example, we broadcast movies that have had great box office results in Japan from all major studios and also great quality movies from all over the world such as awarded films at film festivals.

WOWOW curates the best content in each area. We have aired four major tennis tournaments, since we consider them the premiere tennis events; licensed the best American shows every year; produced top original documentaries and TV series, which were created with very talented Japanese creators and Japanese artists; and started doing co-productions five years ago to produce our original programs with international creators and artists.

TITL: Your job has allowed you to work with Martin Scorsese and executive produce his documentary “The New York Review of Books: A 50 Year Argument.” How did you get involved with that project and how did you find working with such a highly respected individual?

KW: It was through my relationship with a sales agent whom I worked with on the documentary “Cathedrals of Culture.” She informed me that Martin Scorsese was coming to Berlin at the time I was there for the world premiere of ‘Cathedrals”, and that he would be giving a presentation about his next passion project. So naturally, I rearranged my travel to attend his presentation and began thinking about ways to structure working together. I had twice interviewed Martin before, for my program in Japan, but of course this was a totally different interaction and I was very excited about this opportunity.

Martin Scorsese is fascinating and truly brilliant. I don’t know how he handles all the things he has going on in his world. He remembers every detail of everything he has seen and done and knows how he should handle every deal and circumstance!!! His knowledge of movies is second to none. For example, I learned quickly that he has more knowledgeable of Japanese films and Japanese directors than me. I was also fascinated with the fact that he doesn’t create any walls between himself and newcomers in the business. He treats everyone equally – with respect. That says a lot about his character and composition. I really hope I can join another project of his again in the near future!

TITL: You’ve also handled negotiations for projects involving Robert Redford, Wim Wenders and others. Given the pressure you must feel in those situations, how do you stay focused and relaxed? 

KW: In these situations my feelings were more of excitement than pressure! I of course knew all about the legendary Robert Redford and Wim Wenders before I started to work on the project. I just felt that if I joined their project, I would rather enjoy the experience and be fully immersed and contribute rather than be shy and passive! One thing I’ve always kept in mind since the first day I started as a producer is that I want all people who work with me to want to work with me again, even after challenging times like a hard negotiation or having creative differences. This is my goal for everybody who has worked with me. I hope they felt that way too.

TITL: Is there any one of projects/acquisitions you’re particularly proud of? If so, which is and why?

KW: Producing a film or event is so difficult that I feel a great sense of accomplishment with all the projects I have had the privilege to be involved in, and am proud of every one! If I have to single out one project though, I would say a small mini-documentary about Baz Luhrmann was especially gratifying for me. This was a passion project of mine in 2003 and WOWOW at the time couldn’t understand why I would produce this particular documentary. But I felt it was necessary for me to introduce our subscribers to Baz Luhrmannn’s vision and his unique way of thinking, as well as the people surrounding him in his private studio. I really felt this program would inspire WOWOW viewers and encourage them to purse their dreams.

I remember telling my boss at the time that I would put my own money into producing this program, but I needed to have a slot for broadcasting it. In the end, I got a very small budget approved by WOWOW, which is still the lowest budget I’ve ever had to work with, and we made a great documentary. To this day, I watch this program whenever I have difficulties because it reminds me where I came from and encourages me to enjoy the process, even if it’s very tough, to achieve my goals.

TITL: Are there any projects or negotiations underway you can tell me about?

KW: This is a very exciting time at WOWOW as I have five projects currently in development. I can’t reveal many details just yet, other than to say they will all be narrative features. I think audiences will be excited when we make the announcements very soon!

TITL: With the rise in social media and illegal streaming sites, are you finding your job any harder to do in terms of being able to get a good deal for clients and broadcasters who fret about audience figures and the like?

KW: This is a great question. The situation stemming from evolving technologies definitely costs us more than before and forces us to spend much more time dealing with agreements and recognizing and addressing new technology related components. Generally speaking, Japan is as advanced technologically as any nation, but it seems our problems and the serious issues that arise are at a lower volume compared to other technically advanced countries.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps and aim for a career such as yours? What three things would you say they need in order to get their foot in the door?

KW: You have to be strong enough and confident enough to really be yourself and should try to enjoy every step of the journey to realizing your dreams. Everyone’s experiences and encounters will ultimately be useful. Life is like a circle! Now you might see your experiences and encounters like many dots, but in the near future these dots will be dot-line and then will be continuous line!

Three things are 1.) Really get to know yourself well – meaning know your strong points (what you are best at) and also your weak points. 2.) Don’t be afraid to take chances, but be well prepared to take chances since you don’t know when they come 3.) Building trusting relationships with people you would like to work

TITL: Finally then, where do you see the future of broadcasting going in the years to come, and what would you most like to see the industry take on board/bring to fruition for both those in the industry and TV/film fans?

KW: One thing that never changes is that “great content” has staying power. It will live on forever. The only thing that will change is how it is consumed – from a big screen to a small watch. Talented PEOPLE have, and will be, the key to the creation of great content. AI cannot create content with the warmth of people. We have to keep creating great content but consider which type of content to fit which type of media.

For more information on WOWOW, visit the website.