DEAF HAVANA Countless nights with Placebo

UK rockers Deaf Havana swing through town next Monday, September 4, supporting Placebo at Perth Arena. KAREN LOWE has a chat with frontman James Veck-Gilodi about their previous tour for Soundwave, Perth’s beaches and new album All These Countless Nights.

You guys are about to tour Australia with Placebo, starting with Perth first. How did you feel when you got the call to support them?

Pretty great to be honest on two fronts really because a) I love Australia and I can’t wait to come back and b) I love Placebo so it’s just incredible that we get to tour with them. We’re just incredibly happy.

You released a new album (All These Countless Nights) early this year. How did the recording process go? Are you happy with how the album sounds?

Yes! The recording process was actually slightly different to what we’ve done previously. Normally I do most of the recording. The first and second record was literally just me and our drummer but this one we actually spent a lot of time playing songs together and we recorded the songs live actually which is something we’ve never done.

We went back and re-did some of the parts because obviously, when you play live it’s not quite as tight as it would be if you were going to do it piece by piece but it turned out really great and there’s just a bit more energy on the record that we never had before and that comes, I think, from recording live. We couldn’t be happier with the way it sounds.

Last time you were in Australia you were here for Soundwave. What are some of your favourite memories of Australia? And of the tour?

Honestly, the whole thing was just so overwhelming. Ever since I was a little kid, Australia was the main place that I had wanted to visit and the fact that I did it in summer and on such a great tour, like, the whole thing was just amazing!

I think, when we were in Perth, the beaches in Perth were incredible like… I had just never experienced anything like it. The water was so warm and obviously the complete opposite to England but the whole thing was amazing. The beaches in Perth; I really enjoyed Melbourne as a city; I really enjoyed Sydney. Just all of it was so good.

Will you guys have any time off when you are in Australia? And if so, is there anything that you would really love to see or do while here?

I think we will have two or three days free where we can actually run around and have a look at anything really. I don’t know. It’s not really that hot is it?

Not really no but it’s probably still going to be too warm for you guys…

(laughs) I really want to make it into the sea. Last time we went to all the wildlife parks because your animals in Australia are completely different to what we have here so that was kind of a novelty.

I have a couple of friends who moved over there so I’m gonna catch up with them and just really enjoy as much as I can.

Being on tour can be tough on mental health and general well being. How do you guys go with touring and do you have any strategies to keep each others spirits up?

I think, in a way, we’re quite lucky because we are all extremely good friends and we all hang out a lot on tour.

I feel the trouble with a lot of bands is they play together obviously but when they’re not playing, they separate and do their own thing. I find it’s a lot easier to keep your spirits up when you have a support network around you. We’re just so lucky that we’re all such good friends and hang out.

But I don’t know. I would recommend, from my experience, don’t drink that much because it makes you feel terrible but that’s just useless really (laughs). If you’re not already stuck in that rut, never do that and try and keep yourself busy.

The main thing for me is don’t just stay in the venue all day and shit and just look at your phone. Go out and have a look at the city. We can take it for granted so much but we are in amazing places so we always try and get out and have a look at as many things as we can.

I hope you guys are able to get about in Perth because we’ve got a lot of great places to see…

Yeah we’ve got two days free when we land so I think we are just going to chill and hang out in Perth.

What was the moment that you realised that you had made it as a band?

I still don’t think we’ve realised that we’ve made it as a band (laughs). It’s kind of weird because there are so many things you can do. I guess when you start playing shows and people actually come to see you play. That’s pretty…pretty crazy. There’s that.

The first time that we sold out a headline tour, it was pretty crazy because we…accidentally fell into this. We never decided that we wanted to have a successful band. We just enjoyed playing music so it was kind of a shock for us when we played a tour and it sold out.

I guess that and we just take everything in our stride really. We’re just happy to still be able to play music.

Do you have any embarrassing tour stories? And what about some of the crazier moments on tour?

(laughs) yeah I have hundreds but I don’t know if I can share them but just like, terrible things like; I’ve been sick on stage like, I don’t know why – food poisoning or something and I’ve gone to sing a note and just thrown up everywhere. That was pretty embarrassing!

I think, the craziest thing actually was probably when we were in Australia. Metallica threw a BBQ for everyone and were walking around introducing themselves to everyone. I don’t know it was just like a bunch of musicians….a) Metallica were paying for everyone to get drunk and b) we were in Australia which was amazing anyway I think! So yeah that was pretty crazy.

Your brother is now in the band. How is that going? And how do you deal with any sibling rivalries between you?

We’re really lucky! Like, we don’t really…somehow we’ve always been really good friends. I know other siblings that just get on each other’s nerves and the main question that people ask us is how we do it, how do you manage being in a band with your brother but honestly, we’re just really lucky that we don’t fall out.

He’s actually probably my closest friend in the band. I don’t know, it’s weird! But in a way, Tom, our drummer and me are more like brothers because we argue more than anyone else but me and my brother, we never argue, we always have fun and yeah it’s great! He’s actually the only one that I never fall out with!

As a fan, it’s often quite hard to go up to your idols and say hello for fear of being turned away or fear of seizing up and sounding like an idiot. As a musician, how do you go at meeting your idols? Have you ever gone to speak to someone and just seized up?

I’ve always been of the opinion that you don’t meet your idols because you’ll regret it. I have met a few people that have…..really changed my opinion of them and I’ve honestly stopped looking up at them so much but I think generally most people are nice. Most of them are nice.

I mean you can usually tell but yeah there are probably a few that I haven’t approached but I’m not sure. I can’t really think of anyone significant.

But for instance, when I was a kid, Metallica was probably one of my favourite bands and meeting them, they were really nice and I’ve met a bunch of people that…but I would say that most people are quite nice but yeah, you can probably tell the ones that are probably gonna be a bit…I don’t know, up themselves (laughs).

If you could collaborate with any artist, who would you love to work with the most and why?

It would probably be Icelandic singer Bjork because she is so bizarre and I would have NO idea what it would sound like. Most bands and artists that we really like, probably out of the bands, it wouldn’t sound that much different than we sound like.

But with someone like Bjork, it would be so bizarre that we would have no idea. So yeah. We’ll go with that.

You guys have been on some pretty massive line-ups/festivals over the years. Has it become normal to you yet or does it still feel rather surreal?

It kinda becomes normal after awhile because I don’t know, it’s often the really big tours or the big shows that are less intimidating than the small shows because when you play those huge events, you are so far away from the crowd that you can’t really see individual people. It just becomes a wash of faces.

I’m usually quite good with nerves but even smaller ones intimidate me more but it all sort of becomes normal but every time you get offered a huge show, it still freaks me out a little bit. It’s like, how did we get here?

For instance, we just did some shows with Kings of Leon and that was ridiculous. Like, a band that I grew up listening to – how on earth did we get to play with them? But when you get on stage and you meet them. Like I said, most people are normal people and you just feel pretty comfortable.

I guess, it’s the only thing I know that I can do well. So I never really get that nervous because I know that as long as I’m not wasted, I can probably do a good job.

What’s been some of your favourite festivals that you’ve been on?

Honestly Soundwave. I’m not just saying that. It was so different and weird. There’s a festival in England called Reading/Leeds . That’s my favourite festival to play at. I don’t know why. Maybe that’s the festival that most people that like our band attend or something but we seem to often have quite a crowd so yeah, Reading Festival in England’s my favourite.

What are some of the stranger places that you have played in before?

We played in Norway recently and Norway is kinda strange anyway because Northern Europe is weirder as you get further up. We were on a massive hill that was next to a castle, overlooking a lake and it felt like Games of Thrones or something. It was weird. Really weird.

Where else did we play? We haven’t really been to somewhere like South East Asia or that. I’ve heard about some really strange stuff over there. It’s mainly Europe although, some places in America are really weird.

You take Little Rock Arkansas which is in the middle of nowhere and it’s like…I can’t explain how strange it is. It’s a pretty out there place.

Was there any valuable advice that you had been given at the beginning that you wish that you had listened to at the time? And what advice would you give to someone who was starting out now?

I’ll give you the advice that I was given which was literally never do it for any reason other than music. If you do it for any other reason other than you love it, if you lose sight of that or want to do it because you want to get famous or writing songs for the wrong reasons I think….

Maybe some bands are into that and that’s cool but if you really care about music then do it because of your love for it and not because you want to get famous because you’ll always end up resenting yourself I think.

What are some of the more disgusting things that you have seen at shows?

The more disgusting things? (laughs) Most of the things, I’ve done! Like, throwing up on stage. But yeah, I saw a guy like, get his penis out and start pissing in the middle of the venue and I was like “What the hell are you doing?” I don’t know if he couldn’t make it to the toilet or whatever but that was pretty gross.

I haven’t seen that much stuff when on tour. I’m usually the one being disgusting.

And what are some of the best things that you have seen at a show?

I like it when people really look out for each other. You go to a metal show and they encourage each other to beat each other up and that’s cool, I get it, jump around and whatever but I like when people really look after each other in a communal sense because at the end of the day, that’s what it is.

You’re all there for the same reason and without sounding cheesy, it’s quite a beautiful thing when you see people dancing around and singing to your songs and you’ve brought them all together. I don’t know, it’s amazing. It’s really hard to explain that feeling unless you’ve been there.

I’ve met some of my best mates at gigs…

Yeah, it’s what it’s about.

Do you have any hidden talents that we don’t know about, for example cooking, acting etc?

I can cook pretty well. I don’t see that as particularly impressive. The amount of time that I’ve spent at home being bored I just got sick of eating terrible food and I’m half Italian so I think it comes from that.

Anything else that you would like to add?

Other than the fact that I am really excited to come back to Australia and I really hope that we still have some people that like our music and come and see our shows, I think we’ve covered everything.

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