“Matthew is unbelievable at making fart noises with his armpit”: An interview with Lee Wilson of Deaf Havana

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With rock band Deaf Havana finally returning to the music scene with their upcoming album All These Countless Nights, out January 27th, I chatted to bassist Lee Wilson about their new sense of life, positivity and their excitement to tour their album.

What was the thought process behind your new album?

There wasn’t really any thought process. It was more about James [Veck-Gilodi, lead singer] putting his heart on paper. We’ve been recording it over the last three years so its been a long time coming. James has always been very pessimistic, so now that he’s in a new relationship and starting to see everything in a different light, I guess he’s starting to try and fight his demons and see things in a positive way.

Does the album present a new direction for the band?

I wouldn’t say it’s a new direction. It definitely has elements of Fools and Worthless Liars and some of Old Souls but it is a more refreshing sound. Old Souls was very busy, there were a lot of strings, but this album is stripped back. Most of it was recorded live.

What’s your favourite track off the album and why?

That is a hard question! I’m going to go with ‘Like A Ghost’ because we did pre-production a week before, and we weren’t entirely sure whether it was going to make the album or not. We weren’t sure how it was going to turn out until we recorded it in the studio. When we went back to listen to it and heard it for the first time it was unbelievable and we knew it was going to make the album.

Is there any specific reasoning behind the album title?

Not really, it’s a line from one of the songs. You’ll have to ask James because he came up with it.

I was reading that at Reading & Leeds in 2014 you were contemplating ending the band. What has changed since then to result in the band’s new lease of life?

I don’t think any of our heads were in the right place back then. Two years ago, we went through loads of problems with our management and we had problems with everything. We were told the album was going to be amazing and nothing actually worked out. I think we have more of an input now in all aspects. Our new management allow us to approach them and have the final say whereas before we would take the backseat and let everyone else sort our problems out for us. Now we take the reins.

You guys are heading out on a tour in February with your new album; which venue are you the most excited for and why?

All of them! It’s just going to be nice playing some new songs and actually playing again. It has been so long since we’ve actually done a tour, it’ll be nice to do some English shows.

Will you be adding any more dates to that tour or coming to any festivals in Summer?

I think we’ll be coming to some smaller festivals in the Summer. We’ll try and spread ourselves out a little bit and steer clear of the bigger festivals. It’ll hopefully be a busy Summer.

Do you prefer playing festivals or headline shows?

 I think all of us prefer playing festivals, depending on what festival it is. If we’re playing at midday, it’s an excuse for everyone to get drunk! If we’re playing in the evening it normally stops us. It’s probably better for James because he has to look after his voice.

Do the rest of the band, besides James, get involved in writing the songs?

It’s more of James’ forte. Basically, James writes the songs and sends them over to us and we put our own spin on them. When we get to rehearsals we might change the chorus a little bit or something but it is mainly James who writes all the songs.

I saw that you guys opened for Bruce Springsteen, how was that as an experience? Was it one of the highpoints of your career?

It was amazing! It was unbelievable, Matthew and Tom actually got to meet him [Springsteen] backstage. It was definitely one of our career highpoints. I’d do a world tour with him!

Do you have any other memorable moments from your career?

We actually played with Placebo a couple of months back which was one of my childhood dreams. I never thought I’d be doing that. And Jimmy Eat World as well. They were my favourite band when I was younger. That was quite a surreal experience.

Are you guys all involved in the creative process of making music videos or do you get a director in who does it all for you?

We never used to have an input but in the last three videos we all put our heads together and came up with the ideas. It’s actually quite hard to find a director who shares the same vision as you so when we found GroovyChaos, AJ [director]had exactly the same direction and thoughts as us, it was perfect. We had the best time making the videos because he understood what we wanted.

Do you have a pre-show routine?

We normally bounce around the room to something ridiculous like Calvin Harris. There’s normally a lot of big drink involved, but we’re going to try and cut down on that a little bit and take it more seriously.

Are there any artists that you’d like to collaborate with?

I would love nothing more than to do a song with Phil Collins! He’s playing in London soon and the tickets are going for £700 and I’m dying to go but can’t afford it! I might like to work with The Weeknd, that would be interesting. Try and cut into the pop charts.

So is getting into the charts a big part of it for you as a band or is it more about just making music?

It’s more about making music. We don’t really care about where we come in the charts. As long as we can afford to live it doesn’t really matter. Unfortunately, as you grow up you have to pay the bills!

What is your favourite part about touring and what part is the most difficult?

The difficult part is sleeping. When we’re all together we find it very hard not to drink and make noise and it always gets to 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning and we realise we should probably sleep. I think playing is the easiest part for me. Probably the worst part for James, but it’s the best part for me!

What cities would you like to tour?

I’d love to go back to Australia again; Melbourne, Sydney. Everyone is so friendly, mainly because of the weather. I’d like to go to every city but obviously space it out so we wouldn’t die by the end of the tour!

What’s the most memorable story from touring?

There aren’t any I should share with you! I really shouldn’t, I don’t want to scar anyone- it would make for a good read though!

Do you enjoy seeing your fans singing and getting involved in your live shows?

It’s always a highlight. It’s nice meeting the fans afterwards too but when I’m on the stage I’m in my zone so I don’t really think about what everyone else is thinking or what the crowd is doing. I’m just enjoying playing music.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received from a fan?

A fan bought me a box of peanut butter KitKats once. I literally couldn’t believe it, that was probably the best gift I’ve ever had.

Do any of you have any secret talents?

Matthew is unbelievable at making fart noises with his armpit! He can sit there for half an hour and do it for you. Come to the show and come back and I’ll get Matthew to do it for you.

All These Countless Nights is out on January 27th.

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Third year History & Archaeology student with an obsession for music, a passion for food and possessor of a very excitable personality.

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