‘We live in the parameters of the rock genre but remain as free as possible’; An Interview with Dali

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After having opened for big bands like Bellevue Days and Mallory Knox, Southern based band Dali have finally released their first full length EP, VOL.1. We were lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with Matt, Ewan and Pete about all things music, life in quarantine and the future of live shows.

  • How has quarantine been for you guys?

Matt: We’ve been keeping ourselves relatively busy. We did an acoustic version of ‘Close’ from our EP, myself, Ewan and Pete did a cover of ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ by Tears for Fears. We’ve been trying to keep being as musically active as possible. I think the one thing about quarantine that I think we all find a little bit difficult was actually the isolation aspect; obviously us being musicians, you love being quite sociable, and I go from seeing these boys 3 times a week to not for three months. So it’s been difficult, but the fact that we can still make music together is great.

  • How’s it been adapting to making music in isolation?

Ewan: it’s been a big learning curve. Pete and Jack had never recorded anything really before this, me and Matt have some experience in production, but this was the first time Pete and Jack had to record from home, so that was difficult.

Pete: it was tough. When you get kind of thrown into the deep end of everything, you’re almost afraid to ask questions; you shouldn’t be afraid to ask your band mates anything but the amount of times that I’ve called Ewan and been like ‘How do you do this?’ [laughter]it makes you feel a little bit stupid but its definitely been a massive learning curve, and we’ve made some pretty good stuff out of it.

  • What’s the journey to this point been like?

Ewan: It’s cool coming from this EP because this is our first actual body of work that’s more than just one song being released at a time. A lot of other songs are kind of mix and match- so like ‘Sedative’ was kind of on its own, ‘Contraband’ and ‘You’re Not The One’ were fairly similar, but ‘Lungs’ is fairly out there. So this is the first time we had 4 tracks that really felt like it encapsulated where we were at when we were writing and recording it. It was great to actually have a full EP.

  • I’ve gotta say, I adore ‘Wasteland’, that’s such a good song. What was the inspiration behind it?

Matt: Thank you so much! Now I’m at a point where I sort of lampoon it in my head now [laughs]. It’s great, don’t get me wrong; we wrote these songs probably about 6-8 months before the EP was created, so these songs are nearly about a year old to us. So they’re obviously still very relevant, but a song like ‘Wasteland’ is definitely a hidden gem almost in the EP.

Ewan: We weren’t even sure that we wanted to record it, but we played it live at a couple gigs before going into the studio and that was the song that everyone was coming up to us afterwards like ‘yo what the fuck was Wasteland, that was so cool’, and we were like really? You guys dig that?!

Pete: I think ‘Wasteland’ took us by surprise as well. We don’t really tend to write those kind of soft melodic clean ambient songs, we more incorporate parts of that into our music. I think it was the first time we wrote something like that and thought oh this is actually quite good! It’s not really our style. I think the one thing that I like about the EP is that if you put ‘Borrowed Time’ next to ‘Wasteland’ they almost don’t seem like they fit, but then you have the inbetween songs of ‘You’re The One’ and ‘Close’ that almost make that bridge. Because those other two songs have elements of both the start of the EP and the end of it, it kind of makes it feel like its like a journey.

  • Were there any particular musical influences behind VOL. 1?

Matt: I don’t think there’s anything specific I can think of, and that’s not me trying to be different for the sake of being different [laughs]. I genuinely don’t think we actually picked anything in particular and went we want to write like that. Because we’ve tried that out before and it didn’t work for us, we did that with ‘Lungs’ and the difference for me with Lungs and VOL.1 is miles – worlds almost apart. I think the reason why VOL.1 sounds like it does is because we allowed ourselves to obviously be as free as possible, but live in those parameters of the rock genre and remain as free as possible.

Ewan: I feel like we individually for each instrument we took influence, because we all have our idols, even if we tried we couldn’t not take influence from artists that we all individually love. We all come from quite varied musical backgrounds, so our sound becomes it’s own thing; we’re not chasing a specific bands style, but the mixture of metal, blues, indie, post-punk and classic rock influences all comes together in a way that we couldn’t control even if we wanted to. It’s still just Dali.

Matt: Unless it was Radiohead’s Ok Computer! [groans from Pete and Ewan].

Ewan: [Laughing] Matt has a huge crush on the entirety of Radiohead.

  • Going on from that, are there any artists that you’d really like to collaborate with in the future?

Matt: Well I don’t know if you’ve heard of Radiohead [laughter].

Pete: That’s a hard question

Matt: this sounds really egotistical and I promise it’s not meant to, but within Dali, there isn’t anyone I can think of that I would collaborate with. If I was to collaborate with someone it would be someone like Jorja Smith, SZA, very soulful female singers, I’m very lost in that at the moment. I like the idea of throwing yourself out of your comfort zone and into a genre you’re unfamiliar with.

Ewan: on a complete opposite choice to Matt, I’d go full gratuitous metal and I would want to have Sam Carter from Architects do a feature. It would just be so sick. He doesn’t need to sing a verse, just come in and scream on a breakdown. He’s one of the best vocalists in rock history.

  • Do you have a favourite performance/ performance memory?

Pete: There’s a couple. There’s a few gigs that we’ve played that we’ve all come off stage, and two have us have said that was the best gig we’ve ever played, and the other two will shrug it off [laughter]. I think the first gig that we played that I really said ‘that was so much fun’ was probably the boiler room. Obviously supporting Bellevue Days was very surreal for our first show. Goes without saying that the Mallory Knox show was mad. It was a great experience, playing in that environment. That many people, because there isn’t always huge turn outs to shows, but playing to a sold out Joiners was just insane. Other than that, there’s one part in one song that I always look forward to; the breakdown of ‘Bitter’. The last few shows we’ve played, I always see someone make The Face in the breakdown, you know the happy rocker face. That’s just the moment when you think ‘okay. This is going down this is good.’

Ewan: The headlining show for sure. It was fucking mental. We did a headline show at Suburbia that we organised and self-promoted. That was such a special night, that was really cool. So many people turned up, we weren’t even remotely expecting that kind of turn out. And Bellevue Days- Dali played our first ever show supporting them at joiners, and they’re obviously quite a few steps above us on the music scene. Pete just dropped them a message on Instagram, and we were like nah they’re never going to do it. And they were like ‘yeah that sounds sick that would be awesome!’. Having them support us at our biggest show to date after we supported them at our very first show was pretty special. That was really cool.

Matt: One of the parts of that night that really stood out to me is when you look out to see people singing the words back to you. That is for me the first time I’ve seen that and I’ll take that to the grave. It’s so humbling and proving that people actually give a shit about what we’re doing. It’s validation almost. I can’t even describe the feeling. I was trying to sing still but I couldn’t stop smiling.

Pete: It’s a very moving and powerful feeling.

Matt: We were so thankful that people had parted with their hard earned cash to come and spend the evening with us and come and watch us perform. That’s what we do it for as well. It’s not just for us, it’s for the people we share those moments with, and that’s so much more important than just the band itself.

  • So what’s next for you guys?

Matt: We can’t say just yet!

Ewan: We have got tours booked- we were supposed to be going on tour back in April, but obviously that got cancelled. Those dates are being rescheduled for the end of September/beginning of October. But obviously we’re still holding out for that. No one in the music industry knows what live music looks like yet, or when it’s going to happen again.

Matt: It’s a really confusing time to be a musician, but it’s in our nature to be resilient. We will find a way to release new music. There’s obviously things I’d like to speak about but it’s just too early at the moment. We’re going to be going into the studio at some point, and also getting new bodies of work out as soon as possible, but I don’t want to give away date yet.

  • Do you guys miss playing shows?

Matt: Oh my God, you don’t even know!!

Pete: [laughing]that was a trigger question.

Ewan: I think we were like one week into lockdown and I sent a message in to the group chat like ‘Boys I miss shows already’ – and that was March! And now we’re here in June and still no sign of shows. I miss my parents, I miss my dog, but I miss shows more than anything else [laughter].

Pete: It’s that expression. We all crave it. It’s that feeling after you play a show of wow that went great I can go to bed now, I can rest. You let a lot out. When you’re in a band that’s playing regular shows to go from playing regular shows and having a lot planned to then being almost nothing is a massive shock to the system. You just crave it. It’s a bit of a shit time for all the bands out there at the moment.

Ewan: I go to gigs like twice as many as we play, and I miss being in a crowd almost as much as being on stage.

VOL. 1 is available to listen to now on Spotify.

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records editor 2020/21 !! 3rd year film and english student. can be often found arguing about costuming in the avenue cafe or crying into a beefy novel in hartley

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