Deaf Havana tour top 10 album Rituals with a Portsmouth show at The Pyramids Centre
Deaf Havana’s 2017 album All These Countless Nights came out of a hugely turbulent period for the band.
Dropped by a major label, in debt, and wondering if the band had a future, it was the fans’ response that played a large part in their decision to continue.
And the Norfolk-based rockers were rewarded with their highest charting album.
So for new album Rituals they have again taken a risk by shaking up their sound and embracing their poppier side.
The album had its genesis in frontman James Veck-Gilodi and his producer-friend Phil Gornell shacking up in the studio to lay down a few demos.
‘I get bored quite easily, so I try and switch things up,’ says James. ‘But mainly, I went up north to record what I thought would be some demos with my friend Phil. I didn’t go up there with any intention to make a record – we were just trying to start writing and record some demos and then later we’d go and record it with someone else, but I think it was about halfway through we were going, actually this is pretty good, why don’t we actually record the album now?
‘But what we didn’t do was go: “Right, now we have to record a pop album”. That’s what naturally came out.’
How did he feel when it came to showing his bandmates what he’d been up to?
‘We weren’t exactly scared, but we were a bit dubious. When we were first writing and recording them we didn’t even know if we would necessarily use them for Deaf Havana – we were just writing songs.
‘We’d been recording for about a month until we had the courage to show the other guys. I think at first they were kind of scared and didn’t really understand what we were doing, but they got used to it and came on-board quite quickly. I think it was a bit of a shock at first!’
James’s brother Matt plays guitars in the band, and he was initially most sceptical.
‘Out of all of us, he’s probably the one who likes pop music the least, but now he loves it and thinks it‘s the best album we’ve got.
‘Because I was there for the whole process, I saw how the songs grew. For them, the last thing they heard was us playing All These Countless Nights, and then a couple of months later they heard these pop songs. I didn’t really realise the drastic shift until I showed them.’
And most of their fans seem to have embraced the change – Rituals was their third consecutive album to crack the top 10.
‘Yeah, I was really concerned about they would receive it – I still am. Luckily most people did like it but there have been a few fans who’ve stopped listening to us, I was really nervous about that.’
The band have certainly not been afraid to embrace different sounds – from the full-throated screaming of their early material to now.
‘It is quite a drastic change,’ admits James, ‘but it is quite a long time and our tastes have changed massively in those years, so it is a kind of natural progression. Some bands do stay the same, but we obviously haven’t.’
Redemption is also a theme which looms large on this album.
‘I’ve only ever written one song about this kind of thing before, (Countless Nights track) L.O.V.E. I think I just had a lot of guilt and bad feelings about bad things I’ve done over the years, maybe I’ve just grown up and decided I wanted to share it, but it was quite a weird experience.
‘I don’t even remember writing a lot of them – it was cool though.’
Rituals is their second album with So Records. Are they happier now than in the major label days?
‘Definitely. When we first signed to BMG, there were two main people who were interested in us, but then they left, and we were left in a pool of much bigger bands and they didn’t care about us, we got forgotten.
‘It’s very different now, we get really looked after and there’s a lot of care goes into it, rather than us just being another band on a roster that no-one cares about.’
James is already looking to the next album – he was due to go into the studio the day after talking with The Guide.
‘I have no idea how it will come out, I think it will have elements of some of the things I learned making this - I learned how to actually produce and record music – I will take some of the electronic elements across.
‘But I didn’t think it will be another “pop” record, but I haven’t started writing it yet. It might be a bit rockier again, but I don’t know – I never expected this record to end up sounding the way it did. I really don’t know what’s going to happen.’
The Pyramids Centre, Southsea
Saturday, March 16