INTERVIEW: Deaf Havana

On Monday night, Brit-rock six-piece Deaf Havana played a show at Falmouth’s Princess Pavilions – the band’s first visit to Cornwall since the Monster Energy Music party in Newquay back in 2012.

Anyone that has ever met me could tell you how much love I have for this band, and I was lucky enough to grab a quick interview with Matthew and Tom an hour or two before the show.

Here, the band come clean about the management issues they’ve had over the past year, their reasons for cancelling their Europe tour and give us another rule or two for the Deaf Havana drinking game. Without further ado…


Matt and Tom live on stage at Falmouth’s Princess Pavilions – Photo by Kirsteen Gilbody

So, it’s the second night of the tour – how was last night?

Matthew: “Absolutely bloody brilliant.”

Tom: “Yeah, really good. We’ve been quite quiet recently and we’ve had some stuff happening. But we did that show and we all just came off the stage like…”

Matthew: “Yeah, we all had a really good time together, especially with six bloody people. It’s rare that you find a show where everyone has an absolutely great time, and last night was one of those. We just loved it.”

Tom: “And I think that the reaction we got was really good as well.”

What are you expecting tonight?

Tom: “We don’t know.” [laughs]

Matthew: “Dunno – we’ve never been to Falmouth.”

Tom: “But we’ve heard good things about Falmouth, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Over the past year or two, you’ve been known to go for small-name bands as support, such as Big Sixes and The People the Poet – what made you go for bigger names this time ‘round?

Tom: “We’re really good friends with Verses, we’ve known them for years, and when we heard Lonely the Brave’s album, we really liked it so, that’s why we chose them.”

Except for a few shows here and there, we haven’t heard much from you guys since the tour back in April. What’s been happening?

Tom: [laughs] “What hasn’t been happening? Um… we fired our manager, which didn’t go down too well… and a lot of things like that have been happening where it’s left us broke.”

Matthew: “Yeah, I mean most of us have had to get another job.”

Tom: “We’re also at the end of an album cycle, so we can’t really do much more promotion for it so we’re kind of in the middle of writing the next one. But because of everything that’s happened, it’s taking far too long.”

Matthew: “Until last night, none of us have been in a particularly good place mentally. We’ve all been focusing on being able to pay rent and everything else, so much that everything else just becomes difficult.”

Tom: “Yeah, I think we’re on track now, especially after last night. But after this tour, that’ll be it for a while, we’ll go quiet again but we’ll be working on an album. And then we’ll come back and do it properly this time.”

Deaf Havana's most recent album release - Old Souls

Deaf Havana’s most recent album release – Old Souls

Would you say that everything that has happened has been a set-back for you, or would you consider it a good thing in the sense that it’s forced you to step up?

Matthew: “It will be for us… Really, it will be a good thing but it has been a set back because we haven’t been able to do certain things, we haven’t been able to do certain tours as well, because we haven’t had money that we thought we had, because we were told that we had it… So obviously it was a set-back, but it is very good for us in the long run because now we’re back on track. And the other thing is, we’re now really switched on about it. We’ve always sort of thought that because we write and play music, we shouldn’t have to understand that side of the business because that’s what you employ people for. But obviously, what we’ve realised this year is that we probably should.” [laughs]

In the past year or so, we’ve seen some of you defending the choices you’ve made as a band and in your personal lives – do you think you’ll ever get used to having such a big fan base that know so much about you?

Tom: “No, never. I feel quite good about it because I feel like people need to know. A lot of people don’t understand that there’s way more to it than just getting on stage and playing for half an hour. People try and rip people off in the music industry more than most industries.”

Matthew: “It’s like when we had to cancel the tour that we had scheduled in Europe because we got told certain things that obviously were complete lies. But I saw someone’s comment saying ‘oh, so you can’t afford to the tour around Europe but you can afford to do this tour’ that we’re doing now. And it’s like, look at the logistics of it. Obviously, I understand the frustrations and everything, but…”

Tom: “With that one, we were told that there was certain money coming in from somewhere and that it was funded, and then when we fired Jamie (Osman, ex-manager) and spoke to the people direct that were meant to be funding it, they were like ‘what are you on about?’ So that’s what happened with that one. I don’t know… I kind of like people knowing, because they should really.”

Matthew: “One of the main things I was seeing people say is that why they like it is because it’s quite genuine. And it is open, it’s very frank – James’ words are very frank, and things like that. We are frank, and we will talk.

Tom: “Stop saying frank.” [laughs]

How are you all feeling about the James Veck-Gilodi side project?

Matthew: “Good! I mean, as his brother I know that this is something he’s been wanting to do for about five years.”

Tom: “We’ve spoken about it before. As we’ve been doing stuff and everyone’s gone to find proper jobs, he hasn’t and he’s said, ‘yeah I’m gonna do this’. Which is fair enough, but everything’s completely focused on Havana right now. Then he’s got that tour in January, then then after that it’s full on doing this. He will carry on doing this, and he should because it’s what he wants to do – and you should never stop someone doing what they want to do – but at certain times you need to certain things. We’ll work it out, as we always have done.”

Max Britton & James Veck-Gilodi go on tour under the name 'James Veck-Gilodi' in January

Max Britton & James Veck-Gilodi go on tour under the name ‘James Veck-Gilodi’ in January

What do you have to say to fans who think you’re a year or two away from splitting?

Tom: “Piss off.”

Matthew: [laughs] “No, don’t worry about it that’s what I would say.”

Tom: “No, if we do split up in two years, it won’t be because of the James Veck-Gilodi side project, it’ll be because we get this new team together and think ‘let’s go!’ and then we get fucked again, that’ll be the reason. [laughs] But no, it should be good, especially now that we’re more switched on. You can never predict the future, so whatever happens happens. But we’re all fully committed to making this the priority at the moment.”

So what’s up next for Deaf Havana in 2015?

Matthew: “Writing and recording the new album. That’s what we’re gonna need to do.”

Tom: “Get a new management, we’ve just sorted out a new agent and a new accountant. Everything’s in place now, so it’s ready to go once the songs are there, so it’s just writing and recording.”

Matthew: “And we have got a few.”

Tom: “And they’re bloody good.” [laughs]

We’ve been hearing new songs like ‘Trigger’ and stuff like that – can we expect to hear them on the album?

Both: “Yes.”

(‘Trigger’ was supposed to be released back in May, but due to management issues, it wasn’t recorded. Check out a live recording of the song here.)

Great! Last question – have you guys heard of the Deaf Havana drinking game and if so, what do you think of it?

Tom: “Yes, the Friends Like These one. It’s brilliant.”

Matthew: “What is it?

Tom: “Every time they say ‘you’ll never know’ you have to do a shot. There was one bloke that did it, and I think he drank a bottle of gin in song time.”

Okay, so since you know what it is, could you challenge fans by adding a new rule to the game?

Matthew: “Do it upside down.”

Tom: “So every time they say ‘you’ll never know’ you have to do a shot? Every time they say ‘friends like these’ you have to take off an item of clothing. If you’re the right age.” [laughs]

Matthew: “I don’t know – a shot of ketchup. I don’t know. That one, yours twice.”

Tickets are still available for Blackburn and Middlesbrough via Ticketmaster.

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