Deaf Havana are a band that have had their fair share of ups and downs. Behind their incredible rise to success they have experienced a shaking up of members, moments of creative and existential doubt – but then moments of clarity, positivism and a reaffirming experience of why they’re in the game. Signed to a new label, and with a new album, All These Countless Nights lined up for release this month, the band lead by James Veck-Gilodi return with a greater sense of purpose and hope for the new year.
ARTISTdirect caught up with James to discuss the process of the band, their momentum through the chaos, and the new, expansive sound with a more direct vision
We are talking because you are preparing to release All These Countless Nights in January. How is the mood in camp?
The mood is potentially the best it’s ever been! Everyone is ready to go, counting down the days until we can release the record!
Your last album Old Souls was a big success. However, reportedly there was turmoil in the band behind the scenes. How did you deal with the contrast between the personal and public aspects of the creative process?
It was difficult at times because we were all in a strange headspace, we all got really carried away when we’re recording Old Souls and I think we all believed it was be a much bigger record than it was. It brought us back down to earth when we realized a lot of things needed to be changed.
A couple of years ago, you played a few gigs that you thought would be your swan songs, but because of those shows you said you found new inspiration in music. What was it about the gigs you played in 2014 that inspired such a strong shift in your thinking?
It was a number of things really, I realized I wasn’t ready to stop playing music and I realized I really loved having a band behind me as opposed to playing solo. I also wrote 1 or 2 new songs out of the blue, around the same time, and the reaction from the other guys in the band was pretty positive so I think we all knew we weren’t done yet.
Despite your new found inspiration, the tracks so-far released on All These Countless Nights certainly retain a dark side. Why do you still feel the emotional distance between people endures?
They do, I mean I wrote them all over the last 3 or 4 years so there were definitely some dark periods and subjects to write about. I think it’s important to write about things that pull at people’s emotions, all my favorite songs are ones I can fully immerse myself in and totally relate to, It just so happens that they seem to sway more towards the negative side of emotions (Laughs)
Speaking of your last record you said, “It stepped away from that emo-y world; there were a lot more layers to it and the songwriting was much more mature.” When you’re in the process of that kind of evolution do you ever worry that you may leave some fans behind?
It’s always a worry, and of course I’m sure we did alienate some fans with our shift in sound. But ultimately you yourself, as a musician, need to be happy with the music you are playing otherwise you’ll have a lot of happy fans yet a thoroughly miserable band. I think the risk of losing a handful of fans, outweighs the risk of losing the band.
There have been a lot of changes for the band recently, including new management and signing to a new label. How has making internal changes helped the chemistry of the band?
It’s done us the world of good really, everyone around us is very down to earth and positive now. It really rubs off on you when you surround yourself with positive people.
On All These Countless Nights you worked with Adam Noble, who has worked with some pretty big names in the past, including Paul McCartney and Placebo. How did this relationship come about, and what did Adam bring to the album that was unique?
I think we approached him when we heard “Loud Like Love” by Placebo, we just really loved the sound of it. He and I have been friends now for 3 years and we’ve been recording demos and stuff for ages so we’ve become very close and our brains just work in the same way. I’ve never felt more comfortable working with someone than I do when I’m with him.
You supported a hero of yours, Springsteen on stage – can you tell us something about that experience in watching a master work his material for the crowd?
I don’t remember that much because I was just awe struck the entire time. He played the record “Born In the USA” in full so I was almost in tears (Laughs) It’s just inspiring to see someone who has perfected their performance over so many years. The man is a genius.
You are selling out bigger venues, are releasing a new album, and are set to go on a European tour in February, but in a bigger sense what is next for Deaf Havana?
I think mainly, we are just ready to be a real band, we’re all totally focused and on board and we’re ready to step up every aspect of this band. I think releasing an album at the beginning of the year gives us a great platform to start from, especially when we believe so much in these songs.
Over the course your career you’ve have had a fair breadth of experiences, but I was wondering if you could tell us of the most grounding moment that you’ve had so far, a moment that reminds you why you do all this?
I think for me it’s more every time I meet someone who has really been moved or helped by our music, it really hits home why I started writing lyrics in the first place. It’s the most humbling and rewarding thing about being in a band.