A few words with… Deaf Havana

By Ashleigh Goodall & Carys Roberts

Palatinate Music chatted to Matthew Veck-Gilodi and Tom Ogden — the lead guitarist and the drummer of Norfolk-based alternative rock group Deaf Havana — ahead of their show at Northumbria Institute on 22nd November.

Hey guys, lovely to meet you! First of all, how’s the year been for you? What’s the highlight been so far?

M: Erm… Actually, getting  [All These Countless Nights] out.

T: That is up there, but for me, it was being asked to support Kings of Leon.

M: Oh shit, I completely forget that happened!

Yeah, I saw that! That’s pretty big!

T: Yeah! They are my favourite band in the world.

M: Yeah. Every press thing we did before we released All These Countless Nights, people would always say “if you could have your dream line-up, who would you support?” and all of us would always say “Kings of Leon”, and to get that in was… mental.

T: I remember getting the email and I was like, “is that real?!”

I can imagine, that is incredible! So you’ve recently released a re-worked version of ‘All These Countless Nights’ – what was the idea behind why you wanted to do that?

M: It was basically just to explore, like, different genres and different ways of making our songs because… there’s a certain freedom you can get when you re-release a record, because people already know the songs, and so you get more of a blank canvas I guess. Like, we couldn’t necessarily have some of the versions of songs on the re-worked version on the standard version [of ATCN] I thought. So, it’s just an interesting, creative process to be able to do that. And people seem to like it, so!

T: I think it’s cool to, kind of, give out new material, and give people something new to listen to, especially when we’ve got a tour coming up and we’ve got to promote the tour and then we’ve got a record to go with it, so it just, kind of, merges into one nice little package… I guess!

So, I’ve seen you guys live a few times, and I get the impression that you don’t really like playing songs from your first album ‘Meet Me Halfway, At Least’… why is that?

T: It was a different band… we should have changed the name, to be honest. It’s a completely different band now. We’ve only got three of the same members that were on that record, the vocalist [Ryan Mellor] is obviously no longer with us. If we were to play it live, it wouldn’t sound like [the original record].

M: We’ve tried it as well, playing a few songs, and no-one seems to care about them as much as when we play new songs. We try to do it to be like, “here you go, have a listen”, and it just doesn’t go down the same. But I think a lot of that is to do with the lyrics, we’re a very lyrically based band, that’s the area I know most people connect to our music on, and the lyrics to those songs… are fucking terrible.

T: Yeah, James [Veck-Gilodi, the current vocalist] didn’t write the lyrics. I don’t understand what half of them mean. There’s one in ‘Nicotine and Alcohol Saved My Life’ about being “bound in cages with razors” or something… what?! What is this, the soundtrack to Saw?!

You’ve been a band for 12 years now, and I know you’ve had quite a lot of financial and personal problems as a band – how did you overcome that? What stopped you from just giving up?

T: Because we love music, I think.

M: Yeah, it’s because we actually do it for a reason, we don’t do it to, kind of, get places. We know a lot of people in bands who do just write and play music to get on the radio and on big events, instead of writing it just because they love music which is the reason you should be doing it in the first place. So, it’s a mixture of that, and James actually sent a song over that I listened to and thought it was fucking incredible. ‘Cassiopeia’ is what it ended up being. So yeah, we were just like “let’s just knock it on the head, let’s just not bother”, and then I heard that and I was like “this is amazing, we’ve got to do it.”

T: We were in a bit of a rut, and we just thought, let’s just give it one more go. What’s the worst that can happen, it can flop, and we can just go “oh, well, we tried.” So we all just got together and agreed that we would do just one more record and if it didn’t go how we wanted it to go then we probably wouldn’t do another one… but it has gone the way we wanted it to go! It’s been the best year of the band’s career so far, we’ve done so much stuff that I never thought we’d even do – we opened for Aerosmith in Florence, you couldn’t even see the back of the crowd it was like, what… 200,000? It was mental, we’ve never ever played a gig that big before.

That’s insane! So, on that note, what’s the weirdest thing a fan’s ever done… do you get a lot of weird attention?

T: This wasn’t really a ‘fan’, but… we were in Leeds the other day, and we were sound checking, and this kid comes over…

M: …With a guitar on his back…

T: …And he goes, “Hi, I’m in a band”…

M: ….No, he goes, “do you know anyone that wants to start a band?”

T: Yeah, and then he goes, I’ve got this song, it’s called ‘I’ve Been Fucking Stabbed’, and then he starts screaming…


T: And then our sound guy Phil was like “security, he’s not supposed to be here!”

M: Yeah, it went from 0 to 100 like that! *clicks fingers*

T: It shit me up a bit, cause I was like, he could have had a gun in his bag or something! It was weird.

M: Tell you what though, “I’ve Been Fucking Stabbed” is a great song though!

So, what can we expect from Deaf Havana in the future?

T: Well, we’re starting to work on a new record, so there will be a new record out… I don’t know how long it will take, but it won’t take four years [like the previous album]!

M: No! We’re hoping to get something out next year.

T: But, this is it, really… after this tour, that’s it for… however long it takes for us to do the next record. So, nothing, really!

M: I’ll tell you what you can expect, some rock ‘n’ bloody roll!

T: [Laughs]… and hopefully some festival appearances in the summer! And then hopefully start touring again at the end of next year.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, and good luck for the show tonight!

T&M: Thank you!

Photograph: Chuff Media

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