Interview - Deaf Havana
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It’s fitting that the first track on Norfolk rock band Deaf Havana’s new album is entitled ‘Ashes, Ashes’. There’s something in this image of death that perfectly mirrors what they’ve achieved with All These Countless Nights – not only a reminder of mortality that seems to ground the group and makes the music a lot more down to earth, but also a meteoric rising. For many fans, the release of Old Souls back in 2013 looked like it would be the the last release from the group who’ve been plagued by complications and tensions that saw lead guitarist Chris Pennells drop out in 2015. From the ashes of this fire has emerged a bright and burning Deaf Havana with a new lease of life. Drummer Tom Ogden explained the work that went into the new album, and this new chapter in the band’s obvious future. “I really really want people to like it”, he tells me as we discuss the new album’s immediate release. “If they don’t, I’ll be upset I think”, he jokes, his slight laugh not quite masking the obvious anxiety he felt about the reception All These Countless Nights would get. He needn’t have worried - the album charted immediately at 5 on the UK Album chart. Prior to this, Old Souls had only managed to get to 9 and 2011’s Fools and Worthless Liars, the album that arguably sparked the group into the elite rock channels within the UK, managed a measly 49. It’s an anxiety that makes perfect sense when you consider where Deaf Havana are at currently. The group met when they were in college, way back in 2005. Since then, the last twelve years have seen boys turn to men, and the group lost their way over the last few years. “We didn’t really want to do the band anymore”, Tom says, his tone somber. “We all went our separate ways for a bit”. For fans, this break seemed inevitable. Old Souls was good, but failed to capture what makes Deaf Havana so unique, the arena rock with heart and genuine emotion at its core. Like the band, the album seemed a bit lost. There’s an irony when listening back now to lyrics such as 'Belief is getting harder to find, cause all I know is I’m wasting my time'. What changed? How did they find each other again? “It was kinda like when something is taken away from you you realise how much you miss it.” Tom explains, “we didn’t want to do it [be in the band] anymore, but as soon as we stopped doing it we missed it.” It was a slow process falling back into the swing of things, it seems. “We wrote a few songs together, James [lead vocals] wrote a few songs, so we just said ‘yeah, let’s give it a go again’.” This rebirth saw the band part ways with old management, and find a new label. The break has managed to rejuvenate the band in a way it certainly doesn’t seem Tom thought was possible. “For Old Souls we went in with a few songs and finished off in the studio, so it was a bit rushed. We had 12 songs for the album and no more. We just recorded them”. There’s a definite note of incredulity as he compares this process to that of putting All These Countless Nights together. “We had 30, 35 songs to choose from!” It feels like this determination is what fuelled them to create All These Countless Things in the first place. Tom links this to the break of the band; “We said if we’re gonna do it again, we’ll do it properly, we won’t do it half arsed like last time.” The boys spent two weeks in a small Kings Cross Studio working out the kinks of the album, carefully choosing songs and putting together the album of their careers so far.
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