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February 2021

Deaf Havana: "If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, of course you’re not going to feel excited about music"

Deaf Havana ended their last album at rock bottom. Now they're back, and aiming for the stars.
Published: 11:03 am, January 31, 2017
Deaf Havana: "If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, of course you’re not going to feel excited about music"
James Veck-Gilodi still has a lot of stupid goals for his band. His words. He'd like Deaf Havana to headline Brixton Academy, and armed with fourth album ‘All These Countless Nights' full of renewed vigour and a brand new view of the world; you wouldn't bet against them. But perhaps more importantly, "This sounds bad because you shouldn't do it for money, but if we can make a decent living out of it, it allows us to continue being a band which is the only thing we want to do. If we can achieve that, then we can keep making music, which is all I want to do; keep making music." In a world of stupid goals and dizzying heights, earning money from something you pour your entire being into seems the most reasonable request imaginable. "Some people get a bit funny when you say stuff like that. You shouldn't do it for money, yeah but I need to eat and pay my rent." Say what you like but Deaf Havana definitely give a shit about their band, "or I would have done something else a long time ago," explains James.

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Makes sense, but for a little while, they didn't care. By the end of 2014, they were exhausted with the whole thing and their passion for Deaf Havana, and each other, had waned. "There was a point where it seemed that everything we tried to do didn't work and we got beat down at every opportunity. I was looking at videos of myself playing years ago when we first started, and I was so energetic and looked like I cared, and then in recent ones I looked a bit miserable and that's why I wrote ‘Like A Ghost'." It's a song that puts its hands up and admits that the passion was gone - but "It's definitely back now." One of the first songs written for the record, it came at a time where the love "had been beaten out of me somewhat, and I was feeling sorry for myself which is self-indulgent, so I shouldn't have done that. It's like anything, though, if you're sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, of course you're not going to feel excited about music, of course the passion is going to go. As soon as you get off your arse and start doing something, the passion comes back. Mine was self-inflicted somewhat just because I would blame it on other people coming in and beating us down and not giving us the opportunities we deserved or whatever, but it was really just me being too lazy. I was doing the minimal amount of work I could at one point and that was my own fault, I think."

It's wrong the band are out to make right with ‘All These Countless Nights'. Out to make the most of every opportunity and care like never before, it's one of many mistakes the band, and James, want to make up for. From the break of ‘Trigger' through the unease of ‘England' and out until the swinging mirror of ‘St. Pauls' which is a simple song about dramatic changes, Deaf Havana bare it all. "It was really strange ‘cause we've been playing together since we were out of school. It was a strange time," reflects James of their time apart. "Now everything is much better, we're better friends than we've ever been and the dynamic is weirdly close, I think we needed that time apart. We were just getting on each other's nerves too much, we would have ended up drilling each other into the ground, We needed that time away. I'm happier than I've ever been, it's really bizarre. I'm glad it happened, had we not gone through it I don't think we would have written this record and I don't think we would be so close together now."

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The starting point for ‘All These Countless Nights' was "a culmination of a lot of different things. The first song I wrote, ‘Cassiopia', isn't even on the album. That was the song that made me realise I needed to keep going. It shaped a new sound but the record sounds different to that." Across four albums (though this version of Deaf Havana started properly with 2011's ‘Fools and Worthless Liars') the band have been impossible to pigeonhole. Coming up with the likes of Lower Than Atlantis, Young Guns and Mallory Knox but having more in common with the American folk of The Gaslight Anthem or Bruce Springsteen, Deaf Havana have always been the black sheep. They've never followed a trend, and every record has come with its own surprises. This time around, it's no different. "You can really hear it when bands try and sound a certain way. We just write what we write. I find it boring when bands release the same album over and over again, and I've always liked that we don't do that. I do like the fact that people, even after hearing three or four songs off the record, people still don't know what to expect from it. There will still be things on this record that will surprise them."

With a handful of regrets laid to rest on record and the desire to gift Deaf Havana with the drive it deserves, this is a band with no end in sight. Brixton, a career and the future, whatever is in store for the band (and based on previous experience, it’s a lot) they’re “so ready to go,” so bring it on.
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Deaf Havana’s album ‘All These Countless Nights’ is out now.

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