Interview With Deaf Havana - 28th May 2011
Photo Of Deaf Havana © Copyright Deaf HavanaBen caught up with Deaf Havana before they took to the stage at Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds to talk about their new line up and much more.

We’re here at Slam Dunk 2011, how are you enjoying the day so far?
Tom Ogden (Drums): Amazing, it’s one of my favourite festivals.

Chris Pennells (Guitar): Yeah, we got here pretty early didn’t we?

Tom: Yeah, we slept in our van slash bus whatever it is and James woke up at eight this morning needing a poo…

Chris: So we had to come here! I think we were the only band on site for like, two hours. We’re all just dreadfully hungover today too.

Tom: We went to a pre-party last night, we had a good time.

Chris: It’s always good to be at Slam Dunk, last year was literally amazing.

People have unofficially nicknamed it “Slam Drunk”, are you going to be joining in the festivities?
Chris: Definitely! The after party is legendary!

Tom: You play a good show and then the party is unbelievable. Everything about Slam Dunk is amazing.

Chris: The good thing about Slam Dunk is that every band knows each other, some of the bands we’ve seen around today, it’s the first time we’ve seen them since the last Slam Dunk. It’s a really good chance to catch up with old friends and…get leathered!

You were on the Kerrang! stage last year, but this year you’re on the Honour Over Glory stage, that’s a massive step up…
Tom: I know, it’s mental. I’m so chuffed to bits about it, it seems like in a year we’ve come really far.

Chris: Last year it felt almost like a showcase, whereas this year it feels like we’re the main support to We Are The Ocean. They’ve done Slam Dunk for like five years in a row now, it must be great for them to finally have a stage of their own almost. It’s really good to be doing it with them.

Tom: All of this has come without a release!

Chris: Yeah, we haven’t released a single in well over six months, that video we put up, it’s not even a single, we just felt like we needed to show what we’ve been doing.

Is there a tentative release date for the album?
Chris: We’re thinking October/November. We’re going to be doing singles and stuff over the Summer though, we want to do about two or three singles before the album’s released. Kids will hear about six new tracks before the album’s out.

Do you think that people are more interested in singles now rather than a full length record?
Chris: No, I don’t think so. I think kids want and album more, but I don’t think the album would get the right attention if we were to release it now rather than later in the year.

Tom: We’ve fully started the process now, and we’re going to have new material coming out soon. We’ve finally jumped that barrier of Ryan leaving the band.

You released the video for ‘The World or Nothing’, would you say that this is a good representative of what the record is going to sound like?
Chris: Very!

Tom: Yeah, it’s got a bit of everything in there. This is what also baffles me, it’s not a weak song, but it’s nowhere near anything else that we’ve written.

Chris: We’ve already mapped out what the singles are going to be, we’ve got five or six tracks that we want as singles and we’re going to whittle that down to about four probably. ‘The World or Nothing’ was just a track that we thought was a good song, it’s not weak, it’s not a single, but it’s a really good representation of what we’ve been doing recently. We played it on the Feeder tour and the Underoath tour as well, so kids that went to those shows have already heard it.

Will you have the definitive say over what singles will get released, or is that out of your hands?
Tom: We’ve done pretty much everything by ourselves on this album, we’ve fought really hard to keep it that way.

Chris: We’ve always been a band that is very hands on with our stuff.

Tom: I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have help obviously…

Chris: Yeah, we’ve got a great team behind us, Jamie our manager, Becky our agent and Mark and Hayley that are doing our press at the moment, but we still have a very big say in what goes on.

I think it’s fair to say that is a different direction from previous Deaf Havana stuff, would this have happened regardless of whether Ryan had left or not?
Tom: I don’t really know, we’ve never been asked that question before.

Chris: We did write a couple of songs for the second album with Ryan and it was still more rocky.

Tom: Yeah, it was still kind of in this direction, but it had extra vocals on it, obviously. It’s hard to say, we’ve just kind of adapted. We just sat down and asked ourselves what we wanted to do, and we just wanted to release an album that will blow people’s minds, we want people to listen to it and think, ‘holy shit!’. Lyrically, it’s great and musically, well, it’s the first time I’ve been happy with my playing on it. I love everything about it.

Chris: It’s really great playing the songs live, as a band I don’t think we’ve ever felt as happy with anything as the way it is now.

How did you find adapting to life as a four piece?
Tom: It was hard at first.

Chris: For the last year that Ryan was in the band he was very detached. It was very obvious that something was wrong, even before he left. But, fair play to him, he left for his own personal reasons and he’s happy the way he is at the moment. We still speak to him, so it’s not like there’s a massive divide or anything. The four of us are just getting on with things, we’re really enjoying being in the band.

Tom: It’s taken a long time, but now we’ve gelled together and everyone’s comfortable. At first James hated being a frontman, but now he likes it.

Have you had any feedback from Ryan regarding the new material?
Chris: When we put out the last two videos, he tweeted us saying well done and that he was proud of us. He was meant to come to the Manchester Underoath show, but he couldn’t get up. But he’s going to pop along to a show in July and see what it’s all about.

I imagine that you’ve got quite a lot of friends here today, are there any bands that you’re looking forward to seeing in particular?
Tom: For me, personally, it’s The Starting Line. They are literally my favourite band, so I can’t wait to see them.

Chris: It was really good to see The Dangerous Summer earlier, they’re fucking great.

Tom: Their drummer is a machine, I don’t know how he does it!

Chris: Other than that, Francesqa are playing, Lower Than Atlantis as well, Dance Gavin Dance – it’s good to see Jonny kicking around!

There are a lot of bands flying the flag for British rock here today…
Chris: Yeah, it’s a really good time to be a British band. In fact, the past two years have been fucking great.

Tom: I think British rock music is really starting to kick through, and if it keeps going the way it has been doing then it’s hopefully going to be all about us Brits again. It was always Oasis and Arctic Monkeys and stuff wasn’t it?

Chris: It’s really good, it’s almost like it’s us, We Are The Ocean and Lower Than Atlantis pushing forward together and growing.

Tom: English people definitely have the best music – all the best bands come from England!

You’re also going to be playing Download, how are you feeling about this?
Chris: We’re really excited. We’re playing underneath our hero Frank Turner.

Tom: I’ve been for the past two years as a punter, but to play it is pretty cool. It’s a legendary festival.

Chris: Yeah, I started going when I was seventeen. There’s a great feel about it, it’s a great showcase, just like Sonisphere is as well. I’ve been as both a punter and working, and I still think that Download is better, the backstage area is a lot more fun than other festivals.

Tom: We usually do all our press in one big chunk and then we play and enjoy the festival.

Finally, what does the rest of the year hold in store for Deaf Havana?
Tom: We’ve been offered some tours for the end of the year and then we’re going to put our album out…

Chris: We’ll probably do a headline tour right at the end of the year or the beginning of next year. We’re really excited to start a new album cycle. Once the album drops we’re going to be busy as fuck!

Tom: We’re going to start writing the next one pretty pronto too, I’d like to get it out in February 2013.

Chris: It’s been a very long time between the first record and the next hasn’t it?

Tom: Yeah, but we had to spend some time kind of redeveloping ourselves, hopefully it wont be as long next time!

Interview by Ben Connell
 Band Members

James Veck-Gilodi
Lee Wilson
Tom Ogden
Chris Pennells
 Latest Releases
Deaf Havana - Meet Me Halway, At Least
Release Date - 2009

1. This Town Is Ours
2. Friends Like These
3. 3 Cheers For The Easy Life(Featuring Gustav Wood of Young Guns)
4. Nicotine And Alcohol Saved My Life
5. Another Day In This House
6. Waves
7. Ice Doesn't Help The Uncoordinated
8. You Are Beautiful
9. Right Now, Im Anyone's
10. I Guess I'll Be Leaving Soon
11. In Desperate Need Of Adventure
 Band Related Links
Deaf Havana Myspace