In The Middle with Deaf Havana

It’s been a wonderful whirlwind of a year for Deaf Havana, following the release of their long-awaited 4th album All These Countless Nights. Coming to the end of the album cycle, music wirter Sophia Simon-Bashall sits down with frontman James and guitarist Matthew for a catch up…

In the midst of a 29-day tour, the longest the band have been on in years, both of the Veck-Gilodi brothers are remarkably cheerful. “It’s been a laugh, so far” says James, grinning, “and it’s been a really great year.” Following the release of their 3rd album, Old Souls, the head space surrounding Deaf Havana was not at all a positive one, and for a long time it didn’t seem like what’s happened this year was possible. “That was such a dark time, we got kind of destructive” explains Matthew. “Every show we did was just to pay off debt, so it was hard to feel the love for [the music].” The times where they did nothing weren’t much better, by the sounds of it. “It was fucking miserable” James shakes his head in a way which suggests that’s an understatement, and that details are not something anyone needs to hear. “That’s what makes it especially amazing, getting that affirmation that people still care about this band” Matthew says, a rare sincerity in his voice.

When reflecting on some of the highlights of their busy year, both brothers immediately think of their headline show in London, at the Kentish Town Forum. “That blew my mind”, Matthew starts. “I was so overwhelmed with emotion. I came off stage, saw my grandad, and cried. You could feel something special in that room.” James agrees, and adds that he wishes all shows could be like that. “I’m sure some bands are very professional and just treat every show the same. But we are so responsive to the crowd and their energy…” Matthew jumps in, insisting that the personal nature of the music they make means they need a connection to the audience. “When it is really good, we’ll come off stage and you can see it in each other’s eyes – before anyone’s said a word – that you’ve all had a fucking great show. That’s an amazing feeling.”

The emotion that drives Deaf Havana’s music is certainly something which sets them apart, especially within a scene which tends to lean heavily on toxic notions of masculinity. “That’s just not who I am, I’ve never been a very ‘masculine’ man.” James shrugs. “I’m very open in who I am, and that’s how I write.” The band’s song ‘Anemophobia’, in particular, is a very honest depiction of anxiety. “It’s quite brutal, lyrically, and I think you can hear the desperation in my voice. But I think that’s been helpful to people, it’s something they connect with and it makes them feel less alone. A lot of people are scared to talk about these things. They shouldn’t have to be. I’m glad that song means something to people.”

The album cycle for All These Countless Nights has been a short one, with the album having only been released in January, and the lead single ‘Sing’ late last summer. Deaf Havana are looking to the future though, and James has already started writing for the 5th album. Are there any themes taking shape on the next record yet? “It’s probably just about being hungover, isn’t it?” Matthew Jokes. James grins. “I’m trying to be more upbeat, more positive. It’ll still be relatable, and hopefully still stuff that can help people through things. But I want it to be more light-hearted.” We’ll have to wait and see to know more though, as the frontman doesn’t work in linear ways. “I’ll write five songs in a week and they’ll all sound completely different. [All These Countless Nights] was nearly a synth metal album!” It won’t be too long until we can hear the next record, as James says they’re aiming to get it out by September 2018. “It’s because I’m scared the same thing’s going to happen again [as with after Old Souls], that we’ll leave it for so long. We’ve been gaining momentum again, and it would suck to lose that.” Matthew adds that they won’t put out anything they’re not proud of though. His brother smirks, and quips “we won’t be releasing a synth metal album.”

Sophia Simon-Bashall