Interview – Dead Dollar Days (Wildfire 2016)

Dead Dollar Days logo 192Interview by Mosh, transcribed by Ryan (lifesaver!)

First gig in Scotland?

Bo: Second. We played Ivory Blacks in Glasgow. And it was what actually got us this [gig] ’cause Dave the promoter, he saw us and we had a great chat afterwards. We didn’t realise who he was and he invited us to play which was really nice. The difference between the English crowds and Scottish crowds is night and day. You’ve actually got people who are enthusiastic about music. And it’s Friday and it’s lunchtime and the place is rammed.

And the hospitality of everyone is, it’s been so lovely. We’ve played other smaller festivals and shows, and you’re kinda treated like, ‘alright, let’s get it over with […]’.
We’re probably the lightest band here today, and I think it gave some people some ear relief when we don’t scream! But yeah, it’s brilliant to be up here and just do this. We wanna keep doing it ’cause the ethic of what we play is about people coming out and supporting it and we’ve seen that now.

And you were actually playing last night as well?

Bo: Yeah Chester last night with 48 Hours. We were on tour with them two months ago and we played Ivory Blacks with them. So I think Dave was scouting them for this festival and we opened for them and he liked us both so it was great.

It’s quite weird. We’re both three-pieces and we get up and work so well together. And it’s good to have a band who you get on with as friends as well. We have a laugh, we stay in the same hotels and it’s good fun [laughs suspiciously].

Where else are you guys from? You mentioned Ireland and…

Bo: I’m Irish and I moved out to the UK a few years ago to kinda pursue this more. In Ireland the music scene is very indie, very niche. There’s kind of a clique there for heavier music. We’re not ‘metal’, we’re kind of the lighter side of that, that crowd. Unless you’re really heavy, we couldn’t do more with it. So I moved over, I met Connor, which was great. We actually met through Richard Ashcroft from The Verve, it’s very bizarre! He was busking and he was playing a Verve song and there was this other guy there talking to him, so I walked up to him and next thing you know we started this band and…

Connor: we played in another project before, just dabbling and went pro about seven months ago. We’re into month seven so we’re not doing too bad.

Any EPs out yet?

Connor: We released just some demo tracks for people to hear. They got a great response and got us some great gigs. But now we’ve got the lead single coming out in October. We’ll be launching that in London, hopefully.

Was that the first one you played today?

Bo: The opening track, yeah. And that’s the kinda stuff we’re gearing towards. So we just did that with Chris Clancy: he does like Wearing Scars and Mutiny Within and we prefer a more metally producer to produce a rock track. He gives us what we want, he gets us. We found a lot of our rock producers kinda drown out the vocals or it gets quite muddy, so we’re really just ecstatic. And we’re filming the video next week, so yeah, it’s a big campaign! We’ve got tomorrow’s show in Warrington, and that’s the last show for a while.

So you’re heading off this afternoon?

Bo: Yeah, we’ve gotta get down and do a few things and get ready for that. It’s exciting ’cause we got invited to that: it wasn’t us asking.

So where abouts are you playing in Warrington?

Connor: We’re playing The Brewhouse. It’s great, it’s like a house someone’s bought and converted it into a venue, and it’s run by this incredibly awesome kinda gothic-y family, and they treat bands with respect. They pay the bands, they feed the bands, they plug them with alcohol. And it’s brilliant, there’s people supporting it.

What Dave’s doing here is more of what the industry needs than anything else. Because otherwise unsigned bands or emerging bands would never get a chance to play a festival unless you have like ten grand to buy onto Reading, which no-one does.

Bo: And people are buying merchandise, it’s amazing!

Connor: We actually sold merch!

Bo: We can get home now with petrol!

It’s good to hear cause you always see the bands at the back wondering how much they have to shift to keep you going.

Bo: We’re not looking to go out and buy a new guitar or anything we just need to get some new strings maybe and some petrol and just keep going.

Do you find that, as a young fledgling band, that the scene’s changed massively over the last ten if not twenty years?

Bo: It’s a real DIY culture now. You can actually record at home – everything. You can promote across the pond to the United States or Australia from your laptop in the middle of Brighton and you can actually gain traction somewhere. It’s a lot easier. The kinda downside is the bar has been lowered so a lot more gets through. But for us… I grew up in the grunge era and the kinda ethic of ‘go on tour!’. So we were about three months and we went on a thirty-day tour around the UK and it was hard but we learned how to tour. We weren’t pushing anything, it was like ‘OK, let’s see if the three of us get on and, not a single argument – nothing! Just ‘who’s gonna sleep where?’ But that’s about it.

So what do you think of the deals, the need for a label?

Bo: I think that’s pretty much dead. If you can keep control of what you’re artistically doing and create enough demand, the profits will go back to yourself. And you’re not worrying about, hey no, we have a small car and we tour and we get the gear in: we don’t need to get a van and hire someone to pay that. And later down the road we pay for that. The gear’s ours, we produce ourselves, we get everything done ourselves: and when the money comes in it goes back into the band. And we don’t mind investing in ourselves.

Connor: More and more big bands are beginning to do it now. Royal Blood are the best example of that, they do it all themselves and they’re having such insane careers. And they might not be as big as these huge bands that sign the massive record deals, but you don’t need them.

Bo: I think those days are coming to an end.

Yeah, I think Pearl Jam were the first band who started to do that.

Bo: Yeah, they boycotted TicketMaster and they won.

And that was a bloody difficult thing to do in this day…

Bo: And all the venues have got the deals… For us, it’s seven months. If you’d said to me seven months ago “this is where you’ll be, musically and in your career”, I woulda said “nah”, but we’re really advancing ’cause we’ve taken all control. So we do the single and the music video, we’re approaching the promoters, and we’re approaching the radio: the radio’s still got a lot of weight. It’s just right place, right time. There is a lot of luck involved but, what’s the saying? “The harder you work, the luckier you get”.

Connor: It’s all about the fans though. If you have good fans… There has to be people who still love live music, otherwise it’s impossible.

Bo: Well you’re here. And that’s the beauty of here, everyone here loves live music!

Connor: This is why it helps you progress. Everyone here is genuine, real – they’re people that love music.

Wildfire 2016 Dead Dollar DaysYou mentioned a couple of things there. Liking live music. One thing I’ve seen in Glasgow, I’ve been here for five or six years: not one venue has closed. Sorry, I lie, one venue has but it was forced to close because they had some problem with drugs or something (there was politics – whatever), but we have seen venues opening every six months. Edinburgh’s the same.

Bo: We’re getting closures at the moment. Camden Barfly’s closed: we’re looking for a new  venue, and in redoing it I think they’re gonna change the whole feel of it.

Connor: I live in Brighton and of the venues in Brighton, almost half have gone. And now you’re only left with ones where they mostly play indie, or brutal metal, there’s just no chance. They drop like that.

Bo: We’re as brutal as a carrot.

You’d be welcome here for sure. Ivory Blacks…

Bo: We love… big influences for us would be like Biffy Clyro up here and, when I was younger I used to sneak itno the gigs, and I saw Biffy Clyro in Dublin in a place called The Voodoo Lounge. Forty people. It was just before they did the Blackened Sky album. No one there, but you just saw the guys – they love what they do. They come back every Christmas to do their Christmas show in a small venue. Yes they’ve made it big and they’ve signed to Warner and they’re doing huge things, but there’s still a kind of indie ethic to them that drives them.

Iain: If you could give one piece of advice to a band that’s where you were, say, a year back, forming up, what piece of advice would you give?

Bo: If you’re gonna do it, you’ve got this dream of being a rock star, whatever you feel you wanna do, you have to be hungry for it. And if you wanna make it you do whatever it takes. I’ve left jobs, i’ve got a really understanding other half who’ll do whatever it takes to support me, and luckily I’ve got two guys who’ll do it. It’s not just triple the amount of effort going in it’s constant amounts more because we’re all pushing in the same direction. And I think everyone’s gotta be on the same page , we’re really lucky that we are. Yeah we have our tiffs, but when those arguments are out of passion, you’re still looking the same way.

Connor: You have to love it. You have to love it more than anything.

Bo: When you turn up to a venue and the only person there’s the sound guy and someone just sitting on the bar, you still have to put on the same show.

Connor: You have to have that buzz. You know when you get on stage and you feel excited, you have to have that every show or else they’re not gonna give it back – if it’s a small crowd or they’re tired or whatever. If you don’t have that excitement, that ‘all I wanna do is perform’: you have to love it more than anything else. As soon as you stop loving it, you might have the money, connections, but you will never go further.

So normally we ask people ‘what are your influences?’ and so forth, but to spin that around, can you name another band who we’ve probably not heard of and should be listening to?

Bo: 48 Hours. Yeah, easily. We get on but I would listen to their new album because I like the album. It’s a very American sound and I know that they have trouble finding their audience over here because it is quite America. But, they way the industry’s going I think they could crack any gig. But yeah, I think people do need to listen to them because they opened today, at Wildfire, we did a long tour with them and, not once were we gonna go out for a cigarette. We were at every show cause we enjoyed it and then you see people going ‘ah actually, this is pretty good!’

They’ve been gigging a little longer than us and we learnt a lot in a mentor-ish way. Like they made our lives easier – we didn’t know how to tour, we didn’t know how to do anything, and they kind a showed us. But it’s not just friends scratching friends’ backs, I honestly believe people should be listening to them more, cause no one realises how much work goes in. You pay thousands and thousands to produce stuff, get it recorded by your equipment, then you’re asking only 99p. Sometimes it’s still too much.

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