[INTERVIEW] with... Demob Happy

Demob Happy - L-R Adam Godfrey, Matthew Marcantonio and Thomas Armstrong
Newcastle bred Brighton based rock trio Demob Happy are establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with as they continue to grow their fan base and wow audiences with their heavy high intensity, energy-driven alternative rock.

Only yesterday the 3-piece announced details of a US tour with Nothing Like Thieves this autumn. But UK fans will also get a chance to enjoy the band's music sooner rather than later as they play The Great Escape this week and are due to share a festival bill with headliners Pulled Apart By Horses, The Wytches, The Sheafs and False Heads at Liverpool Calling next month (June).

2018 has been a busy year so far and following the release of their studio album Holy Doom the band also completed an extensive UK and Europe headline tour.

Holy Doom has seemingly been written and produced with great ease as much as confidence and singer/bassist Matthew Marcantonio, guitarist Adam Godfrey and drummer Thomas Armstrong are able to confirm such a perception. Like its predecessor Dream Soda, Holy Doom is an well-produced album but it is not just some rock production adventure far removed from the experience of seeing the band play live.

There is hardly any difference between the sound quality of listening to a Demob Happy album compared with seeing the band live. How do they go about achieving such a fine balance?

Adam: We tend to record our material 'live' and we took the same approach when we recorded Holy Doom. A few overdubs were included in places but it is mostly the sound we have when we play live.

Thomas: We had a 'fourth' guy (Christoph Skirl) with us on stage. He is a really good friend of ours who has been producing for us and worked on both records so he is is really good at making sure we are bringing the album to the stage in the best possible way.

Matthew: Yes that is the thing because with the Holy Doom Tour we really wanted to represent the album so he was like our obvious choice because he worked on every song we have ever released and he knows our material inside out.

Musically, it is extremely tight, tighter than what most similar older bands are able to produce and songs such as Fake Satan, Running Around Gods I've Seen and I wanna Leave are of a particularly high quality. There is such a high level of dynamic intensity in their music and it makes it suitable for recorded listening as well as the live environment. It is in fact no wonder why the response to album and live shows have both been phenomenal.

Matthew: It has been great and just amazing to hear everyone singing along. Even obscure album tracks in the smaller venues, it is just incredible. It is like nothing we have ever experienced before, we feel like we have hit a really good point and it feels great.

Matthew: We have done a lot of support over the last few years so it is good to come back and finally do a big headline thing, it has been fantastic.

Newcastle and Manchester were among the best shows on the tour

Matthew: They were both really great shows, it was lovely to be playing on home ground and to have family and friends in the crowds. It was really nice to get a chance to get them all together at the shows.

Holy Doom also seems to work as a platform for bringing in other instruments

Matthew: We do not tend to limit ourselves. I play the piano and I have done so for longer than I have played bass. We just put stuff in there when we feel the need for it. We write very openly so it is never quite like ‘oh no, not like that’. I think we have been feeling very liberated over the last year or so to just write a lot and do what we wanted to do. The effects have been quite poignant and there has been some incredible moments along the way including us making use of Turkish pipes. 

There are times when parting ways with a band member (Matthew Renforth) can lead to further freedom and creativity

Matthew: He did not really share our enthusiasm or vision so we felt it was best to part ways. It was the right thing to do for us and the band as it enabled us to make Holy Doom. 

Matthew: It actually felt cathartic doing this album really because we just sort of got back in together and started writing, as long as we can get in a room and write then we can expel any demons we have. 

Thomas: We were in a happy place when we went back in and started writing together again, the songs were just pouring out of us.

Does part of Holy Doom's credibility come down to working working with some of the same people?

Matthew: Our friend is constant for us and we recorded at the same studio as we did with the first album but otherwise we brought in Ian Davenport to produce with us and we mixed it with a guy called Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters + Muse), he has been involved in some massive music productions. But the whole thing was still very hands on we were there every stage of making it. We knew what we sound we wanted.

Thomas: It has been great, we are lucky enough to work with a lot of people who just want to facilitate what we want to do.

How do Demob Happy go about sourcing the right people to work with?

Matthew: It just kind of happens, sometimes it is just pure chance. But Ian Davenport came recommended through a few people and the label recommended him.

Thomas: We usually had a few sessions before. We knew what we wanted to present to the world, what is right for us, we do not want to hear something that does not sound right and does not represent us. We do not settle for second best or compromise our sound. 

The recording process lasted approximately 20 days including 10 days recording the bass and drums and 10 doing the vocals and guitars.The band's first writing session was about a year ago, early 2017. Not a long process, yet it is such an incredible piece of work 

Thomas: It was a slightly different approach this time. Last time we had six weeks living in the studio and then just zooming right in on it but this time we did not do much zooming in beforehand and instead chose to get on with the job in hand.

Adam: I knew it was good when we were playing it out but I had not really thought about the reality of what it would mean to hand it over to the world, it had just been ours for quite a while. It might as well have been someone else’s record and meant something to them. But now it is just really cool to hear how much it means to people.

Matthew: We set out to do was to create this more in depth album, we wanted people to feel something and take them on some kind of journey. I guess people are responding to that and I hope and think people can hear that on the record.

In terms of musical influences the band seem to feel a closer kinship with a lot of American bands and having just signed with an American agent his could give the band wider exposure to other parts of the world 

Adam: I guess that is true, certainly in terms of the style of music we make. I think we share a lot more of our sound with current bands from there rather than here.

Matthew: There is an argument that Britain probably needs to fly the rock flag a little harder to be honest, the Americans and the Australians are making some really good music right now. 

Do they feel guitar music is still prominent and how much scope is there for bands such as Demob Happy to make it really big?

Thomas: The type of music that we admire was like the pop music of its day and the influences that we bring in from the past such as Beach Boys type harmonies etc., the type of music we are making is seen as alternative music today but as Dave Grohl has said, ‘as long as the kids think it is is cool' it totally is and well worth continuing it.

Adam: Some people bitch about bands such as Royal Blood but those kind of bands that actually break through and for every Royal Blood band that can kick the door down just a bit, they do happen to open up cheque books for some of the big labels for smaller bands to break through. They show that guitar music can sell and it keeps bands like us going.

Matthew: We have only just signed with a American agent and we are going to enter America and get our name about. It is totally amazing and it is such a dream. Our agent is really into our music and that is entirely what we need. Beatles is probably the thing to mention, I mean I got called "grunge Lennon" the other day. I can sell that to America.

It does seem as if Demob Happy are on to something truly great and the timing seems just right for them. Hopefully, between now and 2019 they will be making headlines over there and everywhere else. 

Holy Doom is out now on So Recordings

Festival appearances and touring
The Great Escape - Brighton
Liverpool Calling Festival 

US tour in autumn
with Nothing But Thieves