Joseph Seager spoke to Dave Burn, frontman of Detroit Social Club.
Hello Dave Burn from Detroit Social Club. How are you doing? Where are you currently?
Hello! We are fine; in a beaten up van on the A1 on our way to Manchester. There's a big gap in the door, so we're suitably freezing!
How's 2010 going thus far?
It feels like it needs a kick-start. It was always going to be a weird few months up to the album release though. It's that period of flux, where you don't want to tour too much but at the same time the recording is all done and complete. There are other things to keep you busy; video blogs, B sides, promo stuff, but that's not really why you start a band, is it?! Had some great things come through for the rest of the year though: Glasto, Japan, Germany. It's going to be a good year.
If people don't know what you and your music are about, how would you describe yourself?
Imagine the chorus vocals of "Loser" by Beck, with the drums of "Army of Me" by Bjork, layered with the guitars of "I'm Bored" by Iggy Pop, and the melody of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows." Now sprinkle the percussion of "Moving On Up" by Primal Scream, and the experimentation of "Fight Test" by The Flaming lips, and just for safe measure, add the soul of "Afterglow of Your Love" by The Small Faces, and maybe the danceability of The Beastie Boys' "Watcha Want." Actually, add the epicness of - say - Ennio Morricone's "Cinema Paradiso", as well.
You've been around the music scene for a few years now. How has touring with the likes of Razorlight, Oasis and The Futureheads affected your following?
It's obviously been great. There were some more than others that helped us. Obviously us and Razorlight are completely different bands, so it maybe didn't work as well as, say, us and Primal Scream, or us and Oasis. It was still fun to do, and helped us grow as a band. I never view support shows or tours as something that will help us increase our 'fan base' or anything; they are just a really good chance to play some great venues and allow you to enjoy playing your music on a bigger stage with more freedom to express yourself.
You're heading out on the New to Q tour soon. How did that come about?
I think they came along to a show we did last year and loved the band. They've been very supportive of us, which we appreciate. They asked us if we'd do the tour, and we said 'yes'. It's a good chance for us to go out on tour with a few other up-and-coming artists.
You've had two releases so far, one in 2008 and one last year. Are we expecting something from you this year?
We've actually had three now; 'Rivers & Rainbows', 'Sunshine People' and 'Kiss The Sun'. Our recorded output has been very limited since we started, which looking back is something I'd probably change. This year will be different though, the album, "Existence" is out on May 31st. "Prophecy" single is out May 24th and a few singles over the course of the year.
Back to your roots, how did you first come to music?
My Grandad used to always play piano when I was younger. He made music fun for me, used to tell me stories about him playing in old pubs when he was younger. But contemporary music wasn't until a bit later; maybe when I was 13 or 14. My Dad used to listen to The Beatles but it wasn't cool to like them then. Then when the whole Britpop period came about, I kind of had an advantage to already knowing all of these 60's records. It wasn't all like that though; there was also a lot of Billy Joel and Level 42!!!
And how did the band come together?
I had a studio in Newcastle and was using the free time to record my own songs and ideas, building up recordings in an organic way. From there I had a lot of attention from labels and managers etc, who all said I'd need to start a band and get the thing into a live environment. It took me a while to decide that I wanted to do it, but when I did, it was just a case of asking a few friends, or people I'd already recorded in other bands, if they wanted to come along for the ride.
What's the story behind the name of the band?
When I had the studio I was also studying American history at Uni, so I have always had an interest in The Americas; in their ideas, culture and history. That was always evident in the music I was making which was heavily inspired by the like of Neil Young, Dylan, Tom Waits etc. There are a lot of bands out there trying the faux-Americana thing, but I hope people recognise that isn't the case with us. Detroit has always been of particular interest to me, all that has happened there, so I just coupled that with something very northern England; Social Clubs, and it worked.
Who would you love to perform with, past or present?
I think it would be exciting to perform with The Sex Pistols, but if I could choose anyone, then it'd probably be the Funk Brothers of Motown fame. Yeah, it'd be fun having a jam with them in an old smoky blues bar.
What are you currently listening to on your mp3 player?
I've recently fell in love with Eels, can't stop listening to them. One song in particular has got me, called "Railroad Man". Perfect song. Amazing. There's not much new stuff on my iPod though, I think The Big Pink are probably the newest band on there!
Who do you think is going to sum up the sound of 2010?
Good question. Be good to be us, but I don't think so. I think it's down to the likes of N-Dubz and Black Eyed Peas to define a period. It's horrible but true. We're in a horrible period of Modern British music. It's just not happening, is it? I don't think a new band will ever break through in the same way Arctic Monkeys did a few years back, or many bands before them. It's hard to pick out one band or artist. The music scene has become so fragmented recently, which I suppose you could argue was a good thing. It completely removes the need for a union, for one common thread that runs through 80% of young people listening to music out there. Apart from EMOs, they still all dress the same and belong to one big cult.
Best venue you've played?
Olympia in Dublin, or Paradiso in Amsterdam.
What do you miss the most when you're on the road touring?
My little girl. She's 4 next month, so living without her in my life, even for just 2 weeks, is pretty hard going. But you learn to adapt.
If Detroit Social Club was a Jelly Bean, what colour and flavour would you be and why?
Black, as they're the horrible abrasive ones that everyone spits out. They are destined for a lifetime on the pavement being constantly trod on by the passers by. Life's so much easier when you're the underdog.
Some quick fire questions:
Tea or coffee?
Summer or winter?
Superman or Batman?
Mac or PC?
Reading or Leeds?
You pit stop at Leeds Cockpit on the New to Q tour. Looking forward to it?
Can't wait. It's always a great night there. Literally every time we've played there has been brilliant. We sold the downstairs out last time we played, so we're massively looking forward to it again.
You're hitting a few festivals this summer, too, I see; Isle of Wight, Glasto, Fuji Rock. Which are you looking forward to the most and what reaction do you get at festivals?
I always feel like we come into our own at festivals; big crowd, big stage; big PA system. It suits us down to the ground. We are in our element. We've only played a couple of big festivals before, Rockness and Leeds/Reading. But they were both inspiring to play at. Personally I'm looking forward to Japan. One of the reasons I decided to form the band, to see where it could go, was the possibility of travelling the world. You only get one, so I think it's our duty to see as much of it as we can, and Japan is one of those places that I really want to see. The festival is supposed to be brilliant as well.
And finally, what's next on the agenda for Detroit Social Club?
Tour, album release, festivals, more tours, Christmas, more tours, writing, and enjoying ourselves.
Thanks Dave. And good luck!