It’s been barely 18 months since the release of ‘All These Countless Nights’, but Deaf Havana are back with a swing in their step on their new album. Thirteen tracks of pulsing pop, handclaps and gospel choir vocals, ‘Rituals’ is a step change from the reliable rock they’ve excelled at in the past.
After a listless period following 2013’s confused album ‘Old Souls’, Deaf Havana returned last year with ‘All These Countless Nights’, a taut and precise rock record with the emphasis on big choruses and meaty guitar riffs. The five-piece also got back on the road, headlining around Europe and enjoying a stint Down Under with the mighty Placebo.
“It was an amazing experience so to be able to go back there was just awesome,” vocalist James Veck-Gilodi recalls. “I realised how privileged I was to be able to travel around the world just cos of some average songs that I wrote in my bedroom.”
Those ‘average songs’ saw the band headline a one-off unplugged show at London’s Union Chapel in February, accompanied by a string section and with a gospel choir posted up in the wings. “That was amazing. It’s any musician’s dream to play with as many musicians as you possibly can. And the fact that those guys are so professional – because rock bands just blag our way through it basically, don’t we? We’re always sort of bedroom musicians who learnt to play by ear and as a hobby. But these are all proper qualified musicians, so it was amazing to be able to play with people who have such high skills and I don’t have to worry about them messing up.”
That triumphant night complete, it was time to thrash out the band’s next record, and get it done sharpish; Veck-Gilodi set himself an April deadline to have it finished. “It came together really quickly because previously we’d taken four years between ‘Old Souls’ and ‘ATCN’, and I just did not want to risk that again. Everything’s so fast-paced now, I didn’t want to leave people waiting.”
Holed up in a Sheffield studio with their sound tech on production duties, Deaf Havana experimented with hip-hop beats, vocal samples and electronic drum loops. It’s a far cry from ‘Old Souls” more organic instrumentation of trumpets, mandolins and strings. After writing some tentative demos last year, James scrapped them, describing them as “budget rock songs” and too derivative of their existing work.