Interview with Danni and Matt from The Dirty Youth, Brighton, 30.03.14

I caught up with Danni Monroe (vocals) and Matt Bond (guitar) of The Dirty Youth before their gig in Brighton on Mothers’ Day to talk touring, drinking and weird fan behaviour … read on for the lowdown.

How was Takedown Festival?

Danni: Awesome. It was manic, to describe it in one word.

Matt: So many bands that are new as well, it was good.

How is it touring with Glamour Of The Kill and Heaven’s Basement?

Matt: It’s such a blur.

Danni: I can’t believe we’re on week three of the tour already. I can’t break down the days, can’t even remember what I was doing three days ago.

Matt: You always wake up not knowing where you are, or what day it is.

Danni: I knew it was Mothers’ Day today because I set a reminder on my phone! It’s been good though, we’ve had a wicked reception and it’s good that it’s three bands that aren’t really put into one genre or scene. It’s a good audience really, a mixture of ages … in fact it’s quite an older audience, compared to others that we’ve done.

I saw you at the Electric Ballroom last week which was a great show, did you enjoy playing there?

Matt: We enjoyed that one.

Danni: That was a manic day, lots of press.

Who’s been the best band that you’ve toured with so far?

Matt: The best band was Korn, that was really cool. We heard some horror stories beforehand about them not liking support bands. After we finished the first show, Munky (James Shaffer) came and stood in the dressing room doorway and just looked at us, then he said “you guys are really good” – he said we were his favourite support band!

Danni: We did a cover of one of their songs just before we went on tour and Jonathan Davis came up to me and asked if I wanted to sound check with them, which was pretty cool. I didn’t know the words to all of their songs, but luckily they had karaoke style TV’s with the words coming up which was amazing – I looked like a pro, singing the songs! Karaoke with Korn – not many people have done that! The guys came running in, Matt had just got out of the shower!

Matt: I was, like, is Danni singing with Korn?!

Awesome, that’s how memories are made! What do you do when you’re off stage, how do you kick back and relax?

Danni: It depends on what kind of cycle we’re on with albums and touring and really. Obviously, if we’ve got an album to write we’re fully into that, or concentrating on the live performances.

Matt: We film a lot of stuff, we’re doing another DVD at the moment, ‘The Dirty Youth Project’. We did a pledge campaign for the last DVD (‘28 Gigs Later’) and it went really well. We just film everything and there isn’t a lot of time to do anything except recover from the night before and drive and do press.

Is it literally a blur of different towns on tour? Do you ever get time to see anything?

Danni: No. Not ever. I‘m a massive ‘Friends’ fan and we went to Chester the other day, where they have a replica ‘Central Perk’ café. We literally didn’t have time to leave the venue, go in a taxi fifteen minutes away to see it. It was on my list of things to do on this tour.

Matt: Last time we went to Europe we had time to go to the Coliseum in Rome. We had a day off luckily.

Danni: That was the only thing we saw, though. It is a big blur when you’re on tour.

Matt: It’s so funny because when we watch the DVD back it’s like “Oh yes, we’ve been there!” The only other thing to do really is drink.

Danni: I have one or two every day but I don’t get drunk, I wouldn’t be able to sing.

I won’t mention the Heaven’s Basement tour bus incident then …

Danni: That was the only time I’ve been drunk on this tour. We were drinking Jagermeister and Tequila – I did tell them I would be sick if I carried on drinking.

Matt: Usually Danni can drink most men under the table.

Danni: Me and Jager don’t get on.

I’m not surprised, it’s evil stuff! Are you all on the same bus, then?

Danni: No, there’s 8 of us in a van, and Glamour and Heaven’s Basement are on the bus.

Moving swiftly on, you’re managed by Rob Ferguson, of Transcend Music?

Danni: Yes, he manages us, but we’re still independent and unsigned.

Matt: We’ve always done everything ourselves, really, but it got the point where we needed a manager and we know where we are with Rob, known him a long time. We told him we wanted to play one of the main stages at Download and he told us we could do it. It’s just been announced for this year for the second stage …

Danni: There’s not many unsigned bands that can do that!

Matt: Playing on the same stage as Status Quo! That was my first ever gig …

That’s what it’s all about! Tell me what sort of feedback you’ve received for your first album ‘Red Light Fix’?

Matt: It’s kind of weird … obviously we took the album seriously, but we were just a band having a jam. Then we released ‘Fight’ which got so many plays on YouTube and featured on loads of games. We do all of our own post as well and now we’re posting to Japan, Australia, America, Italy, Mexico and Brazil, we can see it spreading.

Danni: It’s just gone crazy, the other day we posted a batch of about 80 things to 20 different countries. We have quite a growing fanbase in Transylvania which is random as we’ve never been there!

What inspires you when you write?

Matt: Our experiences, things that we’ve been through, or people that we know, or even films we’ve watched. It’s all very real, just drawing from every day experiences.

Danni: Everyone is shouting on this tour for earlier songs, like ‘Requiem For a Drunk’ and you can tell that we wrote that when we were 18 and going out and getting smashed. We wouldn’t write a song like that now, but with the new album that’s coming out people will be able to see that we’ve grown, especially lyrically.

When you go back to Wales, do you find that people treat you any differently? Do you get recognised a lot?

Matt: If we go somewhere together.

Danni: Until this tour we had pretty much a year out to do the album and we don’t really do that much locally, we’re not a ‘scene’ band. I used to go the Blue Banana about three years ago and everyone would recognise me. I went in there the other day and even though our song was the Blue Banana song and video of the week, no-one said anything!

Matt: If people see one of us it isn’t so much, but when they see all of us … we were in a petrol station in Birmingham the other day and this car just stopped and these two girls got out and started running towards Leon (Watkins, drummer) and they were playing the songs in the car, it was nice.

Danni: That’s my tiny bit of exposure of getting that feeling of what Take That used to go through, with their crazy girl fans.

Matt: Someone had a panic attack when they saw us, which was really weird. We were in Italy and some girl ran across the road, grabbed Danni and just started crying. We’re small and we’ve got so far to go, but we’re starting to see little bits like that now. Someone bought us food yesterday as well which was amazing.

Danni: I broke my sunglasses on the first day of the tour and I updated my status on Facebook and a girl bought an amazing pair of aviator sunglasses to the show for me. Someone bought me a bottle of Jack Daniels, too, it’s been amazing.

Matt: I did put a status up saying I forgot my Playstation 4, but I didn’t get one of those.

Aw, it’s nice that people give you gifts! What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had?

Matt: We got given some ducks, rubber ducks. They drew our faces on them and Danni’s even had lipstick on it! The strangest thing that happened to me though, was that someone followed me round Asda and started tweeting about what I was buying! They tweeted that they didn’t know I was a vegetarian because I bought vegetarian sausages. I’m not a vegetarian, but yes, I did buy veggie sausages!

Danni: Someone made us some TDY keyrings, they were cool.  I always get people tweeting me saying that they saw me but they didn’t want to come and say hi. I always find that weird, like, why didn’t you just come and say hi?!

Matt: I think it’s a good indication of how it’s spread, especially in services; if you get recognised at the services, you know it must be working, people are paying attention.

Danni: Generally, you draw more attention to yourself if you walk through services wearing sunglasses and a hoody because you look like shit, with pink hair sticking out of the side.

I find that hard to believe, Danni, you always look amazing!

Danni: Dry shampoo is the way forward on tour, definitely! Talking gifts, I did share my bottle of Jack, although Mikey from GOTK drank half of it, even though they get tequila and vodka every night on their rider. We’re hardcore drinkers on this tour and if I didn’t have to sing every night, I would drink them under the table.

Matt: They’ve got a reputation for partying and so have we; so many people thought it would be carnage with all of us but we’ve been quite well behaved.

Do you find, as you’re a female-fronted band that you have to deal with any preconceptions or prejudices before people hear you sing or see you live?

Matt: I think the classic mistake that people make is that people see “female-fronted” as a genre. It’s so ridiculous. It’s like putting Metallica and Busted in the same genre because they’ve got male singers.

Danni: It’s always going to happen though, I remember when I was growing up, bands who were absolutely nothing like each other like Skunk Anansie and No Doubt were always compared because there wasn’t really anybody else. It’s annoying because we’ve been going for 7 years now and people still see us as a new band, because we’re only just getting our PR campaign sorted.

Matt: It takes so long. So many bands come in and they think they’re going to get a deal straight off. It takes time and when you do get offered a deal, you have to look really carefully at it.

Danni: It’s easier to take out a loan and do it yourself. Keep your costs down, you make more money.

So, do you think that the music industry as we know it is dead?

Matt: No. There are loads more outlets for music now than ever. CD sales and the music used to be the meat of the dinner and now it’s not, it’s a side dish. The other avenues, TV, games, are massive now.

Danni: We’re on a game that’s coming out soon, on the PS4.

Matt: Because you’ve got Facebook, twitter and all of the other outlets for music – when we were first in a band we used to have to come to London with a CD and hope an A&R man turned up. Danni and I hounded people for 10 hours a day on MySpace, every day when it started. Eventually we broke them down.

Danni: It’s not that people don’t appreciate or want the music any more, it’s just that they don’t all pay for it. So you’ve got the same audience and amount of people wanting it, just not all wanting the physical copies.

Matt: People really love music and that’s not going to change. Vinyl’s coming back.

Danni: We still sell twice as many CD’s as tee-shirts every night. The quality is better on a CD as well, I think.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Matt: Our new single, that’s a track!

Danni: It’s a cheesy answer, but I’ve been listening to Heaven’s Basement and Glamour a lot before this tour. Our driver is into loads of up and coming bands, so he’s introducing me to some new music. The guy out of Mallory Knox has got a great voice.

Matt: I watched a band the other day called Fat Goth. I quite like Kvelertak too.

What’s the best and worst thing about what you do?

Danni: Seeing people singing back the lyrics is amazing.

Matt: The bits in between are the worst. The uncertainty, the constant onslaught of people saying that music is dead and that bands are never going to make money.

Danni: You get quite a lot of negative interviews these days.

Matt: If they dropped the prices of Mars Bars from 50p to 10p, they wouldn’t say chocolate’s dead. You’re not going to earn millions unless you’re in a massive band.

Good point … so what’s next for The Dirty Youth?

Matt: The new single, we’ll be doing a headline tour and a massive support tour and, of course, Download.

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(Photo courtesy of Charlotte Whittingham)

Thanks, Danni and Matt – I can’t wait to catch TDY again! You can buy the music on iTunes, Amazon, etc.(or a good, old fashioned record shop!) and you can also check out their new video, for ‘Alive’ here – http://youtu.be/eHdzXO0vZ3E

www.thedirtyyouth.co.uk           www.facebook.com/thedirtyyouth

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Review of Heaven’s Basement @ Electric Ballroom, Camden, 27/03/14

I can’t lie – I had been looking forward to this gig for months.  Even though I saw two of the three bands play at Takedown Festival less than two weeks ago, I was so ready for this one.  Unfortunately nobody wanted to come with me (it’s amazing how hard it is to persuade people, even with a free ticket!), but it’s all about the music – at least I still got to go! My train was on time, the tube was running perfectly and the queue for the Electric Ballroom wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had thought it would be.  There were three bands on the menu; a starter of The Dirty Youth, main course of Glamour Of The Kill and headliners Heaven’s Basement were up for dessert; my favourite … I like to save the best for last!

First up were The Dirty Youth – a five piece, female fronted band hailing from Wales.  Front-woman Danni looked amazing with her shocking pink hair, lipstick to match and a skin tight black and see-through outfit.  Fortunately, she has the voice to match her looks and she belted out song after song with that incredible voice of hers.  The guys backing her are all competent and it was a stonking opening, although the crowd took a little warming up.  ‘Requiem For a Drunk’ went over well with the crowd, Danni imploring everyone to clap along and a fantastic set finished with ‘Fight’, which saw her hold an awesome note at the end.  Surely The Dirty Youth are set to move on to bigger things …

After a slight lull, handy for a beer break, Glamour of The Kill erupted onto the stage with massive tune ‘Break’.  A new band in my collection, I absolutely love these guys.  They have attitude, they’re pretty and they sound great – what more could anyone want?  I wouldn’t say the crowd went mental, but there was a fair amount of jumping going on around the front with a pit going, everybody getting their fists in the air.  ‘Second Chance’ went over well, as did ‘The Only One’, both tracks from the newest album ‘Savages’.  I particularly enjoyed ‘If Only She Knew’; one of my favourite tracks off of first album ‘The Summoning’.  ‘A Freak Like Me’ went down a storm and they finished an impressive set with ‘Feeling Alive’.  Every time I go on to twitter or Facebook these days people seem to be talking about GOTK so I’m guessing that they’re also going to get very big, very quickly.  Bring it on – I can’t wait to see them again.

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(Photo courtesy of Amanda Cooke)

After another lull, during which I got chatting to some lovely long-time Heaven’s Basement fans (stick around long enough with this band and you’ll start to feel like you’re part of one big family, it’s another reason why I like them so much), the lights went down, the screaming got louder and you could almost taste the anticipation in the air.  With a shirtless Chris settling behind the drums, Aaron and Rob bouncing around like puppies on speed and Sid radiating bad-boy attitude with that trademark sneer of his, they launched straight into ‘Welcome Home’, first track off of the ‘Filthy Empire’ album (which has been out for well over a year; if you haven’t got it yet, why the hell not?).

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(Photo courtesy of Amanda Cooke)

Sliding effortlessly into fans’ favourite ‘Can’t Let Go’, the room was already moving as one, sweaty and excited, but when the opening notes of ‘Fire, Fire’ rang out, the crowd went nuts, the whole front section jumping up and down, everyone singing along; likewise with ‘Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch’.  I was surprised to hear ‘Straight To Hell’ (b-side off of single ‘Nothing Left To Lose’, which followed it), as I can’t recall seeing them play that track live before, although it’s a great song, with some awesome guitar work. ‘I Am Electric’ came next and unsurprisingly, the room erupted once again, general chaos ensuing, the crowd loving every minute.  It was nice to see Sid introducing and singing on old track ‘Paranoia’, a firm crowd favourite, before they slowed the pace right down with ‘The Price We Pay’.  One of my favourite tracks ‘Jump Back’ followed and Aaron was off out in to the crowd for his trademark surfing, everyone surging forward to support him as he came nearly halfway out into the room.  I turned to say something to my friend, looked back and couldn’t believe it when I saw he was doing a handstand.  On top of the crowd.  Absolutely awesome to see.

He made it safely back and penultimate song ‘Reign on My Parade’ thrilled the crowd, with Aaron inciting a sing off before the band left the stage briefly, the whole room stamping their feet and chanting for more.  Even if you haven’t seen them before, you always know there’s going to be one more song coming and it’s always the same.  The anthemic ‘Executioner’s Day’ is always an epic close to an amazing, sweaty, euphoric show.

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I left the venue feeling like I was floating on a cloud, a stupid grin on my face virtually the whole way home.  Heaven’s Basement have a tendency to induce that sort of feeling; I’ve only been following them for two years and this was the eighth time I’ve seen them, but for sure, it certainly won’t be the last.  If you haven’t caught them yet, you’re out of luck for the UK as by the time this gets posted, they’ll have left for Europe, but they are the UK’s hardest touring band; they’ll be back soon for certain.  With the trajectory they’re taking, if you leave it too long you’ll miss the smaller, more intimate gigs because Heaven’s Basement are heading straight for the top.

Check out the bands’ websites here: –

http://www.heavensbasement.com

http://www.facebook.com/glamourofthekill

http://www.thedirtyyouth.co.uk

(Big thanks to Amanda Cooke for letting me use some of her fantastic photos!)

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