In January 2020, Deaf Havana were done. Nobody in the band was happy, frontman James Veck-Gilodi's drink and drug use was out of control, and him and brother/bandmate Matty weren’t even on speaking terms. With COVID-19 cancelling the only shows they had planned, all signs pointed to ‘probably best to just sack this off’.
But, after an entire year of not speaking, and several AA meetings for James, a casual “Can I borrow a mic?” text reunited the brothers, who soon found themselves in the studio ready to record one last song. But that song turned into two… then three… then four, and they ended up leaving with an entire album (their sixth).
Titled The Present Is A Foreign Land – and launched with lead single Going Clear – the record is out on July 15, and marks a rebirth for the group, who’re continuing on as a duo after the departure of drummer Tom Ogden and bassist Lee Wilson.
Kerrang! caught up with the Veck-Gilodis to find out just how they turned things around...
Welcome back, guys! You’ve had quite the couple of years. How are you feeling about the new album coming out?
Matty: “It feels really weird that people are about to hear stuff. I feel quite apprehensive because it’s been such a long and odd journey to get to this point. We finished work on this record in June last year, so the thought of people hearing it and us having to do stuff [tours, promo] is making me really anxious.”
James: “I'm not anxious in a bad way anymore – I'm just excited. I'm bored, so I just want to do stuff now. I'm ready to go! I don't really have a life anymore, so the sooner we start doing stuff, the better.”
Take us back to January 2020, when you were done and ready to walk away from Deaf Havana forever…
Matty: “The second half of 2019 was hard on all of us. We had a long tour around Asia and Australia, which should have been great, but it was really, really hard. None of us were getting on and that was the one thing we could rely on in the past, that camaraderie, and we didn’t have that. There was animosity. We knew it was done, pretty much…”
Did you have a plan for what you’d do when the band ended?
James: “I didn't have a plan at all – I probably would have made some sort of music but it might have been shit, who knows. I wasn't really that concerned. I was drinking a lot at the time… Not that I didn’t normally, but I was drinking more than usual, so I wasn't thinking ahead to the next day. I didn't care, really. I was going through some stuff personally as well, and I was all over the place. I was using drugs too much, drinking way too much… I was just too drunk to give a shit.”
Matty, you ended up cutting James off completely because of his behaviour, and you guys didn’t speak for a year…
Matty: “Yeah, I got to the point where I needed to stop drinking and go to therapy, basically, and did that. And I just felt our relationship had become very strained. I thought, ‘I'm not okay with the way you're behaving.’ And I could either just carry on like everyone else did and ignore it and be like, ‘Yeah, that's fine.’ Or I could say, ‘If you're gonna act like that, see ya later!’ Which was probably selfish, but we're here now in a wholly different sort of light [because of it].”