"Guitar music isn't dead, it's just that pop sells better."
Bigger than ever, Brighton-based Demob Happy have returned with their second album ‘Holy Doom’.
A member down and with a tough year behind them, the record reflects on that struggle but twisted in is a tinge of hope, which mirrors everything the band is about.
In the madness of preparing for their hometown show at The Haunt, while replacing strings on guitars, Demob found time to chat to Lizzie’s Lowdown's Eline Joling about ‘Holy Doom’, getting noticed in an ocean of “vapid moronic bullshit pop” and being a legacy band...
Congratulations on ‘Holy Doom’! How has the response been so far?
Matthew Marcantonio (vocals and bass): Pretty wonderful so far! Last night in London was crazy, it was an amazing show.
Adam Godfrey (guitar): It was the biggest show up until now. It was really busy, people were going nuts.
Thomas Armstrong (drums and vocals): It was the ballsiest, the baddest, in the positive sense of the word.
With the last album (‘Dream Soda’) you still had a fourth member. Was there any difference in the writing or recording process now that there’s only three of you instead of four?
Matt: Not massively, the most important thing was that we felt kind of liberated to do what we wanted to do. It was a tough year or so between us releasing ‘Dream Soda’ and starting to write this record. We had management problems and lost a member. When we sat down to write it, it was quite cathartic because we wanted to expel a lot of those emotions and move on.
Tom: It was almost like remembering why we fucking love doing this and just sitting back down to write tunes.
Matt: Straight away we were in, we wrote 90 per cent of the songs on this album in a two-week period where we went to a little cottage in Wales and wrote there. We tried to do two or three songs a day and all the ideas came out of that. Really quickly we were back on our feet, we were ready to go again.
The last song on the album, ‘Fresh Outta Luck’, has quite a stark contrast between the lyrics and the light, almost happy instrumentals, is there any reason why you did that?
Watch: 'Gods I've Seen' (unplugged):
Tom: It embodies the vision of the album, doesn’t it? It’s this bittersweet song which has little tinges of hope to it, but it’s a bit of an anthem for the disenchanted.
Matt: It’s got a modern message about what I think a lot of people our age are experiencing, but it’s quite a chipper little tune. It sticks in your head and we like that.
You mentioned on social media that you don’t want to give in to the ocean of ‘vapid moronic bullshit pop that sells fuck tons’.
How difficult is it to create music with actual meaning and getting it out there and noticed by the right people?
Tom: There’s a feeling with this album that we’re starting to have a wider reach with it, and people have responded to it in a really positive way. You just hope that more people appreciate it so you can keep playing it for longer, but it’s undeniable that a lot of the music that we love from the 60s and 70s was the pop music then, and guitar music isn’t the music at the centre of the playground now, you know?
Matt: There’s a lot of industry reasons why people go for pop, a lot of people will buy what they’re sold and there’s not a lot of discerning between stuff. But for some people, guitars will always have that allure, it’s a way of expressing yourself. Guitars aren’t dead, it’s that the industry makes more money out of pop artists, you know?
But if you believe in what you’re doing, it’s alright to step out on a limb and be like. 'We fucking believe in this, this is better than all that shit'. People naturally respond to that because they can tell, people are very intuitive when it comes to that stuff.
Do you think there’s still actual good music out there now, or is it mostly a thing of the past?
Matt: It’s just what’s on Radio 1, isn’t it? It’s more that the popular music is covering it up a bit, but good music is always here.
Adam: It’s just that less and less risks are being taken and less and less money is put behind the art. They’re businesses, they’re not going to take the risk on developing someone a bit, they’re waiting for a third or fourth album before they get in touch.
Matt: That’s how it happens with bands, they build up their own thing for 10 years or so and when they’re finally ready to become massive, major labels are like, 'OK, now we can make a quick book', it’s all about the quick book.
"We won't bend to trends."
We’ve seen you guys refer to yourselves as a legacy band, what do you think about the current hype that’s starting to build around the band and 'Holy Doom'?
All jokingly: We’re not happy, I’ll tell you that! Piss off until album six!
Tom: No, I think it’s part of the growth. You hope that everything you do in the life of the band is a step forward. It’s cool to pour everything into something and see that people appreciate that. I think what we’re talking about when we talk about being a legacy band is the idea that we have a lot to give.
Matt: The cream always rises to the top and we’ve always had the thought that we’re not going to bend to trends, we will just do what we want to do and if you keep doing stuff that you love, people will get on board, that’s the general idea really. Expect nothing and expect everything at the same time.