Demob Happy – Interview 2018

Demob Happy are back – and my word they are back! The have brought with them Holy Doom, their sophomoric effort which features more of the sleaze, the swagger, the fuzz and the hooks that we’ve come to adore. The Brighton via Newcastle act have been together ten years now and it feels like they have just got into their stride with an album that is sure to be high up on our Best Of Year list. A lot has changed for these dirty rockers since 2015 when their seminal debut LP, Dream Soda, came out. The main thing being they have gone from a quartet to a trio. We questioned Matthew Marcantonio, when in Norway on a European tour with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, about their journey to this new album.

How are you feeling about the release of Holy Doom?
MATT: It’s really good to have people hearing it. It’s about a year since we wrote it and it’s coming out, we’re very happy with it.

In the two years since your debut, you went from being a four-piece to a three. How has it been adjusting to that?
2016 was quite a tough year for us. That all went on, we had relationship stuff going on, management stuff – a lot of hurdles really. I think a lot of the band might of called it a day after what we had to go through, but when we got the green light from the record label that they were up for doing another album with us, we got our heads down and did what we know how to do best.

How was the writing process on this new album?
There is this little place that we go to in Wales. We were there for about two weeks – there’s no internet or phone signal, we just take our instruments and write. It was really cathartic being out there. I’ve known the guys in the band so long now that no matter what happens, we have this unity where we can go into a room together, play music and have fun. And that’s what we did. We had about 70 ideas, about 40 of which were songs, and then demoed about 30 of them. We took them to the label to show them what we were thinking, but we had a strong idea of what we wanted to make.

When you announced the new album, you said that you wanted to create this album that was very clear in your heads. I feel there is a very assured sound to Holy Doom because of that. What were the ideas you wanted to explore?
There were certain things we wanted to do. The lads and I love singing, and an important thing for us is melody and harmonies – that’s something we’re now able to do fully. When we made Dream Soda, there were certain things technically which we didn’t know how to do. Sounds that we had in our heads, ones that we have been listening to for years and years on our favourite records and finding how to make that practically. In the years since that first album, we’ve become more knowledgeable on that. So now we had this idea of what we wanted and how to get it, as well as a really clear idea of the songs we wanted to write – the album kind of formed that way.

Where did you record the album and who with? As they have done a mighty fine job!
We co-produced it with Ian Davenport (Dinosaur Pile-Up, The Duke Spirit, Philip Selway) who did some stuff which we loved with Band Of Skulls, and the engineer was Christoph Skirl who we have worked with almost from day one in Brighton. He works from a studio in Eastbourne called Echo Zoo, which is where we did the first album, and it felt natural to head back because it’s familiar and he is great.

Do you have a favourite track on the album? I ask as I feel there are seven possible singles on Holy Doom.

The first track, ‘Liar In Your Head’, to me felt like the most honest representation of what we wanted to do with this sound we heard. Everything else you hear on the album adds different elements to it. I think we really nailed it on that track. ‘Holy Doom’, the title track, has a slightly different way to it and I also get to play keys. I was originally a piano player before I played bass. ‘Maker Of Mine’ has a message in it that I really believe in also. There are all my favourites, but if it came to it, ‘Liar In Your Head’ introduces and sets a great template for the album.

The artwork for Holy Doom is pretty special – could you tell me a little about it?
We were on tour and we only had a day to get it done. We do all our own artwork and graphic design, so me and the lads just sat down and thought what we can do which is a bit different. We are big fans of Hipgnosis and Storm Thorgerson who did The Dark Side of the Moon cover and loads of 10CC covers, as well as recent ones like Biffy Clyro. For me they have always set the standard for what a good album cover should be. Their covers always tell a story and that was what we wanted to do. We wanted to give it this classic look and we did that with certain cameras, but also for it to have this thing where you would hold it in your hands and think ‘What’s going on there’ and perhaps rotate it to try and work it out.

Read our album review of Holy Doom here.