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A VERY NORTHERN CHAT - INTERVIEW WITH DAVE BURN (DETROIT SOCIAL CLUB) BY MEL

Detroit Social Club, a band formed in Newcastle, as the name suggests it’s a nod to David’s love of American music, and a wink to the Northern men’s working clubs. It’s been quite a whirlwind for the relative newcomers who are causing a big stir amongst the music scene, receiving some rave reviews and hitting us with big passionate sound, integrating honesty with rousing anthems. Voted in NME’s reader’s poll as the 13th best band of the summer. They released an excellent debut album ‘Existence' which introduced us to some dazzling, haunting melodys, accompanied by a few memorable videos. Burns writes straight from the heart, utilising not only life’s experiences but also his obsession with American music and history (the latter he studied at Uni). If you’re a sky sports fan you might have noticed the orchestral theme tune ‘Northern man’ which happens to feature on Premier League and Champions League football coverage. I am in no way a footy fan but this just happens to be the new single by Detroit Social Club. They’ve been doing the rounds of the Summer festivals and preparing to hit the road with their headlining UK tour. I interrupt the frontman David Burn during rehearsals for a little lively northern banter.

DAVID: Hello Mel, how are ya doing? I know you sent the questions through but as there were so many questions I thought we’d have a proper chat better than a written thing.

MEL: Hi, I’m fine thanks. Are we ready to start, [whey ey] obviously your talking to me now but what are you currently doing?

DAVID: We’re actually doing a session on Dermot O’Leary session on Radio 2 Saturday; it’s like an acoustic performance so we’re in the middle of rehearsing ‘Northern Man’ and a cover. We’re gonna do ‘Heart Of Gold’ by Neil Young. We’re sat in the rehearsal room going through that, for about the seven hundredth time ‘cos it’s a live performance with about 2 million listeners, so we’ve pretty much gotta get that well rehearsed.

MEL: Are you ready for the headline tour of the UK, which starts in Birmingham (don’t miss it readers)!

DAVID: Yea, we’re really looking forward to it, the festivals have been amazing. Everywhere we played we filled the tent, which is amazing for a new band. Even like V it was the busy it was all day for us. So obviously, now we’re looking forward to playing our headline tour seeing how that progressing into our own gigs, it’s a different kind of thing. Festivals are amazing cos you’re playing to a massive amount of people, but your own headline tour people’s paid a tenner to come and see you, so you’re a bit more passionate in front of your own fans. We’re just in the middle of rehearsing and getting the light show sorted and things like that.

MEL: Have you any interesting support bands lined up?

DAVID: We’ve got ‘Sound Of Guns’ are doing our whole tour. They are a good band from Liverpool; we’ve done quite a few gigs with them and get on really, really well. There doing quite well at the minute, so we’re looking forward to going on the road with them. They’re nice lads, and it always ends up with one too many drinks with them. It’s a perfect tour. We’ve got a few local bands on at a few gigs, like Birmingham and London. Looking forward to catching up with everyone and having a good time. [I’m hoping to get to the Manchester show at The Ruby Lounge] Oh right cool, yea.

MEL: Can you just introduce the band for the readers that might not know about yourselves, who are you?

DAVID: We’re a quintet from Newcastle who play loud, psychedelic ansemic songs, ones that you can hug your friends to and sing-along to. Do you think that’s a fitting description?

MEL: Yea, yea, [good] I know your Dave the singer, who are the other guys in the band?

DAVID: There is David Green – the drummer, Chris McCourty or Corty as he is actually called – the bass, Jonathan Barton – the guitarist or Bondy as we call him, can you see a pattern here, and Dave Knight or Knighty as we call him who is the keyboard player. [I hope I can understand this when I am playing it back] You’ll have to get someone to translate it [laughs]

MEL: What’s the musical history of the band?

DAVID: It was 2007 – 2008 it was just me messing around; I had a studio in Newcastle, just me putting my ideas down without a band. I got quite a bit of interest and a bit of management interest. I put the band together in about March 2008, had our first gig in the summer of 2008 and the rest as they say is history

[Had the guys been in other bands?]Yea, they were, they were people who came and recorded in the studio and just people who I though had something about them. Obviously I enjoyed their playing or whatever, so asked them to come on board and luckily they all said yes.

MEL: Do any of you have any other talents/skills outside of music, any other hobbies, and interests?

DAVE: Corty our bass player used to be an under 12’s champion gymnast, [oh right] but you don’t actually believe us but if you come to our gig in Manchester I’ll get him to do standing on his head, he can balance on the barrier at the front of the stage and walk from one side to the other. [laughs] I think if he wasn’t in a band he’d be in a circus [laughs]. Let’s think in terms of talent that’s about it really.

MEL: What about unusual jobs?

DAVE: Bondy used to work in Asda stacking shelves, he lasted all of 3 days, he did a Jimmy from Quadrophenia style resignation. Where he went in and told his boss where to go. Davy used to work at Subway and he only lasted a day. Oh Courty has another skill, he used to work in the Casino dealing cards and stuff, so if you give him a pack there’s nothing he can’t do with a pack of cards. He can put his hands three foot from each other, and still spray them perfectly from one hand to the other.

MEL: So, we know what you’ll all be doing on the road [laughs].

DAVE: Ay, poker and he’s the dealer, we can’t play against him he’s too good.

MEL: What first got you interested in music, as far back as you can remember?

DAVE: I think it was Crowded House and just that kind of connection. My Da when I used to have a relationship with him, whenever we were in the car driving anywhere he’d always have music on, he loved music, but it was always like Level 42 and Billy Joel. Even as young as 6 or 7 I can remember sitting listening to Billy Joel and stuff like ‘Tell Her About It’ and listening to the words and it used to conjurer up my imagination. I used to love it. When I was about 12/13 I bought the greatest hits by Crowded House, I just fell in love with them and that made me pick up a guitar and escalating from there and once you get into music it snowballed. [Is that the early 80’s?] They were kind of around in the mid 80’s and that but I got an album called ‘Recurring Dreams’ the best of which would have been ’93/94. I’d been 11 or 12, [how old are you now?] I’m 29 now, getting on a bit [laughs]

MEL: What’s the first single and album you remember buying?

DAVE: First album was actually that Crowded House ‘Recurring Dream’ but I also got another album when I went to buy that one, which I probably shouldn’t admit to. It was M People ‘Elegant Slumming’ – remember that? [Dave sings a few lines]. The first single I ever bought was probably ‘Whom The Bells Tolls’ by Bee Gee’s [Dave sings a few lines once more]. The Bee Gee’s are classic, can you remember that song that Sting, Rod Stewart and someone else [Dave sings - “Now it’s all for one, all for love, if you let your feelings show”] it’d be one of those two, which ever is the most credible I’ll admit to [laughs].

MEL: When/how did you find yourself wanting to be in a band and making it a full time career?

DAVE: I think when your sixteen years old and your in a band, your heads full of dreams and ambition. I was listening back then to Oasis, blur and all that. It made you believe you could take on the world and you can do anything you want. When you’re sixteen its kinda like false ambition, all the bravado of being young, your not really sure where you should fit into the world and stuff. So it was back then and it was when I left Nissan I set the studio up, I wanted to do music for a living but I thought realistically the best way and only way is by doing something like a recording studio, so that’s what I started doing. It was ironic that when I stopped believing that I could ever do it in a band is when it started happening in a band. Maybe there’s something to be said for that? I started writing music for me, not for what I thought was gonna get us signed or something like that.

MEL: What’s your favourite musical period?

DAVE: I’ve only lived really in the nineties or noughties as there called, but if I could go back in time, obviously I’ve heard music from all decades, but the Sixties for me. To me in America the Sixties were my ideal period, I’m well into American history, especially contemporary history. Whether it’s the Ronettes or people like that, there’s so much more. [There are a few girls similar to The Ronettes coming out now]Ey well they are trying.

MEL: Would it be The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

DAVE: Oh, Rolling Stones, I think, actually nah, it’s a hard one that isn’t it. I think you get caught up in the rivalry and all that but retrospectively its hard cos The Rolling Stones have taught us so much about innovation and the way we used to record the music and stuff were as The Beatles have just amazing songs, can’t mess with that like. It’s just brilliant - you can’t really decide between the two of them.

MEL: The debut album was released in May with great artwork, quite iconic some might remark it has Sadomasochist overtones - but inspired by the photographer Ralph Meatyard and the artist Caravaggio – do you think you’ll continue to use this kind theme as your signature?

DAVE: Nah, its fit this album quite well as it’s an existential theme to a lot of the songs that I found I was writing. It fits in with all that but what we tried to do the artwork fit in all the principals of existentialism, it suited quite well but I am hoping the next album – I mean it depends what it sounds like – the album obviously proceeds the music and you have bounce of the music you’ve written to try and get it something that fits quite well. If the next album is quite optimistic then I’ll totally put something in, try and use something that has a lot more lights, colours, a lot more primary stuff in it. This album has a dark, reflective kind of tone to it. I think it fits well with the music that’s on the album.

MEL: You write from quite deep personal experiences, do you ever feel like your giving away too much about yourself?

DAVE: Definitely, I think there’s been certain songs, were not necessarily about revealing myself but I remember when I first wrote ‘Chemistry’ it was for my little girl and it was just intended to be a song that I record just be mine and her song. Eventually I got convinced by the rest of the lads, cos they loved the song, to use it and record it for the album. It took me a little while to make my mind up about that, because it wasn’t about giving away anything to people. It was a personal song I wrote for a personal reason. I’m glad I did I’m proud of the song now and the way it was recorded. It’s all first person kind of lyrics, at the end of the day how much is too much? I’m a person if someone knows something about my life, I’m not ashamed of anything, or there’s nothing I wouldn’t sit and I talk to someone about. [You’re quite open on your blogs and website, you’re quite revealing on those aren’t ya?]. I think that’s the only way you can write anything that’s genuine is by being far more personal, believing in music needs to be genuine, then stopping short and putting barriers in. A lot of the songs are written in a very sort of intense period, were something has just happened to us and I always find that’s the best time to write. When you get it down you can’t change it ‘cos you worry that people might know too much about you.

[Is it very immediate writing?] Yea, but the things is a lot of people who know us and ‘cos of that they love the music, they’ll feel like they know us. That's one thing that I love about Guy Garvey's lyrics, I’ve never met him but I feel as though I could sit and talk with him for a couple of hours about the things that have gone on in his life or whatever, because of the lyrics that I’ve heard from him. I think that’s obviously a good thing.

MEL: At what age did you start writing songs, can you remember the first one you wrote?

DAVE: It would be about sixteen or seventeen; they were terrible like [laughs]. [Can you remember the first one you wrote?] I remember a song called ‘Carrie’s Song’ about a character, which is strange cos I don’t really do any character based writing now in terms of music. It was about a girl who killed herself from a drug overdose; it was quite dark and it went….[little blast of a tune]. It was terrible! [laughs]

MEL: Going onto your next single – ‘Northern Man’, released next month, you wrote the song in relation to your late night chat with a friend,  was your friend flattered by this? I think we all know a ‘Northern Man’ !

DAVE: [laughs] You’ve done your research haven’t ya. No, because it’s not particularly positive. I remember we were in a similar situation when we were probably full of drugs and drink and I actually told him it was about him. I think he was flattered that I’m enough of a friend that I thought about him enough, that it was on my mind and a subject that I felt worthy of writing a song. He’s certainly not flattered in that sense. [So he’s reflected a little bit after listening to it?] Hopefully yea.

MEL: If you decided to pen a love song, which female singer would you chose to sing alongside ?

DAVE: Of all time or now? [Now I guess] Probably it would be Alisha Keys, here voice is absolutely amazing, there’s a lot of female singers coming out through like Beyonce. Definitely wouldn’t be Cheryl Cole though, imagine two Geordies, with the video on the Tyne Bridge and stuff. [“I really love you” – sings in a Geordie accent- laughs]

[What might the title be?] If it was Alisha Keys or Beyonce it would be something along the lines of …. ‘Let Me’ and then loads of question marks. [Laughs]

MEL: The debut album was released in May and now you’re planning to go out on a headlining tour of the UK. How has the album been received by the press and media?

DAVE: On the whole its been class, we got some 9/10 generally it was well received. We got 7/10 in the NME which its hit and miss with that magazine, but I was really pleased with that. We got a couple of negative reviews, not many bands across the board get all good reviews but I can definitely live with what we got. [Any quotes you were delighted with or pissed you off?]

There was one that they only gave us a 3/5 but I really love the review ‘cos it was going on about the song writing so that something which I take a lot of pride in. I don’t dwell too much on them to be honest with ya. I do read them, there were a few negative comments in the NME one, not saying I agreed that it should be a negative thing but what they were saying what they would consider as a negative I agreed with the point they were making but actually thought it was a positive thing.

I take them on board; but never sit and think oh they said that and this; I couldn’t even pull a quote from the top of my head to be honest with ya.  [Do you read all your live reviews?] No, I think I used to a when the band first started, couple of years ago, but not now. You do by human nature, take them on board and think about everything too much. Once you’ve done so many gigs the excitement of reading about yourself from someone else’s opinion, negative or positive kind of wanes, it becomes less important than you doing gigs for a reason than you enjoy it, but when you first start of its all new.

MEL: Let’s talk about some of the tracks off the album: Loving the first track, the unmistakable haunting sound of ‘Kiss The Sun’ but which is your favourite track on the album?

DAVE: Probably the hidden track, ‘Mindwar’ it took me about a year to write the lyrics for it. It was probably the most relevant for where my head was at to kick forward into recording the album.

[‘Prophecy’ is my 2nd favourite; what is the inspiration behind this track?] It was kind of about the power we all have as human beings, I read a book about phenomena's and society and all that. It just me think about how our words are very important and we might meet someone in a club or we might talk to someone on the phone – like we are now and we might just say one phrase, one sentence, one little chime of wisdom that actually you don’t think of and you go away for the rest of your life without thinking anything. You might significantly change someone’s life with that one thing. A couple of times that’s happened to me I’ve been lucky enough where someone year later turned around and said “oh you know when you said this to us it really made sense”. I just thought oh I didn’t even think, its kinda what I was trying to get across the power that people have and I think we should all take the time to talk to someone.

MEL: In your blog it says you don’t like the term ‘Rock n Roll’ how would you prefer the band to be described?

DAVE: I just think rock n’ roll its an excuse for people to fuck themselves up. What does rock n roll mean its just a mentality. I’d just rather be described as a band playing honest music that people can get into. It’s honest its not just a fake thing. I don’t know how you’d sum that up in a single phrase.

MEL: Talking of blogs what is your next offering going to be about?

DAVE: Well, I haven’t had time to even start yet but I had an idea of over the summer of talking loads and loads of notes. An idea of doing like a fake article with a pseudonym – have you seen ‘Almost Famous’ the film? [Yea]. Well I was thinking of doing a record of our summer from a prospective of a 15 year old kid who comes out on the road for the first time and writing it all from his prospective, but I had this idea a few weeks ago and haven’t even had time to start it. Hopefully I’ll get time very soon after this weekend.

MEL: I believe you love touring and played the rounds of the Summer Festivals, how did you go down with the crowds and which has been the best show so far?

DAVE: It was absolutely amazing, every festival we have done we’ve filled the tent. More than so than many other bands that has played with higher billing than us.

The compare said we had the biggest crowd for nearly 10 years. Glastonbury was probably the best one, for me anyway, first time I’ve ever been to Glastonbury its kind of like amazing to go and do it.

[The highlight of Glastonbury for you, best band you saw live?] I had two highlights, there was Thom Yorke he did an acoustic solo set, on the Park stage which was absolutely amazing, in particularly when he did ‘Karma Police’ it was absolute fun, the whole crowd had a sing-along with him, it was brilliant, there was only about two thousand people there, and it was like a secret gig.

The second highlights was probably when I was absolutely off my tits on Sunday night up at stone circle, looking over Glastonbury with one of my best mates who had come to Glastonbury to watch us and I spent the Sunday with him. We kind of looked over at Glastonbury and we were talking about the enormity of what we have done getting to play, which was amazing first of all and how much it meant to us. That half an hour conversation we had with him looking over the enormity of the country of Glastonbury and talking about what we’ve managed to achieve.

MEL: Fuji Rocks in Japan must have been an awesome experience, how did you get through the long flight (noted you’re scared of flying)!

DAVE: Oh, I hate flying man. It was funny we did a student ball in Cambridge last year; and one of the acts in The Green Room was a hypnotist so I actually spoke to him about it  he said he’d cure us, he talked to us about different things. I actually had no problems getting on the plane, it was weird and when we took off I had a bit of a sort of squeeze the chair moment, but in general I was alright. [how long was the flight] 12 hours going there and 13 and half going back, then we had to fly to Paris on top of that, so it was a long, long trek but I quite enjoyed the flight weirdly enough.

[Was it worth it though in the end when you got on stage? Who was headlining that festival?]Yea it was amazing over there. Muse and Roxy Music headlining the day we played. Unfortunately we did our won gig, didn’t get to see much of the festival as we were taken straight off we had to go to Tokyo.

MEL: Last year you supported Oasis at their last ever show and have also supported Primal Scream and Razorlight - any interesting highs and lows from any of these shows?

DAVE: Oh plenty of highs [laughs]. For me the highlights were three days in Ireland with Primal Scream, it was just three best days of my life, just made very, very welcoming, just watching them man. It was funny ‘cos when we first got there, their tour manager came up to our tour manager and said “look a bunch of young lads having a good time, keep em off drugs, I’m trying to keep all these dry” and literally by the second night Bobby Gillespie was like “have you got any pills lads” full of drugs and that, it was amazing [laughs]. Oasis as well, Noel coming over to us talking to us before the gig about our music and stuff, obviously for someone who’s been massively important and in a certain part of my life was it was a big honour to do. It was class, a brilliant experience.

MEL: How would you encourage people to come and see your live shows in one poetic sentence? – I know its difficult of the cuff I know at this point I leave you speechless.

DAVE: erm….erm….its not often that I’m speechless, been at practise all day my creative juices are running out. [for someone who doesn’t know you, why should they come to your show]just make something up I’m tired its been a long day. Passion, commitment, and tunes, how about that?

MEL: What’s the plan for the next 12 months? Any plans for more writing, tours overseas, TV shows – world domination perhaps?

DAVE: We’ve got the tour coming up, loads of writing to do, see what comes up, have a mess about with some new songs, doing some TV shows if we humanly possibly can, if we get offered them. [have you tried Joolz Holland or anything like that?] I believe that there is a potential for doing this around the single, so hopefully we’ll do that, it’ll be a laugh. Yea, so lots of recording and writing in our studio, play as many gigs as we can to try and spread the word.

MEL: Leave us with a bit of inspiration for the day – famous last words from yourself – anything! [At this point I leave Dave speechless again]

DAVE: Your pinning this on us aren’t ya, - shouts “Lads give us a line of inspiration to leave the interview with] have you heard the silence, can you hear, there all very wise people here. What about….When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom,just  let it be.

MEL: That’s great, [laughs]thanks for your time and have a great weekend. Catch up with the band at a town near you.

‘A maelstrom of thundering drums and sleazy guitars capable of making you fly higher than Icarus’ – NME live review

http://www.detroitsocialclub.net
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Interview by Mel
Photos thanks to Krissy Kemp (from the Northern Man video shoot)