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Departure - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 8 / 4 / 2005

Departure - Interview


Described as the forerunners of the new 80's revival, the Departure have had a meteoric rise since first forming little over a year ago and are now about to release their first album. Guitarit Lee Irons and bassist Ben Weaver speak to Anthony Strutt

The Departure have been described as the forerunners of the new 80's revival. Since forming in Northampton at the beginning of 2004, their rise has been meteoric. The five group, which consists of David Jones (vocals), Sam Harvey (lead guitar), Lee Irons (rhythm guitar), Ben Weaver (bass) and Andy Hobson (drums) signed to Parlophone, the Beatles' old label, last summer, shortly after completing their first UK tour playing support to the Killers. The Departure have drawn favourable comparisions with the Chameleons, the Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen. Jones' wry, observational lyrics, which merge cynicism with compassion, have also been the subject of much critical acclaim They have now released three singles, 'All Mapped Out', 'Be My Enemy' and 'Lump in My Throat', and also played further dates with the Gang of Four, Feeder and Placebo. Their debut album, 'Dirty Words', is due out in June. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Lee Irons and Ben Weaver at one of the Departure's own headlining shows in London. PB : I have been familiar with the music of the Departure for quite a while now. I first saw you supporting the Killers on their tour last June, two months before your debut single came out. That was your first big tour, wasn't it ? BW : Yes, it was. LI : It was our first tour. PB : You formed in January 2004 in Northampton. How did the band originally come together. Did you all meet at college? BW : We were all just mates really, hanging out in Northampton. I have known Dave since we were 9 years old as we went to school together. I have known Lee for a few years and Dave knew Sam. Dave came back from uni and we all just started hanging out together. We liked the same stuff and we just stuck together and wrote some songs. PB : How old are you all ? BW : We are all aged between 22 and 24. LI : I'm the youngest. I'm 22. Andy"s 24. Ben and Sam are both 23. Dave is also 22. PB : Dave did a media course. Did he do this because he knew he wanted to be a singer, and he wanted to see how the industry worked ? Did you all have jobs before the Departure? BW : There's been a lot of talk about the courses we did. I went and worked for HMV and did a music production course. Dave did a commercial music course but with both of us it was just so we could do music and meet musicians and play music, instead of going out and getting regular jobs. There's been a lot of talk in the media about Dave doing this course about how to get signed which is rubbish because you don't get courses like that as far as I am aware. LI : It was more a case of we didn't want to get a job and so we studied. That is what young people do. We are all into music, so in my case I left school, and went straight to college to study music and that's how I met Ben. We all, however. have studied music at one point. We all did different types of degree though. PB : Has the line up changed much. Have people come and gone? BW : Andy joined later. We weren't the Departure though until Andy was with us. Before then we had a few songs, and we had a drummer, but he was going to leave so it wasn't a proper band until Andy came along. The line up always just worked from the beginning. PB : You've said that you all did music courses. Had any of you guys been in bands before? BW : Just local college bands as you do, when you are young. I have been in bands with Dave since I was 19 or so. Dave and Sam had been in a band together before. It was just local stuff. PB : Nobody released anything then ? BW : No nothing. PB : Are you all still Northampton based ? LI : Yeah, I live with Andy. Ben lives around the corner. Dave also lives two minutes away. BW : Yes, it's a nice seperation from what is happening in London. It is nice to retreat and to concentrate on what we are about. PB : What kind of place is it to live in ? I was told that it can be quite violent. It used to be quite Goth-orientated. Is it still that way ? BW : It can be. There is an alternative scene. There's a place called the Soundhouse which has a Goth night each Saturday. Bauhaus came from Northampton. Their influence still hangs on, but it is just a town like anywhere else really. It's got a small scene and it's got a live scene. LI : I think it's like anywhere else. People have said to me before that it's violent but anywhere can be violent. You know where not to go on a Saturday night. PB : Bands you have been compared to include the Cure, the Bunnymen, and the Chameleons. Are you happy to be compared to these classic bands, and are you really aware of them ? I'm about double your age, so I grew up with them, but you didn't have that opportunity. BW : We played Portsmouth with the Killers, and some guy came up to us and said "You guys sound a bit like the Chameleons" and so the next day I went out and brought 'Script of the Bridge' and I absolutely fell in love with it and I think it is amazing. To me to be compared to the bands we get compared to is a privilege but we never went out and listened to those and settled for their sound. There must be something around at the moment because in the States you have got the Killers and Interpol, who are also referencing the same people. Perhaps it is simply that there is nothing new going on. I haven't heard anything new recently that I have been attracted too, so perhaps everyone has been doing the same and everyone's been looking back. PB : I think so because since Britpop nothing really new has happened. There's been no real new scenes. LI : It just went back to the whole club scene after that. I think it's time for guitar bands to be cool again, which is ridiculous really. Everything goes around in circles though. As a band we like loads of different stuff such as the Bunnymen and Depeche Mode. We all agree that they are great. That's the music we like, so that's why our sound just comes out the way it does. PB : You have done a hell of a lot of touring both by yourselves and also supporting others. You have toured with the Killers. You have just toured with Feeder and the Gang of Four, whom again people compare you to anyhow. You have also played Wembley with Placebo. Have any of these bands impressed you as people or as bands ? BW : The Killers impressed me as people and as a band. I hate it when you meet bands and they turn out to be arseholes. I don't see the point in arrogance in bands at all, because you are there simply to play music. LI : You're there for the same reason surely, so why get an ego about it. BW : The Killers were really sound guys, and helped us a lot. The Gang of Four live absolutely blew me away. I wasn't sure what to expect from a comeback tour. I was just so shocked. That was one of the best live shows I have ever seen. LI : We were pretty much in awe of them actually. BW : We just watched them for an hour and a half and we were like 'Oh, my God !" LI : We all watched them at the first show. Not all of us, but most of us were fans. We thought we would watch them to see if they had still still got it, They were amazing, so we felt quite priviliged to open for them. PB : You signed to Parlophone. You come with quite an indie edge.Were they a label you wanted to sign to. Were there other labels interested? BW :There was a lot of label interest initally. A lot of people told us to sign to an indie, but we got on really well with Parlophone. We looked at bands whom we are big fans of Blur and Radiohead, who are also signed to majors, and how they have also evolved in their careers. They have so much creative freedom. That's such a nice offer for a young band. We do get a lot of stick for signing straight to a major. Parlophone, however, offered us a good deal as a band. Not everyone gets offered such opportunities. PB : Most labels don't have a lot of cash. BW : We didn't sign for a massive amount anyhow. That's not how it works. We just wanted some creative freedom to get on with what we are doing. LI. :We did talk to a lot of labels, some indies, and some majors. With Parlophone we respected their roster. We also spoke to people in some of the other bands on Parlophone and they all praised them,. Yes, it is a major label but the whole label has got a very indie attitude. The way I see it is it is an indie label. PB :But with big distribution. LI. Exactly, we get all the creative freedom we want and we get to go out on tour, which is what we want to do, and more people get to hear our music which is a great thing. PB : You don't form a band to play to 30 people at the Barfly. BW : I hate this notion of signing just to be cool. I'm not talking about turning down money. I am talking about turning down opportunity. PB : 'Dirty Words' was pretty much recorded, so I believe, in 2 weeks, BW : Yeah it was about 2 to 3 weeks. We went down to Real World in Bath. We were fortunate to have enough space there to set up on a stage. Steve Osbourne, our producer, was egging us on to get out the best performance. We knocked it out live and then dropped in a few extra bits. PB : It does sound like it was done live. LI : That's what we wanted. BW : We wanted a lot of energy, and you lose that when you do multi tracking. PB : At the moment there's a new 80's scene. Are you happy to be tagged in with that ? BW. The press are always going to lump you in with whatever scene they can. We hope our music is going to continue through the scene. Good songs last. We are fortunate in that we can write good songs or we will in the future. PB : You haven't got a problem there at all. LI :We didn't start the Departure to be in a cool scene. When we started , there was no cool scene. Franz Ferdinand had just released their first single which we hadn't even heard. PB : The next single is 'All Mapped Out'. LI : Which is a re-release. PB : It sounds different on the album. Has it been remixed ? Are there other tracks on the album that have also been re-recorded ? BW : 'All Mapped Out' and 'Be My Enemy' are the original demos, which we did to try and get signed. 'All Mapped Out' has been remastered on the album. PB : I imagine when the album comes out you will have a full tour. BW : I'm sure we will be touring our arses off. PB : Are you going to be doing any festivals this summer ? BW : We are doing all the festivals in Britain apart from Reading and Leeds. PB : Have you played aboard yet ? BW : We went to Japan recently and that was absolutely incredible. Nothing has been released there yet. A single is coming out there this week. People were singing along in the audience and they were jumping around from the first drum beat of the first song, 'Be My Enemy.' It was incredible. LI : While we were there we played the Sonic Mania festival in Osaka and the first song we did was 'Be My Enemy' and we got our first mosh pit. It was amazing never having released anything seeing these people who haven't heard of us jumping around. We had also never been that far away from home before. PB : That's strange because I thought Japanese audiences were supposed to be restrained. BW : That's what I expected. They are really stylish as well. PB : You made your debut UK TV appearances at the weekend, for 'Top of the Pops Saturday' and 'T4.' Did you enjoy doing them? BW : Yes, I enjoyed the performance side of it, but we didn't expect to do the other bits for 'Top of the Pops Saturday.' Thank God, they didnt show a lot of it. LI : It was good fun. PB : There are three new songs on the album, that I am not familiar with, 'Arms Around Me', 'Time' and 'Don't Come Any Closer.' BW : 'Arms Around Me' is the most one recent that we have written for the album, Dave started that when we were mixing the album, and we came down and finished it off. That came together really quickly and we think it is a strong song. It's got a great riff at the end. It's one of our favourites. 'Time' was one of Dave's first songs and 'Don't Come any Closer' we wrote together just after we had come off tour. That one came together really quickly. We wrote it, had one practice and then we recorded it. PB : That's it. Thank you ,guys, BW and LI : Thank you.

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Departure - Interview

Departure - Interview

Departure - Interview

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