- Mon, 2007-09-17 14:00
Nothing Means Everything, the debut album from Scotland’s finest, encapsulates all that you will soon come to love about The Dykeenies. Recorded at Rockfield Studios, it grabs you from the off and offers no respite until it’s had its filthy way with you.
From forthcoming single and album standout Stitches anthemic background of glittery new wave guitars, to the uplifting Clean Up Your Eyes – a joyful and moving love song for the 21st Century - each of its eleven songs demonstrate the undeniable talent of this young band.
It’s Waiting For Go, however, that perhaps captures The Dykeenies at their urgent, epic best. Clocking in at a mere two and a half minutes, it bubbles over with the frustration and burning desire that comes from a youth misspent in satellite towns before climaxing in Brian’s towering, megaphone-assisted announcement that “I’m terrified of you, but not running away/ My heart it was the stage, you never played the game.”.
“It was one of the first songs we ever wrote,” says Andy, “Sitting in a backroom in Cumbernauld, dreaming up ways of how we could get out of it…”
Needless to say, The Dykeenies have found their route out. I Like Music caught up with lead singer, Brian, to talk about the album, recording in the famously haunted Rockfield studios and marriage proposals at T in the Park.
“I Like Music because… it’s the reason I get up in the morning.” Brian, The Dykeenies
ILM: Your new single, Stitches, is out now (released Sept 10, 2007). Can you tell us how the track came about and describe its whole vibe?
Brian: It started of with the actual guitar riff. Then, the actual lyrical content of it came about after I had an operation on my jaw and I was given a bit of time off from the band and I thought about the things you can take for granted when you’re young. I was thinking about the things I used to enjoy when I was young. Like, when you were young you used to love playing in the rain but now you’re more concerned about the way your hair is sitting. And, when you were younger when you fell, you’d run home and ask your mum for a plaster and think it was a cool thing to run back outside and show your friends how your knee was all bandaged up, but you don’t get that when you’re grown up. So that’s what the song’s about.
ILM: Your debut album, Nothing Means Everything: released September 17th. Which track did you most enjoy laying down in the studio?
Brian: Probably my favourite track would be Waiting For Go. It’s my fondest memory because it was the first track we properly recorded at Olympic studios in London with Jim Abbas. It took four days and we’d never worked like that before. We wrote it and then did it live which made it sound stronger and it was such a good experience, so I’m really fond of the memory of those four days working on that one song those four days
ILM: And you’ll always remember it.
Brian: Definitely it’s still my favourite song on the album and one I never tire of listening to.
ILM: Your album was Produced by Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Idlewild), what did you learn from him about making music?
Brian: Definitely. Dave it’s an outstanding producer, so everything about what he did captured the vibe of the record. A lot of people get lost in making things too perfect, whereas Dave wanted things flawed. So there are little secrets on the record that made it new and added something to it. When we recorded it he set up the vocal room and he had 100 metres of tube lighting and he set it all up to capture the vibe, so little things like that made it relaxed, so there was a warmth to recording.
The days of recording we used this mansion just off Cardigan Bay and every room in the house was used to record a different instrument. The bass was set up in one room and the bass in another room. The living room became the drumming room. That’s such a unique way of doing things.
ILM: You also worked at Rockfield Studios in Wales with Dimitri Tikovoi (Placebo). How was that? Isn’t it haunted?
Brian: We heard the stories that it was haunted but we thought it was a joke. Even on the Oasis DVD for Definitely Maybe they talk about it how the Stone Roses were winding them up telling them that Rockfield was haunted.
But Adam stayed in room number nine and told us one morning that during the night the covers had been pulled off his bed. And on the day we found that out, we heard the story that some girl had claimed she’d been raped by a ghost in Rockfield and she’d said she had the physical marks to prove it.
We were talking about recording the second album and how we’d love to record it at Rockfield and Adam said he definitely wouldn’t be staying in room number nine.
It was an amazing place for us even just to visit because of all the bands that have been there. It’s the place where Freddie Mercury wrote Bohemian Rhapsody. We’d find footsteps in the snow that couldn’t be explained and that didn’t lead anywhere. The TV in my room kept switching itself on and off. And the soap kept falling onto the floor every time one of us was in the shower. It must’ve been the ghost of Freddie!
ILM: Wow, it must be an amazing vibe working there, soaking up the creative energies?
Brian: Yeah, even Robert Plant when he split up with his wife, he wasn’t recording but he moved into Rockfield for six months and just stayed there because he felt so at home. It’s so true; it’s such a good place and has such a good energy about it. Some venues have the same vibe; you feel that good things have happened creatively there before.
ILM: How was your homecoming gig at T in the park?
Brian: It was amazing yeah. We didn’t know what to expect because we hadn’t played any of the Scottish dates yet on the tour. So we turned up and The Hold Steady were on before us, but they’d been late as they’d performed at Oxygen the day before, so they were late for their performance. So a lot of people turned up to see them but then left, and 20 minutes before our set the tent looked empty, but by the time we went on stage the tent was packed. It was a case of one in one out, and it was a massive capacity tent, with a good thousand people or so. And it was great hearing the crowd shouting the lyrics back to us.
That’s what it’s all about isn’t it. You can get told how many records you’ve sold, but it’s not until you play live that you get to really connect with fans and see the reaction for yourselves?
It was great to see with songs like Waiting For Go, to see the crowd really get into it; it’s like a lager anthem so the crowd get really behind it.
ILM: I read that your set included a marriage proposal?
Brian: A guy had been in touch with us via MySpace and said he’s a big fan of T in the Park and his girlfriend and him were big fans of the Dykeenies, so he asked us and we said yeah, so half way through the set, we stopped and said this guy Craig wanted to propose to his future wife. She said yes.
ILM: That’s brilliant. Can you describe the Dykeenies process of making such good music?
Brian: Most of the time it’ll start from one member of the band who’ll have their own individual idea; either a riff, a chord structure or a theme. Then we’ll all get together and chip in and build on it. We always build the songs together, although there’ll be one emotion as it can sound a bit disjointed with five different writers. We all muck in and the songs write themselves to be honest.
ILM: You’re on tour from next week. What’s your favourite track to play live?
Brian: Probably Pick You Up. There’s an acoustic version that’s been available for a while and everyone’s learned the words from that version and it’s become one of the crowd favourites and even though people haven’t heard the full band version they sing a long to every word. It’s quality to do that. Live it’s got such a massive sound. Plus it’s easy to sing as well.
ILM: Your band is made up of brothers and best friends, you obviously know each other well. Can you tell me the best characteristic and worst habit about each other?
Brian: Alan Henderson (guitar): He’s got anger issues, a really bad temper, but at the same time he always mucks in.
Andrew Henderson (bass): He doesn’t speak very good English, but at the same time he’s always there to lend a helping hand.
Steven Ramsay (guitar): He’s terrible. No, I’m joking, he’s an all round good guy and makes a brilliant cup of tea but he can’t make toast, that’s his downfall.
John Kerr (drums): He’s probably one of the laziest folk I’ve met in my life. He doesn’t tidy up and he doesn’t like to set up his own gear. But, at the same time he’s easy to communicate with when you’re working with the band, so he’s easy to work with.
Me (Brian – vocals and keys): I don’t have any negative characteristics. I’m just a likeable guy.
ILM: You guys are from Cumbernauld, a Glaswegian new town that was voted the worst city in Britain in 2005. Sounds harsh. What’s the best and worst thing about it?
Brian: The worst thing is definitely the shopping centre; it’s the most terrible looking thing I’ve ever seen. But it’s listed, so the folk, the conglomerate that own it refuse to knock it down and it just sits there. Everyone in Cumbernauld knows it’s horrible. It’s been voted the ugliest building in Britain. Kevin Mcleod of Grand Designs and Janet Street Porter have done programmes on it. But they won’t take the hint. They invest more money into it and they add on little extensions to this horrible shopping centre. They just won’t admit that it’s disgusting.
The best thing about Cumbernauld is the Abronhill centre for young kids. It helps them out and gets them off the street.
ILM: What is your advice for young people just starting out in their careers on achieving their dreams? Doing what they want career wise?
Brian: First and foremost, start a band with people you feel comfortable with. Friends are always the easiest to start a band with because you’ve known them for a long time and are a lot more familiar with them, so if you don’t like something you’ll say and its easier to communicate with each other. Once you’re writing songs you need the best team for the job, so you need to make sure you can communicate well with each other.
The Dykeenies are Brian Henderson (vocals & keys), Alan Henderson (guitar), Andrew Henderson (bass), Steven Ramsay (guitar) and John Kerr (drums)