Detroit Social Club - The Music Fix interview
Detroit Social Club. Already the name catches your eye and your imagination. Images of The Motor City and the legendary music it produced fill your head. Then you have a listen to one of the band's singles, say the majestic Forever Wonderland, with its galloping thunder of crunchy guitar licks followed by David Burn’s sultry vocals. And now you are hooked. This sextet from Newcastle could well be one of the reigning new bands of 2010. Epic, poetic, this is music that goes through your head and straight to your heart.
2009 was a busy year for the band. In between tireless gigging, which included opening for the now defunct Oasis at their Bridlington Spa show last August, the band completed work on their first album which will be released on Fiction Records later this year. Band leader David Burn took time out to talk about the band, his views on X-Factor, The Gallaghers, and what 2010 might hold in store.
Can you tell me a bit about how the band started? What brought you all together?
The band was initially just me messing about in my studio, when I wasn’t recording other bands. I had no intention of starting a band, or ever doing anything with the music. Putting the stuff up on Myspace resulted in quite a bit of interest from managers and labels. All of them said they’d need to see the thing live and at that point I was really interested to see how it would come together on stage, so I got the band together. It was a mix of people I already knew, and people who practiced at the rehearsal rooms I owned. Our first gig had three labels and two managers there, so from the off there was quite a bit of pressure. We have always been playing catch up with where we were at any point. Because the interest we had, and the progress we made last year, people always assume we’ve been together for years.
How long have you been together, and has it been the same line up?
Since summer of 2007, and its always been the same.
What inspired the name of the band? Are you influenced by music from that area like Motown? Or more bands like MC5 and Iggy and The Stooges?
The music I was originally doing was quite American inspired, as I'd visited New York in 2006 and I found it really inspiring. I wanted a name for the project that represented the north of England heritage that was obviously northeast related, hence the social club bit, and something that highlighted the American vibe that was going on at the time. I was also studying American history at uni, and have always been fascinated by Detroit, from the birth of the industrial revolution, to its obvious place in music history.
Who are your musical influences?
It's very varied. I take a lot from the direction of 60s bands such as The Stones or The Small Faces but also love Beck and Primal Scream. All of the bands that are listed on our Myspace page have played their part in what I'd consider a good sound. You never try and obtain sounds that your influences have, but it directs you, makes you answer questions in a certain way that results in your eventual sound.
What inspires your song writing?
I’m not really aware of what does, but I suppose its life, about what I have been through, or am going through. It’s a way for me to speak to people in a way I might not be able to otherwise. But musically, its probably more subconscious than that. Its just me messing about with sounds and stuff, so is probably inspired by what I’ve been listening to recently, or my interpretation of things going on at that time.
You’ve opened for some top bands; Jet, Twisted Wheel, Primal Scream, and this other one…what were they called again? Oh yeah, Oasis. In fact you have the distinction of being the last band to open for them before the big Liam/Noel catfight. What was it like working with them? What were they like? Did you see any signs that the end was near?
I didn’t talk to Liam, but Noel was very friendly. He had a bitof a craic about our music and our album. To be asked personally by them was a huge compliment, and I think we did ourselves proud. Oasis’ crowds are normally hard to please, but we came away from it with a lot of new fans.
Liam and Noel didn’t have their dinner together, they didn’t sound check together etc, so I suppose the signs were there, but you don’t think about it when your there. It's only after, and with hindsight, that you think about it.
Your new album will be coming out early this year. Can you give us any hints on what to expect?
Yeah, I’m really excited by it, we haven’t released anything since last March, which is too long. Its took a long time, but I think its more important to take your time, to make sure its right. I think for anyone who has seen us live, they probably think were this big guitar band, but the album isn’t like that, it’s a lot more musically integral, rather than relying on the volume of a guitar to capture peoples attention. So I think it may surprise a few people. It may also disappoint a few, but you cant please everyone!
How do you feel about Rage Against The Machine becoming Christmas Number One? What are your views on the whole X-Factor phenomena?
Up til this year, I was really pissed off about the whole X Factor thing, not for what it was doing to music, but what it was doing to us as a whole nation. It was dumbing down telly, and the people watching it. You could call it simple good fun, but it's not. You can see the ripples that have seeped down into people from it. They now put more work into voting for this than they do for a general election. It's other programmes such as Big Brother that have helped as well.
To pacify my hatred for it though, I have started to look at X Factor not as music, but as a completely separate entity. Music is about creation, about people expressing themselves. The product of X factor isn’t, it’s a business. A money making commodity, and that’s all. So its pointless getting annoyed about it. Yes people now turn to these clowns instead of going down to a local gig, but at the same time you could argue that the record sales these people generate have propped up the major labels for a few years now, allowing them to spend on new acts.
The thing is, people who are into guitar bands and the like, are mostly the people who are downloading music illegally. Your average 14 year old X Factor fan is paying for their music. That means that when Radio 1 decide what to play, they look at the sales stats. They think no one wants to listen to guitar music because of it. People should stop file sharing, and buy the music they want to listen to. Places like the BBC and MTV will sit up and take notice. It’s the only way we can show them what we want to see and listen to, and we need to start doing something about it.
You said recently that unlike other decades the noughties had little to offer the world as regards to music. Do you have much hope for the next decade?
You never know. There may be a 12 year old kid sitting in his bedroom right now, and in 6 years time he could change the face of music as we know it. You just don’t know. The one thing that is worrying is the state of things in the industry. People like him don’t have as much space, or as big a voice to be innovative, to demand change, or show his naked ideas. The worse the industry is, the more people will have to adhere to a pre-written script, the more people will be molded into what the labels feel is a winning formula. That is worrying, and the next decade is surely the make or break decade for music as we know it. In 2020, the industry will be completely different to how it is now, either In a good way, or a bad way. Looks at how much its changed since 2000, for the bad. Its scary to look around and think about where it will be in ten years.
So aside form the new album, what re your plans for the new year?
Just to get out on the road as much as possible really. To meet as many people as we can, to travel as much as possible, but most of all, to enjoy it. That’s all anyone can expect out of life really.