Hi, how are you?
Perfectly well thanks.
Would you mind introducing yourselves and telling us what instruments you play?
We are The Deadly Winters. Our members include Mike Edie (bass/vocals/percussion and cheeky lovability), Graeme Chyla (drums/percussion/tambo/claves and fags), Greg Jones (acoustic guitar/electric guitar/vocals, piano and tech stuff) and myself, Chris Blair (vocals/acoustic guitar/egg shakers and writing).
How long has the current band line up been together?
Well, the line up has been the same for a while, but this is a new project now, and although it features the same people, we are all out of our comfort zones, playing and singing parts we wouldn't normally be playing.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Pleasantly pleasing pieces of punchy powerful performances perforated by pretty pain-filled poetry…Perfect!
What have you been up to recently?
Recording our arses off! Im not joking either. We are doing our first album as The Deadly Winters and kinda want it to be as spot-on as we can make it. But, we have chosen to record it ourselves, so, with that decision comes all the problems and niggles that is normally sorted out for you by someone else.
What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
A plethora of live appearances, hopefully a few folk/acoustic style festivals, the debut album being released (hopefully to some, if not great, acclaim), then probably headlining the Hogmany gig in Princes Street at the end of the year. (you never know…)
How did you meet each other?
I met the guitarist Greg behind the cooked chicken counter at safeways, the drummer Chico, was poached from another band, and the bassist Mike was the only person to answer our 'bassist wanted' ad we had placed, so we just had to have him.
literally, we had to have him, no-one else was interested.
How did you come up with your name for the band?
Many frustrating hours compiling lists of nonsense-but-still-trying-to-sound-cool gibberish. I actually dug out the original sheets where all the names are scribbled for this interview, so lets see…
rRght, we have; The Smugglers, The Vintage, Craven, The Wastrels, and thats the better ones! I seem to recall that a favourite was Autumnfall for a while, but it lacked the bite, I think, that The Deadly Winters possess'.
Did you always want to be in a band?
Yes. Still do. Have no other ambition whatsoever other than writing and creating music.
What music did you listen to while growing up?
Myself, I mainly had my dads influence thrust upon me very early on and grew up with Deep Purple, Tull, Kate Bush, The Hollies, Wishbone Ash and then moved on to GNR, Nirvana etc…
The rest of the guys are similar, but vary a bit with Red Hot Chilli Peppers (which I happen to think a fucking awful band name thinking back to question 8), Oasis and Slipnot.
How long have you played your instruments?
Really!?? Thats too boring a question man, I dunno, 14 years each? something like that. Regarding the new percussion though, shakers/claves et al, probably about 2 months, and it is a complete shock to the system to be out of your depth with a new instrument so perhaps this question holds water after all. Sorry.
What were your first music making experiences?
Making a home made radio show on a 'Make Your Own Radio' childs kit, and trying to create the whole soundtrack to Bugsy Malone.
Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
All self taught, although I don't believe the rest of the guys when they say that, as they are all way too good to have learnt by themselves.
What is your current equipment?
Mainly acoustics (Takamine), a half drum kit set-up ( kick,snare and floor tom), and shit-loads of shakers and bottles of rice that sound nice when wielded.
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
A bus!!!! Last year we did the whole 'lets tour and live in a van' and my god, 6 men, in a van for 1 week with no washing was hellish!
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
Yeah, pretty much. We don't have enough money to be able to choose really. We keep our live stuff pretty much as close as possible to any studio work anyway. The album is all recorded live, no click tracks or any trickery like that.
Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
I generally write and write anyway so there are always songs available, but now that Greg is writing a lot too, its more interesting throwing all our ideas together and making it more of a 'collective' project, if you know what I mean.
Which software/recording process do you use?
This debut album has all been done in Greg's flat, just using the rooms natural reverb and his laptop with good old Pro Tools.
Would you sign with a major record company?
Of course. Wouldn't you kill to get paid big bucks for doing something you love? Values and pride don't really come into this whole media business. ..Unless you happen to be selling your soul to go on Big Brother that is.
Do you have any new recordings planned?
Yep. the debut self titled album, The Deadly Winters, will be available by the end of July so get in touch if you want a copy reserved.
How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
We have total control of all arrangments and production.
Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Personally, no. Unless your talking Rufus Wainwright or the Bee Gees, no.
I would love to write for others though. Girls aloud and the like.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Absolutely hate it. Love writing and playing, cant stand the studio. But surely that is a good think do you think? better to be out playing , rather than trundling out album after album..
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
Keep it as live and true to the original moment when that song was conceived for the first time. It generally keeps the magic in the song that little bit better.
Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
A Bad Man, Desperation, Bread and Wine and The Deadly Winter. All beautiful stories, lovingly recorded, and released as a gift from us, to you.
Who are the main songwriters for the band?
Up until now, myself, but Gregory's been working his little behind off, and coming out with some really nice stuff, so now both of us write for the band.
Do you have a method for writing songs? (lyrics first, music first, etc)
Generally, a title or concept first. Once you have that first line, then play with the arrangement of the syllables, it all flows from then on.
Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
I suppose theres always an element of some experience, but that could even be something you've just read about, or heard about, not necessarily done, or have had happen to you. The song Bread and Wine is actually about the canadian girl Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was kidnapped 19 years ago, from her school bus stop and has only (last year) been miraculously found and returned to her family. Sometimes these stories hit you hard and the way you deal with the emotion involved is to write about the feelings. The song kind of looks at it from all angles, the victim, the kidnapper and the public. Its quite an emotional one so have the hankies ready.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Easy. But keeping it interesting for the guys you play with, thats the challenge. I think Ive had it lucky for so long that we all seem to love playing the same tracks together.
Who are your favourite songwriters?
Rufus Wainwright, Kate Bush, Stephen Sondheim (purely for the Sweeny Todd soundtrack), the list could go on all day.
Which countries have you gigged in?
Regrettably, only this one so far. Although Birmingham felt like another country.
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Japan. If they like you, they like you forever. Rome, so we could go on little history tours between gigs, and Belgium, during the beer festival.
Who would you like to tour with?
The National and Mumford and Sons. Us on first, then we could watch their shows and get on the ale.
How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
The usual ways. The Internet. Thats pretty much all you can do these days aint it? The old ways of going to EMI headquarters and playing your EP outside until you get a deal doesn't seem to be valid anymore.
Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
No idea. I am hopeless with techie stuff so Greg does it all. I can ask him and get back to you if you like?
How do you relax?
Read and drink. Its the only way.
Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
Yes, but none of them are worth talking about, even the ones we won. They are all stitch-ups, and are all pointless.
What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
The best; playing in an aircraft hanger in Lossiemouth for the RAF.
The worst; that aforementioned aircraft hanger being empty.
Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
I always have to go to the toilet for 'number 2's' as soon as we reach a new venue. Then we tend to sit around, have a few beers, write a set-list and be confident in your performance.
Would you like to be full time working musicians or are you happy with things as they are?
As said before, who wouldn't want to get paid for doing what they love?
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Funnily enough yes. We had a song called Rockstar in a Machinima called BloodSpell. Some animated warrior fantasy thing, but good fun and a great honour.
Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Would love to. There is a few on the album that would sit particularly well in movies. Desperation i think is made for some kind of victorian romp.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Thank you for having us and for taking an interest in what we do and why we do it. Its been lovely talking to you, and hopefully, anyone reading this will get in touch, we'd love to hear from them. And who knows, we may meet one day. Cheerio!
Chris Blair, singer with The Deadly Winters.