After an insanely busy year just gone, we spoke to Demob Happy drummer Tom Armstrong about their up and coming tour kicking off 2019. Last year we saw them release their second album ‘Holy Doom’, tour the states and come home to the UK and support none other than Jack White on his October tour. Starting at the end of February the trio begin their spring tour in Manchester at Soup Kitchen, then they'll be hitting up Birmingham, Edinburgh, Newcastle, London and Brighton. Make sure you catch one of their dates.
2018 was a pretty mental year for you, releasing your second album ‘Holy Doom’, touring the U.S, coming home and touring with Jack White…What was your personal highlight from 2018?
Yeah, we really got around last year. That record came at the end of a pretty weird period for the band. We had all this shit going on around us but at the same time this clear vision of the thing we wanted to create. So getting Holy Doom out of ourselves, into the world and then holding it up and taking it around the world last year was quite the cathartic crusade.
Jack White is pretty much a musical God… What did it feel like to be asked to support his UK tour?
That tour started the day after we got home from two months of touring the US in a battered old RV that nearly killed us twice. We were frazzled, jet-lagged, sun-beaten, probably still drunk and happy as pigs in shit. Despite our delirium it was a really special tour, a pleasure to join him on the road and being invited to join him onstage on the last night was an honour.
Where did you draw inspiration from both instrumentally and lyrically when writing ‘Holy Doom’?
The record takes plenty of twists and turns but the things we explore musically and lyrically come back again and again to the notion of duality. Thus the dichotomy of Holy Doom. The light and the shade, the ying and the yang, the gods and the devils inside ourselves and in the world around us.
Do you have any songs off of the album you’re particularly proud of or emotionally connected to?
That’s tough. I think it is the way in which they all sit together that we are most proud of them. We are real believers in the format of the long player. Taking someone on a journey over the course of an album. We write a lot. And even if we feel like a song has legs it won't make it onto the record if it doesn’t feel like it has a role to play in that journey.
What songs off of the album are the most fun to play live?
They do different things. Spinning Out is a great smasher to rattle people a bit. Fake Satan gets people moving their hips with us. We’ve seen asses shake to that song all over Europe and the Americas in the last year. It’s been a pleasure.
Who were your biggest influences when you were growing up? Would you say these influences have stuck with you and shaped you as individual musicians?
We all fell into music our own way. And growing up we were into all sorts of shit. But when we met it was 70s music, riffs and grooves, rock and roll, that turned us on. When we moved into our first flat together in Newcastle we all brought with us armfuls of unwanted old vinyls from home. Adam was the one with the vinyl player so they lived in his room. We’d sit on his bed and get high and listen to King Crimson or Led Zep IV or some early Fleetwood Mac and be really spaced out and love it. We were really taken by the majesty and mythos around that era of rock and roll bands.
Regarding your tour starting in February, are there any dates you’re particularly excited about?
Mostly Manchester & Birmingham & Edinburgh & Newcastle & London & Brighton. We haven’t brought a Demob Happy headline show on the road in a while and we’re gunna make it very fuckin' special. It’s gunna be a goodie.
You posted about working in Abbey Roads studio over December, what was it like working in such an iconic studio?
It’s just a building, you know, but theres something about being in a space where you know magic has happened. Magic you love. And you can kind of feel it. Or you think you can. And you ask yourself did that magic leave something behind? Did I bring that feeling in with me? Either way it was very, very cool.
You’ve been working with photographer Bridie Florence (whose work I adore as a photographer), how did you come about her work? Do you find working with one photographer over a long period produces better and more honest photos of tour/you as a band?
Bridie is great at what she does and a lot of fun to tour and work with. She lives in Brighton too and got in touch, so we hung out and did a shoot that ended up producing the poster for the Feb tour. Also she has some ghost-cat like ability to never be in the way onstage but be everywhere at the same time. It’s quite something.
You’ve announced some insane festivals for summer, which ones are you most excited about?
There’s more announcements to come but very much looking forward to seeing how they do the festival thing in the States. Have heard good things about Shaky Knees and very up for having more of a snoop around Atlanta.
Lastly, other than tour and festivals, what’s the plan for Demob Happy in 2019?
Same thing we do every year Pinky. Try to take over the world.
Demob Happy's UK headline tour run through this February and March. Full dates and ticket are available here - https://www.demob-happy.com/tour. Holy Doom is out now via SO Recordings.