INTERVIEW: John Deery & the Heads on course to hit Crowdfunder goal

We caught up with John to talk about the new album

- The new artwork, taken from the new album from 'John Deery and the Heads'

In this day and age of uncertain cd sales and streaming at your fingertips, the music industry seems to be an even tougher place for independent bands to finance their artform, but local band ‘John Deery and the Heads’ are using a creative platform in order to do so.

‘Nothing Permanent Lasts’ will be the latest studio album from the local band and they have been using crowd funding website ‘Crowdfunder’ in order to finance the release.

We caught up with John to find out about how this change in direction came about. “We’ve always been proud to be an independent band and every album we’ve done so far has been completely self-funded” John started by telling me.

“We would have relied on loans and savings to record and release them, then playing gigs and selling CDs to make the money back, but this way of doing it can be a hard slog at times.

“With CD sales taking a slump in recent years and streaming revenues paying next to nothing, we were on the lookout for a different way to do things. We found out about Crowdfunder after seeing other bands raise money for their own albums and we liked the idea of it.

“It basically allows your fans and followers to invest in the making of the album up front and allows us as a band to offer exclusive rewards in return to those who support us.”

One of the great advantages to crowd funding - as well as the obvious donations - is the interaction between the band and their followers. The various updates which are made throughout the campaign, and in the case of John Derry and the Heads, a personal thank you for each donation which has been pledged.

John has embraced the many opportunities which the campaign has provided in order to make it more personal. “It has created a much nicer community feeling to the creation of the album this time around and the Crowdfunder is helping us cover a lot of the costs involved which is fantastic” he said.

“This is our first time using the platform and I have to say I’m really pleased with how it’s all going so far. I really like the idea of a band like ourselves who have worked hard for years to build a solid group of supporters with our music, getting the chance to work with them to create a new album. It really is an exciting project and the response so far has been overwhelming.”

The project has also been able to provide a first the band. "This will be our first ever Vinyl release and we’re really excited about that” said John.

“The Crowdfunder is helping to cover the cost of getting the vinyl pressed, which is amazing for us as a band as we’ve often been asked about our last two studio albums getting released on vinyl, but unfortunately without a record label behind us it has always been too expensive for us.

“This time we’ve been able to offer the option of both Vinyl and CD albums, so people will have a choice of hard copy as well as the high quality digital download and other rewards.”

With a donation, the supporter has an opportunity to select a reward which ranges from a digital download of the new album to owning the original artwork which is hand painted by the man himself.

“I’ve always had a passion for art and painting and it’s something I’ve carried through into my life as a lecturer in art and design and creative media. This album gave me the chance to create a piece of work specifically for the cover and I wanted it to reflect the themes of the album.

“The painting is based on a view of Mount Errigal in Donegal; a lifelong favourite place of mine and a rugged, barren landscape that has always inspired me. The piece took several days to complete and there are several lyrics from the song written into the painting, including the line ‘Nothing Permanent Lasts, that’s what they’ll all say, long after the bones of the hills have faded away’.

“The finished piece is a 2x2 foot Oil on canvas in a custom made white box frame and is available as our top remaining reward on the Crowdfunder page” said John.

- Above, the guys in action. Photo by Gav Connolly Photography.

The local band have been itching to get back into the studio after a long break. “Yeah it’s been great to get back into the studio and recording with the lads again” said John.

“It’s been a few years since the last studio album and we’ve been working hard on these songs for most of that time, so it’s really nice to be back and pulling them all together onto an album. Some people that follow the band closely will be familiar with a few of the songs and there are others that nobody’s heard before, so I’m looking forward to seeing what people think of it.”

The title of the album is an absolute gem. An instant grabber and John told me where it came from. “The album takes its name from the title track ‘Nothing Permanent Lasts’, which is about the idea that everything we consider to be permanent eventually fades away over time; from scars and tattoos that decay with our bodies, to ancient civilisations, temples and palaces that collapse and become reclaimed by nature, to the physical structure of the planet, constantly being worn away and reshaped by forces of nature over millennia.

“The more I thought about it, the more the concept fascinated me and the seemingly contradictory phrase that Nothing Permanent Lasts made more and more sense to me.

“I think this sense of time is particularly strong on the album and that’s undoubtedly due to the fact that my father died as young as he did; it’s made me really take stock and be thankful for my own life, as I’m now at the age that he was when he died, which is a scary thought.

“The idea that nothing is guaranteed in this life and you never know what lies ahead of you makes me incredibly grateful for what I have and thankful for the chance to create art and music that people appreciate and are able to connect with.

“Another major influence on this album was the experience of visiting the stromatolites in Western Australia. These completely unassuming looking rock formations were formed over 3.7 billion years by layers and layers of cyanobacteria that gave rise to oxygen in the atmosphere and paved the way for life as we know it on earth. There was a large information board nearby showing a timeline of these ‘living rocks’ compared to everything that came after it; the dinosaurs only appear in the last couple of inches of the chart and the whole of human life only appears in the last little centimetre at the end.

“That experience really blew my mind and made me think in an entirely different way about time - we’re only here for a brief blink of an eye and it’s important to make the most of it. There’s a line in the song  ‘a stromatolite’s line puts a matter like time in a new kind of frame, where the seconds and hours we assume to be ours are not sand dunes, just grains’, which sums up what the album title is all about.”

The ten track album will be officially released at the Nerve Centre on Saturday 30th September and the band have been blown away by their support as John told us “we were absolutely delighted when the Nerve Centre approached us about our top Crowdfunder reward and asked to hold the official album launch in their newly refurbished state of the art venue.

“They’ve been a fantastic organisation for music in Derry over the years and we couldn’t think of a more fitting place to hold the launch. We’re finalising the details of the show at the minute and it’s going to be an amazing night. Anyone who contributes to the Crowdfunder campaign will get exclusive early access to the album in August, and special mates rates tickets to the launch, which is another nice reward to be able to offer anyone who supports the album.”

The support from the ‘Heads’ fans has moved the band also. ”“It has been amazing to get such great support from everyone and it has been truly overwhelming” said John.

“We’ve had donations and messages of support from around the world and our friends and family closer to home have been so generous to us. There has been great support from other local bands and artists too who have been interested in the new album coming together and the Nerve Centre contribution was just incredible and helps us a great deal towards our goal. The campaign runs until the 17th of June 2017 and we hope that people will get behind it and get us to 100% of our goal.”

If you can’t wait until September to see the band in action you will be able to catch them at the city’s newest home of original music, the Cottage Sessions on Saturday 26th August. The Cottage Sessions was developed to provide a platform for local original music and it just so happens to be a series that John has been hands on with since day one.

“I’m really looking forward to it” said John. “The Cottage Sessions has been great to be involved with and we’ve seen it grow in the couple of short months it has been running. The idea behind the project is to create an online platform for artists from Derry and the surrounding region to promote their music, similar to ‘Other Voices’ in Dingle, which has been a huge success for several Irish artists.

“The gigs take place in the beautiful and intimate setting of the Craft Village Cottage in Derry and it’s a really nice small venue to play. The gigs are filmed and edited and then put up on the cottage sessions website (http://www.cottagesessions.com) so that people can see the videos long after the gig, which gives artists some professional looking footage of their live gigs for promotion, as well as creating and building an online platform for music from this part of the world.”

If you would like to find out more about the John Derry and the Heads Crowdfunder project, log on now to www.johndeeryandtheheads.com or go directly to the crowdfunder page at www.crowdfunder.co.uk. You can purchase tickets to their gig at The Cottage Sessions here.

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