John Deery & the Heads

I caught up with John Deery, the front man from local Derry band John Deery and the Heads for a chat on all things musical and to find out what 2015 has in store.

You guys packed a lot in to 2014...
Massive year for us with supporting the Beach Boys at Ebrington and MTV Crashes. We headlined John Ross’ Jammhouse Studio Sessions in the Forum last year, we also got made Sound Cloud Artist of the day to millions of people back in February which was a big deal.
We played Ralph McLean’s annual showcase with the Four of Us in the Flowerfield Art Centre, and were also involved in a lot of other Flowerfield gigs too. We were spoilt last year with being involved in Music City, just endless great gigs. 2014 was a brilliant year for us, we really loved it.
We were involved in the Other Voices Music Trail during the City of Culture year and again last year, but I think 2014 was even bigger for us than 2013. We actually got an RTE Radio1 session off the back of our Other Voices gig last year too. It’s just a brilliant time for music in the city at the minute and it’s great to be part of it.

This year’s plans?
We have a new album almost written and we will be starting to record that soon, we have a big gig coming up on the 27th of March in the EchoEcho Dance Studios where they have a beuatiful big theatre overlooking the city. It’ll be for a small audience, about 100 people tops, so it’ll be an intimate wee gig. We’ll actually be recording that gig live as well which will be lovely.
Later in the year we’re playing a gig in Mussenden Temple, and we’ve been invited over to a couple of festivals in Scotland too, so it’ll be a busy year. Not to mention, three of the Heads are getting married this year too, Steve, Oisin and Brads are all getting married so we’ll be juggling a lot of things this year

So you guys went from 4-5 members, what have been the benefits of the extra Head?
Yeah we formed with me, Matt, Steve and Sean Haslett in 2010 and then Oisin joined us in 2013, but Sean had other commitments at the start of this year and couldn’t stay on with us, so we had to replace him at the start of last year with Graham Bradley. But the advantages of the another member would be the harmonies and the depth of the arrangements you can do, you have far more dynamic potential when playing with five. The added bonus is Graham has a great voice too so we now have four part harmonies in the band.

How has your song writing developed over the years?
I started as a solo artist maybe 15 years ago playing gigs around Belfast, but I think over the years your style progresses, becomes a bit more me, a bit more unique. When you’re writing songs at the start, you’re bound to be emulating other people, people that you admire, trying to fit into their mould. But I think ultimately then, if you’re doing it long enough, you create you’re own style.
You recorded you’re first album Smoke and Mirror’s in the Black Box Studios in France, Grammy award-winning producer, you must have learned a lot
I was actually listening back to Smoke and Mirrors recently in light of this new album, just to see what we sounded like then and it sounds like a totally different record to where we’re at now. I think it was very much coming out of the solo stuff that I was doing. Dave Odlum heard my solo stuff and said he’d like to record with us, so that was brilliant. We went over to France and spent a few weeks out there in a wee french farmhouse. It was beautiful. We were working very close with him all that time, right over his shoulder so I learned a lot too.

Where can people come and see you guys next?
The last Friday in March, the 27th at the EchoEcho Dance Theatre. It’s going to be in front of a small audience of 100 people, so it’ll be an intimate atmosphere and we’re going to do a live recording off the back of it.
It’ll be a special night to be part of because we’ll be filming too. It’s actually going to be our most significant gig time wise because we’ll be playing for about two hours. Our typical set in the past, for the Beach Boys for example was only 35minutes, so it’s really hard to come up with a playlist. The songs you have to ditch, and the extended versions of songs that you have to cut, also the songs that people want hear, it’s so hard to cut your set down.
So the EchoEcho gig will let us play the gig that people want to see, play the songs that people like to hear and some new ones as well. The live recording will also be available to download for the people that will be there too. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s going to be a fantastic night.

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