THE VIRGINMARYS have started this year with a bang. With new record Divides hitting the scene early in May, and the huge positive response, the boys are back, rehearsing hard and rearing to get back playing. We sat down with Ally Dickaty, Danny Dolan and Matt Rose to discuss the new record, trips to the US and Abbey Road and how Matt manages to never sweat on stage.
So the new album has been out for a little while now, how have you found the response?
Ally: Really good, we’ve had some really amazing reviews, some people calling it the record of the year already which was really nice.
Danny: So far it’s been brilliant, so far all the fans like it. There was a thought that some people might not like it or be as keen because it’s quite different from the last album, but yeah, everyone so far has really liked it.
This new album is quite refined, whereas the last one had quite a few big moments.
Ally: Yeah there’s less guitar solos and instrumentals this time, but more lyrical stuff. There’s more punk influence on this than the first record. The first album was a more blues, rock feel and there’s not much of that on this record.
A lot of people have sighted this album as quite punk in terms of social commentary.
Ally: I guess so, it’s quite weird to be thought of as a UK punk band, that title, I’m not sure just how accurate that is as we’re primarily a rock band, but I can see maybe why we’d be sighted as that.
So you were in America for a bit, doing shows with SHINEDOWN, how did that go?
Danny: Yeah it was awesome, we didn’t really know what to expect to be fair. For me though, it was the best support tour we’ve ever done, in terms of the crowd response. Again, all the reviews we got were brilliant, and the guys were great. It was great to tour with them. There again we were thinking, “don’t know how their fans will take us”, as (SHINEDOWN’s) fans were maybe a little more traditional fans, radio rock fans, and this new albums is less that than even the first album. I was definitely thinking there could be a couple of nights that would be hit and miss, but all of it was amazing. Most nights we had people queueing up for like an hour for photos and to get things signed, so that was really, really good as a tour for us.
When you’ve been out on tour, you’re obviously away from home quite a bit. How do you bring home with you?
Matt: That’s exactly what I was thinking!
Danny: Matty‘s got a little teddy-
Matt: A little fuck teddy!
Danny: Haha, a sex teddy!
Ally: That was going so nice and then we ruined it!
Danny: We always ruin these interviews!
Matt: Well obviously we’ve all got phones and Wi-Fi and stuff now, so contacts not that difficult, so it’s not too much different to being home. You can be in contact a lot more.
Ally: I’d say photos, I take photos of people before I go away-
Matt: Whilst they’re sleeping-
Ally: [laughs] But yeah, I can get those up and that’s nice. But the band and the crew become our family for a while, and like Matt said, we’re always in contact anyway. Just maybe your environment is completely different in that sense, and that’s a bit of a shock to the system at first, and you might get like a sort of cabin fever.
Matt: I think things like eating something like you’d have at home also works-
Danny: You go on a bit of a lamb mission when we go to America, he’s like “where’s the lamb!?” but there’s never any.
Ally: They have kebabs-
Danny: No they’re usually like beef kebabs.
Ally: And they don’t have the household standards crisps, no salt and vinegar or prawn cocktail crisps. It’s sour cream and chive, that’s as close to cheese and onion we get.
Danny: All the variations of cheese flavours, all the Doritos taste of cheese.
Matt: You’ve got to take your own chocolate. Ally takes Cadburys. They can say what they like about Hershey’s, its shit. It’s no Cadburys.
Danny: If you go and the Americans know you have chocolate on you, it’s like heroine, they’re a bit [pulls wide eyed face] “where is it?”.
Ally: And we watched quite a lot of 80’s action films this time round, Stallone, Chuck Norris.
Matt: So that’s your answer to that one!
Very succinct guys [laughs]. You’ve been doing some acoustic sets and signings up and down the UK. How does that compare from doing the big, energetic shows to these little intimate kinds of gigs?
Matt: I get incredibly nervous at acoustic gigs. It’s like, I like doing them, and I enjoy it, but there’s something about it, I get really anxious compared to doing it [amped up] live.
Ally: It’s just like if I took out an acoustic guitar and played for you now, it’s hard to act natural, whereas that’s quite different to having a stage and you walk out. Acoustics make you feel naked, I think. You’ve got to be in the right mind set, and treat it like a conversation. Plus the setup was weird, surrounded by DVD’s and films. It was really cool though, and the attendance was great, so that makes all the difference.
Brilliant. Recently you also made a trip down to Abbey Road. Can you tell us a little about that trip?
Danny: Yeah, it was amazing that. I’ve been down to London many, many times and for whatever reason never actually beenn to Abbey Road, which is sort of a surprise, because I had so much free time when I was here. I’ve been everywhere else, Madame Tussauds (which was shit), but never been to Abbey Road. So to go there was pretty sick. It has all been modernised, the studio we were in was Studio 3, and speaking to the engineer who’d been working there for seventeen years and he said that PINK FLOYD recorded every album up until Division Bell was recorded there… So all the good once basically. So to be in there was amazing, and to be in that one was amazing. THE BEATLES studio, Studio 2, was all being done up and renovated, but you found (Ally) it didn’t you?
Ally: Yeah we went in while it was being renovated and played the piano in there which was cool. Did some filming of some tracks for the album, which we haven’t put out yet, but they cool, really cool.
Danny: Yeah we went in and there were some guys working and we just asked, “Can we play the piano mate?” and they just said, “Yeah, sure, whatever”, so we just took the dust sheet off-
Matt: We don’t know how to play mind-
Danny: Ha! But obviously it was really cool to be in there.
Ally: Yeah I’ve never been to Abbey Road, it was a really ace experience to have, THE BEATLES are my favourite band and always have been, so to be in that space, and to picture all the things just going on around you, like some cheesy film, like visions and shit doing on around you in a dream, because you’ve obviously seen the pictures of that room so many times.
Danny: You can picture it all- “there’s where Yoko sat, and there’s where George was pointing at them, all that stuff. And I don’t know why, it just popped into my head, but I was thinking, just image the amount of psychedelic drugs taken in this room.
Ally: We never went on the roof did we?! They put John Lennon on the roof when he was tripping to get some air. George Martin wasn’t really a drug taker, but to obviously saw that John Lennon was [high] but he didn’t know what it was. The other guys found out and they had to rush up, and thankfully he didn’t think he could fly so was still there. Good little story, eh?
Ally, your guitar went missing on a flight back, are all your guitars under lock and key now?
Ally: That was all out of my hands. On a flight back from New York, we made it back but the guitars didn’t. It was horrible really. It did get couriered out, and the first thing you do is check that your baby’s alright. But I don’t have that many guitars, so I’m quite precious about the ones I’ve got, especially that Les Paul, that’s been with me since the very beginning. I’d be absolutely gutted if anything happened to it.
Danny, it’s been noted by quite a few people now, you come off stage looking like you’ve just sprinted a 10K marathon. Are you trying to kill yourself?
Danny: Maybe that’s it, I’m trying to get out of doing this. It’s the only way, [laughs]- Oh, we were told once by a Radio DJ in America that if I topped myself, they’d play our record on the radio! Maybe I’m going for that. But honestly, I dunno, I think I always just try and put all of myself into it. I try and tell myself before the start of every gig, just go easy, but I never do, and it’s like I always want it to be better than the last gig, so I end up putting more and more and more into it. Maybe that will be the end. Just finish playing Bang Bang Bang one night and […] that’s it.
That would be a hell of a thing to write up! Matt, you are notorious for having quite a lot of layers on, yet you come off looking not quite as worn out as the other two. Perhaps there’s some magic superpower, or some amazing genres?
Danny: No, you never sweat do you?
Matt: I’ve got no sweat glands. I’m like a dog, I’ve got to pant the whole time. Or maybe I’m just lazy, and don’t’ move.
Ally: No you’re not really, you do move about. That’s really weird, I’ve never really thought about why you never sweat. You must be incredibly fit.
Matt: Ha, I’m really not!
Danny: You’ve got less fat on you, and you just sweat all the fat out of you.
Ally: But marathon runners, there’s nothing on them and they sweat loads.
Danny: But that’s marathons, that’s hard work.
Ally: So’s are gigs!
So to finish up with this one, what can people expect from this tour coming up, any surprises or are you just going all out?
Danny: We’ve just been talking about this actually, yeah, we want to do something. It’s the album tour, so we’ll be playing the album-
Matt: Just the CD out over the speakers –
Danny: Yeah, then come out with all the old ones. But we need to decide today what we’re doing.
Ally: We’ve thought maybe have some fans backstage, play a secret little thing, but nothings confirmed yet, we just want to do something special to say a thank you to those fans really.
Divides is out now via Wind-Up Records
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