Next single Stitches is to be released on September 3rd
The album(!!!) Nothing Means Everything is to be released on September 17th
EEE. Touring again 'soon' apparently so I'm assuming it'll be around that time.
Anyway I was bored and having a browse on Google and found a couple of recent articles which made good reading.
ONE of the bigger cheers of the day is likely to greet the Dykeenies when they walk on to the Pet Sounds Stage at T in the Park this afternoon. To the uninitiated, their name may make them sound like a teenage t.A.T.u tribute band but this five-piece from Cumbernauld are worlds apart from the faux lesbian Russian duo who briefly flirted with the charts a few years back. For a start, they are unlikely, thankfully, to ever be seen wearing skimpy school uniforms.
Comprising the three Henderson brothers Brian, Andy and Alan, along with old school chums John Kerr and Steven Ramsay, the Dykeenies are the latest in a long line of recent Scottish bands poised to leap from bubbling under to boiling over. Last year, they shared the T Break stage with fellow Scots the View and Paolo Nutini. With their epic new single 'Clean Up Your Eyes' bringing positive comparisons to the Killers and a debut album Nothing Means Everything scheduled for release in September, they have every chance of following in their former stage mates' footsteps.
"The T Break stage last year remains one of the best shows we've played to date," says lead singer Brian. "The energy at T in the Park, the vibe that you get there, spurs you on to do the best possible show that you can. It's no surprise that it's sponsored by a lager. The crowds are certainly fuelled for a live gig. We've been honing our set during this current tour to try and get it as good as it can possibly be."
He adds: "Nothing beats playing to a home crowd, well, unless you are playing to a crowd full of women, naked. Although I suppose you can't really say that."
The Dykeenies, named after characters in the film Willow, formed in 2005. Inspired by a fertile music scene that was producing Bloc Party, the Kaiser Chiefs and, closer to home, Franz Ferdinand, the band had ambitious plans: the Dykeenies were to be a career and not a weekend pub band.
Which is exactly what happened, although the speed of it surprised even the band. Initial tracks such as 'New Ideas' and 'Waiting For Go' were spiky, new wave, post punk tracks cut with jagged synthesisers that won them a rapidly expanding fanbase. Usually bands play live, build a following and then cut demos to try to attract a record deal. The Dykeenies did it the other way around. In a sort of happy accident, their first ever gig at the ABC in Glasgow sold out thanks to an unintentional viral marketing campaign that record companies would pay a fortune to be able to bottle.
"We gave CDs to friends and workmates, they made copies and handed them on to other people who made further copies and gave them to people who didn't know who we were. All these people heard about us through word of mouth and they all started to ask if we were doing a live gig.
"Our first gig was supposed to be a chance for us to play for friends and family. It turned into a sell-out show with about a hundred friends and family and then a couple of hundred other people who we had never set eyes on in our lives."
Pivotal Glasgow music venue King Tut's got behind the band, giving them a gig and releasing the band's first single on Tut's fledgling record label. The NME got wind of them and the Dykeenies found themselves playing the music mag's Rock'n'Roll Riot Tour along with the Fratellis and the Horrors. The sold-out national tour of 2,000-seat venues was a huge opportunity for the Cumbernauld band but it was also nearly the end of them.
"We got two blowouts on the van in the same day," says Brian. "One going to Cardiff, one coming back. It was as though we weren't meant to do that gig although in the end it turned out that Cardiff was great."
The near miss motorway carnage also got the band musing on the career benefits of a well-timed demise. Noting that eldest brother Alan is already a decrepit 26 and soon to be an absolutely ancient 27, Brian, a still youthful 22, reckons that if the album doesn't do as well as expected then Alan could be bumped off for the sake of the rest of the band
"You have to have a plan," he says philosophically while dodging a fraternal thick ear.
There doesn't seem to be too much sibling rivalry involved for a band with three brothers. Brian thinks it is because there are three of them; one can always step in if the other two start reaching for their handbags. "Early on in the creative process, when we were constantly writing, there was a lot of arguing and tension because everyone wanted to see their ideas expressed," he says.
"Also, at that time, we all had jobs as well as doing the band, so it seemed like constant pressure. Getting the deal [with Lavolta] took the pressure off a little bit. Problems were always resolved because there was always a middleman. I can honestly say that there haven't been too many times when daggers have been drawn."
Their record label packed them off to Rockfield Studios in Wales to record Nothing Means Everything. Despite being rattled by some seemingly paranormal activity which Brian swears was nothing to do with drinking too much tramp juice, they cut an album which shows a gradual musical evolution from frantic jump-around blasts to more widescreen anthemic songs such as 'Clean Up Your Eyes'.
"Our first songs like 'New Ideas' were smallish, indie pop tunes. They were the first songs we had written when everyone was a little unsure about what we were doing, so we just did what felt natural. We've remained true to that, but I think that the writing process has changed and the songs seem to have got bigger as we went along. 'Clean Up Your Eyes' was the second last song that we wrote for the album. The last five are all big songs."
Alluding to parental squabbles, infidelity and break-ups, there is a strong streak of personal experience woven into the songs, although Brian deliberately keeps them vague so that listeners can have their own take on their precise meaning.
"I like stories which are true but written in a way that people can make what they want of them. If you listen to 'Chasing Cars' by Snow Patrol or 'With Or Without You' by U2, those emotive songs strike something within you. You listen to some albums and it is a one trick pony with the same song 12 times over. I like to think that ours flows and gestures towards something a bit better. I'd like to think that the songs on our album will mean more to people than a quick romp."
Up until now The Dykeenies have been Scotland’s best-kept secret, a five-pronged sensory assault of sex, synths and glamour whose music - soaring new wave pop symphonies with hooks so monumental they could be used to mount the scalps of lesser peers onto their living room wall - may not yet have gnawed its way into the collective consciousness of the nation, but that won’t be the case for much longer. Comprising three brothers (vocalist Brian, guitarist Alan and bassist Andy Henderson) and two best friends (guitarist Steven Ramsay and drummer John Kerr) from the Glaswegian outpost of Cumbernauld and named after a race of humanoids from cult 80’s fantasy film Willow, The Dykeenies are the gentrified, pan-sexual soundtrack to a never-made John Hughes classic, a ten-legged future-pop megalith that’s about to send you scrambling for the dance floor.
The Dykeenies found their genesis in their hometown of Cumbernauld - a grim Glaswegian new town whose entire city centre was once voted the worst in Britain - in 2005, when Alan, Andy and younger brother Brian finally decided to do something other than talk about starting a band. “We’d been talking about getting a band together for ages,” remembers Andy. “But the talking just went on and on and nothing ever actually got done. It didn’t seem to us like there was any kind of scene in Glasgow to speak of, so we didn’t particularly feel excluded from anything, coming from outside Glasgow. So we set up in the backroom of a pub in Cumbernauld and started playing together, and that’s where songs like ’New Ideas’ and ’Waiting For Go’ came from.”
Noticing that their sound was somewhat lacking for the grand musical scheme they had in mind however, Brian moved onto synths, the brothers brought in Steven (“Because he wasn’t doing anything else at the time,” quips Brian) and John (“Because there was nobody else at the time!”) and the five of them set about the business of becoming Scotland’s most exciting new band.
First thing on the agenda was the band’s sound. Out went what Alan calls “The acousticy Urban Hymns-era Verve stuff,” and, regrettably, Brian’s self-professed love for Boyz II Men; in came Blur, Bloc Party, late 70’s Bowie and every classic 80’s soundtrack from their youth. “Rocky III obviously stands out for ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ alone,” laughs Brian when questioned on the band’s influences. “The Golden Child and Top Gun are classics as well. But the ultimate soundtrack is The Lost Boys, that’s the one that everybody remembers. Every band should own a copy of it.”
“The moment I thought the band might have something,” remembers Alan, “was back when we started, really early on Brian had to go into hospital to have an operation on his jaw, and couldn’t sing for ages. We were still writing songs together, but nobody knew what it would sound like when he came back, because he’d never really sang in front of us before. We went in to record the music for our demo a few weeks before he came back, and then Brian went in separately to record the vocals later. The finished demo was the first thing we’d ever heard Brian sing, and by the end of it I thought that the band might not be that bad after all…”
With Brian’s epic, skyscraping (not to mention larynx-scraping) vocals establishing a suitably widescreen, cinematic sound and a set of starry-eyed, swivel-hipped dance floor classics written, The Dykeenies promptly set about winning the inaugural Your Sound competition - a new scheme launched by legendary local venue King Tut’s to support new talent - without playing a single gig (when their live debut did come, in December 2005 at Glasgow‘s ABC2, it was a sell out). This in turn snowballed into the band signing with King Tut’s Recordings to release their debut single, the limited edition AA-side ‘New Ideas’/ ‘Will It Happen Tonight?’ in July 2006.
Now, here’s where things get really interesting. After building a reputation as Scotland’s brightest musical hopes in a matter of a few months, the band signed to Lavolta Records and were handpicked by NME’s New Music editor James Jam to play on the NME Rock n’ Roll Riot tour in October, after having heard only a handful of demos. The tour, also featuring The Fratellis, The Horrors and The Maccabees, gave the band their first opportunity to venture outside their native land and saw them win rave reviews and extend their ever growing fan base.
“Somehow one of our demos made it to James Jam,” says Brian, “And he decided that he liked it enough to put us on the NME tour, which was a massive thing for us. It was our first proper tour, and even though we were bottom of the bill, it was weird to be walking out to sold out venues every night! That tour coincided with our advance coming in to the bank, so we went crazy in every secondhand shop we could find. The five of us would come out all pimped up in clothes that didn’t fit us. I’ve got a purple velvet waistcoat I’ve still never worn!”
Back home, the band’s stature continued to grow following support slots with the likes of Maximo Park and Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, their appearance at XFM’s Winter Wonderland gig and their own sold-out headline shows at Glasgow’s Garage and Queen Margaret Union, before heading to Rockfield Studios in Wales late last year to record their debut album with Dimitri Tikovoi (Placebo). “It was an amazing place for us even just to visit because of all the bands that have been there,” says Brian. “It’s the place where Freddie Mercury wrote ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and where Oasis and The Stone Roses have recorded. But it’s also haunted. We’d find footsteps in the snow that couldn’t be explained and that didn’t lead anywhere. The TV in my room kept switching itself on and off. And the soap kept falling onto the floor every time one of us was in the shower. It must’ve been the ghost of Freddie! The album was then finished with Manic Street Preachers producer Dave Eringa with sessions at a remote farmhouse in the depths of West Wales. Working with Dave was great, though. He looks like Thor, or something. He looks like he should be carrying a massive hammer at all times.”
The finished album entitled ‘Nothing Means Everything’ and scheduled for release in September is an effortlessly great debut that encapsulates all that you will soon come to love about The Dykeenies. Opening with the frenzied, lung-bursting howl of ‘The Panic’ - “About a guy my little sister knew who thought he had an STD,” grins Brian, “The line ‘There’s a fire in your bed’ was originally going to be ‘There’s a fire in your jed’” - it grabs you from the off and offers no respite until it’s had its filthy way with you.
From ‘Stitches’’ panoramic declaration that, “Still, I adore the taste of rain” amidst an anthemic background of glittery new wave guitars, to the sexually frustrated dance floor shudder of ‘Pick You Up’ whose voyeuristic protagonist dissects his seduction technique over the top of an almighty electro cacophony, each of its eleven songs sound like singles waiting to happen.
‘New Ideas’ - the band’s debut single proper, which was re-recorded and re-released in April - is built on dueling jags of staccato guitars and an almighty, heaven-sent chorus of gargantuan proportions, but its origins aren’t as innocent as you might think. “It‘s about cheating on your girlfriend, and trying to convince her to take you back,” comments Brian. ‘Things You Cannot See’, the album’s slow-burning, moody centre piece, also dips its toe into darkness by telling the story of two continually warring parents who “Only speak truths when there’s lies to gain”, which Brian admits was inspired by his own family, and “Listening to my parents arguing like crazy for hours, before realizing that they didn’t even know what they were arguing over, they were just fighting for the sake of it.”
‘Clean Up Your Eyes’ is a monster of a track – anthemic, uplifting and utterly infectious – a joyful and moving love song for the 21st Century.
It’s ‘Waiting For Go’, however, that perhaps captures The Dykeenies at their urgent, epic best. Clocking in at a mere two and a half minutes, it bubbles over with the frustration and burning desire that comes from a youth misspent in satellite towns before climaxing in Brian’s towering, megaphone-assisted announcement that “I’m terrified of you, but not running away/ My heart it was the stage, you never played the game.”.
“It was one of the first songs we ever wrote,” says Andy, “Sitting in a backroom in Cumbernauld, dreaming up ways of how we could get out of it…”
Needless to say, The Dykeenies have found their route out, and are set to steal your hearts with dastardly panache and start your hips moving in an altogether unwholesome manner. There will soon be no escaping their gleaming new wave majesty.
Fuck me I love them.
OH YEAH and the second article had this pretty picture with it (no its not going under a cut)
Why the mean and moody look...? Lol. Brian's jacket is legendary... pity about Andy's Horrors t-shirt D:
::Kat:: xx ♥