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With a strong hardcore scene which is continually going from strength to strength, Departures are one band in particular which are making people sit up and take an interest in the scene around Glasgow, Scotland and beyond. Having had a remarkably strong 2012 which not only saw the band release their second album ('Teenage Haze') but also become signed to US indie label giants No Sleep Records.
We caught up with guitarist Danny Nash from Departures to reflect on that year and what the future holds for the band. Nash told us how 'Teenage Haze' came together, joining No Sleep Records, working with Fist In The Air Records and more.
Already Heard: Let’s start off by talking about your history as a band. You’ve been an active band for longer than some may realise as it’s only recently that you’ve gained more and more exposure, presumably helped by playing more and more shows in a number of different cities. Were there other commitments that stopped you playing shows outside of Scotland during your formative years or was this a conscious decision to build a solid local fanbase and then expand when the time was right?
Danny: Well to be honest those commitments haven’t really left us. You could say we started in 2007, but to me we didn’t properly start actually ‘trying’ with this band until 2010. The line up changed and we started (briefly) touring, and booked in to record an album. Up until that point it was just something to do in our spare time, play a few shows locally and just have fun doing stuff like covering Slipknot and Machine Head songs. The exposure has pretty much happened through word of mouth alone, as since our first album came out we haven’t made it outside of the UK. We’ve been lucky enough to get on some great tours this year, but by normal standards I’d say we still don’t tour much. I work full time, Traynor works full time, James is studying at University and works part time, Ally works full time. We still find it difficult to balance everything, but we’re fortunate enough to have been given the time off this year for touring and recording. 2013 might see us having to reassess these commitments I guess, but we never thought that would be the case. It could not, we’ll just need to see what happens.
AH: You’ve been supported by Fist In The Air Records from your previous records all the way through to the UK distribution of your most recent record. How has it been working with FITA over the years? They’ve pretty much supported you from the off, right?
Danny: FITA got in touch around summer 2009. It’s a label run by two guys called Jamie and Jay, their friend Glenn had seen us when we played T In The Park in 2008 and told them to get in touch with us. We did a split for them with a band called Atlantic Hearts, the 4 songs of which became our EP ‘Escaping’, which was the first thing that sort of got us a bit of attention outside of the UK. But they’re the best guys and they’ve become good friends of ours. They put so much hard work and money into it and we are extremely grateful for everything they’ve helped us out with. Without them I doubt we would have even gone down to Croydon and recorded ‘When Losing Everything…’ When it came to ‘Teenage Haze’, FITA initially weren’t on board but we really wanted to have them with us and as no one was doing a vinyl release, it worked out perfectly that way.
AH: You signed to No Sleep Records in September last year, just prior to the release of your latest full length ‘Teenage Haze’. Had this been a long time coming or was it on the back of the tour with now label peers Balance & Composure that you were able to progress talks?
Danny: Yeah No Sleep essentially came off the back of the B&C tour. I imagine Chris has thousands of bands sending demos and asking to sign them, so we were lucky enough to have that ‘in’ with him. B&C let him know abut us, told him to give us a listen. It was good timing as we had already recorded our second album and it was pretty much ready to go.
AH: Are FITA supportive of this? It’s a massive opportunity for them as well as the band.
Danny: Well like I said, ‘Teenage Haze’ was actually originally only coming out via In At The Deep End Records. However yeah they definitely are! One of the first people I told about the whole thing was Jamie, he was really excited for us. They’ll support us no matter what, and of course getting to work with No Sleep is cool.
AH: It must be a good feeling to have the support and exposure opportunities from such a highly renowned label overseas? What have been your impressions of the label so far?
Danny: Well putting out an album on NSR was something we’d joke about, like “as if that would happen”. When it did happen we were all stupidly excited about it. I imagine most of the people that are now listening to ‘Teenage Haze’ wouldn’t have heard it were it not for the exposure we gained off of that. Chris and his team are all really good dudes, we couldn’t be happier working with a label. And of course some of our favourite bands are part of the same roster as us. It’s still a pretty weird feeling. Weird in a good way.
AH: You played a number in shows in America during 2011 which is surprising for a smaller UK band, especially as the band had still only played a handful of shows outside of the Glasgow area at this point. How did these shows come about?
Danny: Different Departures man! There’s a punk band from NJ with the same name. Since we’ve been getting exposure in America it’s been happening more.
AH: With your recent signing to No Sleep, can the US expect to be seeing more of you in the not too distant future? I can imagine No Sleep would be keen to get you over and on the road with another of their bands?
Danny: Well we can’t say at this point. We honestly don’t know what will happen next year. I really hope we do get to go over to the states and tour, it’s a dream for us. Now that we’re working with No Sleep it’s possible, but it all depends on how the record is received over there I guess. It’s going well so far so it’s looking good!
AH: This year saw you start the year with a UK tour supporting Azriel to a few dates with Heart In Hand in February and finally teaming up with Pianos Become The Teeth and Balance & Composure in August for their UK co-headline jaunt. Not to forget a few shows with Touché Amoré amongst this too. Have these shows given you the chance to learn from these experienced bands who are touring full time?
Danny: Well at the start of 2011 we were fairly inexperienced together as a touring band. We’d done a few weeks in Europe and a week in the UK in 2010, and that was it. Touring more this year with these bands you mostly learn how to just get into the routine of it, and you learn from looking at these guys that have been on the road for months now compared with your week or 2 weeks, and how they’re handling it. The thing I learned most from the other bands is to appreciate it as much as you can, when you’re in the middle of it you start forgetting what’s actually happening, but then you think to yourself ‘hang on we’re touring with this band and this band, that’s fucking ridiculous’. Also given those bands contain some of the nicest people I’ve met, that’s always an experience you can take a lot away from.
AH: Coming back to the new album, how does it compare to the 2011 full length ‘When Losing Is Everything You Wanted’ for the band? There’s no doubting that the passion is still there.
Danny: Well to me the two albums are so different it’s very difficult to compare them at all. ‘When Losing…’ is basically a collection of songs we’d written over the course of a few years, where ‘Teenage Haze’ was written all together over a month. It sounds so clichéd to say but I think we’ve grown up as a band a lot, we’re much more willing to try different things now than we were a few years ago and you can hear it. The record itself comes from a fairly frustrated place, we had so little time to make it, coupled with our other commitments making it really hard for us to find the time in amongst all this, then with the fact we had a tour during that month. I don’t know if any of that comes through on the album but to me it does. I don’t want to sound down on it because obviously touring and recording were some of the best times we had this year, and we’re so happy with how it turned out. But there was all this underlying stuff behind it, absolutely none of which was the case when we made ‘When Losing…’ And off the back of doing it so many things have happened it was all 100% worth it.
AH: This album has definitely been attracting the plaudits. All of the major publications have praised it as well as online blogs rating it highly and spreading the word. Were you expecting it to turn heads as much as it has done? Is it always a bit of an unknown when it comes to releasing new material?
Danny: We honestly had no idea. As a band we’ve kind of learned just to go with it and try and not raise our expectations too much. We’re so happy with the reception it has had though.
AH: Can you run us through the process of making the album from writing through to recording? I guess it’s a relatively short space of time to release two albums in when you consider how strong they both are.
Danny: Well in June we had no plans to make an album, then by August we were writing and recording it! I can’t really complain as we always need to be put under that sort of pressure to do anything. We just got together whenever we could after work a couple of times a week and wrote as much as we could. The way we write is we go in, I might have a rough idea of something I’ve made on the acoustic at home, then see what we can do with it. We just stand around and write it bit by bit, coming up with something then saying “then do this”. I know that’s such a boring way of explaining it haha. Lyrics don’t’ usually come till much later, most of them were written while we were recording (for both albums). James gets an extra week on the rest of us, the diva. We were booked to go down and record it late August. The place we recorded is called ‘The Ranch’, and it’s literally on a farm in the middle of nowhere near Southampton. Being down there was one of the best things we’ve ever done as a band, the weather was incredible for most of it too. Neil the guy who recorded us knew exactly what we wanted the album to sound like, it’s nice to work with someone you can just trust to make the best album you can with.
AH: Was it a case of having left over material from the writing process of the first record?
Danny: Oh I fucking wish!! Haha!
AH: It’s all gone a bit quiet in terms of touring around the release of the album. I would have thought you wanted to promote the album live as much as possible?
Danny: Yeah we’re more aware of this than anyone haha. To not be touring the album is so ridiculous, there are reasons for it though. I was in hospital for a long time recovering from major surgery, actually over the time the album came out. I’m only just now (almost) able to play guitar. We just weren’t able to tour because of that, but even if that hadn’t happened getting time off work November/December is nearly impossible for most of us.
AH: You have the short run of dates with Stick To Your Guns to look forward to in 2013 which will be some of your first shows since the album was released, 6 months prior. Are you hoping for the album to have settled a bit with people and expect to see a lot of people come out to these shows specifically for yourselves?
Danny: We’re in the process of sorting out a tour of UK/Europe in February, so we’ll HOPEFULLY have something before that. We hope the album will have spread a bit by then, we actually have no idea how we’re going to be received at the STYG shows but we’ll see what happens!
AH: That takes you up to almost half way through 2013. What else can we expect next year? At this rate, surely another EP at least?
Danny: Fuck, I’d love to write some new songs but I think we need to just focus on touring as much as we can. Like I said we’re very aware we’re not touring right now as the albums come out, I do wonder what sort of effect that’ll have so I guess try and make up for it as much as possible. We’ll definitely be over in Europe again in the Summer too.
AH: Everything is in place for 2013 to be a massive year for Departures. Is there anything in particular that you’d be happy to say you’ve ticked off at the end of the year?
Danny: If we tour America, that will be a massive tick off the ‘things that could happen in 2013’ list. Tour with some more bands we love. Be personally invited on Taylor Swift’s world tour as the opening act? Have free energy drinks on tour?!?!
'Teenage Haze' by Departures is out now on In At the Deep End Records/Fist In The Air Records (UK) and No Sleep Records (US).
Words by Tom Smith (@sweet__chaos)