When husband and wife Thomas and DeDe W-P and mate Darren Bancroft got together for a dinner party a couple of years ago, it’s unlikely that they were expecting to write a song that night which would lead them down an indie-dance music path of glory.
Despite not having released an album, We Have Band have spent the last 18 months happily traipsing around Europe and Oz, playing at festivals you may have heard of like Glastonbury, Pyramid Rock and Field Day. On the eve of their debut album launch in Australia, Darren spoke with Nell Greco from a hotel room, somewhere in a bustling city of a land far, far away… Paris, France.
Music Feeds: How long were you together as a band before you started touring together?
Darren Bancroft: It went really crazy quite quickly. It’s been a couple of years I think now.
MF: How much music writing and producing had you, Thomas and DeDe done before this venture?
DB: Me and Thomas had been doing a little bit but DeDe – nothing, she’d never been in a band before, she’d never wanted to. For her it was a huge change.
MF: Having worked with Thomas, did you find that you’ve carried habits from the past into the future?
DB: The thing about this band is it’s a bit like a relationship. I think when you meet the right one, everything from the past goes. I’ve been in other bands before, where you’re fumbling around and are not sure what to do but this band – we just hit it right away. We just have so much fun doing it and we just really enjoyed it right away.
MF: The clip for ‘Divisive’ is pretty original and looks like it would have been fun to make. How much of your music and the band is about having fun and how much of it is serious?
DB: Well musically, if you put music out with your name on it you really have to believe it and you really have to want it. We love this record but we’re already thinking about the second one. Musically, I think that’s the way your mind works but that’s such an intense way so you have to have a bit of fun, otherwise it will drive you crazy. You really have to try and have fun with it.
MF: I love that you’ve video logged the making of the album art because it looks so fantastic and I was immediately impressed by it when I first saw it. It must be really easy to come up with a crap album cover, just throw a couple of names over an image and voila! How did you guys manage to avoid doing that?
DB: Well, we really wanted to try and do things, not with loads of money or with loads of drama but with a lot of style and a lot of thought. There’s a friend of ours called Sam, I went to university with him and DeDe showed him this image she’d found of some kind of champagne glass that was reflecting in loads of mirrors and then Sam just came up with this idea with the mirrors.
We actually went out and got a shop to make these mirrors and it was really fun. I think it was nice because obviously you can do something really dramatic and you can do really expensive photo shoots but we didn’t want to.
MF: That’s someway in keeping with the way you started the band too, the general philosophy of the band right?
DB: Exactly. We might move on from this, you know, we might go into a studio with a huge orchestra next time we do it – some kind of huge orchestral album! When you’re in a particular moment though, I think everything should kind of stay true to that moment and everything we’re doing sort of works with where we’re at right now. Where we go next? We don’t know yet.
MF: You’ve written this album over a year while touring, is that right?
DB: Yes and no really. In that first seven month period between November of 2007 and April 2008, we wrote about 70% of the album. So it was written quite a long time ago but we basically produced a lot of it ourselves over the next year and a half. We just kept dipping back into the songs. We then took a couple of weeks in Hereford (which is in the country side near Wales) where Thom’s Grandparents live and we went there to write a few final songs.
After that we went into the studio with Gareth and that was an additional four weeks of production, adding some live drums, re-doing some vocals and then we mixed it. We refined the songs really over that year.
MF: You did a lot of touring over that time with loads of other bands, all over Europe. Did you find that the way you were refining the music changed with the experiences you were having, or the people you were hanging out with?
DB: Do you know what? I don’t think that much actually. I think with us there’s quite a strong internal thing going on. You know, we like a lot of things, we’ve heard a lot of great records but I think we were very much in a moment. I think maybe in this period, where we’re in between albums, we’re really thinking a lot more and listening a lot more to what we might want to do next. In that period we were only sort of new and we had an idea in our heads and we kind of kept that.
MF: Gareth Jones produced this album and there’s a dark quality to the final mix that’s prominent in his work. This is you first album, how easy was it to let someone else steer the direction of your music for your debut?
DB: It was great and a very unique experience in that we only spent four weeks together, the four of us. Two of those weeks he was mixing the record but actually it was really just additional production and that’s why we sort of went with Gareth. We didn’t have a lot of time or money and we already had a very, very strong idea of what we wanted so it was about finding someone that could work with all of those things.
Some producers were saying ‘This is going to take two months’ but we were like “Well, we don’t want two months” because we didn’t want to re-write anything. We wanted to use a lot of the sounds that we’d already produced ourselves. Gareth really understood that, he liked what we’d already done and wanted to continue with the sounds instead of putting his imprint on it.
MF: The album certainly has an element of that dark, almost dissonant sound that’s a feature in the work of other bands Jones has produced, like These New Puritans. Were you looking to create a dance-able, indie-pop album that was still gritty?
DB: I think so. It makes the whole thing a bit more interesting – the combination of light and dark is really exciting. In a lot of the best disco songs, even a really cheesy one like ‘I Will Survive’, the music is so upbeat and so crazy but actually the lyrics are quite dark and I think that’s what makes dance music very interesting. You’re on the dance floor singing your problems away, singing about quite dark things and we like that combination.
MF: How pleased are you with the final product? Is there anything you would change?
DB: I don’t think so. There’s a really funny process you have to go through and you have to decide that it’s done now and that ‘I can’t do anything else’. We like the fact that it’s quite rough and ready and that there are a few holes in it – it’s not too polished. There’s a lot of different styles in it too so some people will like one part of it but not others and we think that’s what albums are for. Some people have been a bit shocked at the variation and that it doesn’t sound like our singles but an album of ten singles is really boring. For us it’s great that there’s a track that you might say ‘Hmm, don’t know if I like that one’, but maybe it’ll grow on you. So we’re pretty happy.
MF: Looking at your tour schedule I noticed you’re booked up until early August touring Europe with almost one gig a day. It’s a massively busy schedule!
DB: Yeah, and we had a meeting with our tour manager just the other day and he casually dropped in that we might be going to South America at the end of May! But there’s talk of maybe coming back to Australia as well before the end of the year so fingers crossed we’ll be back again. Australia was so great, we had five days off in Sydney and that was really fantastic – it felt like a real holiday.
MF: In terms of upcoming ventures you’re already talking about the next album so we can at least expect that, but you’re quite handy with a camera too – do you think there might be a ‘We Have Film’?
DB: I don’t know. We’d like to do a little tour documentary, I think that’d be nice at some stage.
WHB is released nationally 23rd April on Inertia.