Deaf Havana – The Present Is A Foreign Land – Track By Track
Alt-rockers Deaf Havana have finally released their anticipated new LP, The Present Is A Foreign Land.
It’s been four years since the band’s last studio album, so undoubtedly The Present Is A Foreign Land has been an eagerly anticipated project for fans of the band. A lot has certainly changed over the last few years, the group is now a duo comprised of Frontman James Veck-Gilodi and his brother/fellow bandmate Matty. With this change in the band line-up, there has also been a new sense of unbridled freedom when it comes to the creation process. Thus resulting in Deaf Havana’s sixth record. It’s an LP that explores themes such as imposter syndrome, conquering arduous life obstacles and self-discovery. It’s an impressive body of work that showcases this exciting new era for the Veck-Gilodi brothers. You can read our previous interview with the duo by clicking here.
To celebrate the release of The Present Is A Foreign Land, Deaf Havana penned a track-by-track article for 1883 where they deep-dived into each song on the record.
A note from the band
We’re just incredibly excited to be releasing The Present is a Foreign Land this week. It’s a record that means a huge amount to us and I can’t really believe that it’s finally going to be out in the world! We put a lot of ourselves into making it and as a result we’ve never been prouder of our music. I hope people connect with it and love it because we really do.
Pocari Sweat is a song about reaching a point where you feel like you can’t really get any lower, and kind of re-evaluating your entire life and not really understanding what to do and what the next step is. I think I wanted to start the album on a really low point, so that throughout the album it gets more and more positive, and by the end of the record, it just feels almost euphoric.
This one is about wondering whether choosing music as a career is the right or wrong thing to do. It was written when we were both feeling very negatively towards music, and we didn’t know whether this band was going to continue. We felt like we’d wasted the last ten years of our lives, when we should have been doing a proper job instead of trying to be a musician. Anyway, we’re really glad we wrote it, and it turned out to be quite a positive song in the end!
I Put You Through Hell
I Put You Through Hell is kind of a weird song; it doesn’t really fit on the album musically (I don’t think), but we really like it because it’s a bit different and a bit ‘out there’ for us. Lyrically it’s about basically apologising to loved ones about behaving in certain ways and doing things that we regret. It’s kind of just a big apology to the people we love for maybe not being around as much as we could have done, and maybe not treating them the way they deserve to be treated.
Nevermind was the second song that we wrote for the record, and it’s one of my favourites on there. It’s just about me going through a period where I was alone and I had to move back in with my grandparents, and I was having a really rough time and I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going in life. I kept making terrible decisions and I just wasn’t living, I was just sort of surviving. Anyway, I managed to pull myself out of that, and I’m better than ever now. So although it’s a very negative song, it also brings a bit of hope because I got through that and now I’m in a better place than ever.
On The Wire
On The Wire is probably the catchiest song on the record. When Matty and I both wrote it, we felt very strongly about it, and we felt like it was definitely going to be the lead single. We just could not get the chorus melody out of our heads, so I guess we did something right. It’s catchy and it’s a bit annoying after a while if you listen to it, it definitely gets stuck in your head. We’re really proud of it, and we hope everyone loves it as much as we do. It’s just a solid rock song really, with catchy melodies and it’s upbeat (for us!).
This is a song that Matty wrote with me in mind, and he wrote the lyrics for me to sing. We just wanted to keep it quite simple so it’s basically just a really nice acoustic guitar riff, and then it builds and builds towards the end and then the strings come in, and the drums come in and it’s basically just one big crescendo. It’s very similar in lyrics to 19dreams; it’s very much questioning the last 10 years of our career, and whether it was the right or wrong thing to do and just how we feel. Sometimes we get ignored by people, or we get passed by when people should really be paying attention to us.
Someone/Somewhere (Feat. IDER)
This is probably the deepest song on the record for me, lyrically. This is one of the last songs we wrote for the album, and we were missing something but we didn’t know quite what. Matty sent me this dance song that he had made and it had no words on it, so he said can you just write a poem to go over this? So that’s essentially what I did. It doesn’t really rhyme, and it doesn’t really have a chorus, it’s just a big long conscious stream of thoughts that I wrote down, and I’m really proud of it. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and it’s different because it’s a bit more electronic and more dancy than anything we’ve ever done before, but it’s also very dark in terms of lyrics.
Help is one of the last songs I wrote for the album, and it came about really quickly. I was just sort of messing around one day on my computer, and I wrote what ended up being the hook in it, and I thought it was really cool and really different. I wanted to get the energy of a dance song but played on instruments, so I tried to recreate that and then we got some brass involved and it sounds quite different. Again, it’s another song on this record that doesn’t necessarily fit in terms of how it sounds, but I also think that makes it a bit more interesting than some of the other ones. Lyrically it’s just about feeling lost and alienated and not knowing what to do, and basically just asking for help.
The Present Is A Foreign Land
This is obviously the title track of the record, and where we got the main theme for the artwork, the name and the lyrical content. This is also a song that Matty completely wrote himself. He sent it to me and it was basically a fully formed song, so I didn’t really write anything on this, so you have to give all credit to him. When I first heard it I thought it was one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life, and I absolutely love it. The fact that I don’t sing the vocals on it and Matty does, allows me to be a bit more of a fan because when I listen to our music typically, it’s my own voice so it’s hard for me to be objective and really listen to it as a fan. As this is somebody else singing, I can just sit back and listen to it and really enjoy it. So yeah, I think it’s a great song, it’s a straight up rock song and it’s got a lot of energy and I can’t wait to play it live.
Kids is a song I’ve had for quite a long time. The chorus bit, I’ve had for maybe 7 or 8 years and I just never found the right song to put it in. I’ve been trying to put it on an album for the last 3 albums, but yeah we finally managed to do it! It started off a lot more of a classic rock song, and it was okay but it didn’t grab me when I listened to it. We really changed it up, and we came up with the driving synths and made it a lot more electronic. Lyrically, it’s very nostalgic but it’s more similar to some of our older songs, and it’s really fun to play!
I wrote the main bulk of this song maybe 5 years ago, and I couldn’t really find a way to put it on another album so it’s sort of been sitting there for ages. This song is really about dealing with addiction problems, and finding it hard to cope when you’re away and it’s really hard to not drink too much, and you know… so yeah it’s really about dealing with addiction and trying to get better, really.
This one is another song that Matty wrote, and it was very different when he first sent it to me. It sounded a lot like The Cure, so we decided to change it up and make it a bit more dark and moody. Lyrically, it’s just the perfect way to end the album. It’s again, looking back on the past 10 years of being in a band and wondering whether it was the right thing to do, or whether we should have been doing something else with our lives. Basically, it’s just asking the question of, ‘how are we going to be remembered?’. Will we be remembered as an influential band, or will we not be remembered at all?
The Present Is A Foreign Land is out now. Follow Deaf Havana at @deafhavana
Intro by Cameron Poole