RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW LONDON BAND DESERT SHIPS
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Mikey: I think it’s not that you choose music but that music chooses you. At times it can feel like a life sentence haha! But I feel good when I make music. Simple really. Do what you love.
Daniel: Listening to my parent’s records and strumming a tennis racket along to them. There were sounds that I wanted to make, and to get a reaction from people in doing so! Not much has changed, except it’s a more expensive tennis racket now.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
Mikey: I sing and play guitar. I also produced the current crop of singles and forthcoming albums. Desert Ships have been together for 10 years. We have many releases out there. You can find us on all the streaming sites. We also have physical releases – CDs and Vinyl. We’ve been blessed to have worked with some great people over the years: Mark Gardener, Haydn Bendall, Alex Scannell, The Vacant Lots, Sonic Boom, and Tim Turan. For more info check us here: www.desertships.com
Daniel: I play bass and sometimes keyboards. I learned piano, classical guitar, and violin at school and got into electronic keyboards when I was ten, before falling in love with the bass guitar a few years later.
Claude: I play drums and sing harmonies
Mikey: We also have Anthony who plays guitar with us live, and Joe on synths. Stellar cats.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
Daniel: We were once asked if we could spell “diarrhoea”. Stupid shit like that, I suppose! Ask us about music.
We set up RGM USA and many other countries in the world to share music with America and the UK, good idea?
Daniel: Yes, I mean there’s always been mutual love of music on both sides of the pond, and that can only be a good thing. I think we inspire each other greatly.
Mikey: Yeah roots American music is a big influence over here.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Mikey: Anything to do with Elvis cracks me up 🙂
Daniel: Broadly no. Marilyn Manson was never in the Wonder Years, come on, people!
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Mikey: I can’t remember. Maybe some crappy tv subscription. The odd ice lolly!
Daniel: Yes! My bass guitar family grew with a couple of nice rarities, plus some ’90s shades and a super geeky Seiko watch from 1986, totally unused!
What useless party trick do you have?
Mikey: I have one. I’m not sure it’s useless. It’s called “doing one” when you’ve had enough 🙂 and you slip out into the night saying zero goodbyes. Easy 🙂
Daniel: I’m good at cartwheels.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
Mikey: Always playing new songs live for the first time.
Daniel: I’ll never forget playing the InMusic festival in Croatia. We played the second stage after the Prodigy had played the main one. We’d watched them from the wings and Keith come off and came up to me and said “they’re a great crowd, you’re gonna have a good show!” I don’t know who he thought I was, but we did have a good one. Such a legend.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Mikey: It’s pretty rare to have a bad experience. Occasionally you come across a crappy sound engineer, or maybe some equipment fails but you just gotta let these things not phase you.
Daniel: When I was 17 I played a gig at a girl’s school. I self-sabotaged myself by eating some hashish beforehand and giving myself a whitey. Seeing a video of the gig later I didn’t look that bad, but I had The fucking Fear, big time, it was horrible.
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about.
Mikey: I’m left handed
Daniel: Two of us ride motorcycles. One of us will tell you he’s left-handed, but it’s totally untrue. The maddest of the three will seem like the calmest on the first meeting.
Claude: see above
If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe it?
Mikey: Sci-fi blues
Daniel: This presupposes too much understanding on the part of the ET. I’d prefer to play our music than to describe it, whether it’s to aliens or earthlings, it’s just easier.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
Mikey: Great songs, interesting arrangements, interstellar production.
Daniel: Our tenacity
Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?
Mikey: Aside from our abomination of a government? The devaluation of music. The lack of attention spans these days…
Daniel: Let’s not talk about the tories
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
Mikey: ‘Skyliner’ because the outro is bananas! And it’s never played the same way each night.
Daniel: Maybe ‘We Write The Sound’ because some fans sing along to the bass intro. It’s the bass line that changed a million lives.
Claude: ‘Time’ every time
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it?
Mikey: We are happy to say our new single is called ‘Watching the World Stop’ and it’s out now! Go stream it and check out the cool Gil De Ray directed official video! It’s a blast! Our PR describes it as this:
“It speeds along like a NYC subway express train, soundtracking the tale of one man’s desire to escape through his roof from the mad times that surround us“
Daniel: It’s particularly exciting because of the way it was recorded (remotely, in different countries). It’s also our most DIY record to date, and sounds fantastic.
Talk me through the thought process of the single?
Mikey: To write songs that were the antithesis to the last record. Gone were the long and drawn out mid tempo dreamy numbers and in came short, fuzzier, and faster numbers. At the same time it’s still us you know. Claude’s drumming, Dan’s bass playing, my singing and guitars you know. That’s the DNA. That and our weird and wonderful arrangements and production.
Daniel: An up-tempo record to counter the dark stasis of these weird times, I reckon!
What was the recording process like?
Mikey: Fun! We had a great time! Circumstances were dictated somewhat by the pandemic….yawn. So Dan couldn’t fly in, and we couldn’t go to a commercial studio. But I’d been making records in my home studio for a few years by this point so we had a ready-made solution. I was keen to produce this record. Claude and I tracked the raw bones of the song live in the studio and Dan would fire in his bass parts remotely from Italy. It worked really well. After that, I carried on with the overdubs and the mixing. I can see us doing more of this in the future.
Daniel: From my side, it was like this: I received tracks and added bass guitar, and keys on some songs, sent the files back, and then got the mixes back. Nothing beats being face-to-face in the studio but it’s good to know that when that’s not possible we can record like this. It was an amazing process.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?
Mikey: I’m not sure if it’s about a learning curve. The self set target was simply to see if we could better the last record. Keep improving.
Daniel: For me, it was to get the best tones I could from the equipment I have in my home. Different guitars, amp settings, compression, it became an obsession! And I’m very happy with the results.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Mikey: No. We are very proud. This one is a banger.
Daniel: No, we discussed every aspect of the record and made changes as we went along.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
Mikey: We have just shot the video for our next single. We went back to Abbey Road Studios in June and recorded two brand new songs which shall be for release after next. Expect UK shows to be announced for later this year and into spring. Lots of things on the boil 🙂
Daniel: Some euphoric live shows, now that it’s a possibility again.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Daniel: Love each other, and listen to good music. In fact, don’t just listen to it, buy it, support the bands you love through their merch and their tickets, share their music when you can, and let’s keep this thing alive.