Déjà Vega have been one of our favourite live bands for a long time yet for some reason never seemed to make the step up that a lot of lesser bands were. That's all started to change recently as they're selling out increasingly bigger shows in Manchester and travelling much further afield. We caught up with them to talk about their recently released debut album, their writing and recording processes and their exciting plans for 2020.
How does it finally feel to have your debut album out there?
It’s both exciting and a relief. We’ve been waiting a long time for it to be released, and now it’s finally here, we couldn’t be happier.
It was touch and go at one point wasn't it? The album was recorded with a different label but then there were problems?
That’s right. It was due out ages ago, but the label we were with ceased trading without any warning. We were a bit lost to be honest, we’d been planning a load of shows and press for months leading up to the release, and it was all gone overnight. We had a big void to work out how to fill. We sat down and thought, f**k it, let’s do it ourselves. So we planned on launching a series of singles.
You're all very much fans of going out and buying music yourselves reading your social media posts - was it essential to get in on a physical format?
Absolutely. We’re all massive vinyl addicts, and when Sister 9 came up with an offer, having a vinyl release was a deal maker. We’re also lucky that Brian Cannon saw us at a Shine On festival show a while back. He rushed the dressing room after and said “you’re the best band I’ve heard in the last 10 years, I know it’s not the 90’s and there’s no money, but I want to work with you”. So the thought of getting your debut album out there with a sleeve made by an iconic designer became really exciting, and seeing it for the first time, all the struggles seem worth it.
Songs like The Test and Mr Powder are pretty full on intense when performed live. How did you seek to capture that energy in the studio and translate it to record and succeed where many others have failed in doing so over the years?
We recorded the album with Mark Winterburn at Edge Studios. He’s done almost all our recordings, and there’s definitely an understanding there. The process behind the way we record is to rehearse the songs to death so we’re playing really tight, and aim to record a tune in three takes maximum, and it’s always the three of us in the same room. That way, even with extra bits put on top, you’re always working to a raw live track, and you keep that energy. The whole album was recorded within a week.
Are we likely to see songs like Seeing Double, The Ballad Of Alfred Hitchcock and Sound Of Speed in the live set or are they likely to be reserved just for the album now?
We’ve only ever played Seeing Double live once before, and there’s new songs coming into the set already, so probably just album tracks now, but never say never...
Do each of you have favourite songs from the album?
Jack. The Ballad of Alfred Hitchcock because it’s different to anything we’ve ever written before. It has a feel of intensity but also being anthemic. I also enjoyed being experimental by playing samples off a phone through the pick ups of my guitar.
Mike. Erm, Eyes Of Steel because of the chorus
Tom. My favourite is Mr powder, because the drummer is a fucking powerhouse.
Your last two Manchester shows at The Castle and Gullivers sold out ages in advance and your Deaf Institute show at the end of February sold out back in September. How does it feel to suddenly be selling out shows like this when twelve months you were often the support act?
We know it looks like a sudden gear change, but to be honest, we saw it coming. We’ve had a great loyal following in Manchester, but then new faces were in the crowd. The singles we were selling were being sent further and further afield. When the Gullivers show sold out in a few hours, we pretty much booked the Deaf Institute the next day. And when Deaf sold out five months in advance, well, you’ll hear about that soon.
Were there certain events that happened that made you think the tide was changing in terms of the size of your audience?
I think it was our mindset that changed. When the original album deal fell through, we decided to take things into our own hands, not to rely on anyone outside of the band to make things happen. But I guess you can go back to The Charlatans North by Northwest show. That’s where we launched the first single, it got played by Radcliffe & Maconie and Steve Lamacq, and helped get us on a summer full of festivals. We’re pretty confident that if people get to see us live, they won’t forget us, so getting to play those shows were pretty important in growing the audience.
You've got an impressive UK tour booked around that gig too. Are you excited to be going to places you've not been before or have been as support as part of a headline tour?
Of course! It’s exciting to be going out there and seeing just how the word is spreading, and thinking that most of the people will be getting the live experience for the first time.
Your live sets now include a significant proportion of songs that aren't on the album. That's understandable given the amount of time since you finished it. Do you ever stop writing?
No, we get together every week, and pretty much always leave with a new tune or two. We change the sets around to keep the songs fresh, but it’s also the right thing to do for people who have paid for a ticket. We’ll always do The Test, and that’ll never be done the same way twice, it changes every time, but we want to keep people excited about coming back and not hearing the same old set.
And what is your writing technique - do you jam and songs appear or does one of you take the lead responsibility?
It’s pretty much all jammed. Either around a guitar line, bass line or drum fill. Someone will either bring an idea to the practice room, and we’ll all come up with parts to expand it. We record all the new songs on a phone at the end of the night, it’ll be an interesting B sides album one day.
What are your plans for 2020 - will we get to see a follow-up to the album pretty quickly given you're playing the basis of half another record live already?
You know when a band says they’ve “got exciting things coming up”, well we really have. We are going into the studio in a couple of weeks to record the second album. The dates in February will be to tour the first single, and then we’ve plans in place for all of 2020, with the album coming out in October.
Déjà Vega are on Facebook and Twitter. They play Manchester Academy 3 (November 1, supporting Honeyblood), Liverpool Jimmy's (November 30), London The Grace (February 25), Bristol Louisiana (26), Nottingham Bodega (27) Birmingham Sunflower Lounge (28) and Manchester Deaf Institute (29).
Their debut album can be ordered on vinyl via this link.