Haven Photo's By Tina McClelland
Since moving to Manchester just over a year ago, Cornwall's Haven have attracted the wrath of the Manchester bands and the love of the fans in equal measures. Despite outside pressures the band attracted the attentions of former Smiths / Marion manager Joe Moss, were one of the highlights of Manchester's ITC, gained a support slot with Badly Drawn Boy for his recent national tour and are on the verge of signing a deal with one of the majors. They chose to talk to Designer Magazine exclusively about being on the precipice of mega stardom.
Q: How did the Badly Drawn Boy tour go?
Gary: The fans reacted really well and it amazed us all. I think we benefited from a crowd that, well he'd have had his core supporters, were coming to check him out because he won the Mercury Music Prize. We benefited from the fact that people were there to see something new and we weren't playing with a necessarily long running established act, its definitely worked in our favour.
I think anyone can get into our music, it don't think that it restricts anyone. You can listen to our music and pretty much have an opinion on it straight away.
Q: Give us a brief background as to how Haven got together?
Gary: We met in Cornwall, but I spent the early years moving round from town to town. Music was my thing, a major part of my growing up and I'd heard about Nat being a good guitar player. We met up one day, put a band together and 18 months ago we moved up to Manchester.
We didn't decide consciously to move up to Manchester but obviously with its history it was definitely attractive. We always got off on the West Coast 76 era of music which is arguably the most creative period in musical history. We just came up to visit Joe and we just love places like the Night & Day Cafe - it had that real bohemian feel to it and it had that San Francisco vibe to it. You could just feel the music everywhere, its sound really corny but its true.
Its about music and its not about where you're from. If it becomes about anything else other than the music then it's boring. Why should people listen to you when all you're saying is "I'm From Manchester"?
Nat: Our move to Manchester was nothing to do with wanting to or trying to become a Manchester band in anyway. Its was purely to get involved in a more creative circle because you're cut off in Cornwall.
Q: When did Joe Moss get involved?
Nat: He just started visiting Cornwall and he heard about us. We started off on very much a friend level, he'd come down and we'd just have a drink together. He's a really wise man so once he starts talking you want to encourage it so you just sort of bring the wine on.
Gary: We were aware of the Smiths and knew a little about Marion, but is was funny because it never came into it in a "You're a band, I'm a manager - lets do something". We clicked on a personal level as four guys that loved music, particularly the music that was part of his youth.
Q: For people that haven't heard you yet. How would you describe your sound?
Gary: I'd say were somewhere between the Grateful Dead and Buffalo Springfield. We've very much got our own sound and its something you'd have to listen to and get a handle on yourself. I know we don't sound like any other band and I can't see anything in our music that I've heard latter day.
If all people are using to compare our band to another is melody then there is millions of bands out there that use melody. For a long, long time there didn't seem to be that much of it going on. Arguably Johnny Marr was the last guitarist to have such a handle on that, it wasn't just a bunch of chords and a pretty voice on top and that's very much our thing.
Were trying to make the music as interesting as the vocal and what I mean by that is if the song was played without vocal it would still be as interesting - I think that got lost along the way.
Q: What do you write about lyrically?
Gary: There isn't any main themes through the songs, but I'd like to thing that everything I write is a honest as it can be. Its not written for effect or to cause a reaction, its written as purely and as simply as I can.
I'm aware that half this country are reading Chauseur, checking out the financial times and worrying about the Presidential Election in America. But the large majority of this country are eating Fish & Chips, drinking cider in the park, smoking behind bike sheds and digging up roads. My thing is just to put things over as simply as I can.
Q: Some people say guitar music's reached a low point with Coldplay and Travis being so safe. Should we believe in you?
Gary: Well you should because were a rock & roll band. Were not an acoustic band, there's not an acoustic guitar anywhere near are stuff - that's what sets us apart. I think at the moment it is an exciting time with the like of Travis, Coldplay, Doves, I Am Kloot, Badly Drawn Boy; its all driven by melody, not by attitude or anything but the fact that they're writing songs.
Nat: It's timeless. People get sick of attitude but a timeless tune will stand the test of time and it can be recorded in any way, by any artist. A great song can be recorded by anyone and it will still come across as a great song.
Gary: If anything I think its all going to rise back up again. I don't think guitar music is dead; I think every other style of music is more restricting, more done, more the same and more rehashed. I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes out of the New Year.
Haven Photo's Courtesy Of Tina McClelland
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