Midway through last year Haven played a gig at Manchester's Night and Day Cafe and it really was the sign of a band seriously losing their way. Gone were the intricate melodies that made the album "Between The Senses" one of those classic Manchester debuts and in it's place were lazy almost 3 chords structures which sounded as if the band had been absorbing the detroit garage scene which was popular but on the wane. It was only when Nat came down with Bells palsy which made the band look at what they had and where they wanted to go that they really got back on track. Demos with Johnny Marr turned into actually recording the album we know now as "All For A Reason" and the rest as they say is history. Designer Magazine caught up with Gary and Nat to find out about the last few months.
Q: You did the In The City stage in September, but this is the first proper gig in your own right for what seems like an age?
Nat: We'll we did King Tuts last night, which was interesting but we managed to iron out a few problems.
Gary: It was a strange experience in some ways. 8 months or there abouts was the last time we stepped in front of anyone and played some songs. To be doing that again after such a long time away does feel kind of weird, but it's the best kind of weird there is. You can always rely on the Scots to be warm, if they like you already they know exactly how to spur you on.
Nat: There aren't really 2 cities we'd rather play than Glasgow and Manchester, but we've got London tomorrow and these dates have really given us a bit of time to get geared up.
Q: The album that we have here today isn't really the album i'd have expected after seeing you do the low key Night & Day show early summer. At the time you'd stripped it down, but the album still has the delicate intricacies of the debut?
Gary: It was never going to be a different Haven. It's evolved but you can't change your appreciation for music overnight - the qualities of certain music, there with you forever.
Nat: You have to do the music that comes naturally to you. With all our songwriting we write to our strengths individually and then what comes out is what goes on the record.
Q: Again you chose to work with Johnny Marr again and I believe originally that wasn't going to be the case.
Gary: While we were writing the album and getting it together there was a lot of to-ing and throw-ing of ideas, he'd bounce ideas off us for his record and we'd do the same. It culminated with him recording it. We were at his place for demos and the demoing process evolved from making demos to making the album. It just happened really naturally, much like "Between The Sense", and its really nice to work that way.
Q: It's not until you sit down and think about it, but you guys are kind of old school Manchester nowadays. How does it feel, cos it still doesn't feel that long ago since you were coming up?
Gary: It's good. If you're part of what's going on musically in Manchester it's always gonna be a good thing. The city's got a real rich musical history. When people call say Longview the next Haven, it's got to be seen as a compliment, even if the journalist means it in a negative way it still acknowledges the fact that you've made an impact enough to be seen as a reference point. It's really important that we are part of the fabric, it means you exist. It's important that we aren't just existing on Oldham Street, we exist on the Sunset and the valleys.
Q: Oldham Street and the Northern Quarter do play a major part in Haven's existence. The Night & Day in particular seems to leave an imprint on anyone that visits, you guys and I Am Kloot always return to the place to play various low key shows
Gary: It's really important to keep places like this. I don't think people realize just how many bands exist or got a deal because of this place. I can't think of any Manchester band, probably as wide as any British band, that hasn't played here and been part of this venue.
Nat: Were genuinely thankful of this place and this is why we come back and it's why I Am Kloot come back. Given the fact that it's open throughout the days as well as being a venue at night it just becomes a focus point for creative people. Everyone that works here is doing something creative and just watching that go on is attractive in itself.
Q: Manchester at the moment is so diverse with no particular genre shining through. What do you think of the music scene now?
Gary: I've been here 5 years now and in the 5 years i've been here it's always been like this. Lots of little scenes in different parts of the city which is really really healthy I think. It's nice that you haven't got hundreds of kids at college with the same haircut as Liam Gallagher wanting to write songs like Oasis. The fact that it was once like that is all credit to Oasis, how quickly they came through and the impact they had on the country was almost unrivalled in my lifetime, but its nice that there seems to be a real hunger for something different. When we were younger we didn't want to be like anyone else. We couldn't because we lived in Cornwall we didn't listen to Radio 1 and we didn't have an HMV where you could go and buy the latest singles...all we had to go on was old records.
Q: I don't think Haven fit into the scene now and I didn't think you fitted into the scene then.
Gary: Which is great innit? I'm not sure that the style over substance thing is necessarily anything new though. If you look at the Beatles, The Stones, The Who, The Pistols, The Clash - they were as much about fashion as they were about music and it's never really gone away. I don't think it's something to be scared off, you just either want to be part of it or you don't.
Nat: You've got to do what comes naturally all the time, that's what I think. All our influences are imbedded in us now.
Q: How have your personal life's recently affected the record. Obviously your illness Nat must have had some bearing on your outlook and how you approached the record?
Nat: I think it made me appreciate the position that were in and appreciate that there's a foreseeable path to a good life. Were only young and it inspired us to take chances and have a good stab at it. Personally speaking it strengthened me a hell of a lot and once again it makes you appreciate your life and the strength of your band members. It's one of those things that if someone would have told me it was going to be a positive thing i'd have knocked em out, but it was, in the long term it's been one of the best things that's happened to me cos i've got a grip of myself.
"All For A Reason" is out now
Haven tour throughout April / May
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