Hands up anyone old enough to remember the Dum Dums? The band were one of those classic bands that should have made it following the endless tours around the country covering a span of university venues through to supporting Robbie Williams on his mammoth arena tour. Sadly the time wasn't for them, but 3 pesky kids called Matt, James and Charlie watched on and formed Busted on the very basis of the band - except in comparison the gulf between the genius of the Dums Dums and Busted is akin to that of the Busted and the Noise Next Door. History lesson over now.
Their frontman Josh Doyle is back with "The End Of Fear EP" which sounds more mature and adventurous than his former band. "Aphrodite" sounds like an semi-acoustic version of Lostprophets with lyrics such as "I want to do something great before I grow older. There's nothing worse than being mediocre". At other times such as "Boy Racer", a song complete with a drum'n'bass, pulsing bass and minimalistic stark guitar riffs, he sounds not unlike cult Brit Patrick Wolf. On "Solar Storm" he reveals himself to be a classic songwriter with just an acoustic this song shines out as one of the best he's ever written.
Designer Magazine interviewed Josh Doyle about his past, present and future in an exclusive UK interview
Q: If we could just start back with the Dum Dums for
old skool readers. How different was your idea of the band to what the
record company and the media perceived you at the time?
A: Well, I came from a background of being in alternative rock bands, y'know a card carrying nme reader, got stick for being a muso and "one of them" by the "jocks". Actually all of us came from that background, so we took what we did seriously. The whole point of the dumdums was we felt that indie music was just so elitist and the message of acceptance, come as you are etc. was a lie because indie kids were still hung up on how they got treated at school that they felt "hey this is our club and you're not coming in".
Now i've set that up , you'll see that our thinking was - yeah we will do whatever TV shows we want to do, yeah we can play whatever gigs we want, look however we want, cause the real punk ethic should be about doing what you want and not what the "indie" crowd expects of an "indie" band. I mean the posturing of nme artists is just as set up as flipping boybands - which is why I applaud your all inclusive stance.
When we got signed, guitar music was out of style. We played the same gigs as Coldplay, Muse, on the bill with JJ72, Doves, all of us were struggling so because of that we were desperate to get a deal and live - sick of the factory jobs we were doing. So we had a great offer from a label who said - we want to make you the monkees, we want to give you your own tv show, we'll put loads of money up for promotion etc etc. We thought - this is our way in, we'll get through this door and then be whatever we want to be.
So we put our stamp on things as much as we could within the mechanisms of the record company. We were receiving huge offers of totally poptastic things - we basically had the chance to be Busted before Busted came along. We turned down one thing after another - like the smash hits tour, eurovision, different magazine covers, things that would put us past the pop threshold.
But it wasn't enough for certain critics who weren't seeing
an 'indie' band act like an "indie' band - although reading back 75% of
our press was very positive, you tend to focus on the negatives. The media
perception varied within magazines - very respected writers were behind
us because they could see our talent and they could see that people were
relating to us. But at our heart we still had our goal and it wasn't to
be posturing rock ponces, it was to affect kids and accept kids like us.
Q: There were times when you could go from playing
to a couple of hundred people at your own gigs to 17,000 a night with Robbie
Williams. Was the whole situation quite bizarre to take in at the time?
A: Well yeah - even more bizarre than that is that we were playing schools on the quiet as well, going in there, showing them live music, but we were playing school assemblies in the morning, supporting Robbie in arenas at night, and sometimes playing our own club shows later. Of course, as we played more and more, our headline shows got bigger and bigger, but yes it was bizarre. But I enjoyed it because the intimacy of smaller gigs cant be beaten and we were extremely privileged to play those arenas and have those experiences. I think we worked pretty well as an arena band haha.
Q: At the time 3 pesky kids could Matt, Charlie and
James followed you around the country. Do you feel responsible for bringing
Busted to the world in the same way that Northern Uproar followed Oasis?
A: Haha - you'll have to ask them exactly what our influence was on them - Their record company was definitely influenced by us - I mean, they had the same haircuts, they kind of look like we did, they used the same producer, they used our friends to make their video. I suppose we have to feel responsible because if it wasn't for us doing pop roadshows with all the boybands and us as the sole guitar group, radio would never have opened itself up to the likes of Busted. I am still friends with their producer, Steve Power, who was our producer, and he knows that is could have easily been us. But i'm okay with it. I took a different road...
Spot the Difference
(Josh Doyle in the old Dum Dums era / Busted today)
Q: How do you feel watching them now, knowing that
they took the Dum Dums formula, sawed off the edges and went to play arenas?
A: That's a very good way to put it - they sawed off the edges. Plus it was just us three in the dumdums making the sound - they have a session drummer and who knows what else live, but I understand it - they went for the pop jugular and we backed off, purposely.
I'm not bothered that they are doing so well. I was at
first, but i'm just a man trying to make my living by making music and
those kids can do their thing, im not going to call the sun and have an
article saying they ripped us off with a picture of me looking all sad
haha. I want to be influential, and hearing about kids who started bands
because of the vision that I had in the sixth form at school, is great,
at whatever level.
Q: I've downloaded the 2nd unreleased album demos.
They sound great, why did you decide to just walk away and end the band
at that stage?
A: Great, i'm glad that you did that, everyone needs to check those out - www.dumdums.com at the media section. You can get them on kazaa but people tell me there's always a waiting list of about 70 people!
Yeah I love that question - there was a time when I was
living in England when I would be asked that 4 or 5 times a day, and I
always made up an answer. It was a combination of many things. The second
album was our "Pinkerton" it was ahead of its time, the songs would fit
in well to the current climate of taking back sunday and jimmy eat world
etc. I just knew that the "Dumdums" that had been projected to the media
was pop, destined to burn away after a couple records, and I have ambitions
of being a career artist in the music world. We had the option to keep
our deal and go for the pop jugular, but I just couldn't do that and feel
happy with myself because of my ingrained indie ethos. I thought it would
be better to just say "we did what we came to do, we stole kids away from
crappy boybands and brought them into a real world of great life changing
music, we made a difference, sod it lets split up haha". The others weren't
as excited about my decision but they knew I wasn't going to change my
mind. I still feel good about it because it was the punk thing to do.
Q: Once you've decided to split with the Dum Dums,
you formed a prog rock band for about a month. Tell us more and do any
recordings exist from that period?
A: Yeah chucked in successful band to form a prog group with friends who had day-jobs. I held auditions, got a band together from people all over the country, even up in Manchester, a young guitarist named Ben. My drummer worked at homebase and was in one of my old pre-dum dums bands - these were all people who had real potential and I wanted to be able to take them to glory but alas it was not to be. My head went funny and I doubted myself and decided to sell all my possessions and move to Nashville. But the songs we made were promising, and they will be surfacing. Actually one of them is up at joshdoyle.com on the secret site - when you buy the EP you get a password and there are going to be more unreleased tracks going up there. We recorded 8 songs in that period, influenced by At the drive in, the doors, the juliana theory. I called the band Entrace Thesis - it was an anagram of what I originally wanted to call the band. Which is a secret.
Q: Then you left with your wife to Nashville. How was
it moving out to the States where knew no-one. At the time did you plan
to form a band or were you just disenchanted with music?
A: Well, before Entrace Thesis, I had started on a solo project, more kind of grown up, Richard Ashcroft stuff - everything was in place, the president of my publisher, Sony, was excited about it, people were buzzing about it but I just doubted myself again and also I wanted to rock out and not go all radio two just yet.
So I moved out to America knowing what I wanted to do - start from scratch and write a rock album, and just get better at everything so much that I would be able to compete in America - you have to raise your game over in the states cause they don't take to English bands lightly. And before when the dumdums had a deal with MCA we turned down major supports to concentrate on England but meanwhile blew our chances in the USA. So I didn't want to repeat that.
I wasn't disenchanted with music, I was mad at myself for being so destructive and indecisive but I felt that a clean start was going to save me - I mean i'm still young now, im at the age that most people get their first deal - 26/27 I read, so I knew that starting over could work.
But moving over here I have had to humble myself - only
industry people with British knowledge knew anything about the Dumdums,
so I had to make my own connections and make my own breaks where before
I had people to do all that for me. But its been fun, its just how bands
say the fun part is at the beginning, getting your name around and getting
a buzz going. We knew no-one though, except for Rock and Roll hall of famer
Steve Winwood, who was a fan of the Dumdums. I got to tour with him and
earn some more valuable experience as well as go all the way around America
and get a whole bunch of new hedonistic stories to write about.
Q: Up to date with "The End Of Fear" EP. When I listen
I hear a mix Lostprophets, Patrick Wolf and old school Josh Doyle influences
such as the Jam. What was the impetus to record and did you want to show
a more eclectic Josh than previous?
A: Yeah I was excited that you put it at Number One in your chart - I only sent it out to about three or four publications, so its a pretty good scoring ratio!! I came up with the idea to do an EP in September. I was tired of just being afraid of what people would think, I just said to myself - go out there and fail if you have to, just get out and do what it is you want to do.
I had been waiting all your for my band producers schedule
to free up and I suppose it was born of frustration as much as anything
else. So I hooked up with a kid who is like a pharrel type hip hop producer
and he played me some wild beats and sounds I had never heard on a record,
and I thought - what would happen if I put my songs together with this
stuff, and just did it. And it worked out great. I think it shows a more
eclectic me but there's also a lot of heart in it . And its positive, I
needed to record something to help me through these hard times and I thought
- its good, people may be touched by this stuff, so I put it out.
Q: The EP itself is a pre-emptive strike before you
launch your top secret alternative rock band. What can you tell us about
it? Who else is in the band? How does it move on from the EP?
A: Well two songs have been recorded and fleshed out so far for it, I can tell you that I played the acoustic demos to only one music business person and he said it was "incredible" - I say that because it was a highlight having kept it so close for so long then these people are getting excited and telling others about it. It has been described as Queens of the Stone Age meets Doves meets Stone Temple Pilots and Bowie. I've been listening to lots of Bowie, lots of Talking Heads, Springsteen. I may actually bring out another EP before that - now i'm on my own time frame and im not hooked up to any record company machine I need to put out as much as I can before limitations are imposed upon me again.
The band line-up I don't want to say - at the moment its american guys who have had deals in other bands, and its going pretty well. But it will be a band and not a solo thing.
The relation to the EP of my new stuff - well, the Dumdums
first album was a rites of passage growing up thing, ending thematically
in going out into the world on your own, then the EP is about being in
your world alone. My new band is about getting established and realizing
you have your destiny planned out for you. Its darker. One song is written
from the perspective of the President of the USA about war and if he really
is on God's side. Its going to be quite musically complex but also rock
out like nothing else i've done.
Q: You're planning to play a few gigs in the UK and
early in the New Year. Are you planning to do more than just the token
A: I'm interested in finding places to play that don't usually get many bands through - people who want to see me play are spread out all over the country, and I have the freedom to play wherever I want right now - so yeah i'll be up north and all over the place - i will have to balance that with recording the album. I will be playing the EP and Dumdums stuff and previewing some of my new band stuff. I'm still debating how its all going to work, but if the demand is there, ill be over.
Q: Finally, what are your ambitions for the new band?
Do you plan to release material independently or go for the major label
A: Doing all this EP stuff independently has taught me a lot. I haven't paid a penny for promotion, but without promotion you wont be able to make a large impact - the impact you make is relative to your marketing budget except for the odd one offs here and there. The plan at the moment is to make the album - my producer uses a great studio, its a house and each room is; a drum room, a vocal room, guitars, etc. Great vibe. Then when we have made the album, we are going to license it out all over the world to majors. We have already had some majors express an interest. Who knows - but I want it to have a large audience because what I have to say is important.
"The End Of Fear" EP is out now
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