Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Eight questions with Dear Hero

(c) Helen Messenger

1. Who are Dear Hero and where did the name come from? (a short introduction)

Dear Hero are an Oxford based Post-Punk band consisting of Nick Rand on Bass Guitar, Pete Armstrong on Synth, Simon Calver on Drums, James Askwith on Guitar and Sean Stevens on vocals. We are all big fans of The Smiths, and in particular Steven Patrick Morrissey. Being in our mid twenties we don't tend to take ourselves too seriously. Everything is very tongue in cheek thus the inspiration for our band name came from a Morrissey song called 'Last of the famous international playboys'. We jammed it out once and the name was born from the first line of the song. We floated the idea of being a 'The' band, but then remembered it's not 2001.

2. When did you form, and what have the highlights been for the band since then?

We formed in the Summer of 2015. The band had been playing together for a while but is was through an advert in the local music press for a singer that things really started to take shape. Thus going from a jamming quartet, to a fully fledged rock and roll band. Being played and interviewed on BBC Introducing Oxford within six months of forming, for our debut track 'Paris' was quite a surreal thing. That really humbled us. Being endorsed by Richard McNamara from Embrace and being offered studio time in the bands own studio up in Leeds came a close second. Your first NightShift review is always a big deal for a band from Oxford, and fortunately they were very kind to us. Our first Jericho Tavern gig, playing the same stage our hometown heroes Radiohead once did. And finally the offer of a headline gig from Tigmus a year after forming. Rounded off our 12 months as a band perfectly.

3. When were ‘Paris’ and ‘She Never Knew’ recorded, and where? If there is an interesting story behind how you and any producers & session plays met and started playing together, please do share!

Those first two tracks were recorded in our home studio. James Askwith our guitarist is a producer by trade, and fortunately for us also a perfectionist. It only took a couple of takes from all of us on both of those tracks. But the production around them meant we didn't release them straight away. Songs are always evolving, and we went back to them after weeks away at time to pick out flaws. And ultimately we got there in the end. Ultimately we are a live band and that is what we love doing. But from a production point of view we want to make timeless tracks. We would never try what we do live onto a record, because we believe they are two different entities. If you go to a gig you don't want to hear a song played exactly the same. Otherwise you can stay at home and just listen to the CD.

4. Who is your audience and how do you connect with your fans? Any crazy, fun, exciting stories are very welcome.

We have punk fans who adore The Sex Pistols, 00's Strokes followers, 18 year olds and 67 year olds coming to our shows. We'd never want to conform to one demographic remit. A good song is a good song, and we appreciate every single individual who comes and has ever come to one of our gigs. If we leave a set with just one more new fan, that's a job well done. Yes the bass lines are throaty, the synth is intergalactic and the lyrics are depressing. It's all made with love. There's too much bad shit going on in the world right now. And we just want to put a smile onto peoples faces. As the opening segment to an Oasis album intro once started: 'FUN, NICE, LIFE, YOUTH, BEAUTIFUL. ALL ARE WELCOME' We floated the idea of a bubble wand at a recent festival, went down well with everyone under the age of ten. We're still working out our stage props!

(c) Helen Messenger

5. How do you usually prepare for a show, anything special for this hometown headline?

Pete our synth player is an inventor. Over Christmas he collected some scrap bits of metal he had lying around from a project. And as you do, made a BBQ. So we have a few ales and discuss the set over putting the world to rights the night before any gig. The day of we typically drink cocktails in Joe Perks having run the set in South Park acoustically, our favourite place in Oxford........ We're not your average indie band.

6. As the show is also a joint birthday celebration for James, Nick and Sean… any birthday present ideas for the rest of the band and the fans?!

James lives in PMT, but being an ECO-Warrior much like the rest of Oxford, he insists on cycling everywhere. So if people would like to chip in for a side car to carry his multiple collection of toys, and synths, his shoulders would appreciate it. Being a Joy Division addict, Nick only owns black t-shirts. So maybe some black jumpers to keep him warm in the upcoming Winter months. Sean is fond of Champagne Bellinis, but if your pockets don't stretch that far, Prosecco will suffice.

It's more important you spend your money on a ticket to come and watch your new favourite band.

7. What does your dream gig look like? Any bands that you’d love to play alongside?

Life goal is ultimately Glastonbury Pyramid. If Coldplay can headline four times, surely we can once?!! Common People done very well returning live music to South Park this summer. The dream would be a collective of all of our favourite hometown heroes getting together, most likely for a great cause, to emulate the huge Radiohead homecoming gig in 2001. We speak of the previous, Foals, Stornoway, Ride. Then the newbies with us amongst them, in particular Neverlnd, Robot Swans, Cameron AG, Esther Joy Lane and Neon Teepee. If one day we get to play alongside heroes like Peter Hook, Morrissey, Brandon Flowers, Alex Turner, The Strokes, New Order, then I think we'd sign out there and then. What more could you achieve.

8. What does the rest of the year (and even looking towards 2017…. it’s not that far away!) hold for you guys?

September we will be holed up in the studio writing. Then we come back out of our cocoon October to board the Oxford Tube to the big smoke and headline our first ever gig in Camden. There may be a very special Christmas show announced pretty soon via Tigmus......... watch this space. Then we'll spend the festive period with our friends, lovers and family's getting drunk down the Cowley Road. Festivals will very much be the theme this time next year, and we hope to have our debut album out by the end of 2017. We have our very special hometown headlining gig (EP LAUNCH SHOW) via Tigmus at The Library on Thursday 18th August - A Level results night. If that isn't an incentive to get drunk and party I don't know what is. For now, we just want to have fun. Make people fall in love with us. And fall in love with them. We're not just another indie band.......

Dear Hero play The Library in Oxford on 18th August, with support from 31hours and Year Of The Kite, tickets available here and all ticket holders get a free EP!

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