If there is one thing our music scene is abundant in, its guitar bands. We are a country steeped in tradition and when it comes to music there is nothing more old school than guitar driven Rock ‘n Roll. However Deerstalker are different. Brash, forwarding thinking and dynamic. This is a band who’ve bided their time to release a monster of an EP. A collection of tracks few other bands would have the balls to let loose on to the world first time round. Branding themselves as Prog-Grunge, there is deep rooted connection to genre defining bands such as Queens of The Stone Age and Black Sabbath – along with a unique aura of freshness that few other acts have been able to capture. Olly Dickson is the firey frontman of the trio, we chatted to him to find out what makes him and the band tick.
► The band officially formed in October 2011, how did you all come together?
Olly Dickson: Myself and Matthew Fitch were both trying to get bands together, I remembered hearing his name years ago and that he was a drummer, so when I saw him posting online about getting a band going I messaged him online and offered my guitar and vocal services. He called up his neighbour and school friend Andy Carruthers, a bassist. We all met up at Matthews house and jammed out some covers, but it was when we started playing some old originals of mine we knew we had something special, and from that moment on the band was born, albeit we had the temporary name “24th Operational Weather Squadron”, but thankfully “Deerstalker” won out in the end. .
► As a band you have been praised for your adventurous song-writing. Was it always your intention to try something a bit different, or has it just developed over the past few months?
The adventurous side of things is pretty spontaneous but it all comes from our never ending mission to make as much noise as possible with the best possible melodies and riffs. We aren’t afraid of uncharted territory, even if it means making sound that could explode peoples eardrums. The idea of the constant innovation and exploration of rock music is where the band name actually comes from, a deer stalker is always searching for the biggest and best deer, Deerstalker is always searching for the biggest and best sound.
► Which bands or artists do you feel are the biggest influence on Deerstalker?
We all have our different influences that contribute our overall sound. Our music is very riff based, this comes from my strong Black Sabbath, Truckfighters and Kyuss influences. Matthew is a big fan of Metallica and Nirvana, where Andy is into bands like Switchfoot and Biffy Clyro. We all share a love of big riffs and destruction alongside melody, so you could say our biggest influence is just massive, earth shaking noise itself.
► Is there any local acts in particular which you look up to?
Northern Irish bands like Rupture Dogs, Chocolate Love Factory, Droids, LaFaro, ASIWYFA and Mojo Fury are always sounding fresh and sticking to their guns. We look up to that.
► What was the hardest part about starting out as a new band?
When people are looking to pull together line-ups for local gigs, they tend to stay away from getting lesser known names on the bill so that they are more likely to draw a crowd. As a brand new band, the hardest part is definitely getting gigs. You really have to prove yourself musically in those crucial first few months together at every chance you get.
❝It would be very true to say that it is a reference to Brock himself from Pokemon.❞
► How did the recording process go for your debut EP “Wendigo”?
We recorded the EP in the space of three days at Einstein Studios in Antrim. It was a very straightforward process in itself, we managed to capture our live sound perfectly, as well as getting the droning and fuzzed out but tight and concise sound we had in our heads translated onto record. Frankie McClay made the experience one to remember, he is one of the best producers in the country and lets you use his amazing equipment, as well as being completely hilarious. There were many times during the recording sessions I thought I was going to throw up because I was laughing so hard.
► Are there any themes or messages which you feel are portrayed in “Wendigo”?
The lyrics can appear abstract when written down, but there are clear themes in each song which contribute to an overall message across the EP. Songs like “Unsung Hero” which contains lyrics like, “I lived in a place with lots of beige,” don’t seem to mean anything at all when you read them, but that line is really a stab at the boring routine side of life, and how every day is exactly the same. My Larry David attitude is reflected in the lyrics quite strongly. Songs like “The Theatre” and “Want You To Know This” are generally about living life to the full and not letting anything stop you. The EP has one overall theme, stay true to yourself and be yourself!
► You recently launched “Wendigo” at Auntie Annies, with a whole host of other young bands. How do you feel that night went?
Fantastic. We had a great turn out and the music was top notch. We managed to inject a good bit of variety into the lineup. MakingMonsters played the most brutal of alternative metal absurdly well, Abandcalledboy were shaking the walls and showcasing their brand new material, The Groundlings (who played this gig under the name “That Bastard Chapman and Fiends”) got everyone dancing and Marino Bizzi brought the thunder with their unique setup. One of the best gigs we’ve played yet, made all the more special by the fact we had just released our first full length EP.
► There is a track on your EP with the title “You’re Still Light Years Away From Facing Brock”. This doesn’t happen to be a reference to a very famous 90’s cartoon/video game?
It would be very true to say that it is a reference to Brock himself from Pokemon. In Pokemon Blue on the Game Boy Colour, when you enter the first gym, you meet a trainer who says, “Stop right there kid, you’re still light years from facing Brock!” Not ashamed to admit that one bit. We sometimes get odd looks when we talk openly about “Brock’s breakdown.”.
► Who was first band you ever fell in love with?
► Best Gig you’ve ever been to?
It’s a tie between Black Sabbath at Download and Queens of the Stone Age in Olympia Theatre.
► The one album which you could not go without?
Very tough question. There are some albums that are just perfect all the way through. My THREE albums I couldn’t do without are Paranoid by Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age self titled debut album and Led Zeppelin 4.
► The one musician/band that you cannot stand?
I hate so many musicians and bands. I could rant for hours. There are just so many absolutely terrible bands like Nickelback and Evanescence its hard to single them down to just one, but the one that sticks out in my mind as being particularly terrible is Wild Beasts. The music they make is just wrong on all kinds of levels.
► What is your guilty pleasure?
I love death metal like Meshuggah and Gojira alongside electro like SBTRKT and Metronomy. They are my guilty pleasures because I’m not supposed to like that kind of stuff. But I do. And Aphex Twin. He’s awesome.
► If you could play your dream gig tomorrow, what 3 other bands would you want to share the bill with?
Queens of the Stone Age, Black Flag and Foo Fighters.
► And finally, what does the band have planned to do next?
I’m heading to University at the end of September, so Deerstalker is unfortunately going to have to take a couple of months breaks at a time during semesters, but every time I’m back we’re going to play huge amounts of gigs and record our new songs. While I’m away we’re going to save up for the recording sessions and promote “Wendigo” as much as possible while we’re at it. We have some brilliant new material in the pipeline at the minute, come to our next few shows to see the new tunes!
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