Despite being a child of the 90’s, Deaf Havana frontman James VeckGilodi is without doubt, an old soul. At just 24 years young, the Norfolk native and his bandmates have already released two critically acclaimed major label albums, opened for Bruce Springsteen and Muse, completed a plethora of soldout headline tours and played numerous highprofile summer festival slots.
It’s the singing guitarist’s storytelling ability within his songwriting though, that truly sets the sextet apart from the crowd in a flourishing UK rock scene and has seen the band’s career snowball from humble beginnings. It should come as no surprise then, that the boy from Hunstanton cites the late, great American writer Charles Bukowski as one of his main influences, so much so that the man’s name adorns Veck Gilodi’s tattooed knuckles. “He’s my favourite writer, hands down,” James enthuses. “There’s no bullshit, no metaphors, it’s very black and white.”
It was 2010’s breakthrough ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’ album that saw Deaf Havana flex their songwriting muscles and in turn brought their first taste of mainstream success. On album opener, ‘The Past Six Years’, VeckGilodi sung resentfully about friends in other bands and his frustration at his own bands fortunes. “These days my friends aren't who they used to be. We were all sinners and drunks but now they're too mature for me. Because Mike's on daytime radio, John played Reading & Leeds, and I'm still play the Purple Turtle on New Year's Eve.”
A similarly poetic chain of events followed and within months of the opus’ release, his own band were enjoying regular Radio 1 playlisting, opening the main stage at Reading and Leeds and appearing on the covers of magazines.
The Bukowskilike honesty and relatability in VeckGilodi’s lyrics that littered the band’s debut for BMG was ever present too on the band’s latest fulllength, ‘Old Souls’. With subject matters such as deceased friends (‘Boston Square’), absent fathers (‘Caro Padre’) and small town mentality (‘Kings Road Ghosts’) to name a few, ‘Old Souls’ stormed the Official UK Albums Chart at number 9 upon release and saw the band headline both the Roundhouse and Clapham Grand in London as part of sellout UK tours, the latter complete with a gospel choir and string quartet.
Now, with the band coming to the end of their ‘Old Souls’ cycle, the frontman who previously sung about daydreaming of being “Kurt Cobain or Morrissey” and the toll an alcoholfuelled touring lifestyle was having, is focused on album number four and “writing a great record, free of compromise.” On previous form, you’d be foolish to bet against them delivering just that and much, much more.