DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: DENNIS | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Welcome to Doorstep Interview, where we find out more about the amazing bands and artists that we have right here in the north east. This time, the members of DENNIS tell us about their various achievements and the appeal of a gig with an added meat draw.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?

DENNIS are an 8-piece folkrock and colliery brass band from the surrounding pit towns of Hetton-Le-Hole in County Durham.

What inspired you to first start making music?

80% of DENNIS played music from primary school age within the towns local brass bands. As well as brass, the guitars, bass, drums and vocals elements are provided by friends from the same area and scene, who together have played in indie rock bands and toured the likes of Academy venues and across Europe for years.

What inspired DENNIS to start making music together (from around 2011/2012) was through the enjoyment of brass, folk and indie rock music; both sets of friends coming together to create and perform what feels 100% natural to us and is native to our towns cultural heritage. There is nothing false, pretentious or even cool about the band – we’ve all done that in other bands and you soon tire of trying to fit in with a fixation and constant goal of trying to “make I.” It’s all very unhealthy. Don’t get us wrong though, we are a very ambitious band, it’s just that the goal posts have now moved. We do it for the pure love of creativity, songwriting and performance of original music in-front of appreciative crowds from across all genres and ages… which feels great and will hopefully see us continue to create and perform for many years to come!

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

The biggest influence in our sound would be the brass band element as most of the melodic hooks and riffs are performed on brass instruments. In regards to songwriting, the instrumentation and structure of the songs are very much influenced by a folk Americana vibe; artists such as Springsteen, Cash, Petty, Dylan and many others which we enjoy… as such, lyrically the songs represent the everyday lives of people, the current affairs of our town and our working class heritage.

How would you describe your sound?

Authentic, catchy, light-hearted, indie-folk-rock, brass influenced, good time, emotional, meaningful, roots music… it’s also previously been described as “pit-pop,” which is novel.

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the local music scene?

We could quite aptly be placed alongside other fellow folk, indie-rock, acoustic, electric, singer-songwriter, pop bands. Obviously we won’t be playing any metal or punk bills soon, neither will we start wearing neon clothes or dance around a synthesizer. As mentioned before though, perhaps it’s a cliché thing to say but we aren’t trying to fit in. We just create and perform what we enjoy and what comes naturally to us. It’s an amazing bonus that people keep coming to the shows and appreciate our music enough to check it out on record and download.

“We just create and perform what we enjoy and what comes naturally to us”

Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by DENNIS?

There’s a lot of us onstage, it can be cosy. However, each member has an integral part to play on varied instruments. We spend a lot of time working on parts to create the layers of sound within the DENNIS tracks, both in the studio and in live rehearsals. Some tracks use a lot of parts which blend together into a lively sound, yet other tunes may only use an acoustic guitar and egg shaker. Its really all about the dynamics and melodies, there is a lot of light and shade which is drawn out with the instrumentation and musicianship … there’s also a raffle, tombola, pie and peas, bingo and a meat draw.

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?

One of our local summer dates is in Durham on Friday 26th June, outside on the riverbank behind the cricket ground (Green Lane; if you know Durham Big Meeting it’s behind the field where the colliery marching banners stand). We’re also playing a festival in Northumberland at Druridge Bay Country Park on Saturday 5th September. The Tyne Bar, Cluny, Academy and ThinkTank are all enjoyable gigs as well, all of which are long overdue so keep posted on Facebook to see what’s coming up.

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as a band?

There has been so many in just three years it’s hard to pin-point!

One event we organised was extremely successful; we decided to raise funds for a local well respected actor (a family member of the band) who suffered a stroke and who now needs constant care and therapies.

As well as arranging a sold out concert at the Newcastle Live Theatre, we also filmed a music video, Third Time Around, which features many actor friends and musicians (Tim Healy, Ray Laidlaw, Jane Wade, Jackie Fielding, Phillippa Wilson, Pete Peverley and many others). All of the proceeds from the concert, the tracks PRS and sales were donated which funded numerous therapy sessions and aided his care.

Other achievements have been sell out shows at The Sage 2 and Arts Centre Washington, numerous London shows, airplay on many BBC stations including BBC6 and local BBC stations, and recently a live session on BBC Teeside. There’s also the three EP releases, all of which we are all extremely proud of.

Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?

The only challenge really is funding for recordings, which thankfully to date has been going well due to concerts and sales. As with most bands this is a pure labour of love and so every penny earned is re-invested into the next project. In regards to publicity, we’ve also been very lucky and thankful as press and radio seem very open, receptive and energetic in what it is we are doing.

What else have you got planned for the future?

We are currently recording our first full length album. Recording should be complete back end of summer and we’ll be planning something special for its launch early 2016. There are a few other things in the pipeline as well, however we would be wise not to comment upon these until they materialize … best to keep posted on Facebook!

Find out more about DENNIS on their Facebook page.

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