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

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Adding a modern twist to the traditional brass sound, indie folk rock band DENNIS release their debut album this month.

The band gave the album a live launch in June. “The idea to launch back in June was to just put the songs out there and see how it all went down. The songs were written to be performed live – they weren’t necessarily written with recording in mind. Fundamentally we are a live band and want people to dance, sing or to connect with the songs emotionally.”

The tracks on Open Your Eyes certainly display the energetic vigour of a live gig, delivering a feast of brassy rock and folk to create a uniquely authentic and exciting sound which would incite foot-tapping amongst even the most hardened indie chin-stroking audience.

Although the band combine a multitude of genres, singer and guitarist Dan is emphatic about their brass credentials. “We’re unique in terms of how the brass is the main feature of the band, as opposed to an addition to the sound of the song. The brass drives the melody, and the brass drives the band essentially. The majority of times it’s the brass part I hear first for the songs, and then I build up everything else around that.”

The brass drives the melody, and the brass drives the band essentially

The brass emphasis is a reflection of their Hetton-Le-Hole roots, and the former mining community is an incredible source of inspiration. “We feel really proud to be representing Hetton-le-Hole, representing everything these communities continue to stand for, which is solidarity, friendship and loyalty. We will continue each year to provide support for our local villages and that goes both ways. We have just had Ella and Toby promoted from the local youth band into the DENNIS ranks, and it’s just such a community based band and feels special to be part of, with all our family and friends involved.”

There are clearly deeper elements at play on Open Your Eyes, Give Me Soul’s layered soaring vocals speaks of the ethos of the band; Leaving You Alone’s charging guitar rhythm sets the pace alongside joyous handclaps, while Gone Girl’s old-fashioned charm and the sprightly Better Man are particular highlights.

The album’s title track – which builds from a sedate opening into a foot-tapping ditty full of graceful guitar and ever-present brass – is evident that the band’s music represents deeper sentiments, albeit with a rather humorous take on life, as Dan explains. “It’s a song about my wife and me getting stressed the day before our wedding. It was written in about 10 minutes, and was just a message to say ‘life’s too short to be arguing over a frozen chicken’ – obviously in the form of a love song! Some people have suggested it’s a link to the current political climate, and I’m happy for people to connect with that idea as well, but prefer the chicken.”

DENNIS release Open Your Eyes on 21st October. The band play at Washington Arts Centre on Friday 18th November.


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