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

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As new albums go, it’s not quite the 17 years we waited for Guns N’ Roses, or the 16 years it took The Avalanches to release their second album, yet it’s still been a substantial wait for Newcastle-based indie rockers Dog Years to release recorded material. It’s been ten years in the making, but finally their debut A Flame In Waiting is ready.   

“To be fair it has taken a little longer than we expected,” chief songwriter and guitarist Simon Fee admits in between laughs “It’s been quite a journey, with a few delays on the way, but we’re there now and couldn’t be more excited that the record is ready to be heard.”

Driven by guitar-heavy pop melodies with the sort of sunshine harmonies that made stars of Teenage Fanclub, The B52’s and Sonic Youth, it appears that it’s been worth the wait, and Simon admits that the delays may have ended up aiding the band’s creative processes. “By having had some of these songs almost fully ready for some time, we’ve been able to slowly refine and edit them as we’ve played them live. Thanks to this process I think the recorded versions are the best possible versions of these songs that could exist.” 

By having had some of these songs almost fully ready for some time, we’ve been able to slowly refine and edit them as we’ve played them live

Take as cases in point the early Strokes-esque sound of Spookychurch, or the gentle pop melodies of 2018 single release Mr. Speaker, which evolved to ensure that A Flame In Waiting became a schizophrenic record grounded around Simon’s guitar, pop sensibilities and layered band harmonies. “We put out Mr. Speaker last year as a taster for the album, and to make people aware of the progress we were making,” explains keyboardist and vocalist Carly Fee, “it’s a six-minute track and what we found interesting was the different reactions the track received, some people told us it sounded like the Buzzcocks, others told us it was quiet poppy. For us what mattered the most was that people could hear we were influenced by a number of genres, and I think that’s a signpost to an album that is very warm and tuneful.”

Recorded over the space of a year in Byker’s Polestar Studios, both Simon and Carly admit that they were surprised by some of the results from the sessions and how this has influenced their live sound. “Because we’d never recorded the songs, we’d never been able to hear how they sounded with multiple vocals,” explains Simon. ‘What we have now are truly realised versions of each song, including their backing vocals, meaning that we’re no longer changing the songs each time we play them live, we’re now trying to replicate their final production. This makes playing live a new entity for us and one which is about trying to replicate and live up to a definitive version.”

Energised by the recording and rehearsing for up-coming dates, it’s clear that the band are on a creative role “We’ve been supporting the creation of album art work and flyers as well as working on new material,” says Carly, “meaning that it might have taken us a while to actually get going but we won’t be stopped now.”

Dog Years release A Flame In Waiting on Friday 8th March, they play The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Saturday 16th March.

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