In my new 2013 diary, I had 2nd February marked down for the Havana Rocks gig at the Gasworks, Bradford. The band started at half nine but come eight o clock, it was my turn to have a pre-gig catch up with Andy, Tony, Jason and Ryan, the four Yorkshire lads who make up Havana Rocks. Here’s what they had to say for themselves….
So how did Havana Rocks come together?
T: Well we were all playing in different bands doing covers and stuff. I think it just came about that a couple of us just wanted to start our own band then we just looked for auditions really. Andy (vocalist) came along, and then this was pretty much the original line up. The other drummer left, then we just advertised and got Ryan (drummer) in. So yea that’s it really, we sort of merged from being in other bands and all of us wanted to move forward and do bigger stuff really.
For most bands, when they start out with their own material, it takes a while for them to catch on with the public. However, Havana Rocks seemed to catch on really quickly. How do you go about keeping yourselves focused?
T: Well it’s for the fans mostly! We love gigging and it’s just what we enjoy doing! That’s what keeps us going; we’re not one’s to give up. We love writing and love gigging. The response we get back, it just sort of works with each other.
Word is you’ve got a new album in the pipeline. Your first album Star was a success, what’s the inspiration behind the new one?
T: Well the inspiration behind the new album is that it just sort of follows on from Star really. We’re writing songs that A) we enjoy playing and B) what we feel that people will come and see us will enjoy. There’s bits of, there’s more stuff aimed at where we’re at in the industry as well as the odd song here and there. But generally again it’s just what we did with Star; just writing good rock songs and putting it out there. There’s no set ‘this is what were gonna write the album about, we’re doing what we’ve always done; we write and if it feels right…
J: Well it’s just what feels right at the time really. You know, Tony will come up with something we can all agree on and if it sounds like a good riff and that.
T: Yea we’ve branched out a bit further with the songs writing; we’ve opened our range up a bit. In the live set we do like a blues jamming which is obviously not on the album, we diverse more with the songs; just basically trying different things for us really and seeing what works.
In what ways do you want your music to inspire your fans?
T: we’d like, well the reason why we do what we do, is to show the live music scene is still about and get people out from watching The X Factor. Just come along and enjoy a good night out and keep supporting the music. You come up against enough things as it is and if you can get people out enjoying it and spreading the word and maybe joining their own band and just being sort of…well we don’t really go out to inspire people’ we go just to entertain and hopefully people will take something from the songs and think ‘oh yea…’
K: Are you trying to keep that rock n roll scene alive?
T: Yea, yea.
J: Especially recently. I mean in this last ten years, it’s really died out recently. It’s because The X Factor has almost destroyed it.
R: Yea that’s what it is.
Gig wise, you’ve already taken yourselves around Europe and ample gigs around the UK. I believe you appeared at Hard Rock Hell in 2012, am I right? Amongst those people were Ace Frehley, Blackfoot and L.A. Guns. What thoughts were running through your mind when you saw Havana Rocks amongst those names?
T: It was good to be on the poster wasn’t it! We were one of the first ten bands actually announced and the promotion for us has been phenomenal! To us it was like any other gig. We went out and did what we did, I don’t think by any means we stood out of place; I think we give quite a few bands a run for their money. I think a lot of the big bands who take it for granted that they should be there and it was good. We didn’t feel out of place. It was obviously a good weekend and we made quite a few contacts.
J: Hopefully we’ll get on this year as well.
How about your fans, how supportive have they been?
T: We do have a fantastic fan base. We have the hard core fans who do pretty much try to get to every gig. They do spread the word; we do appreciate the fans and what they do. They spend a lot of money coming to see us travelling. We do have a good fan base, we’re quite lucky that way.
Have you a few words to say to them?
T: Well without you guys we wouldn’t be able to do anything for a start! That’s why we gig, we do what we do to entertain and we always appreciate the fans, especially the ones that come and come and come. That’s why we do it, for the fans because without them, we’d be stuffed!
What advice would you give to someone starting a music career?
T: Work hard, work hard! It’s not easy.
J: Don’t get ripped off.
T: Work hard, stick to your principles! It might not seem it’s serving you the best of the time but you’ll be grateful that you can go “we stick to what we believe in and we’re not yes men!” If you can live by that then….well it’s just hard work and it’s not just going to get given to you! So that’s what I’d say.
How about any gig stories? Have there been any Spinal Tap ‘Stonehenge’ moments?
T: What that we can talk about?
R: Well last gig, J snapped a string on his bass and he didn’t have a spare.
J: Well what it was, was that it pulled the string completely out of the top and I didn’t have any spares.
R: Yea he didn’t bring any spares. He had to do the rest of the gig with three strings.
J: Yea I did the entire gig with three strings.
T: We played at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax and I did the getting lost backstage. I was just wandering round trying to find out where to get from the dressing room to the stage, so it does happen.
J: We had that girl get up on stage and decided to take her top off.
T: Yea, yea we had a lady get up and take most of her clothes off. I don’t think she remembers doing it but we do! That’s it really. We probably do have our own little moments but that’s just the norm for us.
K: So are you saying it’s not a Spinal Tap moment, it’s a Havana Rocks moment?
T: Yea, one time we were in Italy and we stopped off in Switzerland and we were fast asleep in the van; only to be woken up by the Swiss Army Police banging on our windows waking us up. So yea, that was a nice wake up call.
What does 2013 hold for Havana Rocks?
T: Erm…oh we’re all quitting! No I’m only joking. It’s just bigger and better things; building on from Hard Rock Hell. We’ve got the EP coming out in the next couple of months and then obviously the album. We’re just moving forward! It’s just onwards and upwards really; keep our heads down and just keep working at it.
Band motto? Have you all agreed on one, or do you have different ones?
T: Pick on Jason!
J: Yea they do pick on me a lot!
T: Jason’s ‘motto’ is always being in trouble. (Sniggers). No we don’t really; we just tend to stick together or when we are away, we just look after each other and just have a good laugh. Just enjoy it!
Most people are guilty of air guitar moments. How about you?
T: Ah you see I do but it’s not an air guitar moment, it’s a ‘Freddie Mercury in front of the mirror moment.’ (Sniggers).
J: It’s usually when I’m drunk on a night out. It’s normally air guitaring or bass.
K: To any song?
T: AC/DC is always a good one.
J: Yea stuff like that, or Pantera.
R: It’s normally when I’m in my car when I think no one else can see me, I air drum in my car.(Everybody laughs)
T: Is that why you drive at sixty mile an hour, just so you can pull in and bring an air guitar out? (Starts to make air guitar noises)
J: Don’t you air drum in the car? I air drum in the car.
R: Yea I air drum in the car.
T: Yea I air drum in the car. I’m quite a good drummer on the air drums.
J: Yea me too. I’m awesome!
K: This has turned into a massive debate hasn’t it?
T: Yea, yea I know (laughs)
K: You’ve really started something here.
J: Yea, it’s like an essay.
Who was your first inspirational band?
T: It was the first album I was given.
Who would you go as to a fancy dress party?
T: Paul Stanley.
J: I usually go as a wizard. He could go as Gareth Gates (points to Ryan).
R: I reckon I’d go as Matt Bellamy from Muse in a fancy shiny suit if I could buy one.
J: Couldn’t you go as that dwarf out of The Lord Of The Rings? (Points to Ryan)
R: Yea, yea that’s who I could be.
J: I’ve gone as zombie Nikki Sixx before, so that’s probably one I could have a go at.
K: Have you?
J: Yea I’ve done that before so it would be quite a good laugh.
Ferrari or Batmobile?
R: I’d say Batmobile. It depends which Batmobile, the new one or old one?
K: Whichever you want?
J: You’re opening up a whole new debate there!
K: Yea I have really.
T: Ferrari for me.
J: Ferrari. But not a new Ferrari, an old Ferrari.
R: If it’s the new Batmobile, it would have to be Batmobile.
T: I’d rather have a Porsche than a Ferrari!
T: Yea, Porsche garage, yea!
If you could share a stage with someone who would it be?
T: Rolling Stones.
J: You’ll have to come back to me, I’m thinking about it.
J: Probably Dio
K: When he was alive.
J: Well yes, when he was alive.
T: You’d have quite a lot of stage room now wouldn’t you!
J: Yea, you would actually. You could say that about yours though (Turns to Andy).
A: Yea but I said Queen. So technically…
J: Well Dio is a band, well was a band. Oh shut up!
Who would be your ideal number one fan?
T: I’ll let Andy answer this one.
A: Me? Oh Freddie Mercury.
J: Probably James Hetfield from Metallica. Yea Definitely!
T: If we were going non musician side, I’d quite like Jamie Oliver.
K: Would you make him bring a chicken with him?
T: Well I don’t know he’s into his music isn’t he. Then he could come and cook tea for us all
R: Maybe Matt Bellamy. Or a famous actor would be good like Will smith. Or Jimmy Page; he’s a fan of small bands. Led Zepplin, any of them would be nice.
T: A celebrity fan would be nice.
J: Yea it would.
K: It’s ok; I’ve had someone say they’d go as Moses to a fancy dress before.
T: Well he’s quite famous you know! I’ve heard he’s been around for quite a bit. I wouldn’t mind Keith Richards; I’m a big stones fan.
Do you have a life motto?
T: Well, just get on with stuff and don’t complain because it doesn’t make any difference!
K: Do I have to come back to you on that one? (Directed at Jason)
J: Yea you’ll have to come back to me.
T: J’s is the bigger the cushion the better the pushing. (Sniggers)
R: Yea, just make sure you always have a good time. Or if at first you don’t succeed, don’t try parachuting!
T: Come on J.
J: I don’t really know!
K: You can do this!
T: Go on you’ve got a motto. Is it be happy?
J: Yea, you’ve just got to enjoy yourself! Enjoy every day as it comes! Try not to dwell on the past sort of thing. I guess that’s the same for everyone really, don’t dwell on the past.
T: Go on Andy.
J: He hasn’t got one has he!
K: Would you say anything goes?
© Kathryn Longbottom.