The Death Alley Drivers is a vehicle [like, literally] for Northampton songwriter Nathan Harris. Rebirth comes in many forms, and ‘Rotten Apple’ with all its interior drama is as good a way to go about it as far as New Boots is concerned. Tea and sympathy with Harris is below, with the lovely ‘Rotten Apple’ video at the bottom of the piece.
How did this project get together?
In the summer of 2017 after not picking up the guitar or doing anything musically since 2007 I had a creative burst writing tunes. Over three months I had written about 20 songs and decided I didn’t want to start a band, but did want to record them. Through the ’90s I played in Terraplane and Jnr Loaded and in 2006 I played in The Squids, and even though it was fun it did leave a bad taste in my mouth and feeling bitter towards music and the industry in general. Anyway I decided to contact Max Reed at The Lodge, who I had recorded with throughout the ’90s, so once he was on board I set out recruiting musicians who I knew but had never played with [apart from the odd jam].
Stevie Ward was my first thought when it came to guitars, as he was in the first band I watched live in Northampton back in 1993 that made me want to be in a band. Plus I likes his style and sound, and he’s a fabulous songwriter. Next up I roped in Wayne Roberts, who again I had known from playing in bands back in the ’90s. From there I called in Giles Kaal on bass, who I had knowledge of since 1994, and him and Wayne were in a band together in 1998 with Tim Muddiman. Next up was Phil Searing who was playing in the Red Triangle and I had met several years ago. I was huge fan of his style, and I knew I wanted something different to the sound we were going to create. On the song ‘Rotten Apple’ that we just released I had my old friend Miles Christian Smart play the piano. Unfortunately he couldn’t commit to future songs so I got in touch with Nathan Bundy [P- Hex] to come and record the rest of the songs, and finally I got Lee Kenny [who again I had known from various bands in the ’90s] to play guitar on some of the tracks. That now is the core of The Death Alley Drivers.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences do you feel?
I’m not sure how to describe the sound as we’ve recorded ten songs for an album and no two songs sound the same. We got some slow burners and some uptempo ones, but the tones and styles are different on everyone. I think that’s the luxury of having such great musician’s playing on this. At the end of the day it’s all rock and roll to me. Influence-wise I listen a lot to Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Mark Lanegan, John Cale, Bowie, Paul Weller. I don’t really listen a lot to current music, but I do like Wolf Alice.
Tell us everything about these two new songs, ‘Rotten Apple’ and ‘P.M.A.V.’. Are these the first fruits of this project?
‘Rotten Apple’ is a song about love and loss, heartbreak, redemption. It’s nothing personal, I’m just telling a story when I comes to this one. The video was directed by my good friend Paul Michael Hughes. With ‘P.M.A.V.’ that’s a different one: I wrote the lyrics based on my time working in the mental health sector years ago. We have more songs to release once they’re finished. All the music is recorded, we just got some vocals to record and the mix so hopefully should be out in the next three months, but I plan to keep releasing songs with the videos like the one we did for ‘Rotten Apple’ as I am big fan of the filming side of things.
Will there be live shows?
We are currently in discussion with making our live debut at the end of April, this really did start out as studio project for me but as we’ve been progressing along it seems unavoidable now not to play it live.
Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire?
I’m more of a recluse, but obviously Stevie, Wayne, Phil and Nathan B all play in their own bands. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing many of the musicians and artist from around Town over the past 20 years, and I did ask a few of them to contribute to the recording, including Gregg Cave, Katie Paton [Kings Gambit] and Sean Grant, but due to availability or whatever other reason it never happened. I might get them in when we record the next one.
I’ve always been a massive fan of our local scene even if I don’t get out and watch them much. I keep up to date via social media obviously. I’m a fan of all the guys in The Death Alley Drivers and their current bands, plus the musicians I’ve mentioned above. I really enjoy listening to Joe Woolley. Lately I’ve been listening a lot to King Purple, I think they’re amazing and definitely will be checking them out live at their next gig.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I don’t stream music, I listen to music mainly through YouTube. The last CD I brought was Mark Lanegan’s Gargoyle.
What is your burning desire for the band to do in 2019? What plans do you have?
I’m planning on following ‘Rotten Apple’ up with more songs with videos to accompany them, then get ready for some gigs and put out the album. As far as that goes I think that will keep us pretty busy throughout most the year. I have no plans to conquer the world as that is a young persons game. I’m too old and miserable to want to be taking orders and bullshit from record labels. Really I would just like to eventually get back in the studio and record again as I’ve already written another album’s worth of tunes.
‘Rotten Apple’ is out now via the usual digital means