Interview: The Virginmarys
By Martin Unsworth at Sounds Magazine
Popular rockers The Virginmarys are set to head out on the road in April before playing a massive homecoming show at the 2018 Macclesfield Festival. We caught up with drummer Danny Dolan to find out what’s been happening with the band and what we can expect for the future…
How have things changed for you since leaving your record label?
Danny Dolan: To tell you the truth, it’s just been a lot more freeing in terms of what we can or can’t do. The last year, after Divides, a lot of stuff was bring offered to us but the label didn’t want to so it. From a creative point of view, it’s been amazing. The idea that we don’t have to demo songs and send them in to get that feedback; depending on what day they hear that song, they might like it. I’ve met hundreds of people in this industry, and I think 90% of them don’t even like music.
It’s a business.
Totally! I think I can count on one hand how many people I’ve met who I’ve thought ‘I’ve got a lot of time for him, and trust what he thinks and his opinion on songs’. Which is great because that’s what we’re doing now, we’re being able to write songs, but reflect them off people that we trust. There’s a guy in New York that we met around the time of the first album and he’s absolutely amazing. He’s someone you can send demos to in their roughest form and you know he’s just going to be able to hear the song. So from the perspective, it’s just a lot more control. We still have a management agency based in New York, but on most levels, it’s a lot better for us.
Have you got a new permanent bass player yet since Matt left last year?
Well, Matt left around November time in 2016, and we were offered a big gig supporting New Model Army who was the first band we ever supported and we have always held them in high regard. We wanted to do the gig but we couldn’t. But Ross, who’s been our bass player for the last year, knew all the songs like the back of his hand so we said, ‘we’ve got this gig in 4 days, do you want to do it?’ So he did it, and after a break of about six weeks we met up and Ally said, ‘I don’t want to bring another person in who’s going to have an equal input of the tracks like another 3-way thing.’ He said ‘I’m going to write the songs, you do the drums, work together on it, present them when they’re ready and then have a bassplayer that comes in and does the shows’. That’s the model we’ve had for the last year and it’s worked great.
How’s that gone down with the fans?
I think our fans are proper die hard and they just love the music and the tunes. We’ve had about 30-odd people with our tattooed lyrics on their arms and I don’t know any band like that.No matter what direction we went as long as we were making music, I think they’d be behind you. We wouldn’t rule out another member somewhere down the line eventually, it would just depend on what the tunes are going to be. We just can’t have someone come in and have a massive influence on the music.
Are you recording anything soon?
We’re just demoing the tracks now. They’re all about 80-90% there right now, it’s just fine-tuning endings. I’d imagine we’d start recording just after the tour.
Will you be debuting any on the tour?
I reckon we will. There’s definitely one or two. The way we’re doing this recording, Ally wanted the fans to be in on it. So over the next few weeks, we’re going to be giving out content to people who sign up to the website. So they’ll hear the new tunes in a rough sort of format.
It’s a good way of getting feedback.
Exactly. There are so many tunes – possibly 21/22 – and I don’t think we’re going to put all those out so it’s probably going to get refined down.
So will you look to crowdfunding the new album?
We’re in a pretty good position really, we have a lot of tracks from the last few years so we can put those out and then get writing even more new songs. So come next year, we’ll have refined down to about 10 songs. I’m sure if we needed the money, we’d have it in a week as that’s what our fans are like. We’d prefer to do it without taking any money from their pockets, but whatever happens, it’ll be coming out.
Are you looking forward to playing your hometown with the Macclesfield Festival?
We haven’t played there in absolute ages. The last time we did it was a new venue about 300 capacity. It was one of those venues that could have been on the major tour circuit. It just didn’t have the right people to get it going. Every now and again they’d be a gig there and it’d be packed, but the rest of the month they’d struggle so it shut down. But now there isn’t anywhere. So to get to do this gig is amazing. They did a great job last year, they asked us to do it then but we were busy at the time, but fair play, he was straight back on the phone in September last year and we really wanted to come and do it. It’s going to be great and I get to see the Happy Mondays.
It’s a very mixed line-up, which is good for fans who can drift around the venue and still get to see who they want.
Yeah – there used to be one, years ago,called Party in the Park and I used to go because it was nice to sit out in the sun and drink beer. The music was always crap, but a gig like this with decent bands is sound.
Do you have anything special planned for your set?
Knowing us, we will play some new tunes but we will want to put them out so people have heard them before then, so we might do 2 or 3. We haven’t played there since the first album came out so it’ll probably be 5 from the first album, five from the second and some newies.