‘They seem to want to destroy Preston’s history’

Deadwood Dog
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Nine months after launching their debut album, United Colours of Bigotry, Preston’s Deadwood Dog revisit their ‘second home’ 53 Degrees this weekend. MALCOLM WYATT put the world to rights with their front-man Mick Stokes.

This weekend, a seven-piece Preston outfit take to the stage at a venue they’ve come to treasure, determined to make the most of UCLan’s 53 Degrees while they can.

But while the Brook Street club’s very existence is in doubt, it’s not all doom and gloom for the local scene.

And Deadwood Dog are gearing up for a celebratory event this Saturday, July 12, showcasing the best of a home-spun music scene.

Lead singer Mick Stokes said: “It’s not just us.

“There’s Matt Gallagher and a three-piece he’s put together for this, and David Shurr. We’re all Preston acts.

“This is a showcase of Preston music, really. We were hoping England might be in the World Cup Final. It was going to be a ‘feelgood’ weekend …

“Now we’re just going to have to double up and do everything! The team are back home, of course. I doubt if they’ll be at our gig, but…”

Well, you never know.

There was a prestigious support for Deadwood Dog at the same venue with Bruce Foxton’s From the Jam last summer, and they held their album launch there in October.

I put it to 49-year-old Mick (vocals, lyrics and electric guitar) that 53 Degrees had become something of a second home in recent times.

“It has, but not for long, because they’re demolishing it. They’re knocking down this town, bit by bit.

“While 53 Degrees isn’t even an old bit, we seem to want to destroy anything that resembles Preston’s history – from the Bus Station to The Warehouse.

“But you have to draw the line somewhere, and a place like The Warehouse has too much history.

“They’ll regret it.

“Joy Division played there, and so much happened there – so many great gigs. Southern Dealt Cult played there, as well as at the Preston Poly.

“I was only about 12 when Siouxsie and the Banshees played the Poly, and The Cure played there too. Looking back, what a great time that was for Preston.”

Yet while we’ll all mourn 53 Degrees if it goes, there are alternatives which might do well in its 
absence.

“Exactly. Blitz might benefit. It’s all set up there, with an in-house PA, and it’s not being used enough.

“The Continental’s doing well too.

“It’s just the size of the venue that’s the issue. I don’t know anywhere that would fill in for the big room at 53 Degrees.”

Deadwood Dog’s official biog talks of a band whose ‘foot-stomping music tells stories of real-life, marrying up-tempo barnstormers, bittersweet ballads, and the odd well-chosen cover’.

We’re also asked to ‘imagine a supergroup made up of the Levellers, IRS-years REM and the ghost of Joe Strummer, all jamming in a Baltic bar’.

The fact that Mick’s co-writer Daevid Goral Barker plays Greek bouzouki, and Sarah Pickin adds violin, contributes to the general picture.

So, how’s life with ‘Preston’s original bouzouki-wielding folk-rockers’?

“Things are definitely on the up. We headlined Bearded Theory’s Woodland Stage on midnight on the Saturday.

“We were on after The Stranglers, but they were on the main stage, so we had to nip off and sound-check and set up after a while.

“It was all very good. The Wonder Stuff’s guitarist Dan Donnelly was down the front cheering us on, while harassing the sound-man about a lack of fiddle in the mix.”

Dan and Deadwood Dog go back a while, the acclaimed Belfast singer-songwriter their support when they officially launched their album, only recently joining the latest incarnation of Miles Hunt’s former chart-toppers.

And this time I gather the Derbyshire festival’s organisers came to Mick’s band rather than the other way around.

“We’ve approached a few in the past, and last year got nothing back, but this year had this and Spannerfest at Burscough come back to us.

“It’s just another sign that we’re starting to establish ourselves, albeit as a minor player at this point.”

The fact that they have their first CD out might help.

“Yes, but I just want people to listen to that. It’s no massive concern where it leads to. It’s just part of the cycle of being in a band.

“You write songs, you work them doing gigs, and you go and record them. Hopefully people will then like it. But if they don’t … tough.

“We’re not beholding to anyone, or any record company, saying ‘this is how it’s going to be, and how it’s going to sound.”

And there’s been a positive reaction to United Colours of Bigotry?

“Generally, yeah. Not enough people have heard it, that’s the only thing. We’re not getting radio airplay.

“We sent it to the BBC, but they’re obviously not interested at Radio Lancashire, which begs the question ‘what are they listening to?’ We’re a local band doing well.

“But I guess these aren’t the people I want to be judged by, if they’d rather play One Direction and chart music. It’s the same dross as on Rock FM.”

The fact that Deadwood Dog called their album United Colours of Bigotry tells us a lot about their stance and attitude to modern life.

“It’s a play on the United Colours of Benetton advertising campaign.

“I’m surrounded by bigotry, and seem to have been all my life around Lancashire.

“It’s frightening in this day of information technology that people are so ignorant really, just taking headlines for granted and not looking deeper into things.

“Look at Facebook, for instance. So many things land on your page and you wonder how they get there, like all those ’English’ things.

“I’m proud enough to be English, but I’m an Englishman into integration and diversity.

“I’m disheartened about the performances of our national football team like everybody else, but I’m no bigot.

“You only have to see the diversity within our cricket and football teams to see what being English really means today.”

I put it to Mick that Lancashire today is a positive melting pot of cultures, and his band’s music helps lead the way, displaying many world influences.

“Our music’s from everywhere.

“Even the reggae thing.

“How many white bands have taken on reggae, from 10cc and The Police onwards?

“Any good music, any good beats … we’ll try anything, to be honest, and it’s all based around a folk-rock set-up.”

The album took some time to get together, but the band were more than happy with the result.

“We recorded the whole album with a mobile studio set-up, but weren’t satisfied with the result, and felt we had to start again.

“I suggested we went to John Kettle, of The Tansads fame, at Jaraf House, Wigan.

“He knows the scene and knows what we were looking for, rather than those who use a specific format for everyone they record.

“When I spoke to John, his enthusiasm for it sold it to me straight away. We were so pleased with the result, and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.

“Until the next one … which is going to be even better.

“We’ve a four-track EP coming out, including Divided Kingdom, another song about Preston.

“One Saturday morning I walked into town and the English Defence League were on Cheapside, with the opposition on the market.

“I couldn’t tell which were which. Two extremes, both minorities. Yet most people just don’t have that hatred. But if you shout loud, you get heard.”

With Preston a relatively small city, there are plenty of crossovers with its bands, and Mick mentions links with a couple of Evil Blizzard personnel, and his own past in Dreamland and Pike.

The Evil Blizzard link came to the fore last year, when that band and Deadwood Dog held their respective album launches across the road from each other at 53 Degrees and The Ferret.

“It were mad! There were around 300 people at 53 Degrees, and over the road it was packed out.

“But as far as Preston is concerned, the fact that all those people were in that little area is pretty cool really.”

When I spoke to Mick last October, he told me Deadwood Dog, formed in 2010, were a ‘five-piece soon to be a six-piece’.

Nine months on it appears that they’ve given birth to another band member. And are they all from Preston?

“Sarah, our violinist, is from Derby but lives here now, while our guitarist and banjo player, John, is from Blackburn way.

“But myself, Jez the bass player, Daev the bazouki player, Andy the drummer and Robin, acoustic guitar, are all from Preston.”

And is there room on stage for all seven of your at some of these venues?

“Absolutely … if we breathe in!”

But first, what can we expect at 53 Degrees this weekend?

“A great night of music, with original tunes by great Preston musicians. What more could you want for a fiver?”

As there’s a World Cup link, will there be a South American flavour from a band with such cross-cultural influences?

“Well, perhaps I’ll wear my Brazilian speedos. That’ll bring people in.”

This weekend, a seven-piece Preston outfit take to the stage at a venue they’ve come to treasure, determined to make the most of UCLan’s 53 Degrees while they can.

But while the Brook Street club’s very existence is in doubt, it’s not all doom and gloom for the local scene.

And Deadwood Dog are gearing up for a celebratory event this Saturday, July 12, showcasing the best of a home-spun music scene.

Lead singer Mick Stokes said: “It’s not just us.

“There’s Matt Gallagher and a three-piece he’s put together for this, and David Shurr. We’re all Preston acts.

“This is a showcase of Preston music, really. We were hoping England might be in the World Cup Final. It was going to be a ‘feelgood’ weekend …

“Now we’re just going to have to double up and do everything! The team are back home, of course. I doubt if they’ll be at our gig, but…”

Well, you never know.

There was a prestigious support for Deadwood Dog at the same venue with Bruce Foxton’s From the Jam last summer, and they held their album launch there in October.

I put it to 49-year-old Mick (vocals, lyrics and electric guitar) that 53 Degrees had become something of a second home in recent times.

“It has, but not for long, because they’re demolishing it. They’re knocking down this town, bit by bit.

“While 53 Degrees isn’t even an old bit, we seem to want to destroy anything that resembles Preston’s history – from the Bus Station to The Warehouse.

“But you have to draw the line somewhere, and a place like The Warehouse has too much history.

“They’ll regret it.

“Joy Division played there, and so much happened there – so many great gigs. Southern Dealt Cult played there, as well as at the Preston Poly.

“I was only about 12 when Siouxsie and the Banshees played the Poly, and The Cure played there too. Looking back, what a great time that was for Preston.”

Yet while we’ll all mourn 53 Degrees if it goes, there are alternatives which might do well in its 
absence.

“Exactly. Blitz might benefit. It’s all set up there, with an in-house PA, and it’s not being used enough.

“The Continental’s doing well too.

“It’s just the size of the venue that’s the issue. I don’t know anywhere that would fill in for the big room at 53 Degrees.”

Deadwood Dog’s official biog talks of a band whose ‘foot-stomping music tells stories of real-life, marrying up-tempo barnstormers, bittersweet ballads, and the odd well-chosen cover’.

We’re also asked to ‘imagine a supergroup made up of the Levellers, IRS-years REM and the ghost of Joe Strummer, all jamming in a Baltic bar’.

The fact that Mick’s co-writer Daevid Goral Barker plays Greek bouzouki, and Sarah Pickin adds violin, contributes to the general picture.

So, how’s life with ‘Preston’s original bouzouki-wielding folk-rockers’?

“Things are definitely on the up. We headlined Bearded Theory’s Woodland Stage on midnight on the Saturday.

“We were on after The Stranglers, but they were on the main stage, so we had to nip off and sound-check and set up after a while.

“It was all very good. The Wonder Stuff’s guitarist Dan Donnelly was down the front cheering us on, while harassing the sound-man about a lack of fiddle in the mix.”

Dan and Deadwood Dog go back a while, the acclaimed Belfast singer-songwriter their support when they officially launched their album, only recently joining the latest incarnation of Miles Hunt’s former chart-toppers.

And this time I gather the Derbyshire festival’s organisers came to Mick’s band rather than the other way around.

“We’ve approached a few in the past, and last year got nothing back, but this year had this and Spannerfest at Burscough come back to us.

“It’s just another sign that we’re starting to establish ourselves, albeit as a minor player at this point.”

The fact that they have their first CD out might help.

“Yes, but I just want people to listen to that. It’s no massive concern where it leads to. It’s just part of the cycle of being in a band.

“You write songs, you work them doing gigs, and you go and record them. Hopefully people will then like it. But if they don’t … tough.

“We’re not beholding to anyone, or any record company, saying ‘this is how it’s going to be, and how it’s going to sound.”

And there’s been a positive reaction to United Colours of Bigotry?

“Generally, yeah. Not enough people have heard it, that’s the only thing. We’re not getting radio airplay.

“We sent it to the BBC, but they’re obviously not interested at Radio Lancashire, which begs the question ‘what are they listening to?’ We’re a local band doing well.

“But I guess these aren’t the people I want to be judged by, if they’d rather play One Direction and chart music. It’s the same dross as on Rock FM.”

The fact that Deadwood Dog called their album United Colours of Bigotry tells us a lot about their stance and attitude to modern life.

“It’s a play on the United Colours of Benetton advertising campaign.

“I’m surrounded by bigotry, and seem to have been all my life around Lancashire.

“It’s frightening in this day of information technology that people are so ignorant really, just taking headlines for granted and not looking deeper into things.

“Look at Facebook, for instance. So many things land on your page and you wonder how they get there, like all those ’English’ things.

“I’m proud enough to be English, but I’m an Englishman into integration and diversity.

“I’m disheartened about the performances of our national football team like everybody else, but I’m no bigot.

“You only have to see the diversity within our cricket and football teams to see what being English really means today.”

I put it to Mick that Lancashire today is a positive melting pot of cultures, and his band’s music helps lead the way, displaying many world influences.

“Our music’s from everywhere.

“Even the reggae thing.

“How many white bands have taken on reggae, from 10cc and The Police onwards?

“Any good music, any good beats … we’ll try anything, to be honest, and it’s all based around a folk-rock set-up.”

The album took some time to get together, but the band were more than happy with the result.

“We recorded the whole album with a mobile studio set-up, but weren’t satisfied with the result, and felt we had to start again.

“I suggested we went to John Kettle, of The Tansads fame, at Jaraf House, Wigan.

“He knows the scene and knows what we were looking for, rather than those who use a specific format for everyone they record.

“When I spoke to John, his enthusiasm for it sold it to me straight away. We were so pleased with the result, and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.

“Until the next one … which is going to be even better.

“We’ve a four-track EP coming out, including Divided Kingdom, another song about Preston.

“One Saturday morning I walked into town and the English Defence League were on Cheapside, with the opposition on the market.

“I couldn’t tell which were which. Two extremes, both minorities. Yet most people just don’t have that hatred. But if you shout loud, you get heard.”

With Preston a relatively small city, there are plenty of crossovers with its bands, and Mick mentions links with a couple of Evil Blizzard personnel, and his own past in Dreamland and Pike.

The Evil Blizzard link came to the fore last year, when that band and Deadwood Dog held their respective album launches across the road from each other at 53 Degrees and The Ferret.

“It were mad! There were around 300 people at 53 Degrees, and over the road it was packed out.

“But as far as Preston is concerned, the fact that all those people were in that little area is pretty cool really.”

When I spoke to Mick last October, he told me Deadwood Dog, formed in 2010, were a ‘five-piece soon to be a six-piece’.

Nine months on it appears that they’ve given birth to another band member. And are they all from Preston?

“Sarah, our violinist, is from Derby but lives here now, while our guitarist and banjo player, John, is from Blackburn way.

“But myself, Jez the bass player, Daev the bazouki player, Andy the drummer and Robin, acoustic guitar, are all from Preston.”

And is there room on stage for all seven of your at some of these venues?

“Absolutely … if we breathe in!”

But first, what can we expect at 53 Degrees this weekend?

“A great night of music, with original tunes by great Preston musicians. What more could you want for a fiver?”

As there’s a World Cup link, will there be a South American flavour from a band with such cross-cultural influences?

“Well, perhaps I’ll wear my Brazilian speedos. That’ll bring people in.”