Interview: The Dunwells

Callum Hay grabs a pew with Joseph Dunwell, lead singer of Leeds alternative rock quartet The Dunwells, to talk about their new record and who in the band would cop for it first on a deserted island.

Hi Joe, where are you and how are you today?
Yeah I’m great. At the moment I’m driving down to Portsmouth with my brother, but don’t worry – he’s doing the driving while I’m on the phone. We’re playing a gig with Lucy Spraggan tonight so, yeah, looking forward to it.

Ah, one of our own – Nice! And the new album has just come out. How has the reception been?

Well the album has been two years or more in the making and we’re really proud of it, so we couldn’t wait to get it out there. The response so far has been unbelievable! All over social media the love for the album has been amazing, and loads of people have been buying CDs at shows, so it’s been brilliant.

And the sound has definitely seen a marked change since the early years. Can you tell me a bit about the progression?
Yeah you’re right, and it was very intentional to be honest. When we first signed to the record label in 2012, we were recording in America, and almost by accident we picked up an Americana sound, which was great at the time and we loved it. But now we’ve decided to come back to the UK and really go back to our roots – and our producer, Steve Harris, coming on-board definitely helped us to do that.

If you had to pick out one or two tracks you’re particularly proud of which would they be?
I think the title track, ‘Light up the Sky’, resonates with me personally. The first line – “I could watch the sun fold and turn into something new” – that really represents what we’ve done with the new album. We wanted to change the look, feel and sound of the band, whilst staying true to ourselves, and I think we’ve achieved that. But I’d have to say I think ‘Animal’ is the highlight of the record. We wrote that song with Dan McDougall [previously co-written with the likes of Ronan Keating, The Wanted, Matt Cardle] and I know if the band were to end tomorrow, I could look back at that song and know that’s as good as I can do.

With the album now out and the tour coming up very soon, is this the part where the pressure is off and you can enjoy playing some shows?
This is the first UK tour we’ve done whilst having an album to promote, so now we will have the product to go along with it. Last September year was our most recent tour, so the fans have had to wait a long time to buy a CD, and now they’ll be able to do that at the shows. We’re on a massive high right now!

Time for some very serious quick-fire questions! So, you’re called The Dunwells, but what’s one thing you really can’t do well?
I’m really bad at golf. Also piano. I’d really like to be good at piano but I’m terrible!

Right, so you’re on a desert island. Which member of the band is surviving the longest and why?

100% our bassist Rob Clayton! He’s a mechanic and he’s so resourceful. The other week our rehearsal room got flooded, his bass amp was drenched and mouldy, but somehow he’s managed to fix the thing! Adam Taylor [drums] would definitely be the first to go.

To finish off, sum up your hopes for 2016 in three words?

Tours, festivals, albums.

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