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johnny main
Words: Johnny Main, Pictures: Carlan Braid taken exclusively for

19th October 2017


Regular MetalTalk readers may remember that we covered a hometown headline show from up and coming Glasgow superstars Mason Hill back in August, and on the bill were Darlington-based Deever who were playing their first ever gig.

Front man Billy Taylor is a familiar face as he was a member of Inglorious from 2014 – 2016, and is now forging ahead with his new venture.

We were so impressed with the North East quartet's sound and stage presence that we sat down with them for an interview to find out where they come from, what their influences are and where they see themselves in the future.

Billy, what caused you to leave Inglorious and do you stay in touch?

I'm proud of the first two albums which I wrote and recorded with Inglorious and everything we achieved in our first two or three years. However, as you can tell from (Deever's) first single 'Fire at Will' - I was heading in a very different direction to Inglorious.

Not only are the musicians in that project some of the greatest out there, they were my good friends and we'd been through a lot together personally. So we'll always be in touch with each other.

Did you consider giving up the music business or did you always have the idea to start a new band after leaving Inglorious? How did Deever come to be formed?

No. I'd never quit. Any bad experiences I've had I'll always use a lesson and move forward.

Almost instantly after the decision was made, Phil [Appleton - Bass Player] asked me 'what are we gonna do then...?' It then took a month or so to find the right guys to be involved.

Phil has been one of my best mates for years and is a great player so he was an easy and obvious choice. We found Higgy [Drummer Dan Higgins] through mutual musician friends. We arranged a jam and as soon as we blasted through 'Oblivion' by The Winery Dogs, Phil and I knew he was the one. To be honest, we didn't realise just how good he was until we were all in the same room.

Stevie [Stoker – Guitar] was the last one to join the party - he's been knocking round the North East scene for years and was exactly what we needed - a strong writer, player and performer.


It is an unusual name, where is it from?

The urban dictionary (laughs)! It has two meanings. In short it's an unwanted gift or another meaning is it's a bag of shit! Both meanings make us laugh and are a bit tongue in cheek.

A lot of people would have been unaware of Deever until your debut show with Mason Hill in Glasgow – so, how did you manage to get that slot on that bill as opposed to, say, playing debut shows in your native North East England?

Glasgow is genuinely a great city to play, and The Garage is an awesome venue. Plus, Mason Hill have been friends of mine for a while now so it was an offer we couldn't really refuse.

It was a good opportunity for us to test out this brand new material on an audience not made up of friends, and if it went tits up - we hadn't shat on our own doorstep and could run for the border (laughs)!!

All jokes aside though, we really do need to thank Mason Hill and (the promoter) Shock City Productions for taking a chance on us - the whole team are great.


Bearing in mind Glasgow was your first live show together, how do you feel it went?

[Phil] For a brand-new band the support we got from the Glasgow crowd and from the other acts on that night was amazing. Massive shout out to Mason Hill for having us!

[Billy] It felt great for me to be back up on a stage again, a little more daunting being in the centre but looking around and seeing my mates up there with me made it instantly feel like home. The crowd response was awesome too.

[Dan] We couldn't have asked for a better crowd and a better slot and it was fun just to watch Anchor Lane and Mason Hill do their thing and see how much the crowd loved them too.


You have a solid collection of songs already – any early favourites?

[Phil] Yes - for me 'All Come Running' as it has a killer opening bass part!

[Billy] Probably 'Waves' at the moment, it's got a real punk edge to it which means you can really let loose and just enjoy thrashing it out!

[Stevie] I love playing 'Alright' I always look forward to it.

[Dan] My early favourite is definitely 'Fire at Will'. It's a good ol' bread and butter beat the crap out of the kit song. Great riff and great hooks. What's not to enjoy, even watching Billy getting slapped around in the music video!

What about your song-writing process - who writes what, and where do your themes and inspirations come from?

[Billy] We don't have any particular set formula to writing our songs. Some songs have been almost entirely written by myself. Others will come from me and Higgy jamming in the studio. Others will be something Phil and I have put together on a night and then we show that to Higgy who then take it and puts a whole new spin on it and vice versa.

Stevie will add a sprinkle of something else too, so each song has had a different birth really. As for inspiration and themes, it's never really anything specific.

[Dan] I wouldn't really say we have any themes, we just want to write what feels good to us and it doesn't really matter what form or shape the songs take.

[Phil] Saying inspiration comes from "everywhere" sounds diluted, but for me I regularly change up what I'm listening to get inspired from all genres.

[Billy] Yeah, it definitely helps if you can appreciate lots of different styles, you can take inspiration from lots of elements that way. Lyrically speaking though, some might come from situations one of us has been through, others can be something we've witnessed and some can be a load of old shit we've just made up (but most "artists" don't like telling people that!) (laughs).

Do you envisage putting an EP or full length album soon, and will it be self-financed?

[Billy] If the right label shows interest and believes in us then there's no reason we couldn't work together. But for now, we really want to get our material out as soon as we can and establish ourselves.

Whether that be an EP or an album, we're yet to decide. We do have our own studio and we're constantly writing new stuff which makes things much easier. We work hard.


Apart from the Winters End Festival in February 2018, does the band have any other gigs lined up?

[Phil] We're playing a run of dates in December with Mason Hill again which will be great fun. We hope to play as much as possible throughout 2018 but for now our main focus is to get the best recordings we can down.

So, what can someone coming to a Deever show expect?

[Billy] Brutal honesty and tinnitus! (laughs)

[Phil] A "rock" band ... (it) seems like an obvious thing to say but that's what we are. We're not trying to be something we aren't, we just play as hard and as passionately as we can.

Realistically, what do you want the band to achieve?

[Billy] Short term - I'd love us to really establish our sound and be able to play as much as we can. Long term - I think anything is possible.

[Phil] Get a following of like minded fans and friends who love what we do and come and enjoy being on this road with us.

[Stevie] We want to go as far as we dare think. And enjoy the journey.

[Dan] Touring full time and getting to play on some amazing stages with other amazing bands. That's not too unrealistic, is it?


Finally, which songs do you wish you'd written and why?

[Phil] 'The 59 Sound' by The Gaslight Anthem because they managed to write a song where nothing rhymes in it but it is so easy to sing along with and enjoy – it's a really great track.

[Dan] 'Slaves and Bulldozers' by Soundgarden. That song is just amazing on so many different levels, from Cornell's vocals, Cameron's drums, Shepherd's bass tone to Thayil's riffage. I'm a big fan of riffage.

[Billy] 'Blackbird' by Alter Bridge – to me it's just a perfect song.

[Stevie] It might be silly but 'Mr Brightside' by The Killers, just because it gets me going every time I hear it.

Thanks to Billy, Stevie, Phil and Dan for taking the time to speak to us here at MetalTalk.

You can see Deever live here:
Thursday 14th December – Fibbers, York
Friday 15th December – The Underworld Camden, London
Saturday 16th December – Corporation, Sheffield
Sunday 17th December – Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff
Saturday 24th February – Winter's End Festival, Sandford Holiday Park, Poole

Deever are:
Billy Taylor – Vocals/Guitar
Stevie Stoker – Guitar/Vocals
Phil Appleton – Bass/Vocals
Dan Higgins – Drums


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