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In Conversation with Fever...

Monday, 15 April 2019

A Chat with Stu Deabill

MOU: So Stu what have you been up to since you parted ways with The Spitfires, and why did it end for you?

SD: Getting my bearings back and realigning with the real world! After 6 years of juggling the day job & band and with it getting more intense and challenging with each year, it seemed like the right time to move on. The band needed someone who had the necessary reach and background to take them up to another level. Especially out in Europe and further afield.  

I’m very proud of what we achieved together, taking it from gigs of 3 men and a dog (Sheffield – First Tour) to sold out shows up and down the country, a fantastic following who travel all over Europe to see the lads, 3 acclaimed albums, a number 1 vinyl single and a live appearance on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. 

If you’d have said to me at the start, it would get that far, I’d have probably said, we should have been fucking bigger! But really, in this day and age, with minimal press and radio, and even less budget, The Spitfires have far surpassed any other band at the level they’re at I think.
I wish them all the best and they’ll go on to bigger things. They certainly deserve to, the amount of graft and dedication put in. Billy is one of the truly great young songwriters in the country today, Matt is a tough gifted drummer and Sam’s Bass playing and attitude is the glue that holds it all together. 

MOU: Why do you think so many young bands struggle to make it in this current climate?

SD:  Where do I start? The industry seems geared towards solo artists these days. They’re easier to manage, they can get an acoustic act to collaborate with say Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris or Katy Perry and get 20 million hits on you tube which is seen as success and then manipulate to a high level.
Guitar bands are a risk, mainly because in labels eyes, they offer nothing new that hasn’t been done before. Never mind, that bands can take time to find their feet. Either be cool, instant and have 10k likes on FB or fuck off.
Also the cost of everything dictates why very few working class kids don’t even bother picking up instruments. If you’re into music, you can bang out a track on your phone!

Why bother spending dough on a bass when you get an app for free and spend whatever you’ve got on some green, a pair of Spezials and Stella? Obviously it’s not just about that, determination is key, but I didn’t see many other bands go that extra mile.

I did see a lot of middle class white boys get the sufficient funding of Mum and Dad to get the right gear to create a noise. And some of em could really fucking play to be fair. But they get to a certain level, realise it’s not gonna go further than a fringe tent at Y Not Festival and then go onto become client support managers in a bank, via helping out at Mummy’s Organic Artisan Mocha Choca Whopper Coffee House in Tring.

I remember watching ‘the next big thing’ at Reading Festival in the same tent as The Spitfires, playing to 30 people, and the lead singer rolling round a dirty stage with his top off, singing some fuck awful shit about America, whilst the guitarist has leapt into the audience.

I thought, if you put as much effort into your songwriting as you did acting like rock star cunts, you’d be headlining the main stage next year. Of course, they were gone by Xmas.

Also one thing I couldn’t get my nut round was watching artists born out of either the Punk or Britpop era not giving new bands a leg up. All the heritage mob going on the road with two bob bands from the same era, with the headliners forgetting how they started. Very few of em give a shit anymore. Even at our level, we dictated who we’d have supporting us, so that tells you the story on that.

I’m sure someone (younger) will have a different opinion on it all but ultimately, like anything; it’s about how much the artist wants to succeed, and where they want to go with it.

MOU: You’ve recently announced the next AFTN Club Night which marks 10 years of the legendary adult youth club. Will this be the biggest one yet?

SD: The 10th anniversary is next year so will be looking to do something on a bigger scale to this one. Not sure if it’ll be a name band or DJ yet, but it’ll definitely be something momentous! I love a big occasion!

This year we’ve got Neil Sheasby from Stone Foundation as our special guest which is on Sunday May 5th at The Social in Central London. They’re great nights and without sounding wanky, its very much like a family gathering. Just a family that like getting pissed, having the crack and dancing like its 1983.

MOU: That leads me on to your newest project which goes under the same guise, what’s AFTN all about?

SD: I just thought about all the events I put on, the merchandise I’ve started to produce and of course the club nights, put it under one roof, as it were.
I’m lucky in that I’ve got a couple of good designers to help put my ideas into action and people like Andy Nyko who embodies the spirit of ‘Away From The Numbers’ who I can bounce ideas off. Collaboration is key with nearly everything I do. I just get the final say!

MOU: Have you got any projects lined up for your new venture this year?

SD: I thought the talk and literary events at The Cockpit had run its course. Last year’s ‘London Voices’ which was a real struggle to sell, mainly due to time of year (late July) and probably not having a big name. Also a couple of things happened on the day, with an interviewer being rude to a guest, and vice versa, which wasn’t needed or called for. What was a real positive and uplifting event, giving insights into lives that would normally be closed off, had definitely lost its way I felt. And really that was my fault as I probably didn’t give it as much attention as maybe I should have.
But the feedback I got after was amazing. Which really surprised me and with a bit of clarity of thought, I decided to give me old mate Snowy a shout, and we decided to do a Mod Lit 2! Andy from Mod Shoes was the first person I contacted to shore up sponsorship which was crucial to help fund the event and I think the line-up is one of the best yet.

MOU: I like the idea of AFTN taking a lot of like-minded people and subjects under one umbrella, is the plan for this to grow over time and get more out there on different scenes?

SD: Yeah I’ve got a 2 year plan to try different ideas and hopefully build the brand into something people know as inclusive, stylish and interesting. It could be promoting a gig, running a podcast was one suggestion, maybe a record label! I’m open to suggestions! Also looking at more runs of limited tees, working with photographers like Derek D Souza and Grant Fleming in bringing some of their iconic images to life.

MOU: You’ve written some superb books down the years ‘Thick as Thieves’ and ‘Supersonic’ to name a few, are there any plans for you to put pen to paper again in the near future?

SD: Thanks! I’ve had the idea for a book for quite a while now titled ‘Notes From Northolt’, a collection of memoirs from early days to growing up in Northolt, (hence the title) through to the many days and nights out in pursuit of the crack. Be it hanging out with (or hanging on to) The Stone Roses in Europe, the highs and lows of following Chelsea, the horrific experience of living in a one-horse town (Dunstable) to selling 
moody tees outside concert houses.

I like the idea of a load of short stories / snapshots of different times and events of my life that link into each other, through my love of music, football, clobber and the boogie. Also they’ll be more personal tales to give a balance of how it’s not always been song and dance. I’m hoping to get the book finished this year.

MOU: What advice would you give to young, budding writers out there?

SD: Just keep writing! It’s taken me 10 years to get to a point where I’m comfortable with my writing, and there’s always room to improve. It’s so easy to connect with an audience now; a well written FB post about a love of a subject will always be liked by your following. So many people just throw up any old shit online; it’s easy to stand out, if you have any love of the written word. I found a blog was great to craft a story or piece. It all helps to hone your style. Just don’t be scared of busy fuckers popping you out cos of a difference of opinion. And it’s easy to self-publish. The publishing industry is worse than the music one; there are very few advances for new writers, so do your own book, crowd fund it etc. Just make sure you’ve built a following through your socials first!

MOU: What tunes are you digging thus far in 2019?

'Faraway Look' by Yola a big soul 60’s tinged Stormer! Echoes of PP Arnold and Dusty. 

'MAH' by Chemical Brothers. Good old return to the aciiiiid squelch days – banger.

'Encore' LP by The Specials. No one was expecting an album of this quality blew me away on first listen, well deserved No1. Fav track – 'Embarrassed by You'. 

'Harmony Hall' by Vampire Weekend. A beautifully constructed pop record. That’s me all over, give me a great hook, chorus, bang on vocals and a middle 8 shift and it could be The Spice Girls, San & Dave or The Stooges, I’m on it!

MOU: Sum Chelsea’s season up in a sentence…

SD: Frustrating with an occasional flash of joy, but ultimately a team of good players forced into an unwanted brand of football in the hands of an out of his depth, fag-eating tramp. Cheers!

Get your tickets for AFTN: here!

Get your tickets for Mod Lit: here!


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In loving memory of Denise Pottinger