Lisa Wright meets the Brighton four-piece kicking against apathy and commercial culture with their own community café as their HQ
As the saying goes, if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem. Brighton quartet Demob Happy – formed of lead singer and bassist Matthew Marcantonio, drummer Thomas Armstrong and guitarists Matthew Renforth and Adam Godfrey – understand this. That’s why they’re looking 2015’s zombified, Apple-branded generation dead in the eye and attacking them with their own biting, invigorating and antagonistic creative solution.
“We’re concerned about banality and apathy,” says Marcantonio. “You see people who have no proactive bone in their bodies sitting there moaning on social media going, ‘Oh my god, the Tories’ and I just think, imagine if all this energy was directed into something positive.”
It’s a lofty comment to make, but Demob Happy walk the walk. Formed in 2008, the quartet spent the interim years not only honing their sound (think Queens Of The Stone Age sleazy riffs meets early Kings Of Leon’s way with a skittish, rattling hook) but creating a grassroots DIY manifesto in their backyard – or, more accurately, back-of-the-van.
The Demobile – a customised bus which sleeps seven including two hammocks (“It’s an engineering masterpiece; it’s the fucking Golden Gate Bridge of vans,” grins Marcantonio) – has hosted multiple impromptu street gigs around the town, much to the police’s chagrin, while Demob also recently helped open a cafe-cum-venue-cum-rehearsal space called Nowhere Man. The scene of the most feral and sweaty party in recent memory at annual Brighton new band festival The Great Escape, the venue’s entire ethos is geared towards making something communal, creative and positive for the area. “We were a band for five years before we got signed and that whole time was just spent going, ‘How do we improve ourselves and get into people’s heads?’” continues Marcantonio. “Brighton is where 20-somethings go to retire so you’ve got to stay focused there,” adds Armstrong. “You’ve been to a million gigs in your local bar and no matter how good the band is, you’re still in the same local bar watching a band. We want to do something more interesting than that.”
As well as creating their own tiny empire, the band have managed to get an album under their belts. Following this year’s ‘Young & Numb EP’ and recent singles ‘Succubus’ and ‘Suffer You’ – backed by AA-side ‘Junk DNA’, premiered above – they’re readying ‘Dream Soda’ for release on October 2. A heady mix of grungy riffs, careering melodies and an ever-present melodic backbone, it’s confident and confrontational but in the most playful of ways. “You get these bedroom producers coming through who spend hours and hours trying to find the perfect snare sound on an EDM track and never consider trying to just write a good fucking song,” says Marcantonio. “If you ask what’s gonna push guitar music forward then maybe we have the potential to do so because we’re actually writing tunes rather than trying to be part of some aesthetic. If you want it, then go and make it happen.”
Fired up and fighting the good fight, Demob Happy are making it happen on their own terms.
DEMOB HAPPY NEED TO KNOW
FOR FANS OF Queens Of The Stone Age, Nirvana, Kings Of Leon
BUY IT ‘Dream Soda’ is released on October 2 via SO Recordings (pre-order here)
SEE THEM The band head out on a UK headline tour, starting December 2 at Nottingham Bodega
BELIEVE IT OR NOT The band was nearly over before it began when they received so many noise complaints for rehearsing that the council came and confiscated every single thing in their house that made sound