Meet: Desperate Journalist interview

It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with Desperate Journalist. Pick any of their tracks, and within the first few bars, you are immediately whisked away to indie heaven. The London based quartet are most definitely at the top of our must see bands of 2015 and later this month they will be giving you the opportunity when they embark on a 5 date mini tour to promote latest single ‘Hesitate’.

We recently caught up with the band and asked them to introduce themselves…

DJ: We are Desperate Journalist and we consist of Jo who sings, Rob who plays guitar, Simon who plays bass and Caz who drums. 

We are from, variously: Paris (Caz), Birmingham (Rob and Simon) and High Wycombe by way of Bethesda, Maryland (Jo).

We met from all living weirdly nearby each other in the same corner of Finsbury Park in London and going to similar gigs and clubs around town. We formed the band after spending countless evenings on each others’ sofas being loudly disillusioned with identikit thoughtless guitar bands round our way/on the radio/everywhere. Our first rehearsal was in December 2013 – we wrote the beginnings of our song Mistakes then. Caz had never played drums before, and we were freezing cold and quite drunk in a Stoke Newington basement with little idea of what we were doing. It was great.

BM: For me, your sound is the perfect definition of all that is good about indie music. How would you describe it?

DJ: When people ask us who or what we sound like, we say something probably very witty and erudite like “angry jangle”. Our music has been described variously as “powerful guitar pop that hits like the Smiths amped up to Savages’ intensity level” (Stereogum) / “intense and shimmering post-punk” (Time Out) / “Marion fronted by Björk” (someone on Facebook)

BM: It’s not just your sound, but, if you know your history, your name also helps to make it clear where you are coming from…

DJ: Our name comes from a version of the song Grinding Halt which the Cure performed on a Peel Session in 1979. It was retitled Desperate Journalist In Ongoing Meaningful Review Situation and the lyrics were changed to snippets from a typically flowery and scathing Paul Morley review of their first album. We thought the name Desperate Journalist was a) enjoyably spiky b) self-consciously 80s-indie-referential for a band bound to be described as such and c) weird. Bonus: it’s also a great song. 

BM: Alongside The Cure, which other bands have influenced you as a group?

DJ: At the core of the band and not counting each members’ individual tastes: The best guitar-pop/indie bands, which in our estimation are the ones who combine drama plus intelligence plus tunes. There is a long list including: REM, The Smiths, The Thermals, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, McCarthy, etc.

BM: From what you are saying, I’d guess that you have a pretty tight bond as a band?

DJ: Yes, we bonded over all being music nerds who like complaining and drinking, but soon found we had a shared love and sense of what’s good and bad in alternative music. Of course we still argue about music, as so many do to distract from the grim prospect of our inevitable deaths, but where it counts we agree.

BM: Your just about to release ‘Hesitate’ as a single, would you like to tell us what its about?

DJ: Hesitate and it’s out on 25th May on Fierce Panda. It’s about the excitement and anxiety of wanting the one you can’t have, to put it bluntly. The video is by our friend and incredible film director Jason Weidner. Jo sent him links to the work of film artist Takashi Ito and he managed to make a wonderful mundane panic-attack of a video which perfectly reflects the ideas/sound of the song.

( click HERE for earlier BMafia feature on ‘Hesitate’)

DJ: We recorded it last summer in Keith Top of the Pops’s super amazing underground Dean Street Studios, which is far too classy for us but which we obviously loved using (not to mention working with Keith who is an excellent dude). This was during our album sessions – we recorded the entire album over five days spread over different weekend days in 2014.

BM: What about the writing process? Is it shared, or does one of you take a leading role?

DJ: Rob is constantly writing either bits and pieces of guitar stuff or entire songs, and when he has something he think would work for the band he brings it to us in rehearsal, where we will work on the music and structure together. Once we have a basic structure Jo takes away a recording and fits a vocal melody to it. She usually has some lyrics already written which she will tweak and fit to the melody after it’s been worked out.

We try to make everything sound as streamlined and exciting as possible. We cut songs down until there’s nothing unnecessary in there. We are by no means a jam band.


BM: Your heading out on tour later this month. How would you describe your live set?

DJ: You could say our live show is forceful – Steve Lamacq described us as “rabid” once which was amusing but we see what he means. We are very concerned with giving every gig everything we’ve got so that they are as exhausting/exciting as possible and rewarding for everyone, not just us.

BM: Can you remember your first gig?

DJ: It was at a grunge club called the Negative Creep which at the time was round the corner from us in Finsbury Park. It was pretty amusing in that a) we’re not a grunge band and b) the band on before us were kind of a polar opposite of what we do – very macho. We did go down well though, possibly because we were shit scared and therefore a bit (more) unhinged (than usual). 

BM: Once the tours over, what have you got planned for the rest of 2015?

DJ: We are hoping to release more music – we’re currently working on an EP – and play loads more gigs.

BM: You said earlier you were “loudly disillusioned with identikit thoughtless guitar bands”, so other tha yourselves, who do you think we should be keeping an eye out for?

DJ: Ghosts of Dead Airplanes, an amazing melodic punk band from Birmingham with whom we’ve played a few times.

BM: And finally. You are Desperate Journalist, what’s your message?

DJ: Our message, if there is one, is that melodic guitar music doesn’t have to be weedy or lunkheaded. We write thoughtful and hopefully exciting, cathartic songs inspired by the energy and intelligence of the bands that mean a lot to us.

Desperate Journalist self titled debut album is out now – It’s early days yet, but this could easily become the must have album of the year. Almost perfect 9.9″ – Backseat Mafia Jan ’15. They will be touring the UK at the end of the month.




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