London’s The Dirty Feel, whose dynamic Southern-influenced blues-rock recalls acts like Cream and early Fleetwood Mac while cocking an ear to 21st-century electric-roots groups, have released their debut album Truth Be Told, 18 months on from the tragic death of singer/guitarist and founding member Nick Hirsch. Lost in the Manor spoke to drummer Virgil Howe.
Congratulations on the release of Truth Be Told, how are you planning to celebrate the album’s release? Thank you very much. With Nick’s passing the release is very bittersweet for us. We are really pleased with how the album sounds and everyone's positive reaction to it. And we really want to keep playing this music for people to enjoy live. So we have a launch gig on the 5th December at The Blues Kitchen in Camden, London.
Nick is pictured on the cover, did his death (from a blood-related disease) lead you to question whether to finish Truth Be Told, or just forge your determination to get it heard? We had finished the album before we lost Nick, so releasing it was never in doubt. There's so much more of Nick’s music that deserves to be heard. We're compiling it all so people will have a place to hear it.
You’re relaunching as a four-piece, with the addition of a keyboard player. Can fans expect a change of dynamic, in either the songwriting or live performance? At first, [bassist] Kez and I understandably thought that we would/could never play our music again. After a while we spoke to Nick’s family and our friends about the possibility of playing the album live and we all couldn't bear the thought of Nick’s music and The Dirty Feel, as a band, finishing there. Not wanting to carry on as a three-piece, the addition of Henry Broadbent (who we played with in The Killer Meters) was an obvious choice, as the new record has a fair bit of keys on it and Henry is a great singer to boot.
The Dirty Feel are known for incendiary gigs. Which of your tracks are guaranteed to ignite the coldest crowd? ‘Get Down’ has always been a crowd favourite. But we haven't played tracks like ‘Threadbare Excuse’ or ‘Spanish Silver’ live yet so it'll be interesting to see how they go down. I think there's more of an epic quality to this album, so we're able to take people on more of a journey.
You’ve been playing live for more than a decade now. How has the London circuit changed over the years? Less venues and more bands.
The razor-blade riffs on your recent single ‘Far Gone’ bring your sound bang up to date. The commercial success of the likes of White Stripes, Black Keys and The Strypes shows the enduring appeal of stripped-down gutsy rock’n’roll. So how far are you guys going to take it? What does the future hold for The Dirty Feel? We want to take it as far and wide as we can. Like we said, we haven't played lots of these songs live yet. So we're really looking forward to showing people how The Dirty Feel sound has moved on with this album. As far as the future, we are taking it one step at a time. It will never be the same without Nick, but we can do our best to keep the band moving onwards and realise the dream we all started together.
Truth Be Told is out now
Follow Nick Mee on Twitter @Nickjmee