Interview: Dakota Beats – live in Birmingham tonight

Black Country indie outfit Dakota Beats are headline tonight’s Brum Notes Presents show at the O2 Academy 2. Jon Pritchard meets a band ready to explore their dark side.

“Our last EP, The Tides Will Turn, was based solely around heartache and lost love,” explains Dakota Beats frontman Dan Harris.

Ahhhh, can you feel it? Songs about heart- ache and lost love. Always there for you when you need them, like a warm blanket in front of an open fire in winter. But don’t get too comfortable just yet, because Dakota Beats aren’t the average band that statement may suggest. Oh no. They’re doing something different with their latest set of songs. Something as far away from cuddling up by the fire as possible.

That’s right, the band, line-up completed by James and Tom Amphlett on guitars, Mark Grigg on drums and Richard Campbell on bass, have thought outside the box when it comes to recording their new tracks. Having teamed up with producer Ryan Pinson for the tracks, the band chose to record the new material in old attic rooms they stumbled upon at the Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolverhampton, a venue which has proved a popular haunt for some of their most exciting gigs so far, but who would have thought having a nosey about upstairs would inspire a whole new atmosphere to their music?

“We enjoy working with our producer Ryan Pinson and between us we came up with an idea of making some almost live recordings in a big, atmospheric room to try and recreate our live sound and produce something with tons of ambience and energy,” Dan continues.

“We found that the Newhampton had some old attic rooms perfect for the job so we started recording from there. We have such a tight relationship with Ryan now; he’s like our sixth member. He inspires us to make the music we do and I’d like to think we do the same for him.

“We have no real plans for these tracks to be released as an EP; in many ways this is us experimenting in public. The tracks will be available to download though; we always think it’s important to put our music out there.

“The last two EPs we have done had no real plans beforehand, when the songs are ready and sounding right we might put them on an EP but then again we might not. It’s what feels right for us and if the songs would work together well as EP and not just a bunch of songs.”

While other bands have spent the summer jumping on the festival bandwagon to appeal to as many new fans as possible, Dakota Beats have done the exact opposite. Locked in a secret underground bunker (ok, maybe it’s not secret, or underground, but it does have a bunker feel), the band have been working with Ryan to mould their new sound and explore their latest batch of songs.

And the boys from the Black Country have found their perfect way to start their 2013, albeit a little early, with the help of the latest Brum Notes Presents night.

Dan excitedly tells us: “We have locked ourselves away in the studio getting ready for the winter. We just can’t wait to unleash what we’ve been working on and what better place to do that than B-Town! 2013 is a big year for us so it’s been important to get everything right but it all starts in Birmingham on October 26.

“The Brum Notes show is the start of a huge year for us as we move ourselves from Wolves to Birmingham. We have a huge show planned and are expecting a big crowd. We recognise that Birmingham is making big noises at the moment and although we will always be a Black Country band we’re happy to show Brum what we’re all about, and we’re confident they will like what they see and hear. I’d like to think you’ll see us a lot more in the Second City but we’ll always show our love back home.”

Fans of Dakota Beats will have witnessed a mammoth change in the band’s sound over the past two years. These new songs, set to be unveiled to the expectant public for the first time this month, are once again a step in a different direction.

Nothing’s Wrong, Nothing’s Right, Dive Into The Deep End and another as yet untitled new song show the heavier side to the band.

For anyone who has followed the band since their inception, this can only be a good thing. If the band can reproduce the form that saw them write rabble-rousing guitars and thundering, painful lyrics, such as those on Sir Frank James and The Tides, then this new era for them can only be a significant step in the right direction.

“The new tracks are definitely heavier,” insists Dan, “we have been called an indie pop band in the past but we are certainly matur- ing into a more indie rock sound. That’s what we want to be, it doesn’t mean we’re going to grow our hair and start wearing oversized tie dye t-shirts, it just means we’re chang- ing, as musicians, as people, and as a band.

“When you listen to our songs they’re always accessible and easier to remember and that won’t change but maybe now we’ll be able to tap into our dark side a bit more.”

So, it seems they are not as cosy as warm blankets in front of the fire after all. Sure they’re writing about heartbreak and lost love, but it’s not Adele. Their songs are cold and hard and walk the streets of the Black Country on the weekend, looking for love in pubs and on dancefloors. But no one likes to stop in any more anyway.

Brum Notes presents Dakota Beats live, with Dive Exit, City Lightz and The One Twos at the O2 Academy 2, Birmingham, on October 26. Doors open at 6pm and tickets include free entry to club night Propaganda afterwards. Tickets can be booked in advance here or a limited number will be available on the door.

Listen to Crocodiles by Dakota Beats here.

Words by Jon Pritchard

Photo by Andy Hughes

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