The Departure

To look at The Departure are the essence of 80s new romantic cool. With the unwritten rule that "trainers are for running in, not for playing guitars in" they take an anti leisure wear aesthetic and come across as handsome Victorian Dandys that Oscar Wilde would spend hours lusting over and inspire him to write endless poems about the love that shall never mention its name . Designer Magazine caught up with front man David Jones to talk about his time at a Christian Commune till the age of 16 and how it impacted his idea of the Departure.

Q: Normally we ask new bands to explain how they came together and they tell us this potted history lasting 5 years. The Departure only formed in January this year so you're still babies. We've been through the ultrasounds and health checks of the past few months on the various support slots and festivals and now 9 months later The Departure are here as a fully realized presence on the headline tour. Is it strange to be in the position of a headlining tour just 9 months after you formed?
A: It is pretty weird. The drummers only been with us since March cos we got a new drummer. Actually we've had 3 drummers, but this one is staying cos he's signed (laughs). It's all going really fast, but we've all been in bands together before. It's not as if we've just picked up our instruments straight away. I've been writing songs since I was about 16, which was about 6 years ago.

Q: What were your previous bands like?
A: We were a bit more heavier then than we are now. It's just picking up influences, like I got into the Cure last year and i'd never heard of them before. Just being inspired like that really.

Q: With your background I guess it was hard to listen to rock music, the bands we'd consider the mainstay of our record collection over the years
A: Yeah, I was brought up in a Christian Community so the first 16 years of my life all I was fed was Christian music. It was always a bit of a taboo to put the radio on. I think the first song I started listening to on the radio was Babylon Zoo's "Spaceman", I wasn't into that but that's what I listened to. I guess the first bands I really listened to were Oasis and Blur in a big way. And then Suede and Depeche Mode and a lot of bands at the tail end of Britpop.

Q: It's a strange move. From a Christian Community to a alternative rock band. They're opposite ends of the spectrum surely.
A: Yeah, but we're not like a typically rock n roll band. We just enjoy what we do and we want to be the best. We're not in it for the drugs and lifestyle. We just want to make the music.

Q: Where was the Christian Community based. Just in Northampton or around the UK?
A: It was based all around the UK, but my mum & dad met there. It's a really cool place with some really nice people and I learnt a lot about being creative I guess.

Q: A lot of songs are about small time life and not fitting in. How was it growing up in Northampton?
A: It's the same as any small town. You get a scene, but everyone's quite inward. But in a small town everyone wants to get out, that's why a lot of people want to go to university. There's always been good bands in Northampton, bands like Atlantic Dash, but there's no collective scene.

Even though I don't play it in the band now I've always played guitar since I was about seven so i've always had that interest in music. Before the band I just finished a degree in music. I never suffered the boredom of small town life I guess.

Q: When you came out on that Killers tour in May, it was 5 months after you formed and you did just appeared fully formed from the outset
A: The thing is we don't like talking about the band, we're more do-ers. Anyone can talk about being in a band. And I think people were a bit sceptical then, but we just had a strong ideas man. All of us have the idea since the end of last year and it's just about getting it right in your head. I did a dissertation on punks and new romantics and it got me really inspired about that kind of thing. Just making a bit of effort in your music and making it interesting but still making it poppy. For me personally I don't understand the theory of music and I can't read music. I'll just write the song and the rest of the band will think how to make it sound interesting. I don't have the capacity to do that.

Q: What was the first song you wrote under the name, The Departure?
A: "All Mapped Out", the first single. Did we write that and know it was going to be the first single? Nah. I tell you what. Before you get signed it's easier. When you start thinking about singles it mars the songwriting because it sends you crazy trying to make it sound a certain way. You've just got to do your own thing and let the labels decide what makes the best single.

Q: Where did the image come from? Did you always have this idea of a visually strong look for the Departure?
A: It's just trying to take a pride in your image and getting into bands like Japan and Gary Numan we were quite liking the robotic tidy feel. It goes along with the music really. It's better than going along to see a band who doesn't take any consideration in the way they look. But the image isn't so strict as to we have to wear this or that. Everyone has their own little image within the band. We've kinda relaxed since we first started. We always used to wear shoes, but now I think it's just me and Ben.

Q: So i'm guessing in this quick "do it all now" attitude of the Departure that the albums done and dusted?
A: Nearly, we're going back into the studio on November 1st to finish it off with Steve Osbourne who's worked with the Happy Mondays. We're just trying to make the album sound how we do live and capture that raw energy. But at the same time we want it to sound really massive. At the moment we're exploring working with pushing the boundaries, like Blur did. Blur are a great example of great arrangements and Graham Coxon on guitar could still make pop really interesting.

To me I think there's a bit of early U2 in the guitars and touches of the Psychedelic Furs in there, but we don't wanna pigeon hole ourselves. In the past we've been told we sound like people we've never even listened to before. We've got ideas that are gonna last longer that one album, but you've gotta live as if it is your last album or it wouldn't be your best.

"Be My Enemy" is out now on Parlaphone
The Departure have a short tour in December
For more info

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