Meet The Virginmarys: a three-piece rock group hailing from Macclesfield, England, who are signed to Wind-Up Records. These English rockers have had quite an exciting year, from performing at the Oxjam Music Festival benefitting Oxfam, to releasing a new single from their upcoming 2016 album release.
We spoke with the lads about their new record, places they love to visit when they’re in the United States and their favorite tracks of 2015.
Modern Vinyl: To start, could you give us an introduction to who you are, and how the band got its start?
Ally Dickaty: I’m Ally, I sing and play guitar in The Virginmarys. We got together in 2009 after meeting in a pub in our hometown. We got some songs together, recorded some music and hit the road.
Matt Rose: I’m Matt and I play bass in The Virginmarys. We got together in 2009, having been playing in different bands around the area.
Danny Dolan: Hi there! I’m Danny Dolan and I am widely considered the engine room of The Virginmarys (laughs). I play the drums. Me and Ally met on a really bad music course at college and basically started playing in bands around our local area of Macclesfield. At around Christmas time 2009, we were drinking in a pub when we met Matt, who we knew from other bands he’d played with in and around the town and got together for a jam, and now here we are!
MV: How has 2015 treated you?
DD: 2015 has treated us pretty well actually. We’ve been basically holed up inside different studios across the U.K. keeping warm and making new music! We learned that Gil Norton would be making the new album just before the end of 2014, and so pre-production started around February in Macclesfield at Trackside Studios, followed onto production at Rockfield Studios from March through May. [The process] ended at Eve Studios in Manchester for a few weeks through to June. Since then, we’ve been working on everything from the live set to all aspects of the new album.
This is a really special record for us and we wanted to be involved in everything from designing the artwork to ideas for music videos. The first song to be released from the album, “Into Dust,” came out a few weeks ago, so we’re all really excited to see that the new album campaign has officially begun.
AD: 2015 has all been focused on recording our second album. We’d recorded 30 or so demos and were lucky enough to impress Norton who took on the job of producer. We’ve never put more into it and the results are something we’re extremely proud of. [They’re] exciting times!
MR: It’s been a strange year really. We’re usually pretty busy with touring throughout the year, but this year the focus has been on recording our new album. We were fortunate enough to do this with Norton, who was amazing to work with and [it was] such an ace experience. It’s definitely the best work we’ve done to date. We’ve currently got our first tune off the new album out, and we’re really happy with how it’s been received.
MV: You recently released “Into Dust” from your forthcoming album. What can fans expect to hear on this new album, coming out sometime in 2016?
AD: I’d say the fans can expect a very intense and direct rock album. We’re not hiding behind anything with this record; we’ve put our hearts and souls into it. “Into Dust” is the first taster and is a good bridge into the album but there is a lot more going on. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride.
DD: I think it was a really great track to release in that it’s obviously quite an aggressive tune with cut to the bone lyrics, but also has quite a few interesting changes in structure. We definitely made a conscientious decision collectively to approach this album in a very different way than King of Conflict. I think before going into 2015, we had around 27-28 new tracks, and so we really took our time in choosing the right songs to make the sort of album we were striving for. I think more than anything, this new album has pushed us and challenged us all individually, and taken us out of our comfort zone and I really think that comes across in the sound of it.
MR: I think they can expect it not to be King of Conflict part 2! It would’ve been easy for us to do this, but I think we’ve all progressed as musicians and songwriters so I’d say expect something similar but different.
MV: Lyrically, where did you draw your influences from for the new record?
AD: Lyrically, it draws influence from where I am in my life and everything that’s going on at the minute. I don’t feel there’s enough rock bands out there currently that are willing to pass social commentary, yet you can’t get away from the frustration, depression and heartache that’s happening day to day. As always, it’s very honest and heartfelt.
MV: Looking ahead to 2016, what do you have in store for the world, besides the record release?
AD: Loads and loads of touring the world.
MR: We’ll hopefully be out on the road playing in front of our fans and gaining new fans too. Hoping to be all over the world promoting the new album and playing a few festivals.
DD: We’re planning to play anywhere and everywhere from Portland, Oregon — I’ve always wanted to visit there and never been — or to Timbuktu.
MV: When you tour the United States, where are some of your favorite places to perform in?
DD: Las Vegas, Nevada and or Atlantic City, New Jersey. Also, Pappy’s Smokehouse in St. Louis Missouri.
AD: There’s so many in the States. New York, Philadelphia, Colorado, New Orleans, Chicago.
MR: I really like Colorado. It seems to have a really good vibe and I like having the mountains around.
MV: While touring, who have been some of the best bands to tour alongside?
DD: Our first time on tour in the U.S. was supporting a band called I Am Dynamite and those guys were so great! We made a lot of friends that tour. Back in the U.K., we toured with Ash a few years back and again they were brilliant! Slash is an absolute legend as well.
MR: For me I really enjoyed touring with I Am Dynamite, New Model Army, Ash and Skunk Anansie.
AD: Same as Matt, playing shows with Slash was incredible.
MV: When you’re back home across the pond, do you have any recommendations for awesome record stores?
MR: We’re pretty limited in our hometown, but if you travel 30 minutes up the road to Manchester, you’ll find a load of cool record stores.
AD: If you head into Manchester, Picadilly Records and the Vinyl Exchange are really cool record stores.
DD: You have to go to Manchester for vinyl around our area, but Manchester has some amazing stores to check out. Some more well-known and some that you really have to hunt down. Piccadilly Records is a really famous one that’s been there for years.
MV: The year is almost over, which means everyone is putting together End of the Year lists. I’m curious to know what some of your favorite tracks have been this year!
MR: Some of my favourite tracks this year are:
Pins – “Dazed By You”
Speedy Ortiz – “Raising the Skate”
Loyle Carner – “Ain’t Nothing Changed”
High Wolf – “Wild At Heart”
Wolf Alice – “Fluffy”
AD: My favourites this year have been:
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Wax Dummy”
Run The Jewels – “Dynamite”
Alabama Shakes – “Don’t Wanna Fight”
Gaz Coombes – “The Girl Who Fell To Earth”
Prodigy – “Ibiza”
“All of This and Nothing” – Dave Gaham
“We Can Do What We Want” – Drenge
“Gunga Din” – The Libertines
“Something Like Happiness” – Maccabees
“What Went Down” – Foals
MV: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
DD: Massive thank you to our amazing fans! We can’t wait for you all to hear the new album next year and hope to catch you on the road to Portland…or Timbuktu!
MR: Just want to say thanks to all our fans for their patience this year. But it’ll definitely be worth the wait!
AD: Big thanks and love to our fans! Have an amazing Christmas and we can’t wait to see you guys in 2016!
We’d like to thank The Virginmarys for chatting with us, and wish them the best for 2016 and beyond! You can purchase “Into Dust” via iTunes. More info about their forthcoming sophomore release will come out in early 2016, and more information about the band can be found over at their website.