Throughout history, Leicester has a long line of hugely successful artists
to its credit. Honestly. Weve got
Mark Morrison, Showaddywaddy and
Showaddywaddy. Well, Ok
I concede. If you put that lot on your CV you probably wouldnt exactly
be favourite for the job
.unless of course youre trying to be
a Butlins representative. But fear not, for our saviours are with
us now, in the guise of Dizzy Valise. The band have attracted more than
a little attention of late, with slots at the In The City festival gaining
favourable reviews in music mag colossuses such as the NME, generating a
solid fan base and striking up a lot of interest within a little publishing
company that just happens to go by the name of EMI. Its easy to see
why. The guys possess an awful amount of talent and their songs are often
so innovative that gold seems to ooze from their fingertips. For the uninitiated
it will be like a blow on the head with a musical mallet as anyone who hears
them will undoubtedly list them as one of their favourite bands from then
Atomicduster popped in on John and Naim for a coffee. And ate their samosas.
AD: Seeing as youre a relatively new band, we ought to start off
with the dull, predictable question for a change so where did the
name come from?
J: We were originally called Beautiful Losers, from the Leonard Cohen novel,
but we felt that was a little bit self derogatory, so we thought long and
hard about other names. We made lists of them and nothing really inspired
us, and then I was looking through this book of jazz greats and theres
a picture of Dizzy Gillespie. Underneath it there was a picture of his trumpet
and the title of the picture was Dizzys Valise. We thought
it looks nice, it doesnt really mean anything and ultimately
How did the band get together in the first place?N:
Me and John were working at the Factory, which was a great venue when
it first opened. A lot of Leicester bands came to play and it really brought
the band community together. It was a great opportunity to get up there
and do something yourself, and Id engineered loads of bands then
I thought I can do better than that so I started supporting
bands, playing on my own. The drummer, Heetan, saw me at Abbey Park festival
and remembered me so we got him in. Then theres a silly little story
I quite fancied this singer in a band that used to play at the
J: He was a lovely bloke wasnt he?
and her band had a gig booked for the next month,
so we just went upstairs, made up the band name Beautiful Losers and said
were supporting you, so in a panic we had to put this
Did you get the girl though?
N: Nah she had a boyfriend. Anyway, then Dan was kind of
us for a while. He came to see us play a few times and we got talking.
He seemed like a really nice guy, and I mentioned we were looking for
a bass player. He said Id LOVE to join a band and I play bass!,
so we roped him in. We found out later on that he didnt play bass
J: He still doesnt!
AD: Why have you taken the lyric Youre a slag
out of one of your most celebrated songs of late?
N: I love the musical arrangement on that track. I love the drama
of it, and then it gets to the point where everything stops after a big
build up and it just goes
.youre a slag. I mean,
it worked for some people in a big way, and for others it really didnt.
We found it became like a novelty song where people were just remembering
it for being that slag song, but I think the verses and the
music are really lovely. We were starting to think, if we kept the line,
the song could become a real albatross for us. Another thing was, Id
give someone a CD with four or five songs on including the slag
track and theyd come back and say Oh youre a real woman
hater arent you? Are you a misogynist or something? Yet Id
give people a CD WITHOUT the track on and theyd come back and say
Oh these songs are really lovely!
I certainly dont want people to think Im a misogynist. The
line had to go.
AD: The songs seem to possess an almost autobiographical quality. Are
you just one of lifes casualties or is that just the way you like
N: (pause) Its a release. Completely. Its funny, because
going back to Slag (NB that track is now called Dont
Read This), after I wrote the song I didnt feel that way about
that person anymore. It was gone. In the same way, when I write the love
songs, it feels like an obituary sometimes. So yes they are autobiographical
Ive become very settled recently so I feel the lyrics have maybe
become not so direct in terms of relationships now. Ive
got a lovely girlfriend and every time she hears a new songs shes
like Whos that about?
I hate questions like that though because I just prefer people to take
the songs how they are and make their own meanings from them.
AD: Who in the group is responsible for the musical arrangements
and do you enjoy the complexity of it?
J: The way the stuffs generally written is, Nayim writes something
on the guitar and 4 tracks it, - but his arrangements are quite
wont of a better word. So he normally gives me an arrangement and I melt
it down, edit it and work from there. Recently weve been doing it
a little more in rehearsals as normal bands do I suppose!
Complexities are something I really do like, but theres a fine line
between complexity and over indulgence, so its finding the balance
between that. Its difficlt because we are self produced, but I think
we are getting better at producing, because were not as precious
anymore. Plus the last bit of recording we did, we worked with Steve Hillier
(ex-Dubstar) who was producing us, and that was an interesting experience
to see how he touched the band. He was a lovely bloke
and he had an identical record collection to me!
N: He looked like Johns older brother
but sort of bigger
and fatter! But yeah hes a really nice bloke and so well spoken.
Hes been really helpful these last few months.
AD: I noticed that you have a lot of banter on stage. Do you regard that
as an important part of your live act?
J: That kind of varies. I dont think you can plan that sort of thing.
The last gig you saw us at
N: So many things went wrong we HAD to have banter! (howls of laughter
honestly if you were at the gig youd understand, believe
J: It was a complete comedy cavalcade of wrongdoings, and it got to the
stage where it was, like, laughable. I mean, we havent got planned
banter but you have to know when to laugh at yourselves.
N: When we played In The City festival, there wasnt really ANY banter.
It was a very cold atmosphere a bit regimented.
AD: Like Go on. Play your songs and then get off?
J: Kind of, yeah. The thing is, because it was an industry festival, we
were looking directly into the eyes of A & R men and it was quite
N: It would have been great to win them over with banter, but, you know,
we looked great and we sounded great anyway! I think you have to pick
the right time and place for things like that too. You know, if people
are just standing there straight faced, things can go horribly wrong if
you try to pick someone out of the audience and go Wur wur.
AD: Go what?
N: Wur wur.
ok then. Moving swiftly on, youre certainly one of
Leicesters burgeoning talents
AD: Burgeoning!! Your music seems to possess a quality that belies your
humble background, and would perhaps be music of a group with a far greater
history to them. I know you have had a certain amount of industry recognition.
Can you expand on that, and why do you think you havent been picked
up before now?
N: Thats a question we try to answer every hour of every day. You
start to play mind games after a while.
J: We have had kind of a plan this year, and the plans gone well
but its taken longer then we imagined. The A&R men all seemed
to say Well your songs are great but how do you do this live? Thats
what we want to see. So we spent a few months honing our live show
and presenting it in a way that was a little more traditional, as we hadnt
ever played in a 4-piece drums, bass, guitar, programming
way before that. It used to be all just loops and it had no soul to it
really, so we honed the live set and in the meantime we got the London
management, who got us heard by many more people. Were at the stage
now where our name as known in the industry as ones to watch.
The one worry that I have is that, because were not strictly on
genre, I think the record companies will be thinking Hmm..well,
theyre not this and theyre not that. Where are we going to
N: Regarding EMI, its important to remember when youre dealing
with record companies, youre generally dealing with A&R men.
And A&R men change all the time! We experienced that first
hand when at EMI the first time, someone took us under their wing, giving
us advice and studio time. Then that same week they left and that was
it. So for the next few months youre trying to build with someone
else. Weve had a plan and it does seem like its going to be
a long hard run, but then weve met other bands for whom it seems
to have been all too easy.
AD: Do you ever get bitter about that?
N: Yeah of course you do. Especially when you hear how BAD they are! You
see, we ARE recognised in the industry as a good band but were still
waiting for that one maverick A&R person to stick their neck out and
put all their faith in us.
AD: Theyd be foolish not to. Anyway, I want to get my Smash Hits
type question in now
Naim, whats Johns worst habit?
N: Well he hasnt done it recently. Hes been very good. (Pause)
AD: What is it then?!!
N: I dont really want to say
Go on, you can say it. I know what it is.
N: You know? (pause) No its too horrible!
J: Its pissing on the side of
.actually I lift the seat up,
my aim isnt true!
AD: And John, whats Naims worst habit?
J: Leaving a millilitre of milk in the carton when its absolutely
AD: Meaning you end up using it and having to buy the next pint?
J: No. Just the fact that its there at all in the first place when
N: Is that it? Thats not that bad actually!
AD: Finally, whats next for Dizzy Valise?
J: Were recording some new songs at Peer Studios, which is a beautiful,
beautiful studio. Then the rest of the year well be writing new
material and playing a load of local gigs in January.
N: And our next door neighbours have invited us to their super heroes
costume party, but weve got limited resources.
AD: Cant you just wear your pants over your trousers?
N: Nah. I think Ill just go as Zorro!
Whether this is because he wants to remove some articles of some foxy
young females clothes a la Antonia Banderas, or because he is a
fan remains unclear. Whatever, this band are more than equipped to become
super heroes in their own right. You never know, in 3 years time, kids
across the country may well be going as John and Naim from Dizzy Valise.
PS I really DID try to get that Z to look like a Zorro mark but never
For anyone itching to hear some of the Valises new material, they
will be releasing the single Navigator at the beginning of
January (see this months reviews). It will be available from all
most stores in Leicester including HMV, Virgin, Rockaboom and Ainleys.
The four piece will be playing a mixture of old and new stuff at the Barfly
in Camden on January 10th. Youd be a fool to miss it.