As this year draws steadily to a close, and horrifically premature Christmas decorations begin to rear their heads across the country, we’re in need of a bit of a nap, dear readers. It’s been a jam-packed 2017 on all fronts, and pondering how best to look back on it all, we decided to invite a bunch of our faves to have it out over a pint. This lot have all featured in DIY’s Class Of… in the past, picked out as being set for big things in the future. And look at them all now!
Marika Hackman and Superfood, as you’ll probably know, released their second albums this year, both levelling up to a whole new realm of aceness in the process. Blaenavon, meanwhile, smashed it with their five-star rated debut, while Black Honey - hard at work on their own first full-length - ripped up the live circuit and saw exactly the kind of debauched sights fit for this round-table in the process.
So, with introductions out the way, no further ado is needed. Welcome to the School Reunion!
We’ve brought you legends together today because - at some point or another - you were a part of DIY’s Class Of…! With that in mind, this is a school reunion! What were you all like at actual school, then?
Dom (Ganderton, Superfood): I was really hyperactive and annoying, to be honest.
Ben (Gregory, Blaenavon): I was just a tosser.
Marika (Hackman): I was very disorganised. I wouldn’t do my work, and I’d leave it all until the last minute. I’d always get told off for being a distraction in class, too.
Izzy (B. Phillips, Black Honey): Anyone who was good at school is lame.
Dom: Say it how it is!
Ben: I don’t agree with that, for the record, kids. Try hard at school. It’s important.
Izzy: Only the naughty ones do the good shit.
Ben: But I was a fucking try-hard, and look at me now. Still trying. Really hard.
“I was a fucking try-hard, and look at me now. Still trying. Really hard.”
Ben Gregory, Blaenavon.
What’s the most trouble you ever got in?
Dom: Once we were playing rounders, and as my mate was running around I went to trip him up. The teacher saw, and my punishment was… there was a train track that went past the school. He made me stand by the train track, and every time a train came past, I had to scream at the train. It was really weird. The first train went past, and I didn’t scream at it. He came walking over, and was like, no, scream at it like me. We both stood there screaming at this next train. I stood there for about two hours screaming at the trains. At parents evening a few weeks later, my mum went in to talk to him about that. It was an awkward conversation.
Marika: What kind of school did you go to?! Wow. When I was six, I told my class what a lesbian was, and I thought it was spelt with a silent g at the beginning. Glesbian! My parents got called in. Apparently I’d just been saying it was two women who love each other. So yeah, I got taken out of that school pretty quickly!
Izzy: Oh! That’s so sad.
Ben: If they’d been mad over the wrong spelling, though - your spelling’s all over the place…
Marika: That would’ve been more understandable.
Ben: Mate, respect for leaving.
Dom: So yeah. We all enjoyed school!
We can tell! So, moving on, we’re all here today to reflect on the year that was 2017. Any stand-out moments you’d like to bring to the table to kick things off?
Dom: Oh god, I dunno. My mind’s drawing a blank.
Off to a roaring start, guys!
Ben: Well, I guess the right answer is that our [Blanaevon’s] album came out. That was fucking cool, ‘cause we’ve been working on that for three years. And people liked it! Especially DIY! [cheers for the plug, Ben - Ed]
Izzy: My favourite was Glastonbury. Doing the John Peel stage was amazing. You know how in rehearsals you go like “GLASTONBURRRRRRY!” For ten years that’s been a joke, and to actually do it was nuts.
Ben: How many times did you scream “GLASTONBURRRRRY”?
Izzy: At Glastonbury? A lot. You have to milk it while you can.
“When I was six, I told my class what a lesbian was, and I thought it was spelt with a silent g at the beginning.”
This year has seen One Direction start up solo careers. Which one has been your favourite to watch blossom?
Dom: Niall Horan! ‘Slow Hands’!
Marika: Ergh! Doesn’t that song go, like, “sweat dripping down your dirty laundry”? What does that even mean?! Where are you, Niall? Is that really happening?
Dom: OK, so not lyrically. The lyrics are terrible. He hasn’t got a direction. No direction, in fact. [we see what you did there, Dom - Ed]
Izzy: Mine has to be Harry Styles, and mainly because I didn’t know any other members have put an album out.
Marika: Zayn was the first one, he left to start with.
Dom: Liam’s lost the plot, man. Ryan [Malcolm, also from Superfood] used to go to college with Liam Payne, and he taught him guitar. He used to perform in class! He used to have a really broad Wolverhampton accent, and now it’s an American accent, and he’s hanging out with all these rappers. “You know what it iz, man”. Fucking hell. He’s at the bottom.
Ben: Louis’ material is pretty challenging. It’s a fucking tune, but live, it’s difficult to recreate. Nobody’s really talked about Harry Styles yet…
Interestingly, you’re dressed like Harry Styles today, Ben.
Ben: Yes! People were tweeting at me, saying he took my suit.
Marika: Once I was soundchecking at a show, and Harry walked in, and walked out again. I tweeted him, like, ‘Hey Harry, did you not like my soundcheck?’ Five minutes later I walked past him. Whoops. There was a week where I saw him twice. It’s meant to be.
Dom: I saw him out once. I was very far away from him, and very drunk. I started shouting at him and trying to take my top off. So bad.
Izzy: I like the lyric on the Harry Styles record where he talks about wanking off in a hotel room. I can relate to that.
“I’m gonna die before I even put out a first album. EP 58, here we come!”
Izzy B. Phillips, Black Honey
There’s one thing that unifies everyone around this table today. You’ve all played shows by the sea in 2017; be it Blaenavon supporting alt-J on their seaside tour, or Black Honey playing at Margate Dreamland for By the Sea. The questions is: do you like to be beside the seaside? Do you like to be beside the sea?
Ben: Being in the ocean refreshes you in a way that nothing else can. We played a show in Brighton, and went for a swim before it, and then for some reason it was the best show we’ve ever done. I would recommend that to all bands.
Dom: When we played at Brighton in March, we went for a swim after the show. We didn’t mean to, we were just standing close to the water, and a big wave came. My phone was in my pocket. Destroyed it.
Izzy: Being a Brighton band, we’re a bit sick of the sea, to be honest. My mum’s a sailor, as well. Bit fed up with it all if I’m honest. You do not want to go to Brighton beach in summer. It’s like Oxford Street. We jumped in a lot of swimming pools on tour. Mainly mouldy ones. Damage done. Tomorrow I’ll probably grow an extra head.
“I started shouting at Harry Styles and trying to take my top off.”
Dom Ganderton, Superfood
Marika and Dom, you’ve both had second albums out this year - does it give you a profound wisdom when you graduate to the second album; one that you never had before?
Dom: Definitely, yeah.
Izzy: Are second albums stressful?
Marika: I found it less stressful, but I think that’s because on my first record, I didn’t use anything I’d written before. It felt like I was approaching that like a second record anyway. I kind of just did that, and it made me think ‘oh I can do this!’. So this [‘I’m Not Your Man’] was just really fun. I feel more pressure now actually.
Dom: We had no-one to write it for; we weren’t doing [‘Bambino’] for a label or any manager, so there wasn’t any real pressure. It didn’t stop us from stressing out about it every day, but we just wanted to get something done. The stress came when it was finished, and we needed to try and fucking get it out somehow. The next record, as you [Marika] say, is going to be… it’s exciting being in a band where you have three albums out. It’s crazy. Whether you’ve made any money from it or not, that’s a career, that is.
Izzy: I’m gonna die before I even put out a first album. EP 58, here we come!
It’ll be ok, Izzy! Blaenavon took agggggesss to release theirs!
Ben: It was supposed to come out in January 2014.
Ben: We started being a band when we were 15, and tried to make an album completely on our own. It was really cool but everyone would’ve hated it so much. So we have this debut album that we never put out.
Dom: Have you still got it?
Ben: Yeah, it’s on Google Drive somewhere. I think it’s on a Google Drive file called ‘secret files, hide from David Cameron’. We went back to school after that, and did our A Levels and shit, and then stopped making music for a year. Then we came back and started from scratch.
Izzy: So your first album was like having a second album, too?
Ben: Yeah totally.
You could release it as your first album now, Star Wars-style!
Izzy: Fuck, that’s such a good idea! No-one’s released the prequel album.
Ben: I hope you’ll hear it one day. It needs a mix though.
Taken from the November 2017 issue of DIY, out now. Read online or subscribe below.