Just before the Easter break (sorry for the delay, deadline season got in the way) the Band Society held the final to its annual Battle of the Bands. Over the course of the two weeks prior a dozen student bands had fought for a spot in the final at the historic Cavern Club. The bands in the final were: first round winners, Disastronauts; Swearwolves, who won round two; Barlon Rando and Damn Fine who drew in the final heat; and finally Milpool, who were the top runner up. Each band played a set of around 30 minutes to the packed out Cavern. All of the bands had improved on their performance in the heats. Disastronauts, Milpool and Swearwolves all gave sets that were more polished and energetic than in the heats whilst Barlon Rando and Damn Fine had improved their stage presence greatly. The final was judged slightly differently to the heats; rather than simply having the crowd vote for a favourite and second favourite there was also a group of special guest judges for the final (myself being one of them). The judges were to rate the bands performance out of 10 in 4 categories: musicianship; stage presence; originality; and song writing. This score was then collated into one score out of 40 and an average was created from all of the judge’s scores for each band.
Whilst the scores were calculated and the votes counted, last year’s winners treated us to an upbeat set which made the room electric with excitement and anticipation. Finally, the votes were counted and the scores worked out, and a hush fell over the packed venue. The winner was… Damn Fine! This victory earns them the two days of professional recording; a headline spot at next year’s final, and their name on the coveted Battle of the Bands trophy. They also get the chance to play at local festival Liverpool Calling on 9th July.
Damn Fine are a student band made up members of the UoL’s BandSoc. They competed in and won this years Battle of the Bands, so The Sphinx decided to catch up with them to see what has happened since their big win.
How long have you been together now and how did you guys get together as a band?
With this particular line-up we’ve been going for a little under 9 months, but most of us have been playing music together for longer than that. We actually played the final last year, but with none of the same songs. We’ve changed a whole lot in the last year.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
For the most part we’re influenced by a lot of song writers from the 60s and 70s, people like Warren Zevon, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Smokey Robinson and Fleetwood Mac. But then equally we love some more recent acts like Father John Misty, The Mountain Goats and Nick Cave.
Is songwriting a team effort, or does someone take the lead a little bit?
At the moment, Will and Allan write most of the songs, though Simon has a lot of mysterious keyboard ideas that we’re planning on working on soon. But for the most part, writing songs for us varies for each individual song. Sometimes one of us has a fully formed song that we’ll bring to the band with a lot of the parts already laid out and then we flesh the song out together. Other times, Allan will turn up at Will’s house with some lyrics and a melody he drunkenly hummed into his phone and we have to decipher it as a band.
Did you guys ever think you would win or was it a bit of a shock?
There were some excellent bands in the final, so it was a pleasant surprise.
It has been a while since you guys won – have you used your recording time yet?
It’s booked for June, so we should be putting some songs out over the summer. We’ll be recording them live with Rob Whitely at Whitewood Studios, the mysterious wizard who produced our first single, Duke of New York.
What can we expect from it when it comes? Are we looking at a single, or something more?
For now we have the next few singles lined up, so we’ll be recording them and taking our time to get them perfect.
Liverpool Calling is a kind of a big deal: how have you been preparing for it?
We’ve been gigging as much as we can. Recently we’ve had a lot of fun playing the O2 Academy and Smithdown Festival, and we’ve got some more shows lined up before July. At Liverpool Calling we’re on the billing with a whole lot of bands we really admire like Coasts, The Mono LPs, Lying Bastards and all of the spectacular bands from Elevant Music Limited, so we’re going to really bring it and put on a show.
Finally, have you got any gigs coming up and where can people find out more about you guys?
We played a headline show at Heebie Jeebies on May 14th with Seafaring Creatures, Chasing Infinity and Dirty Bernard, who are all past Battle of the Bands winners. We’re currently taking a break to record before playing Liverpool Calling on July 9th at Camp and Furnace.
You can find Damn Fine on