After catching The Virginmarys at a recent support slot I was blown away at the band's power, enthusiasm and the quality of their songs, as well as being a compelling spectacle live. I was delighted to hear that these cats had the chops when it came to how they'd sound in the studio and the release of their debut album just confirmed what I already knew; that the tail end of 2010 is going to be a big six months for this North West three piece. There was only one thing to do and that was to get the lowdown on the band before everyone wants a piece, so I contacted lead guitarist and singer Ally Dickaty to find out just who the devil are The Virginmarys and what makes them tick.
Firstly, tell us who's in the band and how The Virginmarys came about?
The Virginmarys consist of: Ally Dickaty (vocals/guitar) Matt Rose (bass/backing vocals) and Danny Dolan (drums). The Virginmarys was formed in 2007 by myself and Danny. After some changes to the line-up, Matt joined in January 2009.
You had a song called 'Soul Vampires' out in 2007 - how has it taken until the middle of 2010 to release an album? And how did you get a star of Coronation Street to act in the video? How do you think your sound has evolved since 'Soul Vampire' to 'Cast The First Stone'?
The sound has changed considerably since we made the video and as such the song 'Soul Vampire' is no longer part of the set or album. The main aim when recording the album 'Cast The First Stone' was to get a big powerful sound that reflects the live performance. We didn't want to release anything short of that. It was great for us to work with our producer Toby Jepson and to get the album mixed with Mike Fraser, we're all really happy with what we've achieved with the album. The actor is Stephen Graham, he really liked the song and so agreed to be part of the video. I think the sound overall has become more direct with a heavier edge to it since then.
Who influenced the way you sound? Who are the bands you guys grew up listening to?
We all grew up listening to bands of the late 60's and early 70's such as Pink Floyd, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Hendrix, but we all listen to range of different stuff. I'd say there is a big influence of late 60's rock but there is also a cross over. I think it's always best to write what feels natural to you and be as honest as possible.
You've been touring throughout 2009 and 2010 would you say this is where the band's strengths lie?
Yes definitely, we all love playing live and I think that's where we're best. People understand what were about a lot more when they see us live.
What's been the highlight so far?
Probably the Download gig, I think for what we've been trying to do over the past 18 months it was a good indication of the progress we've been making and where we want to be.
Do you have any amusing stories from any of your gigs so far, good and bad?
Haha, more than our fair share of transport breakdowns, lots of getting to and from gigs with the AA and RAC. Matt managed to fall down a 12ft drainage ditch at Download, it was well funny, he just disappeared, luckily he didn't hurt himself. Danny managed to wander 'round Glasgow city centre at 5 in the morning going to three different Premier Inns before finding the right one, haha.
Were there many labels interested in signing the band before you went for Townsend?
There's been a lot of interest within the last 18 months but we have a great relationship with our management, and we're confident in the way things are going for us
There isn't much info kicking around the net about the band - perhaps the best kept secret in British rock at the moment. Have you guys noticed a buzz building around the band?
I think certainly since the start of the New Year there has been a massive buzz building about the band and a lot of people are talking about us, which is great.
How did you come to choose to release the album with just six tracks and not say ten or twelve? There are tracks you play live and some that are on you tube that didn't make the cut - why leave them off? Is it all part of a master plan?
I think for where we are right now it seemed the release of a 6-track album was the right decision, there's a lot of good songs that didn't get on it and there's a lot of new songs in the making so I'm sure it won't be too long before our next release.
Is there a headline tour in the pipeline? You seem happy to play with quite a few diverse bands, do you think that helps in not pigeonholing the band?
There are plans to do our own tour somewhere between September and October which will be great. It's great to play with lots of different bands and see what reaction their fans give you. So far we've gone down really well with whoever we've supported which is really encouraging.
Do you have a plan for the next 12 months mapped out? If you could get on any tour who would you jump at the chance to play with?
The rest of year is going to be spent playing as many shows as we can and to get in the studio and record the new material. I think if we had the chance to support anyone at the minute it would be the biggest rock bands about.....AC/DC, Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters etc.
If you have an iPod put it on shuffle and list the first five songs - no cheating!!
God's honest truth;-
'Statesboro Blues' - The Allman Brothers
'Jerusalem' - The Fall
'The Spark That Bled' - The Flaming Lips
'I Loved Another Woman' - Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac
'It's Over' - The Beta Band
Photo kudos to Teneight Photography, Phil Heathcote Photography & Karen McBride