Fresh starts and explosive new sounds with The Virginmarys

The Virginmarys
Photography credit: Jason PD

Fresh off the heels of a brand new single, The Virginmarys are continuing to be one of the most exhilarating and captivating rock bands around today. The band has gone through many different stages and changes along the way, having recently set the tone for the new era of their music as an explosive power duo. 

The band’s latest single ‘Devil Keeps Coming’, landed on August 26th as their third release of the year. The track is a ferociously energetic rock number, pulling you in initially with the glorious mesh of classic rock guitar and thumping drums, before leaving you in deep contemplation as the message found within comes to light.

The Virginmarys, who hail from Stockport in Cheshire, are made up of Ally Dickaty (Guitar & Vocals) and Danny Dolan (Drums). The pair have had some tremendous success over the years, supporting the likes of Slash on two occasions, playing on the main stage at Leeds Festival in 2016, and having recently performed at 2000 Trees Festival. Make no mistake, The Virginmarys are performing at the very top levels of rock music in this country, yet the humble and DIY approach to their music and the content associated with it, is yet another reason why they are so compelling.

The new song ‘Devil Keeps Coming‘, presents an internal struggle with mental health and the conflict going on inside someone’s head. The production and composition of the track highlights the message of the lyrics beautifully, slowly creeping up the intensity and ambience as the lyrics repeat: ‘I think you better call help’. 

The track has now joined previous releases ‘The Meds & ‘You’re A Killer to form a brand new EP, perfectly highlighting the sheer power behind the band’s new sound. I have been a fan of The Virginmarys for a long time, and have seen them grow and evolve with each new project. There is something incredibly refined about the new additions to their catalogue, whilst also upholding the raw and gritty tonality that made fans fall in love with their music in the first place. 

Having showcased their explosive new sound on a recent UK and Swedish tour, the band are set to go again this October, landing in cities such as Manchester and London, armed with their mighty new EP. I have thoroughly enjoyed diving into this new chapter in the band’s history, and am thrilled to have been able to interview Ally about their new releases, upcoming tour and everything in between.

Listen to ‘Devil Keeps Coming’ EP by The Virginmarys now:

Hello Ally & Danny, I’d firstly just like to say thank you for taking the time for this interview with us. To begin, could you tell our readers about how the band first began and how you started creating music together?

We both met at college some time ago. To be honest we clicked straight away in both music and humour. I think we spent most of college laughing about Alan Partridge, Planes Trains and Automobiles and League Of Gentlemen. We have played together ever since and it’s been an incredible journey, full of twists, turns and up and downs.

I’ve been following your career for a number of years and the new music coming from you at the minute has certainly evolved in a really exciting way, now becoming a power duo. What sparked the idea of taking the band forward as a duo and how did this incredibly exciting new sound come about?

It was the right time for a change. Our session bass player could no longer commit to the touring and we felt that we needed a fresh challenge and to do something new. I think the chemistry between me and Dan has always been a huge part of the band so with just the two of us its condensed the vibe and made it more focal and concentrated. We knew first and foremost it had to sound just as big as when we’d played as a trio so we spent a lot of time playing around with sound, and experimenting with pedals and amps, continually going at it until it felt right.

The two new singles released this year, ‘The Med’s’ & ‘You’re A Killer’ have such an energetic, powerful and raw essence to them. Your last album release ‘Northern Sun Sessions’ in 2018, featuring singles ’S.O.S. 4.U.N.I’ & ‘Look Out For My Brother’ was incredibly well received by fans. How was the process of recording these new songs different to the previous album project?

For Northern Sun Sessions, I was blatantly writing for a 3 piece band, and using many different layers on record, it was a method I was familiar with, as I’d mostly always written in that way. I have had to tweak my writing style for the new material and concentrate heavier on grooves, riffs and making the songs more direct. We’ve probably spent a lot more time jamming and perfecting the songs this time round than we have in a long time. It’s been essential that me and Dan lock in together musically than it ever has previously.

Watch the lyric video for ‘Devil Keeps Coming’ by The Virginmarys

Lyric video for ‘Devil Keeps Coming’ by The Virginmarys

I have been lucky enough to see you guys live a couple of times now, with your incredible main stage slot at Leeds festival in 2016 and the Christmas show in Manchester Academy in December 2019. I first experienced your music when you supported Slash in Manchester a number of years ago. There is an iconic photo from the night, with the legendary guitarist sporting some Virginmarys merch which must have been a crazy experience. What are your favourite memories from that night?

Slash wearing our tee shirt on stage in Manchester will always be one of my most exciting memories from being in the band. Everything was so new and fresh then, we were experiencing this type of thing for the very first time so it was just incredible. We couldn’t and can’t speak higher of how Slash was with us, utterly cool.

The new single ‘You’re A Killer’ released on July 22nd, touches on the state of society and politics as a whole in this country reminiscent of the events that occurred during the pandemic. How do events such as this influence your approach to writing and how has your writing evolved over the years?

The way I see it and have experienced it, our society has changed quite dramatically in the last 10 years of so. It has become a lot more divided and more extreme, the middle ground is beginning to feel like it’s fading out of sight. I find it impossible not to write what’s happening with me or what I’m seeing or experiencing. Much of King Of Conflict was written about addiction and self destruction through the years. I stopped drinking nearly 10 years ago and started seeing and feeling different things, due to the shift in the political climate and being sober. As an artist I don’t feel sweep stuff under the carpet and write about miscellaneous stuff that doesn’t mean much to me so I write about my strong feelings, emotions and questions. We are living in worrying times, I’ve never seen anything like it. I think it more than 1 in 10 families relying on the help of food banks, working families, it’s crazy. The divides in wealth continuing to increase zero faith in any of the people in power. It’s impossible to not be directly affected and write about wishy washy nonsense you think people will like.

You have already released two striking singles as a power duo this year, which makes me incredibly excited to hear what plans you have for upcoming projects. Is there anything that you could tell us about any future album projects or single releases this year?

We’re releasing another single together with EP. We’ll add exclusive music to the physical copies for the fans too to make them more special. We’ve deliberately chosen to take it track by track this year, find what is working for us before we release the best album we’ve ever done. When we’re so fresh to the power duo thing we haven’t wanted to rush anything and release things we feel could have been better.

The new video for ‘You’re A Killer’ released on July 29th, is gory, thought provoking and incredibly fun, lending itself perfectly to this new chapter in your musical journey. Where do the ideas come from for the videos and which video shoot to date has been the most enjoyable?

Since becoming independent, we’ve been able to control the direction in pretty much everything. After making the change of becoming two piece, Dan took it upon himself to make the best possible videos we could. He wrote the treatments for both videos and we collaborated with a really great film maker and musician called Joel Gardner. I simply turn up, get directed and hope for the best with my performance as I’ve never acted before in my life. The two videos were a lot of work, very messy and very fun. Since I’ve known Dan he has always been a massive film fan and he think he’s done an incredible job with these two videos. So both vids have been Dan’s brainchild.

Artwork for ‘You’re A Killer’ by The Virginmarys

You recently went on tour in Sweden, arranged by a devoted fan of yours who wanted to share his love for your music in his homeland. The ITV feature on the tour was very moving to watch. What was that experience like and how did it differ from tours you have done in the UK?

Wow, this differed from anything that anyone within the party had ever experienced. It will always live with me and I’m so happy to have met Pelle and his family, I love them dearly. Experiences like this make me so proud of what we’ve created with the band and the music. Without that ITV News piece we never would have breathed a word about where the tour came from as it was such a personal subject. In short, The Virginmarys has meant a great deal to Pelle, he was always adamant that he would bring the band over to tour Sweden. We never felt comfortable with the expense for someone to take on independently when we were unsure of whether we were even known in Sweden, so we tried to deflect each year when Pelle would bring it up at a show he’d come to in the UK. Pelle sadly went through life threatening illness’s and endured many treatments for quite a long period of time and the band’s music and ethos helped him pull through and keep his spirits high. He was adamant that he was going to do this and take us around the country he loves. Me and Dan went with it and are so glad that we did.

It was quite a lot to take on for all parties as we didn’t really know each other and it was such an unorthodox tour and thing to do. During the tour Pelle’s wife Maria got in touch with a news reporter they knew and explained the whole story, within a day we were in an interview with the ITV News. I’m so glad she did and I’m so happy that the story filled peoples hearts. Pelle and his family are the real deal, I am proud to have written music that moves them and I am proud to have been part of it.

Watch the music video for ‘You’re A Killer’ by The Virginmarys

Having been at handful of your live shows, the energy the two of you posses on stage is mesmerising. I have never seen a more powerful and lively performance on a drum kit than at one of your shows Danny. Has there been a number of broken drum kits along the way given how ferociously you play and where does all of that energy come from?

Danny is a a world class drummer and a true performer, I’ve never seen someone so natural at their instrument. Ha, yes many sticks are broken in the process. When we recorded with Gil Norton, I remember there being comparisons with the power both Danny and Dave Grohl strike the drums with. I have to compete with this, so the energy and power on stage are one of the things we are most known for.

You are heading off on tour this October with shows in Manchester, Glasgow and London to name a few. What can fans expect for the upcoming ‘The Devil Keeps Coming Tour’?

Yes, we can’t wait. It will be some of the best performances we have ever done. Becoming two piece has meant we are able to play together so much more and their has been an added chemistry to our performances. We’ve asked the fans on the socials which songs they would most like to hear and we’re going to respect that as much as we can, changing it up a bit each show and at the same time showcasing never heard before music too.

With the announcement of the new single ‘Devil Keeps Coming’ which was released on August 26th, what can fans expect from the new track? Is there another music video on the way?

They should expect power, energy, great lyrics, great performance and overall amazing track! There will be a new video for it, that I hear is the most ambitious of them all, we’re wanting it to coincide with the tour. We’ve got a lyric video to go with it in the meantime.

Out of the three new tracks, ‘The Meds’, ‘You’re A Killer’ & ‘Devil Keeps Coming’, which track was the hardest to write and was there anything in particular that inspired the song?

All the songs are inspired with whatever I’m feeling at the time. They are all gritty and real, I don’t really know any other way to be honest. I would say that The Meds and You’re A Killer have been through the most changes, but they’ve all been pretty smoothly put together. Lyrically about disillusionment, mental illness and social commentary.

Listen to The Virginmarys on Spotify now:

For more info, check out The Virginmarys on Facebook & Instagram. We also reviewed ‘You’re A Killer’ by the band which you can find here. If you enjoyed this, check out more reviews from IAMUR here… You might just find your new favourite artist!

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