Interview: The Dunwells


Tons of energy. Supposedly what to expect when young band the Dunwells come to Lancaster uni on Wednesday, week 5 according to lead singer and guitarist Joe Dunwell. Hailing from Leeds, their sound is delicate pop rock, perhaps akin to Coldplay, The Script or The Fray. But it is not difficult to believe Joe when he hypes up the band’s energy and youthful exuberance.

Having spent a lot of time stateside, supporting Mumford & Sons, performing at South by Southwest and appearing on the Jay Leno show, 2015 could (and should) be the year that this Yorkshire quartet establish themselves in the UK. Their upcoming tour (including the aforementioned date in County Bar) is in support of their recent Show Me Emotion EP, and currently anticipated sophomore LP. I spoke to Joe over the phone just before rehearsals to find out more.

Obviously your tour is starting soon, are you looking forward to it all?

Yes! We can’t wait actually. We’ve got loads of new material in the set and it’s the start of a new year, first tour of the year. Lots of things are planned for this year and this tour is the start of the set-up to it all. It’s really great.

You have a date at Lancaster University – what can people expect from you when you perform?

Tons of energy, like I said it’s the first tour of the year, we’re all mega excited for it. So there’ll be tons of energy, loads of big songs, just trying to get the crowd involved as much as possible really.

For those who are interested in coming, but not yet aware of you, how would you describe your sound?

I’d say it is like… acoustic-rock? Pop music? It’s hard to bracket yourselves sometimes. They’re pop songs, but done in a band format really.

Who are your biggest influences musically?

Coldplay and Elbow – we’re big fans.

Is there anyone you’d love to work with, past or present?

I’d love to work with…..I’d love to work with Guy Garvey from Elbow.

Can you see yourself achieving this in the future?

I hope so, I’d love to work with him because his lyrics are just, you know? He’s one of the best lyricists out there. For me personally.

What’s been your biggest moment to date so far?

We’ve spent a lot of time in America. We played the Jay Leno show, that was amazing. We’ve done some amazing festivals. Being a new band, everything’s really exciting. Just the fact that we’re going on tour again is mega exciting.

Your new album is hopefully on the horizon this year, what can we expect from it?

A very different album from the first album. It’s basically the album that we wanted to do exactly. We spent a lot of time working these songs out, we had them in our jacket for about…nearly a year now, and we’re ready to show the world them now.

Will any songs from your Show Me Emotion EP be on the album?

I think ‘Show Me Emotion’ will be on there. I think ‘Communicate’ will also. ‘Communicate’is getting so many hits on Spotify at the moment it’s unreal. Nearly five hundred thousand hits you know since it’s been put up in September. It’s crazy.

Did you not expect that, considering ‘Show Me Emotion’ was the lead song?

I didn’t expect that at all. It’s one of the favourite songs that I’ve ever written personally. So I knew it was a good song, but I didn’t realise it. I thought ‘Show Me Emotion’ would get the more instant reaction, but you take what you get really.

With everything being available online these days, anything could be a hit really.

Yeah absolutely!

Has there been any difficult moments on tour in your early years?

Not on tour, we actually do really well on tour. It’s when we come off of tour when we kind of go…we start asking questions about where’s the band going?’ and what we’re doing. The excitement of being on tour is doing it all and all the fans are loving it and we’re loving it. We’re stuck in the back of a van, we’ve got a football we always carry around so we kick that about. Then when we come off tour, we don’t really talk for a week! We just settle down and get back with our families so that’s when we start going ‘Hmmm, what’s going on here!?’.

Without attempting to sound like an X Factor judge, where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hmmm, where do I see myself in 10 years? I see myself… still in this band. Playing big massive stages up and down the country and all around the world. I think you have to aim high in this game. I think I’ve had the same goal since day one of the band. I don’t think it’s ever left me really.

Perhaps playing stadiums and festivals?

Yeah, stadiums all around the world. With albums seven eight nine and ten. You know I just want to keep creating and I always want to keep creating in this band really.

Obviously you are still trying to establish yourself, what tips would you give to smaller bands in similar situations?

I would say… play at any opportunity. When we first started, to get people to our shows we would busk outside the venue we were playing at that night. And then 3 people would turn up and those 3 people would tell other people. We’ve kind of built our fanbase up fan by fan, person by person. It’s worked really well to have the confidence to stand and play in front of people we don’t know.

What was the moment when you stopped being a ‘busking band’ and became a ‘professional band’, with hundreds of thousands of hits on Spotify?

I think it’s only literally just happened. I think it was first after the release of ‘Show Me Emotion’, it got a great reaction and the video got a great reaction on YouTube. People started showing up for the shows and singing the new songs back to us. I kind of realised then that whenever we put something out we’re always going to have a fanbase. We’ve worked hard to get that fanbase. That was my realisation, after the September tour.

Finally, who’s the biggest diva, you or your brother [co-vocalist and guitarist David]?

Probably me. Yeah I’m a bit of a pain, a bit of a perfectionist. Yeah it’s probably me haha.

Well we won’t hold perfectionism against you. Thank you very much for your time, I’ll let you get back to rehearsing.

Thank you very much, will you be making it to the show?

Of course, I live next door to the venue so I’m eager!

Well I look forward to seeing you there!

The Dunwells will be performing at Live at the Oak in County Bar on Wednesday, week 5. The evening starts about 7:30 and entry is free.

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