Broken Witt Rebels - The Interview - Winter 2019

Words by Martin Woodbridge 


I arrived at The Robin 2 in Bilston a little early, giving me the chance to watch BROKEN WITT REBELS warming up and complete their sound check. The guys had to work hard to get the on-stage mix correct for them without upsetting the mix for the main act REEF. Finally, they found a way to make it work. With the venue empty, the sound from the audience point of view was absolutely brilliant. Even Luke the bass player jumped off stage to stand in the middle of the floor to listen to the sound as the engineers worked their magic while he pounded the bass notes out.

We disappeared back stage with Danny Core, James Dudley and Luke Davis to their broom cupboard dressing room for an interview to get behind the sound of BROKEN WITT REBELS and what has been an amazing year in 2018 for this quartet from Birmingham.

MW – Welcome guys and thanks for giving Rock Today this opportunity for an interview before you go on stage tonight supporting the mighty REEF. What can you take from this experience of working with such an iconic band?

DC – They are a great band. We are learning an awful lot from them, like we do with most bands we play with. We learn a huge amount about how they go about their business after so many years and how they set up. They are a great bunch of guys. It has been a long tour with 28 dates. It is now coming to the end, which is a shame, as we have loved every minute.

MWIt’s a very different style of music to yourselves. How has your music gone down with the audiences?

JD – Fantastically well. REEF are cut from the rock world and we like to have one foot always cemented in the rock world. We do like to experiment with our music with the use of electronics, with the use of alternative textures, different sounds to give a different depth to what we are doing when we are busy producing new music. I think we are a great blend and the two bands complement each other very well. Seeing our fans out there in the audiences is a testament to that. It’s getting bigger and better every time we perform. We are getting better as a unit. The responsibility to perform and the pressure to be better than the last show is increasing all the time. We are having a wicked time and it has been a fantastic tour for both bands.

MWThe tour has covered every corner of the UK with some 28 dates in total.

JD – We have been all over the place with Reef. We have been to Amsterdam, all around Germany, Prague, Calais and back to London. We have been all round mainland Europe and the UK. So, this has been an amazing tour and a fantastic opportunity for us. 

MWSo what have been the standout shows on this tour?

DC – Oh WOW! There have been so many.

LD – Prague was a good show.

DC – Prague was great. It was the best in Europe for me and I think I speak for the rest of the band on that one. The UK Shows on nights two and three in London were amazing. There is something great about everywhere really. 

LD – Margate at Dreamlands was a great show. That was fantastic, the crowd were amazing.

JD – Falmouth were up for it. Cardiff was brilliant. We did our own show in a small place called Ayton in Scotland which was also amazing.  

DC – It is hard to pick just one. Without sitting on the fence, as JD has just mentioned it is hard to top the last show as that is the one that sticks in your mind. Sometimes we are on fire and we just love playing live.

MW – I would imagine you have picked up a lot of new fans from this tour?

JD – Yes, we certainly have. Big credit to Reef for bringing us on board for this tour. I think we have brought a lot to the table from our point of view. I think everyone has benefitted massively from the tour. 

MW – How do you survive such a demanding tour?

DC – Well as you can probably hear (clearing this throat) we have all picked up colds along the way, but you just have to fight on and persevere. Rest when and where you can. Take the chance to rest but go hard when you can go hard. 

MW – Well you are certainly known as a band that likes to go hard. Whenever you go on stage you give 110%.

DC – Absolutely. That’s what Broken Witt Rebels is all about. Going hard and giving the fans a good time. 

JD – There are always frustrations when on the road, but we respect each other enough to not let it get in the way. Some bands, you know if someone falls asleep, then the others like to do silly things and mess with them. We are not like that. We respect each other enough to know that if we want to deliver our best performance we let each other rest when needed. When you are on the road surviving is down to a mutual respect more than anything. 

MW – Then you are topping out the year with a one-off gig in Birmingham at the Actress and Bishop.

JD – Yep on 2 December. We are so looking forward to that. It’s a big thank you to the fans. It’s fan driven. It’s organised by a fan called Ashley and he approached us and asked if we would put on this show. We have worked hard with him to make it happen. Tickets have sold remarkably well and there are only a handful left. 

MW – Coming off this tour and doing that show just before Christmas will be a lovely way to finish 2018.

JD – Yes it wraps it up nicely. Wraps it up in a nice big bow and it is great idea from Ashley to make it happen. 

MW – And it will be your night, you can pick what you want, have the sound that you want and get everything perfect.

JD – It is going to be our day. It’s in our home town which is amazing. It’s almost within stumbling distance of where we live, and we can’t wait for it to happen.

DC – It will be great to celebrate the end of a fantastic year with our own fans and it is going to be packed out.

LD – It is going to be a brilliant way to end what has been a brilliant year for us.

MW – You started in 2015 so how did the band come together? Two of you are from Birmingham and the other two are from Coventry way.

DC – Well me and Luke have been together for years playing music. We then met JT and JD in their respective bands at the time and we liked them both. When the time was right we simply asked them to join up with us. We told them that they would be fools if they didn’t join up and here we are now (all laugh at the thought).

JD – And the rest as they say is history (more laughter).

MWSo how has the dynamic changed over the last three years?

JD – It hasn’t.

DC – It hasn’t changed at all. We admire each other and respect each other so much. We can all bring different qualities to the table and that is what we want.

MW – So let’s move onto the music. How do you best describe the Broken Witt Rebels sound?

JD – Just go and listen to it.

MW – I have got the album, so I know all about it.

JD – Well how would you describe it?

MW – It’s a unique sound. There is a little bit of blues, little bit of soul, a little bit of jazz all blended into a southern based solid rock sound. I think it is a brilliant album and love everything about it.

DC – Thanks mate. That is cool and glad you like it. 

JD – Well I would 100% agree with you, not that I am biased in the slightest (laughter). I think each person can take what they want from the album. There is a lot of deep cut lyrics in there, a lot of heart, a lot of emotion and a lot of soul. Our singer is phenomenal. He has a great set of lungs on him. My guide is the number of compliments we get after a show, that is a testament to the band itself. My advice is not to describe it but to go and listen to it and find your own truth in the music.  

MW – The debut album was released just over a year ago. If you look back in reflection now, how do you feel about the end result?

JD – It’s been a hugely exciting year. We don’t want to sit back on our hands and say job done. Whilst it is now time for reflection with Christmas coming up, we are firmly looking to the future. It’s been an amazing year, but we have also managed to go out and record album number two. Next our focus, whilst we won’t lose sight of album one, will be on pushing out album two soon.

DC – We haven’t got time to sit back and reflect because if you take your foot off the gas there will be another ten, if not a hundred bands out there waiting to take your crown. We want to continue to progress as a band. We want to push our music to the limit.

MW – So if you had to pick one track off that first album to take with you onto a desert island what would it be?

JD – Breathless.

DC – Shake Me Down as it is our oldest song and closes our set most nights.

LD – Guns. What about yours?

MW – For me it would be Breathless. It is a stunning track. The whole album is great from start to finish. 

JD – Well we all have different thoughts and feelings when we hear songs but that is great to hear that you like it so much. Cheers for that.

MW – Recently you spent some time recording album number 2 so what can we expect to hear from it compared to album one?

JD – You can expect to hear more.

MW – More of the same or more or something different?

DC – No we challenged ourselves, so much so that as a band and as human beings we want to evolve. We didn’t want to simply go and do an album one mark II. That would have been too easy. Nothing great will come out of sitting on your hands. For us it was a year of turmoil, a lot of personal things going on and we wanted to capture it all in the best way. We are all creatures of habit. We were on tour and we were in America. We experienced a lot of new things and listened to a lot of new music. It was an incredible experience and we wanted to capture all this in album two. We wanted it to be an evolution, but we seem to have finally found that sound we were always looking for. 

JD – It would have been very easy to use the same formula as album one and go down the blues rock world. Whilst that first album was good, and we respect it a lot, we can write those kinds of songs easily and we felt that they would be ten a penny. We wanted to stretch ourselves as song writers, as story tellers and as musicians. I feel that on the new album we have turned it up several notches and very proud of what we have done. 

MW – So when is the album released?

JD – We can’t put a date on it yet until everything else is in line.

LD – It doesn’t have one yet.

JD – The music is all done and dusted but that is only a small part of the puzzle. We wouldn’t want to put anything out without having everything else ready and sorted beforehand. All we can say is that it will be out some time next year and it will make 2019 a year to look forward to. 

MW – I can already see that 2019 is going to be another massive year where you will develop into one of the biggest and brightest bands out there.

LD – Thank you very much for that.  

JD – WOW. That is a fantastic compliment mate. We shall work hard to push on to the next level and we are in this for the long term.

MW – If you had to pick one memory from 2018 what would it be?

LD – I think it would have to be the making of album two.

DC – To think that four local Birmingham lads from the back grounds we have come from, have had the chance through our music to travel the world. That is something so fucking special. The to go and record an album in America is …… WOW! It didn’t have to be America, but it just felt right, it just happened that way. Doing that has to be the ultimate memory for me.

LD – To spend a whole month immersed in nothing but our brand-new music was a special experience. We spent four months producing ideas and demos. Then to go into the studio in America and for want of a better phase, "give birth to it" was phenomenal (everyone laughs). We spent a whole month there. We loved each other, we hated each other but we loved every single minute. It was hard work and I wouldn’t want to do it again.

MW – Until album number three comes along?

(everyone laughs loudly)

LD – Yes…. True…. I loved it really.

JD – People spend crazy amounts of money just to experience driving across America that we experienced let alone go into a studio to record an album. I would not have thought we would get the chance to do this when we toured the USA in 2017 supporting Whisky Myers. Then a year later we are back to record our own album. Amazing. Things happen for a reason so this was fate that it happened this way. It all seems a surreal experience. I had to pinch myself when we are back in Austen for the second time, so this is most definitely my highlight of 2018.

MW – So how did the debut album go down with the American audiences?

JD – Fantastically. They thought we were Australian (everyone laughs) in a lot of places. Can you believe that? We got "throw another shrimp on the barby mate". We kept telling them we are not Australian, but they wouldn’t listen. It became quite funny at times. 

DC – They react in slightly different ways to the UK crowds. They will happily cheer for absolutely everything, even when things go wrong. It’s mad but they were great. It is the same in Europe. Certain places react differently to different songs and it is great to see that. 

MW – So you will be going back to America next year to promote the new album?

DC – I don’t see why not. 

JD – Potentially.

MW – What other plans do you have for 2019? Will there be a headline tour?

LD – Absolutely. Everything is going to be based around the new album. It is going to be another very big year and it is all going to based around that body of new work. There will be the release, the tour, there will be a lot of promotion and a lot more stuff to do with all that. 

DC – We have done a lot of foot work in Europe already and we owe it to our fans to go and do a headline tour of Europe. 

JD – It would be fantastic to go back to Germany do our own headline tour there. 

DC – Yes. We would really love to crack Germany. We have done a lot of support slots and festivals over there. We have always gone down well with the crowds and they love their rock. So, if we can build a strong fan base there then that would be amazing.

JD – We have had some great experiences in Germany and Netherlands. It would also be lovely to go to France and make it all work out there. Yep in 2019 there will be some European tours.

MW – Well we shall have to try to catch you at some European gigs. 

DC – Absolutely. Keep your eyes open for dates in 2019.

LD – Yep it would be great to see some of our UK fans at the European gigs.

MW – So Christmas is here and now for some well-earned time off to recharge the batteries. So, an obvious question, what do you all want for Christmas?

JD – Rest and lots of it.

LD – You know as daft as it seems I don’t think any of us are getting anything for Christmas. I know I am not. I am skint, so I have told everyone don’t get me anything as you’re not getting anything from me. Not a sausage…not a bean…nothing!!

DC – That’s the life of a musician (everyone laughs).

LD – We are all looking forward to some time off but give it 2 weeks sat at home and we will all be climbing the walls. We will all be itching to get back at it again. 

JD – We shall have a lot of things to do and a lot of organising to sort out to prepare for 2019 and the new album so the rest will be short lived. It is going to get manic very quickly and we need to be prepared if we want to make it an even more successful year.

MW – Well guys that brings things to an end. Thanks for taking the time to talk to Rock Today and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We look forward to hearing the new album. 

DC – No problem mate. It’s been a great interview and really enjoyed it.

JD – Yes. Some good questions there and better than the usual "where you got your name" or "what your favourite band is".

LD – It has been a pleasure and have a great Christmas. We shall see you down the front later.

MW – Have a great gig tonight with Reef and we will look forward to catching up again with Broken Witt Rebels in 2019 on your headline tour. Cheers. 


Find out more about Broken Witt Rebels at www.brokenwittrebels.com and get a flavour of what the band is all about by checking out the video to their track Guns below.