DETER, Glaswegian post-hardcore band, are in the midst of their rise ahead of their forthcoming new single ‘Sick & Tired’. Lead vocalist, Jamie Logan, provided me with the opportunity to sit down with him over Zoom and discuss the single, lockdown and DETER‘s future.
Pre-save ‘Sick & Tired’ here: DETER – Sick & Tired (Pre-Save)
“Doing this has quite literally given me a voice I didn’t have before.”Jamie Logan
I hold a lot of respect for Jamie in terms of who he is as a person, what he advocates for and everything he represents. He is, both, one of my closest friends and an inspiration to me.
How are you feeling now that lockdown is ending?
Better because there’s an actual prospect of doing things and you’re not just stuck with all the bad negative clutter. It’s like dusting a house after a year of letting it get dusty. We’ve already got a couple of gigs booked for later this year which we will announce when it’s time to and actually had time to reflect on everything so we’re building the way we want to build. It was a good time for reflection and we’ve got plans going into the next year already. We have the next 8-10 months of what we’re doing mapped out pretty much.
What can you tell me about ‘Sick & Tired’?
Similar to the last single, it touches on mental illness but instead of it being an introspective song (like ‘Underneath’ was) it’s looking at it from a different perspective: it’s watching someone you care about suffer from their mental illness and it’s almost personifying depression. It’s like a conversation with the embodiment of depression.
We wrote it about 2 weeks before we were going to record because we needed another song and we had 2 weeks to write another song. We just kinda put it together and it turned out way better than we thought it would have.
Where does the song come from? (if you don’t mind me asking)
I’m very open about what I write about. I’m very vocal about everything because everything I say and everything I sing I believe in- in some form or another. Obviously our songs are very mental health centric as it’s something that’s impacted my life greatly, whether it be me or the people around me.
In terms of the lyrics of ‘Sick & Tired‘: I looked back when I grew up and realised that, as a kid, I didn’t understand the severity of things like watching my mum take medication for depression or watching my brothers grieve when my mum’s father passed away. It was derived from that. Just looking back on that and thinking, “wow depression is an illness that’s taken so much from my life and me as it’s changed the people I love and it’s changed me a lot”. I know there’s more of a conversation around it than there was 5/10 years ago but there’s still a long way to go and we need to keep talking about it so my way of doing that is doing the only thing I know how to express myself with (which is music).
You could throw a million metaphors in there but it’s never going to portray the honesty and the bare bones condition of it. It’s a sickness with no cure.
That’s what I loved about ‘Underneath’, the fact that it was a very honest song.
I think ‘Underneath‘ is the most honest song that I’ve ever written. It was very weird because I had to sit there and show my gran and her husband the song on the release day. Just sitting in the same room as them while they listen is something that I notoriously hate like, when my aunt and uncle put our songs on the alexa I boost upstairs. I’m not embarrassed thinking it’s bad but I’m embarrassed because it’s such an intimate part of me. You kinda have a safety bubble around you when it comes to family and some friends but when your music is the deepest, darkest section of your being, that bubble is gone.
How do you feel about portraying such a vulnerability and openness about your experiences to the world?
Its terrifying. For a long time, I was playing gigs and stuff and it was very difficult to make eye contact with people while I’m singing certain worlds. Like, I’m here singing songs about wanting to be dead and they must be thinking “what the fuck, why does he look so happy while he’s doing this?”. It’s scary, letting your guard down isn’t easy and it’s not supposed to be easy. I don’t mind being perceived as vulnerable in those situations because when we are going through those experiences, we are vulnerable whether pride allows us to admit it or not. That’s just normal. It’s not a weakness but it’s definitely vulnerability and I think particularly the men in society could do way more to show that side of them because that’s how you beak the stigma, that’s how you open up the conversations to then make things more inclusive and rehabilitative.
How do you feel about the response to ‘Underneath’?
It’s insane. Before we put ‘Underneath‘ out, we had about maybe 70-90 monthly listeners and now we’re at 1,800+. Says it all really…. The attention to detail we put into everything; all the teasers, the email campaigns, the general aesthetic of the visuals, how hard we’ve all pushed it, the merch drop. The merch drop we did for this was the first time we’ve actually done anything in house because Jonny did that design himself, we ran a pre-sale (which we’ve never done before) which covered the costs of the merch.
It seems like you’re going full throttle with these new releases, have you changed how you do things as a band?
It’s different in regard to the first album, which is not really anywhere now because we took it all down (except for BandCamp- we only kept it on there as a commodity because there is a small fraction of people who do still enjoy that and were quite vocal about that).
Ultimately, we wanted to rebrand after it because it wasn’t an accurate representation of who we are as a band or individuals. We wrote the songs about 3 years ago so they’re old to us. We kinda just recorded an album and didn’t drop songs but put it out as the body of work. It was a learning curve, we were learning as we went. Now we know how to prepare a release & how to market a release: we’re sending teasers out, we have a website, email campaign, running ads and constantly promoting on our social media.
As we move forward we’re doing more and more things in house. Me and Dylan are learning to use video editors, I’m doing photography and pushing it to a level where we can do a lot of our own visuals, Jonny’s been grinding the design learning, Dylan enjoys recording and is learning production & the person who is playing drums for us now is a production student. As we evolve, we’re putting more responsibility onto ourselves so we’ve got more control and so we can prepare things more adequately. More often than not, when you’re paying someone, you’re getting a good service but they’re never going to be as invested in what you’re doing as you are because it’s like your kid.
What drives you and this dedication?
About a year ago, we probably came super close to breaking up about 3 times with old members. It was a very disruptive messy environment for us personally and professionally. There was a lot of clashing and a lot of arguments. Coming out of the other side of that with Dylan being in the band now, Sean still being in the band and Jonny being more involved than he was prior- we were all just like: this is what we want to do. It might not be a full time job ever but if it can be a big part of our lives, regardless of that, then it’s important. We’re not trying to cater to other people before we cater to ourselves. It’s a direct extension of us as individuals and creatives as a massive part of our personalities. When I talk about myself, the first thing I say is, “I am in a band”. It was created from a college practice room and a spur of the moment decision. Just knowing it came from nothing & how far it’s came since then is a huge part of it. You don’t want to give something up that you’ve put so much time and energy into. The band has grown just as much as we have in only 3 years, so imagine 10 years down the line. We could be literally anywhere in 10 years.
What are your hopes and dreams?
I have a million but, to simplify it, we just want to be able to tour regularly, record the music we want to and just to keep creating…like that’s the main thing. Hopefully other people will enjoy what we make and do, if they don’t then that’s fine as long as we enjoy it. So just to keep enjoying it because if it stops being fun that’s when it stops, when it becomes a task & a chore with no enjoyment in it that’s the only thing. We want to tour a lot because we’ve never toured in 3 years. To be able to go to places that we’re not from and for people there to be interested in what we’re doing enough for them to come see us at a gig or buy a T-shirt. We’re partially living that now by getting streams all over the world and having people in the US reviewing our music or randomly getting someone from Germany mentioning us in an Instagram story.
I had someone who I’ve been a fan of for 6 years of my life hit me us asking if we ship our T-shirts to the US. That’s mental! For someone who I wanted to be like when I was about 16/17 years old to ask to buy our merch is part of the dream really. Being respected enough by your peers to know that you’re doing something right is huge.
What is your writing process?
I’ve got a notepad and the app on my phone. I’m always writing but I don’t force myself to write. It can be a lyric, phase or word. Sometimes I’ll be watching a movie or reading a book or poem and I’ll just take influence. Or someone in my life will tell me a story. A lot of what we’re writing now are stuff has happened to me but also to people I care about or have cared about. We’re starting to delve into darker territory with the themes and concepts. What I’ve written about before was about relationships falling apart and aspects of mental health but I’ve never written about specific scenarios and things that have happened to people I care about. I don’t write lyrics when I’m happy and enjoying life. The ideas come from when something is overwhelming and needs to be put into an outlet.
Does that help?
Yeah, I’ve said this for so long. Doing this has quite literally given me a voice I didn’t have before. I was just in my own bubble for a long time and this gave me a platform. It quite literally lets me vocalise my thoughts and feelings so, yeah, it helps a lot. It’s like free therapy.
What can you tell me about your future releases beyond ‘Sick & Tired’?
Our manager Matt has been like, “listen guys, you need to start looking at announcing this now” so this can be like the unofficial/official announcement of our EP ‘A Life Without Colour’.
To start off, our song ‘Iniquity’ drew on the themes of everything becoming bleak and hopeless with a lot of metaphors about things losing their colour. This then carried over to ‘Underneath’ with the lyrics being “I’m sick of seeing black and white when everything feels grey”, like, nothing is black and white because everything’s just a grey numbing feeling. You can see it in the artwork of ‘Iniquity’, our designer Abbie did a really great job of depicting that perfectly by having the colour drain out of the scenery. We actually do a lot of subtle references to things that no one (other than us) notices. The video for ‘Underneath’ is deliberately black and white to match the tones and emotions- in our brains that’s what it looks like to us. ‘Sick & Tired’ follows similar themes because there’s a lyric in there that goes “lethargy is rife inside as colour fades before my eyes”. Again, there’s metaphors about everything losing colour and not everything just looking like a coloured movie because it doesn’t as we don’t live in a fantasy land where everything’s bright.
The next song in the EP that will drop after that is, again, bleak and about mental health. It doesn’t make metaphors about colour but it’s there deliberately. Every song on ‘A Life Without Colour‘ continues to build on the narrative. We wrote those songs over the space of a year but they’re all very relevant to the vision that we’re trying to paint & we’re already tying together the next EP or album.