Whatever kind of guitar music you like, Macclesfield rockers The Virginmarys have properly crept up at a show or festival you’ve been at somwhere along the line. The three-piece embrace their crossover genre appeal and their latest record ‘Divides’ has ensured that they are going places in all kinds of corners of the world. We had a chat with guitarist and singer Ally Dickaty about their new record, the state of country and what the rest of the year has in store for them.
DP!: ‘Divides’ has been out long enough for it to really sink in with your fans now. What’s the reaction been like?
Ally: Its been amazing and keeps intensifying, I think the album has many layers to it and seems to be growing on fans with each listen.
It’s a different record to ‘King Of Conflict’ and not exactly what all our fans were expecting but there is still the same essence, urgency and spirit running through it. I would say this is a heavier album in many ways.
DP!: How was it working with Gil Norton on the record? His track record speaks for itself, was this important when choosing how you recorded ‘Divides’?
Ally: For me personally it was really special, I’d wanted to work with Gil since hearing the Colour And The Shape when I was a kid so a bit of a dream come true. He is amazing at producing rock records, making them sound great, full of power and clarity. I think with Matt and Danny’s musicianship especially it’s so good to hear everything that’s being played.
DP!: Your new video for ‘Motherless Land’ tells a tale of a couple escaping a society they’ve had enough of, what made you choose this for the song? How relevant is it to the UK now, after the referendum result?
Ally: That’s pretty much what the song is about. 2016 is a very tough and confusing time for the majority and it feels we’re moving further and further away from nature and our natural state of being. It’s no surprise to me that depression and suicide are continually on the increase. We don’t seem to be nurturing our souls and it makes perfect sense to me why people would want to escape into the wild. In the past 5 years the divides felt in the UK have been continually growing and it hasn’t surprised me something like this has happened. I really wish that it hadn’t but this is where we are. People are looking for something or someone to be held responsible for what’s going on and rather than blame the government, they’ve blamed the EU. We have never been so Divided as we are right now after the referendum. I just hope the love and compassion will eventually prevail through all of this and we be more politically engaged as a nation.
DP!: You’ve toured with bands like The View and Feeder, yet played Stone Free festival wih Therapy? lately and toured with Slash – Why do you think your music crosses over into different genres of music?
Ally: Because we listen to loads of different music and have never felt the need to be confined in one genre. Admittedly it’s been a brave move when rock has felt like a dirty word in the mainstream but it comes from the heart and we’d rather it this way than write something that fits in to what’s trending at the time.
DP!: If you could pick any legendary band to tour with that you haven’t already, who would you pick?
Ally: I’d love to tour with The Who, I think our music is reminiscent of the energy of The Who. I’d also like to tour with the Pixies, I think that would make an incredible gig and tour.
DP!: The rest of 2016 is looking pretty hot for The Virginmarys – a quick US tour with Crobot before a huge main stage slot at Reading and Leeds. Is this turning out to be the best year for the band so far? How do the Americans appreciate the British rock n’ roll?
Ally: I think having just released the album to great reviews, touring both UK, US and hopefully Europe and main stage at Reading and Leeds it definitely has to be up there as the best year so far. We have worked really hard for everything we’ve achieved though, I don’t think anyone can honestly say we’ve had it easy. It takes a huge amount of work, love and belief. We’ve found that we’ve picked up some of our most hard core fans in the US, we love touring there. At the end of the day though good music is good music no matter where it comes from.
Interview by Mike Heath (@MikeBeef)