Gig Scene talks to Darwin Deez

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By Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers

I thought I’d throw young Darwin Deez the sort of curve ball which this most quirky of lo-fi indie stars, in his own way, regularly unsettles his fans with.

“Would you rather change the world or change your hair,” I ask the man once described as a “dancing llama” on the eve of his band’s performance as ome of the headliners at this Bank Holiday Saturday’s all-day Live at Leeds event.

The native New Yorker, famed for his khaki dress, ancient Greek hairstyle and string headband, replies thus: “My haircut is meaningless and I should give it to a hobo. The world is worth changing. Less cold bald hobos would be a good start.”

The boyish Darwin is certainly in demand. As well as Leeds, he’s also one one of the main acts for this July’s Deer Shed Festival in North Yorkshire alongside Edwyn Collins, King Creosote and Gaz Coombes.

Kooky was a word, unsurprisingly, much attached to Darwin Deez, the band Darwin formed in 2009 with co-founder member Michelle Dorrance (aka Mash Deez) and five others, (now all named Deez, too) when they released their self-titled debut album in 2010.

But their recently-released second album, Songs for Imaginative People, shows a wider range of sounds making it even harder than ever for fans to predict what to expect when the bandplay Leeds Met ‘The Stage’ venue on Saturday night at 10pm.

Darwin said: “Most people in the USA have not heard of Leeds but we’ve been to Leeds loads.

“I respect and appreciate and utilize formulas in my art making. Patterns are what’s up. There is freedom and there is form. Both are relevant to creating art.”

The annual Live at Leeds event is well know for its eclecticism.

This weekend’s mammoth line-up across 15 venues ranges from Rudimental to The Walkmen, Savages to The Staves.

But why is every member of your band called ‘Deez’ I ask with some trepidation?

Darwin replies: “Michelle and I decided a while ago that ‘Deez’ is like comrade. Everyone is included in this heightened brotherhood. Well, everyone that Michelle and I choose to include.”

For Live at Leeds all-day wristbands, visit

Sad to hear that John Davey has played his last gig with one of the district’s best bands (well, the whole country really), The Birdman Rallies.

The ‘farewell’ happened at the Blues Bar in Harrogate, naturally.

Davey, a talented singer-songwriter in his own right played bass in this most inventive of groups.

Fortunately, Birdman Rallies are expected to carry on under the guidance of leader Danny Webster.

A band I really like, Harrogate indie rock group The Four 45s have also split up, though they’ve always been a bit on-off.

I liked the band because they were such a disparate bunch of personalities with wildly different musical influences.

Which I suppose may have been part of the problem, too.

Finally, Harrogate Jazz Club seems to have gone into hibernation, as have Sunday nights at The Mitre in Knaresborough, though Royalty 3 are playing there this Sunday!