Most music fans will have at least one artist where they feel it is a mystery that they haven’t achieved world wide fame and acclaim. This is particularly true when ‘talent’ shows see such formulated and mediocre acts getting record deals and huge publicity. I am sure that many of Josh Doyle’s loyal fans feel he should be a huge star. True, he has experienced some great success in his former band, but given his quality as a songwriter and performer he is surely deserving of some more recognition. We got the opportunity to interview Josh and discover more about the highs and lows of being a musician:
Ok, let’s get the Dumdums Questions out of the way first! I guess the first one should be, are you sick of people like me still referring to that band or are you proud of what you achieved with them?
Haha that depends on the day lol. We could have achieved so much more, I think we had at least another great album in us so there’s a little regret there how we kind of imploded. I am happy for all that we achieved and all the great things we were able to do, absolutely. Not a lot of people get to have those experiences and get to live the dream in their lives so I feel very fortunate.
My fan base have really developed with me over the years too so I don’t find things like people only going crazy over the old dumdums songs – that could get annoying if all that people wanted to hear was DDs stuff, but no I feel proud of that and wish Dumdums were held in higher regard really because for having one proper album we had a lot more awesome songs than most bands of that era.
I remember dragging my somewhat sceptical wife and brother to see the band play at the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury and they both came away as fans. Do you think many people were surprised how good a band you really were?
Our agent was representing Papa Roach at the same time as us and he said to me that he thought Dumdums were as heavy as them if not heavier live! I sort of think it’s the same thing as now, my solo album is good but I feel like I can personalise the songs and bring them to life in a live environment and really connect with the audience when I play those songs live.
There was a lot of scepticism around though, rightly so, because of the way we were marketed. We were young decent looking guys dressed like the clash and the jam but the music of the day was boybands and crap pop and their stylists got them dressing like the clash and the jam so we looked like one of them lol. We were all proper musicians though, all of us had been in bands since we were 15,16 and all of us are still playing music professionally one way or another so that should tell you something.
Hopefully you won’t take offence at this, but I always thought that you led the way for bands like Busted and McFly! Do you sometimes wished you had pushed the pop market more than the indie one?
Well yeah it’s something of a weird pop legacy to leave behind, that curious time in music ha. And now it’s coming back McBusted! It’s not even a theory that we led the way for Busted and McFly, I had dinner with their A&R guy once and he explained their strategy. He saw that Dumdums had something that could be huge in the pop world if a manufactured version was created, it was like the next step in evolution from a boyband, a boyband jumping up and down with guitars!
We had turned down the Smash Hits! Tour which probably would have made us huge but also would have made us definitely pop, we also turned down Eurovision. Busted and McFly got in there and did all the stuff we didn’t want to do because we just didn’t want to be that band, that’s not the stuff we were into, we were into the Police, Foo Fighters, The Jam. Then they all got huge and we disappeared! I don’t regret that but I do regret not being able to get my head straight in the years that followed.
Ok, moving things along, tell us how you ended up in moving to Nashville?
I just wanted to move to America at some point in my life and my wife is American, family was all over here too so I thought we could move to Nashville and I could grow old writing songs for other people. In the end I just kept writing stuff for myself but eventually it has started to build a good audience of people who care
You’ve been through a few musical ups and downs but you did win a big music award in the states, tell us about that experience?
Yeah you don’t see many out there with the career I’ve had (for lack of a better word lol). Rags to riches to rags to riches I think that’s where I’m at right now – actually I’m probably back at rags again ha. It’s alright for me but my wife would prefer the stability of me just having a 9 to 5 steady job than so many peaks and valleys.
I won the first national USA Guitar Center Singer Songwriter competition. I was at that point waiting tables and doing music part-time and it was huge because it led to me getting a management deal and record deal and everything and I was able to give up the day job and do music again for the first time in years.
Did things not really take off as you hoped after that?
Well I wouldn’t put it that way, I always see things bigger picture as I am gradually developing my career and building a fanbase slowly but surely. I don’t know if it’s truly better to get huge because then you fall off pretty quickly most of the time. I would rather have a career and longevity.
I definitely think it didn’t take off as quickly as my management hoped it would though, they invested a lot in me and there was just a failure on different levels of the business to recognise the potential of my stuff, and just some unfortunate timing and things that didn’t happen and things we spent too much money on that could have been spent other ways.
One problem I have is rather than me being one thing, I prefer to be a lot of things, in a way Robbie Williams or David Bowie are, and you need big major label marketing money to break that stuff big, we were operating as an independent label and even with biz muscle and contacts, the majors still have everything sown up, the touring, radio, everything.
On your recent UK tour, you make reference to working in a coffee shop, is that really true?
No not a coffee shop, a “casual fine-dining” Italian restaurant. I thought I was done with it when I got the record deal etc, and maybe if I didn’t have a family I could have scraped by without going back to the job but I have to have money coming in with a wife and two kids to support so I have been picking up shifts between booking tours. It’s full on.
Speaking of the tour, I went to your brilliant Birmingham gig, and what was really apparent was how much genuine love and affection there was for you. Did the reaction on the tour surprise you?
No – I have the greatest fans ever. Anyone who has ever liked my music hasn’t liked it because there was a big marketing machine forcing them to like it. Dumdums were actually on an indie label and my solo stuff all independent and grown through people discovering me for themselves. I’ve never been hailed as the saviour of music by drowned in sound or pitchfork, so what that gives you are genuine fans who aren’t hipsters that move on to the next thing just as soon as teenyboppers fall out of love with their Justin Biebers. If you’re looking for the real music lovers its these folks.
You appeared so comfortable on stage, delivering some great banter and stories, are you really that confident?Yeah pretty much – I’ve had dark times as well when I wasn’t so jovial and you hear that in my lyrics, but I tend to sing this meaningful stuff and then act like I’m on crack in between songs.
How was it managing everything yourself and dragging your own gear from town to town?
It just took/takes a lot of preparation – I am currently sorting out my next UK tour and a USA tour at the same time plus looking after my kids and then I’ll work day job later. That’s a harder life than dragging all my gear around the UK. Except for the underground, that was not fun.
It was great to see a stripped back show, just full of great songs. You kind of reminded me of a British Butch Walker, have you heard of him and, if so, is that a fair comparison?
That’s a great comparison, because he should be bigger than he is as well!! He came out of the same world as me as well, his Dumdums was Marvellous 3 and he has proven to have legs as a solo artist. Thanks for the compliment btw, I work hard on those damn songs.
How do you see the music business these days? Do you think things like organising your own tour and fan sponsored albums are the future? Or are you still looking for that major label dream?
A few years ago the music business had a point where it seemed like people could achieve the dream as independent artists with Youtube and itunes etc, but the majors have sown it all up again I fear. If I could just make a middle class living doing only music I would be happy. It seems a shame to me that you have a million bankers or office workers or factory managers contributing nothing hugely earth shattering to the culture and humanity but making great money and live comfortable lives. Then on the other hand you have people making great art and beautiful music that affect people’s hearts and lives and give a reason to keep living but they can’t pay rent or provide for their families without selling themselves to “the man”. I did my own kickstarter thing a while back but there was part of me that felt guilty for asking so much of the fans.
To answer the last part of your question, yeah I am back to a place where I feel comfortable looking for a major label (or even an indie label is a step up from being independent) deal. I still haven’t had the big push and a big tour support and all of those things that fall into place to make a band/artist successful and I am writing my best ever stuff right now so I don’t see why not?
You’re heading back to the UK soon, what are the plans then?
Well I sold out my last UK DIY tour and I got the Isle Of Wight Festival booked when I was over there which was a big deal, so I decided to book a tour round it, playing bigger venues with extra musicians, put on more of a show. It was decidedly risky since I had just been in the country a couple months before but fingers crossed it will all work out
What about future plans? There has been talk of ‘a band’, is this just for the tour or is there likely to be a band release?
When I get back to Nashville after the UK tour in July I will be working on the new band. Its completely different to what I’m doing now, as different as Dumdums was to my solo career. In August and September I will be back out doing a DIY tour of the USA solo acoustic again, so I will have two things on the go, this new band and the solo thing. Who knows what I’ll come back to England as next??
As this interview shows, Josh remains a passionate and committed musician who is prepared to work hard to promote his art. Anyone who attended his recent solo tour will be able to vouch for both his musical skills and his ability to put on a really entertaining show. Tickets for his shows are quickly picked up by his loyal fans but if you are able to grab one for his imminent visit then make sure you do…. you won’t be disappointed!!