Some of the more observant followers of local post-punk music, may have noticed that all things Danse Society have been a little unsettled in the last new months. The Danse Society as it was known, is no more, with Paul and Martin going their separate ways leaving Paul Nash and Maethelyiah still working under the Danse Society moniker with a new line-up.
While ‘the official’ Danse Society concentrate on recording their third album since their reformation, founder member Paul Gilmartin has formed a new version of Danse Society, briefly called heaven is Waiting, but now going by the name of Danse Society Reincarnated. They have got well underway playing gigs and demoing new material with their new vocalist Bri Shaughnessy, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In the run up to their forthcoming live date at The Polish Club, I caught up with Paul Gilmartin to find out a little more about his new band.
You and Martin left Danse Society earlier this year. Can you tell me why you decided to leave?
We left at the end of January. We’d just played a gig at The Fleets in Bristol, which went okay. I left because it wasn’t Danse Society anymore. I felt that Danse Society had become more about Maeth [vocalist Maethelyiah, who joined in 2011] and this cartoon gothic image. And despite that, I’d have been prepared to stay if only I were still enjoying it. I also felt that as the band was centered around her, I didn’t want to be controlled by someone who didn’t have the history. I didn’t feel like the Danse Society songs were being done justice.
The band had split into two factions – Maeth and Nash on one side and me, Martin and Dave on the other. We weren’t speaking much anyway and I just didn’t want to waste any more of my time in that situation, so I left.
Next thing you know, they had changed all of the passwords for the Danse Society social media accounts and has locked me out, claiming Danse Society for themselves. I didn’t think it would get as bitter as it did. Dave Whitaker left too, as he wasn’t happy either. he’s no longer officially in any band, but has played keyboards for Danse Society Reincarnated occasionally.
Were you hesitant at first about forming another band, or was it never a question?
I was straight in there. At out last gig in Bristol, I thought I could do a better job of representing those classic Danse Society songs. There was no hesitation. I wasn’t leaving to retire from Danse Society – just that band. About fifty percent of the setlist was the old, original Danse Society songs. I actually enjoyed the last two albums. I liked the songs, but it was too over-produced for me and it definitely wasn’t Danse Society.
Why the name Danse Society Reincarnated? I know you played around a with a couple of others.
It was originally a working title, but it stuck. You know, I don’t think I could’ve sold a new band to Bri as much as I could Danse Society. I sounds silly but says he’s always wanted to be in Danse Society.
What is the current line-up of Danse Society Reincarnated?
We have Bri from Seventh Son on vocals, Mal Spunkster from The X-Rippers on bass, Elliott Wheeler on guitar and myself on drums. Martin left just before our first show. Mal stepped in and stayed. Elliott is a great guitarist He has always been a Danse Society fan and has about 50 odd bootlegs of us. He can play anything from our back-catalog.
Dave Whittaker has occasionally stepped in to play keyboards for us, until we get a permanent player.
Was Bri the first vocalist you tried out?
Yes. I’d always got Bri in mind. You know when we reformed and Steve left again. I’d got him lined up but I didn’t think Paul might be interested. Anyway, Maith and it was forgotten.
But yes, Brian was my first choice. He’s a great bloke. The split had to happen for me to get with Bri. When we played London a few weeks back supporting Modern English, Bri said he had never played London and he couldn’t believe it was with me. Without getting sentimental, I felt like I had found a kindred spirit again and for me, walking round etc was just like being with Steve again. I bit weird but nice. Both in our mid-50s and both doing great.
On the band’s facebook page you often re-affirm the fact that it is a male-vocal led line-up. How do you think Brian’s voice is going to fare with the older Danse Society? He obviously have a rock/metal voice and image. How do you think those hardened, gothic Danse fans will take to it?
I believe it is was many want to hear. If they’ve put up with Maeth’s vocals for a few years, then I think they’ll be fine with Bri’s. And it’s closer to what we originally were as a band. Sometimes you hear the odd bit of David Coverdale in there but I like that. He’s got a fantastic voice and I’ve never known anybody that can work an audience he can. He’s not doing as much rock and metal nowadays too and he’s getting really into it.
You know, he loves Peter Hook as much as he does Saxon. And he can kick out a mean David Bowie song.
You are all writing and rehearsing new material together. Do you have plans to record an EP or record soon?
We had recorded quite a lot in Martin’s studio, but since he left he won’t release the files to us, which means we’ll have to record it all again. Which is fine really. We can improve on them. It also means we can have Dave Whitaker on keyboards, as he wasn’t on those recordings.
Tell me about some of the new songs? What can Danse Society fans expect?
They sound more like the original Danse Society. Very bass driven too. Bri is going to be great. He has a good way with words. One song, Jezebel is fantastic. It just came out of nothing.
Do you think it will be a hard to sell the idea of Danse Society Reincarnated to DS fans?
In a way, maybe. We have lost that interest presence since I left the other band. People aren’t that aware of what happened with the band or about this band. But saying that, we’ve been plugging away, playing gigs. Also, many fans over the last few years have said that they wanted a male vocal on the songs, and that’s what we’re bringing.
Is Brian writing with you?
Not yet, but he will. He’s more than welcome to but it depends on whether or not he wants to. But I hope that we will start writing together as a full band. It would benefit from it. Bri’s great with words and Mal’s an amazing bass player.
When are your next gigs?
We are playing Blackburn on Friday. It’s been 30-odd years since we played Blackburn’ St George’s Hall. It’s good. I’m really pleased. Then Keighley supporting Skeletal Family.
We are also playing The Polish Club in Barnsley with Servers and Lauren Tate on August 23rd.
We’re also part of 8Ball Booking now, with Vice Squad, Tim V’s Sham 69 and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Mike’s got us a couple of gigs lined up.
Keep up to date with new gig announcements from Danse Society Reincarnated by following this facebook page facebook.com/pages/Heaven-Is-Waiting/584019761705188 or get in touch with the band by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
To book Danse Society Reincarnated contact facebook.com/groups/dansesocietyreincarnated/