Countdown to Camden Rocks: The Virginmarys

Back in the UK following a US tour with Buckcherry, the Virginmarys are set to play their first UK show of 2014 at the Camden Rocks festival on May 31. We caught up with Ally Dickaty and Matt Rose to find out what we can expect...

Q. You’ve spent much of 2014 on tour in America: are you looking forward to getting out in front of a UK audience again at Camden Rocks?

Ally: “Yeah definitely, can’t wait. It’s going to be an amazing festival.”

Matt: “As ace as it is playing in America and to American crowds there’s no place like home!”

Q. You were crowned Best Breakthrough Act at the 2013 Classic Rock Awards: what advice could you pass on to younger bands at Camden Rocks who might hope to emulate your success?

Ally: “Believe in yourself. Music is a gift and can change people’s lives. Don’t compromise or dilute your message. Keep it real and be prepared to work hard.”

Matt: “Be prepared to work hard because it doesn’t come easy! Do what feels right to you and don’t be swayed by other people. As long as you’re true to yourself and the music and believe in what you’re doing, that’s the most important thing. Just get out there and play to as many people as you can in as many different places as you can. Whether that means driving 100 miles for £50 or nothing, it’s the only way to let people really know what you’re about.”

Q. What’s was The Virginmarys’ most memorable Camden gig?

Matt: “Probably the time we sold out the Barfly. I think it was our first sold out show in London and the crowd were amazing.”

Ally: “I’d say selling the Barfly out for the first time too. There was a great feeling in the room and it was a top show.”

Q. What’s your personal take on the state of guitar music in the UK right now? Has your decision to spend so much time in America been somewhat dictated by the musical climate at home?

Ally: “I don’t think anyone can argue that it is in a very bad state. There is not enough Rock n’ Roll music on the radio, which seems to fit in with the boredom and frustration that’s being felt everywhere. It’s like someone needs to shake everything up, so the industry can wake from a bad dream. Our decision to spend so much time in America is not to do with this though, we’re just making a name for ourselves over there. There will always be real heartfelt music about, it just makes it harder to find when much of the media push the bland shit that we’re currently flooded in.”

Matt: “There seems to be a steady rise in guitar music in the UK, but it depends on how you define ‘guitar music’. I mean, there’s always guitars being used in music that’s topping the charts but if you mean rock-based guitar music then I think that the UK scene for that is pretty shoddy. I read in the paper the other day that rock music was on the rise in the UK which got my attention. I then read that it was on the rise because Bastille were top of the charts and that’s what was classed as ‘rock’. So I mean, if that’s what ‘rock’ is now to UK audiences then I’m very disappointed and it’s a pretty sorry state. But hey, that’s my opinion. There’s clearly some good rock music out there, just look at the line-up for the festival!”

Q. What bands on the Camden Rocks bill will you hope to see at the festival?

Ally: “Reverend And The Makers, Vox Empire and Ginger Wildheart. But I’m looking forward to checking out a lot of bands I haven’t heard.”

Matt: “It’ll be great to see Reverend and the Makers again. They always put on an ace show and are great guys. I reckon it’ll be great to see Ginger doing his stuff. I got the chance to meet the Graveltones recently and they were ace guys doing good stuff so will be cool to see them and also Vox Empire who supported us recently on our last tour.”

Q. Using just 5 words, describe The Virginmarys’ current mind-set?

Matt: “Work. Play. Work. Play. Work.”

Ally: “Urgent. Manic. Ready. Honest. Sincere.”

Q. When can we expect a follow-up to King of Conflict? Might we hear some new songs debuted at Camden Rocks?

Ally: “We’ve been writing and recording the best stuff we’ve ever done recently: it’s really exciting.Hopefully we can have the album finished this year, there’s no shortage on material. We’re looking forward to playing some new stuff at Camden Rocks.”

Matt: “Before we headed to the States we demoed about 19 new tracks so we’re getting stuff ready. Maybe towards the end of the year we may try and get into the studio to start recording and maybe get something out by the start of next year? But hey, who knows!”

Q. Any final message for the 8,000 people attending Camden Rocks?

Matt: “Have a goodun!”

Ally: “See you there! Make sure you get down to our show!”

Tickets for Camden Rocks, priced at £25 for over 200 bands, are out now. Purchase tickets and check out the rest of the line-up, which includes Ginger Wildheart, The Subways, The Blackout, Orange Goblin, Hacktivisit, Baby Godzilla, Sonic Boom Six and more, at the official website.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.