The six members of the band Adult DVD
Credit: Adult DVD

IN CONVERSATION: Adult DVD at Left of the Dial, Rotterdam

Adult DVD was originally formed out of lockdown boredom. Friends Harry Hanson (lead vocalist) and Greg Lonsdale (synths and vocals) experimented with synths and wrote over the internet together. As their musical ideas developed, they were joined by Jonathan Newell (drummer), Danny Blackburn (guitarist and synths), Jake Williams (synths) and George Manson (bassist) – and Adult DVD was borne. The Leeds six-piece were playing at the festival in Rotterdam and I sat down with all six for a very entertaining conversation.

Adult DVD these are your first dates outside of the UK.  Was it a pain to organise, especially considering Brexit?
We did research into it, well Jake did the most research into it, because we didn’t know anything about it.  I think for bands that are a lot bigger Brexit has affected them more because they are like a small business.  But for us it’s basically like we’re going on holiday so it’s not like we’re making enough to declare.  And if you’re travelling with your instruments in the van with you then its much easier.  If they’re flown over then I think it’s a lot more complicated.

So how has Left of the Dial been for Adult DVD so far?
They are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. And they really look after us and we’ve not bought single drink since we’ve been here.  We played Centraal last night and we didn’t expect it to be as busy as it was.  Freaked me out a bit.  Amazing to see people turn up in a different country, and people were singing. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.  We’re an actual band now!  This whole thing felt like being a proper band, and the way you are treated as well.  The hotels booked and you just turn up and they said “Are you one of the bands?” and we said “Yeah we are!”.

I’ve heard that the bands are so well looked after here, particularly from the UK bands. They just couldn’t believe it.
The standard is so high. Its outrageous. Very different from being paid £50 to travel down to London, find your own accommodation, no rider, and given four cans of beer between six people!

You’ve got a new single coming out on 3 November ‘Yacht Money‘. Can you share a little about it?  
What we did with ‘Bill Murray’ we started writing the lyrics all together.  Everything before that was done between me and Greg, with others adding bits in.   But with ‘Bill Murray’ we all sat down and wrote it altogether. And then we’ve done it again with this.  I can’t really remember how it first came about the idea of a yacht. I’ve always wanted a yacht.  Humble dreams!  You know, living the high life and building a yacht and then actually sailing it.  It’s not very serious!  We’ve definitely started embracing absurdity a little bit more in lyrics.  Because that’s how we are as people as well.  Just daft!  We’re not serious so for us to sing “woe is me” it’s not us.

You wrote ‘Bill Murray’ altogether?
We wrote it on the group chat, with each one coming up with a line about a Bill Murray or Tom Hanks film.  And with ‘Yacht Money‘ we were all sat together.  This and the next track which will be coming out later, we all sat down and wrote it as like a collective. I think that’s how we’re going to start doing stuff moving forward, because it’s really sort of worked for us.

You released the four-track EP Fountain of Youth in May and have the new single out on Friday.  Are you working towards anything else music-wise?
We’re just kind of cracking on and writing new stuff.  We don’t really know what the end product is going to be.  We’d love to do an album but I think it’s better to do an album when there is more of a backing and a following. It’s such a big piece of work to put out so I think singles work for us for now.  Unless you find the time to sit down and write a full album in one go.   It would be a bit too scattered to just put out all the singles we’ve done, just shove them on an album. It’s not really authentic.  Plus we’re on our holiday coming here!  We’ve got to quit the jobs before we do that!

Are you going to have time to see any bands while you are here?
We’re seeing Flat Party tonight, and madmadmad.  I want to see Middleman, Yowl and Eqyptian Blue too but quite a few of these bands are on at the same time.

There is so much great music coming out of Leeds at the moment.  Are you part of a community?
We’ve all been in other bands originally, so we were already part of the Leeds scene.  I was saying this to someone the other day.  There’s a really good feeling in Leeds, like bands championing other bands and shout about each other. Like Treeboy and Arc. They always shout out us we shout about them.  You find that bands come to your gigs and likewise and it’s really nice. It’s good everyone supports each other I’m sure every town’s kinda like that.  But when we’re looking for supports we’re not in short supply.  There’s loads of people and we find it really hard to choose.

And what about more touring in the UK.  Have you any plans?
We are booking a tour in February 2024.  
We’ve got London on 4 November, the day after the single comes out. It’s at a venue in Hackney called Two Palms, and its programming is being run by Permanent Creeps.   
Then 10 November at Grayson Unity in Halifax, and finally for 2023 a headline date at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 28 November.

We are also creating a beer for the Brudenell.  With Anthology Brewing.  I don’t know how far on that is, but Nathan who owns the Brude said he will make it happen, and so we’ll go and try some hops. This is going to put him under pressure now to guarantee it!  We’re trying to think of a name for it – that’s really the focus at the moment, we trying to name our beer! 

Are you self-released? Do you do everything yourselves at the moment?
Basically, it’s all produced by us. And then Jake mixed the new track. We’ve always done it like that, we’re just produced ourselves.

You’ve got the flexibility then to do it how you want it.
And there’s no time limits either really. We spend a lot of time on it, fine-tuning the details.

And then I’ve got to mention the kit on stage. From an onlooker, it’s just how the heck does that all work?  Is it really stressful making sure everything is plugged in correctly?
It’s definitely been a learn on the job sort of thing because if I went and looked at that stage when we first formed the band, I’d have been like “I don’t get it, I don’t know what’s happening”.  Sometimes we turn up to venues and we don’t always have our own sound engineer, and the techs are sometimes like “What is this?  What are you doing?”.

Is it possible to describe your stage setup?
So we’ve got a sampler which is sort of like the brain of the band, a sampler and sequencer that sends midi and sync to the other synths so everything is locked in, and its time based.  Basically Jake is the hub.  Jake sends me (drummer) a click track of the tempo, which is simple enough so I can play it correctly.  

Greg you also play synth?
Yes, it’s like a music production sequencer.  I feel like we try and make it as live as possible. If there’s bits that we can play on keys then we’ll do that. Sometimes use a sampler and play some samples.  We could probably make it a lot easier on ourselves, but then we’d be really awkward we’d all be like “what do we do with our hands?”!.  It all adds to the vibe and it sounds slightly different each time we play live.  Its one thing to listen to the recording and another to watch it played live, like a different experience.  We don’t want it to sound exactly like the recording.  If it sounds a bit different then we’re happy with that.

The main focus other than naming this beer is that we’re trying to get a sponsorship deal from Duracell batteries because of Greg.   The power supply on the blue box thing is broken so I really need to get it fixed but I’m scared if I get it fixed somehow its going to reformat itself.  It’s a completely irrational fear.  I have a sampling version of it which I don’t use because when I tried to back it up then it formatted itself so I’m terrified.  So now I’m just sticking with putting batteries into it until the band is over!

For more information on Adult DVD please check out their facebook and instagram.
New single ‘Yacht Money’ is out on 3 November.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.