HRH Mag’s Paul Sabin caught up with Iconic Eye’s founding member and guitarist, Greg Dean and new vocalist, Janey Smith ahead of their upcoming new EP release.
PS: Looking back at the bands line-up evolution so far, your first singer, Lee Small, who appeared on the 2014 `Well Begun’ album was replaced by Tim Dawkes for the release of `Hidden In Plain Sight’ in 2015 and then in 2016 ahead of `Into The Light’, Robin Mitchard took over guitar duties from Neil Fraser and Jane Gould came onboard as the new vocalist. At that point, your sound changed to a more melodic, AOR style. Was that intentional?
GD: The first album made quite an impact. There was no PR or anything but people seemed to really like it and we got on to the HRH main stage just on the back of that album which was great, and we also played Download but we found Tim didn’t work out live so he left. We advertised for a new singer and I think in my head I thought another guy would come along but Jane came in and Robin, who is a phenomenal guitarist and they fitted with the songs and we then just started writing more. Then Robin left and Neil Hackett came in who has written stuff on the new EP too. It was kind of an evolution but now with Janey joining its more of a revolution!
JS: Like that, I’ll have that one ha-ha!
GD:Janey is more of an out and out rock singer so I can write harder, melodic songs rather than the softer AOR type stuff now as that’s where we want to be, and it suits her voice perfectly.
PS: So, when you went into the studio to write `Back From Behind The Sun’ Jane was still with the band right?
GD: Yes, so what happened was, we went in the studio to write the EP. That was five songs, one cover, called `Jane’. Now called `Janey’ I think ha-ha! Neil had written one and I’d written the other three. Jane said she wanted to write more of the melodies, so we didn’t write those, we left those to her. Then when we’d all finished recording in the studio, we all kind of sat down and said what do we think. Because the thing is, you always want the new thing to be a step up from the old thing, and we all thought `Is it?’.
None of us were excited by what we’d got. We couldn’t put our finger on what it was, and we all got a bit despondent and Jane decided to step away and did her last gig in December 2019 when we supported Last in Line. Then we looked again for a replacement and Janey came in. We played her the stuff we’d done but didn’t let her hear what Jane had done, so basically, she started with a blank piece of paper to see what she could do. Janey has written some fantastic melodies that bring out the best in the music and its something that we are all now grinning our heads off at and are happy.
PS: So, Janey, what’s your background?
JS: My main thing has been Supersonic Seventies with Greg Hart and Andy Kitson (CATS in SPACE) where we covered some of the best tracks of that era. We’ve toured that as a theatre show for the best part of eleven years as my alter ego Janey Bombshell. Greg and I actually did an album in the vein of the seventies off the back of it, called `Rocka Roll Around’. It was a pastiche thing, there was some glam rock, some pop, a bit of everything. I put my hand into writing then and Mick Wilson was also involved. It caused quite a stir at the time as it was so different. But before all of that, I’d sung in pubs since I was fifteen. I was always the one wanting to get in amongst it. I was an early concert goer. With Iconic Eye, it was a mutual friend of mine and the bands on Facebook that suggested meeting up, and I did some research and thought yeah that’s a bit of me! It’s my background and it came at the right time and I thought let’s give it a go. Now I’m back writing again I’ve realised how much I’ve missed it. You should never settle; you’ve always got to keep progressing.
PS: With a new exciting line-up and the harder sound now, what can the fans expect moving forward?
GD: It’s interesting when you’re on stage, you tend to look for two things; you look for the audience singing your choruses back to you, which is always an amazing feeling, but the fans can kind of sway a bit to the music and that tends to indicate that we need to increase the tempo a bit. So, what we’ve tried to do on the new EP is to step the tempo up and this is the sound of Iconic Eye moving forward.
JS: For me, the new material is catchy and anthemic. We are keen to go more commercial with things so more people can relate to it. `Ghost Town’ was written, for instance about what’s going on now, but when the pandemic first started.
GD: We need our product to be as accessible as possible, so more people we can get onboard the better.
PS: Talking of accessibility, you recently did a live performance which was streamed on the net didn’t you. What was it like performing without an audience for your first live gig Janey?
JS: It didn’t bother me to be honest, though the cameramen were quite loud ha-ha. The reason we do all this is to perform in front of a live audience, but I knew that people were watching, and probably more were watching than would have attended the gig. I’m not camera shy so I loved it. We were so lucky with the venue, lighting display and pyro. We were blessed and excited in this current situation to be able to do it.
PS: You’re doing your EP launch at the same venue aren’t you?
GD: Yes, but this time it will be slightly different in that it will be a real gig with an audience, albeit a socially distanced one and will be streamed at the same time.
PS: What’s next after the launch?
JS: I’m champing at the bit to get out there, I get frustrated on a daily basis that I can’t get on a stage.
GD: Its difficult really as we’ve got some gigs we have announced and we’ve got some we haven’t announced, but in the current climate its really hard. We don’t want to announce a tour to then days later have to cancel, so we will bide our time and sort the tour when we are certain. We want to get out there and play, to move up the ranks and become one of the best bands in Britain.