Dan Schott of Schotts List muses on the impending demise of one of Chester’s greatest ever bands. The Daymons.
Chester was a different place in 2012.
Storyhouse was merely a dream in the distance.
Former council leader Mike Jones had yet to eat the facts.
We had the coolest Mayor pairing in the world.
Alexander’s had the worst toilets in the world.
Social media was just starting to reach it’s potential on a local level.
Unfortunately Chester’s initial toe dip into the golden new age wasn’t great. There was a lot of negativity surrounding the city culturally and austerity was hitting local services hard. The statement ‘Cultural Wasteland’ had been bounced about the net, having, in my humble opinion, an extremely negative effect on the image of the city at that time, which was really annoying considering this was certainly not true on a local music level.
We were in a bit of a purple patch in fact.
The sheer quality within the four walls was ridiculous by 2013. Rev Rev were still together for starters and when you look back now, you had the likes of Shy & The Fight, Me & Deboe, The Queens Minions, The Holograms, Chemistry Lane, The Glendale Family and a little six piece that went by the name of The Daymons.
Formed in 2012 by Guy Bengree and Tim Chapman, the lads were joined by singer songwriter Richard Bratt and Jimmy The Lips on trumpet. Starting off as a four piece acoustic act, the band began writing their own original material before expanding into the finished line up with the addition of Fran Martinez on bass guitar and Rich Goss on drums.
It was a cold and rainy Friday night in February 2013 when I went to watch DJ Lowrider support some band or other and it will be a night I will never forget. Lowrider was his usual classy self, smashing the decks with 90’s house and mashed classics but The Daymons were unreal.
Extremely hungry, tight indie rock with roaring harmonies and a trumpet.
And an extremely beautiful audience vibe.
It all sounds a bit cheesy now but in THAT room on THAT night, it felt like you were part of something genuine and healthy. A shared moment for the books.
I hadn’t had a vibe like that since the early 90’s.
There was dancing. Jesus. Even I was having a bounce about the place.
So that was the very start of my love affair with the group and a close working bond that would go on for 5 years.
The group headlined the official ‘Whats Up Chester/Schott’s List’ launch party on the 2nd September 2013
Myself and Terry Wornast had to come to their rescue at a gig in the Bouverie a couple of weeks later after a PA malfunction. I missed the start of Rev Rev at The Eagle for that.
They completely smashed the year with the release of their seminal debut EP ‘This Time Around’, topped off with a launch party at Telford’s Warehouse in early 2014.
Their debut was an absolutely astounding piece of work.
Opener ‘All That You Are’ was perfect indie pop. Ridiculously uplifting, harmoniously blissy to the point of zen and catchy. A real ear worm.
‘The Owl And The Pussycat’ was where they absolutely nailed it for me as a band. Perfectly urgent as a good 2nd track should always be, it rocked with Jim’s trumpet cutting through the riffs like silky, warm butter. I was starting to get excited as a burgeoning young blogger.
‘Indian Sleeper Train’ was a stunning anthemic beast whilst ‘Far Away’ sounds quite beautifully humble and almost apologetic with fresh ears.
But the best review I ever read about the release comes from Charlie P on Amazon:
“…Since purchasing this EP I find myself at least three times happier. I have become a deeper thinker, a quicker runner, a better father and a more considerate lover. The Daymons have done this.
“This Time Around” removes dirt, fast. It will reduce your monthly payments, removes stains at today’s lower temperatures, and will turn your spare gold into cash…..” (!)
2014 continued where the previous year had left off with a session for Dee 106.3FM, some superb local events and headline slots as well as the release of ‘The LIPA Session EP’ on the 5th of July, which was recorded by Alex Gidman at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and available as a free download on SoundCloud.
A slight change of pace from the debut, I was filled with dread at the thought of a bloody acoustic release but was very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the song writing and delivery.
It had a wonderful autumn quality to the proceedings and I compared it at the time as EP 1.5, on the same terms as ‘Lies’ by Guns N’ Roses.
Late October saw the departure of original drummer Richard Goss with the band on the lookout for a replacement. with Matt Lloyd filling the void in early January 2015.
Over the next couple of years, the band continued to play, rehearse and tighten their sound, appearing on Flipside Radio, Telford’s Warehouse, The Saughall Campout as well various events and causes that I’d been involved with including the Rebel Rebel happenings and the Not So Shit Chester event at Alexander’s.
By the end of 2016, they were musically as tight as you like and had weaved some inspired covers into their set including ‘Pounding’ by Doves and ‘LA Woman’ by The Doors and continued to attract new followers with their full live sound.
After a period of relatively quiet activity, the group returned in March 2018 with their third and final EP ‘Girl That I Knew’
If I’m being completely honest, I would of liked to have seen a little more foot on the gas in terms of musical urgency but that aside, it was another quality release from the lads.
Well polished and mature, ‘Simple Wish’ is gorgeous with all the right Daymons pieces in the right places. The two outstanding tracks for me are live favourite ‘She Said’ and the Richard Bratt written and performed ‘Lightning Strikes’ which takes it all in a different direction within the confines of the band’s original sound.
It was still a shock but not completely surprising when The Daymons announced their gig on the 22nd of December 2018 would be their last.
I caught up with Guy and Tim to have a chat about their reasons.
Last gig at Telfords, what does it mean for you?
Guy: “7 year itch to be honest Dan. Its been a journey.. that’s a great start isn’t it, its like the X factor. Its been a trip that we’ve all been on together. We’re not really sure why we’re not doing it anymore, other than that its probably time to move on. It feels like its time…..I woke up the other morning with Ode to a Nightingale going around my head, thinking about the impermanence of everything. Sometimes you have to ring the changes yourself because nothing gold can stay. Its been great but sometimes you have to know when to stop…”
Tim: “…I think for me its been a culmination of the last 6 – 7 months when we’re bringing new material to the band. You bring the new material and a song gets created within 4-6 weeks, recently its been hard to bring a song, its been a slog. That’s been a warning sign. we’ve had a good run.”
Guy: “There’s nothing acrimonious about it at all, we haven’t fallen out in any way. It just gets to the point when the band becomes less than the sum of its parts and it becomes something you’re just doing , rather than something you love doing…Its a funny thing a band. A 6 piece band is like having 5 extra girlfriends. You have that kind of relationship, you get really close to people when you’re in bands because you’re sharing that experience of playing music.
You have the private side when you’re rehearsing and the public when you’re performing. We’ve had some great times in both areas and we’ve met some great people doing it.”
Tim: “…All these people we’ve met over the last 7 years, like yourself Dan, @Shitchester…Being a solid staple of Telford’s (Warehouse) is my highlight…They sent us a lovely tweet, from playing at open mics when I was 19, to now being the prominent local band there,, its been great, a real feather in our cap.
The people, when I first moved back to Chester I felt like I’d lost touch and I didn’t really know it. With the band we’ve reconnected and met a lot of people, Flipside, Parsley, Rama, all of Telford’s, Campfire social. Everyone man! The Carlton, Gordon and Debbie, its just been really nice.”
You’re going down a more ballady heartfelt route aren’t you Tim?
“I’ve always been doing that, even within the Daymons’ I’ve been the one writing the depressive love ballads, like Far Away, Simple Wish. They seem to be the only songs I’m comfortable writing and I can write. I want to do something different?”
Guy: “…Because there’s so many influences in the band from the 6 members it pulls it back to a common denominator. It is accessible and that’s why it works, but that’s also why its coming to an end because it doesn’t have an edge….”
What do you think you’re legacy will be to the city?
Tim: “I’m happy we’ve made local music more accessible…it was never our job to do that, but that’s who we are..”
Guy: “…Allegedly when we first started off, Chester was a cultural desert. Apparently.
I don’t think it was at all. What’s happened now is people are more aware of the little things that are going on .
Twitter is a force for good, we know it goes up and down and sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t ….but I still think that the ability to bring people together with social media is a good thing.
This band wouldn’t have done half the stuff we’ve done without social media.
People give Chester a hard time, a lot of the time which it does not deserve, its a great place….”
So there you have it.
The Daymons will be performing at Telford’s Warehouse on the 22nd of December for the very last time.
I salute the band’s service to the city and look ahead wearily as another member of The Class Of 2013 falls by the wayside.