Deaf Havana – The Present Is A Foreign Land – Track By Track


Alternative rockers Deaf Havana have finally released their long-awaited new album, The present is a foreign land.

It’s been four years since the band’s last studio album, so no doubt The present is a foreign land was a highly anticipated project for the band’s fans. A lot has certainly changed over the past few years, the band is now a duo consisting of frontman James Veck-Gilodi and brother/boyfriend Matty. With this shift in the band’s composition, there has also been a new sense of unbridled freedom when it comes to the creative process. This results in Deaf Havana’s sixth record. It’s an LP that explore themes such as impostor syndrome, conquering difficult obstacles in life, and self-discovery. It’s an impressive piece of work that showcases this exciting new era for the Veck-Gilodi brothers. You can read our previous interview with the duo by clicking here.

To celebrate the release of The present is a foreign land, deaf Havana wrote a piece-by-song article for 1883 where they went in-depth with each song on the record.

A note from the group

We’re just incredibly excited to get out The present is a foreign land this week. It’s a record that means a lot to us and I really can’t believe it’s finally going to be released in the world! We put a lot of ourselves into creating it and as a result, we’ve never been more proud of our music. I hope people will connect with it and love it because we really do.

Pocari sweatshirt

Pocari sweatshirt is a song about reaching a point where you feel like you can’t really come down, and reassessing your whole life and not really understanding what to do and what’s next. I think I wanted to start the album at a very low point, so that throughout the album it becomes more and more positive, and by the end of the album it just seems almost euphoric.


This one is all about whether choosing music as a career is the right or wrong thing to do. It was written when we were both feeling very negative towards the music, and we didn’t know if this band was going to continue. We felt like we had wasted the last ten years of our lives, when we should have done a real job instead of trying to be a musician. Anyway, we’re really glad we wrote it, and it turned out to be a pretty positive song in the end!

I put you through hell

I Put You Through Hell is kind of a weird song; musically it doesn’t really fit into the album (I don’t think so), but we really like it because it’s a bit different and a bit “out of the ordinary” for us. Lyrically, it’s basically about apologizing to loved ones for behaving in certain ways and doing things we regret. It’s kind of just a big excuse to the people we love for not being there as much as we could have been, and maybe not treating them like they deserve to be treated.

Not serious

Not serious was the second song we wrote for the record, and it’s one of my favorites there. It’s just that I was going through a period where I was alone and I had to go back to live with my grandparents, and I was going through a really difficult period and I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going in life . I kept making terrible decisions and I just wasn’t living, I was just sort of surviving. Anyway, I managed to pull through, and I’m better than ever now. So even though it’s a very negative song, it also brings a bit of hope because I’ve been through that and now I’m in a better place than ever.

On the string

On the string is probably the catchiest song on the record. When Matty and I wrote it, we were very attached to it and felt like it would definitely be the first single. We just couldn’t get the chorus melody out of our heads, so I guess we did something right. It’s catchy and it gets a bit boring after a while if you listen to it, it definitely gets stuck in your head. We’re really proud of it and hope everyone loves it as much as we do. It’s a really solid rock song, with catchy melodies and it’s upbeat (for us!).

try to fall

It’s a song that Matty wrote with me in mind, and he wrote the lyrics for me to sing. We just wanted it to be pretty simple so it’s basically just a really nice acoustic guitar riff and then it builds and builds towards the end and then the strings come in, and the drums come in and it’s basically just a great crescendo. It’s very similar in lyrics to 19dreams; it’s really questioning the last 10 years of our career, and whether it was the right or the wrong thing to do and how we feel. Sometimes we are ignored by people, or we are overwhelmed when people really should be paying attention to us.

Someone / Somewhere (Feat. IDER)

It’s probably the deepest song on the record for me, lyrically. It’s one of the last songs we wrote for the album, and we were missing something but weren’t sure what. Matty sent me this dance song he made and there were no words to it, so he said can you just write a poem about it? So that’s basically what I did. It doesn’t really rhyme, and it doesn’t really have a chorus, it’s just a long conscious stream of thoughts that I wrote, and I’m really proud of it. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and it’s different because it’s a little more electronic and more danceable than anything we’ve done before, but it’s also very dark in lyrical terms.

To help

To help is one of the last songs I wrote for the album, and it came very quickly. I was just messing around on my computer one day, and I wrote what ended up being the hook, and I thought that was really cool and really different. I wanted to have the energy of a dance song, but I played on instruments, so I tried to recreate that, and then we involved brass and it sounds quite different. Again, this is another song on this album that doesn’t necessarily match sound-wise, but I also think that makes it a bit more interesting than some of the others. Lyrically, it’s just about feeling lost and alienated and not knowing what to do, and just asking for help.

The present is a foreign land

This is obviously the title track of the disc, and this is where we found the main theme of the artwork, the name and the lyrical content. It’s also a song that Matty wrote entirely himself. He sent it to me and it was basically a fully formed song, so I didn’t really write anything on it, so you have to give him full credit. When I first heard it, I thought it was one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life, and I love it. The fact that I don’t sing the vocals on it and Matty does, allows me to be a bit more of a fan because when I listen to our music in general it’s my own voice so it’s hard for me to be objective and really listen as a fan. Since it’s someone else singing, I can just sit and listen to it and really enjoy it. So yeah, I think it’s a great song, it’s a pure rock song and it has a lot of energy and I can’t wait to play it live.


Kids is a song that I have had for quite a long time. The chorus track, I’ve had it for maybe 7 or 8 years and I’ve never found the right song to put it on. I tried to put it on an album for the last 3 albums, but yeah we finally managed to do it! It started much more like a classic rock song, and it was okay but it didn’t grab me when I listened to it. We really changed it up, and we made the driving synths and made it a lot more electronic. Lyrically, it’s very nostalgic but it’s more like some of our old songs, and it’s really fun to play!

go clear

I wrote most of this song maybe 5 years ago, and couldn’t really find a way to put it on another album, so it sat there for ages. This song is really about dealing with addiction issues and having a hard time coping when you’re away and it’s really hard not to drink too much, and you know… so yeah, it’s really about dealing with the addiction and trying to get better, really.

Remember me

This is another song that Matty wrote, and it was very different when he first sent it to me. It looked a lot like The Cure, so we decided to change it up and make it a bit darker and moodier. Lyrically, it’s just the perfect way to end the album. It’s again, looking back on the last 10 years spent in a band and wondering if it was the right thing to do, or if we should have done something else with our lives. Basically, it’s just asking the question “how are we going to remember ourselves?”. Will we be remembered as an influential band, or will we not be remembered at all?

The present is a foreign land is out now. Follow Deaf Havana on @deafhavana

Introduction by Cameron Poole

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