Band Interview: Ducking Punches’ Dan Allen chats Fizzy Brain, crowdfunding and mental health

Ducking Punches released Fizzy Brain a few months back now, and we sat down and had a chat with vocalist/guitarist Dan Allen about their decision to crowdfund the record, the importance of discussing mental health openly, and their future plans.

Congratulations on funding the new record, and hitting almost double the target! What made you decide to crowdfund the album?

We didn’t have too much of a choice, we’ve been touring so hard over the last few years that none of us have any money ourselves to make a record, we didn’t want to go down the route of sponsorship, or to try and find a major label so we went with Pledge. I was dubious at first but it’s great if you’re a fan as you truly get to see a record being made along every step. We were so surprised with the outcome of this and it meant we could donate even more money to PAPYRUS and CALM, which are two charities extremely close to our hearts.

Where did the name Fizzy Brain come from?

Fizzy Brain is how I have often described my own mental health. When you lose the clarity of your own thinking, when you can’t sleep at night for the rushing of snippets of thought, when your head seems so clouded with depression you can’t aspire to even leave your bed. This is a fizzy brain, well mine at least. It’s the most honest album I’ve ever written and I wanted the title to reflect that. I’ve also had a lot of people say that they relate completely to that turn of phrase to describe their own mental health.

Obviously the DIY approach has always been important to Ducking Punches, from calling the first track of your first album “DIY Or Die” to crowd funding the newest album to avoid having to deal any sponsorship or major labels – is that why you do the album art and merch designs yourself?

DIY punk is so intrinsic in what we do and so important. It’s all I’ve ever known, and part of me thinks sometimes it’s the only way art can truly flourish, without outside pressures crushing it.

Ducking Punches’ sound has changed a lot since your self-titled, especially considering it’s now grown from a solo project to a five piece band – what’s the journey been like for you? Do you feel you’ve now reached the final form of Ducking Punches or do you feel like there could be more changes to come?

We’ve definitely stepped away from that folk/punk label. It’s more straight up punk rock now I guess, genres never sit well with me anyway. I’d like to think we’ll keep pushing the sound. It certainly wont get poppier, if anything we’re going darker and heavier, I love the progression of our sound.

You donated a portion of the proceeds from the new album to mental health and suicide prevention charities, and from listening to your lyrics and seeing your posts online, this is clearly something close to your heart. Would you mind telling us a little about how important it is that we talk about mental health openly?

It’s unbelievably important. In the UK, the biggest killer of men under 35 is suicide! Last year in 2015, every two hours somebody took their own life. Not only do we need to talk about our own mental health, we need to work towards reducing and eventually eradicating the stigma that surrounds it. Talk about it to your friends, your family, a professional, a stranger. It’s so important, I can’t stress that enough. The world can seem like a lonely place but it doesn’t have to be.

With the impressive tour history DP’s garnered over the years, going from huge festivals like Reading to house shows, US romps and even playing in the Lush store, what’s been your best live experience? And, possibly a better story, what’s your worst or your most ridiculous?

There have been so many. Every time we play our home time and the whole room is screaming back our lyrics makes my heart explode. It’s so special for that to happen. Other memorable ones have been Reading and Leeds festival, Groezrock, FEST, Supporting Frank Turner to 3,000 people in Koln, that candlelit show where the curtains set on fire, that show in a cowshed, that one festival where I genuinely played to one man, his dog and the soundguy.

How did the Frank Turner feature on the new album come about?

We’ve been friends with Frank for a few years now and he’s the best dude. I just asked if he wanted to do some guest vocals. He said yes, came to Norwich and smashed it in two takes! It was astounding.

Norwich has been putting out some great stuff for a while now, what’s your favourite part of the scene and who should the reader be checking out? What’s next for Ducking Punches?

Yeah, we’ve got some great bands knocking about in Norwich/Norfolk at the moment. Honourable mentions go to Other Half, Claws, Alan Hiom, Faintest Idea, Vanilla Pod, Chapter Of Wolves. Two that were amazing who disbanded in the last year were Big Success and Darwin and The Dinosaur.

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Alex Russell

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