is a progressive rock and pop fusion band formed in Egremont, Cumbria,
England. Drummer-turned-guitarist Francis Dunnery, bass player Dick
Nolan and drummer Bob Dalton had all grown up together in Egremont. In
1982, the trio linked up with Whitehaven-born keyboard player John Beck.
The band's initial rise to fame was on the back of the unusual and
catchy 1986 single "Calling All The Heroes", which gained them a Top 6
UK chart hit and an unwelcome reputation as a novelty act - something
the band was to dispel via their instrumental virtuosity, their
reputation as an excellent live act and a measure of sheer
Rarely fashionable yet forever popular with their
audience, the band (though signed to a major label) effectively became
one of Britain's top underground rock acts during the late 1980s.
Initially fronted by the charismatic and wayward Francis Dunnery, the
band imploded during 1990. A partial IT BITES reunion appeared in
1996 in the shape of the band Unicorn Jones. This project featured John
Beck, Dick Nolan and singer David Banks
Beck and Dalton were to reunite in 2005 as members
of the band Kino, a progressive rock band which also featured Marillion
bass player Pete Trewavas and British prog scene regular John Mitchell
on lead vocals and guitar. On 30 August 2003, during a solo concert at
the Union Chapel in London, Francis Dunnery was joined onstage by his
old IT BITES band-mates - the first time this had happened since
1990. To the delight of the audience, John Beck joined Dunnery for a
duet on the IT BITES song "Hunting The Whale", following which
they were joined by Dick Nolan and Bob Dalton for a gig finale of "Still
Too Young To Remember". Following this, it was announced that IT
BITES would be getting back together to write and record a new album
followed by a tour. Although some writing and initial recording did take
place, the full reunion of the original lineup never materialized.
opted to reform with Beck and Dalton's Kino bandmate
John Mitchell replacing Dunnery as lead singer and guitarist. The new
IT BITES made their live debut for a well-received tour in winter
2006 (which also spawned a live album ‘When The Lights Go Down’). The
band began to write material for a new album during 2006 and 2007,
opting to self-produce. The new album - called ‘The Tall Ships’ - was
completed in May 2008, with a full release to follow on Inside Out Music
in October 2008.
On 23 June 2008 the band announced a further change
to their line-up with the departure of bass player Dick Nolan. The band
announced Lee Pomeroy as the new bass player. A multi-instrumentalist,
Pomeroy is an established British sessions player and support musician
(Take That, Mike Oldfield and Rick Wakeman's New English Rock Ensemble)
but shares It Bites' appreciation of English progressive rock musicians.
new album out entitled ‘The Tall Ships’ we had a little chat with Bob
Dalton (Drums), so here we go!
Congratulations on your new album ‘The Tall Ships’ which
was released recently in Europe! Of course we’d like to ask you a couple
of questions about it.
First of all, I’m not familiar with your band so could
you tell me something about It Bites, how did this reunion happen after
almost twenty years?
Bob: It Bites were signed to virgin in 1985, we made
3 studio albums and then the singer Frank Dunnery left and went solo. We
didn’t try to replace him and got on with other things. Then in 2003
John Beck and myself did a tour with John Mitchell and we had to do some
It Bites songs to fill out the set. Along the way we found out that John
Mitchell could really do them well so we asked him to do a tour with us
and Dick Nolan as It Bites. We did the tour and and the old fans loved
it. Also there were some people who had never seen us with Frank so this
was It Bites to them.
What made you think after these shows “ok let’s
write new songs and record a new album”?
Bob: Because the response to the tour was so good ,
we decided to see if we could write songs together…so we got together in
a rehearsal room and started coming up with ideas.
How did you launch into writing the material for ‘The
Tall Ships’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?
Bob: Firstly we got together in a room, put some
ideas on a disc and took them back to John Mitchell’s studio where they
were arranged into songs.Then John Mitchell and John Beck just kept
writing together for about 18 months until we all agreed we had the
right songs to make an It Bites album.
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to
write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Bob: I think like all writing, some songs come easy
and others have to be worked on for longer.
What were the goals you had in mind when you
started to record ‘The Tall Ships’, any elements you definitely wanted
to have on the album?
Bob: The only thing we had in mind really was to
write 10 great songs. We never did go in for trying to style-ise an
Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?
Bob: Yes…the way we always did it.
In song writing, what is the utmost important
ingredient for a song according to you and is there any typical way that
an It Bites songs comes into being?
Bob: I think you have to have a musical hook and a
vocal hook for our type of music. The songs are based on this and then
the arrangements are expanded on from there
Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics
on this album and where do you get your inspiration from?
Bob: John Mitchell and John Beck are the writers.
Both do the music and John Mitchell does the lyrics. All influenced from
his own experiences I believe.
What would you say are the main themes in your lyrics?
Bob: Johns life…
Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do
you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?
Bob: I think they inspire each other and that’s how
they join together to make a song.
What do you think are the main differences between your
previous albums back in the eighties / nineties and the new one ‘The
Bob: Probably just the line-up. I could see It Bites
of old making this album.
What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit
down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you
wait until you get an idea?
Bob: Both really. We take them as they come.
Could you please describe the implications of the title
‘The Tall Ships’?
Bob: ‘The Tall Ships’ are what come to take your
soul away after you die….
Do you have any favorites on ‘The Tall Ships’, songs that
you think are somehow above the others?
Bob: Probably “Wind That Shakes The Barley”.
How much time did you spend in the studio for ‘The Tall
Bob: Probably about 6 months in recording the album
as we all have other things we do.
Have you received any feedback on the album yet?
Bob: Yes and it’s all been very positive so far……
Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your
music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that
Bob: Well, a bit of both. We aren’t going to change
if the press don’t like what we do, but we do have to please our fans to
a certain degree.
Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of
the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in
Bob: I think you would always like to change
something….but you have to see it as a whole thing and realize that you
are going to change over the period it takes to make an album, and you
have to accept that.
What do you think is the difference between It Bites and
other bands in the progressive rock scene?
Bob: I don’t think we are a prog band. I’d say we
are more like Queen or 10 cc than Genesis or Yes.
What is your opinion on the ‘rock’ scene these days, is
there anything missing from it?
Bob: Yes, a big It Bites album instead of some of
the dross that’s out there now. Same old sound, same old faces..
Which album has been your biggest musical
influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?
Bob: Physical graffiti. Led Zep.
Are there any particular bands that’ve been a big
influence in your song writing?
Bob: Lots of bands influence It Bites’ sound. That’s
why our sound never stays the same on album.
How do you see the future for It Bites, what can we
expect in the near future?
Bob: We will be touring in Europe next year and we
will have a new album after that.
Any last statement you'd like to share with us?
Bob: Please give the album a listen as I think there
is something for everyone on there.
Thanks for your time!
John Mitchell - Lead Vocals, Guitar
John Beck - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Bob Dalton - Drums, Backing Vocals
Lee Pomeroy - Bass Guitar
Francis Dunnery - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Lee Knott - Lead Vocals
Dick Nolan - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Howard "H" Smith - Saxophone
The Big Lad In The Windmill (1986)
Once Around The World (1988)
Eat Me In St Louis (1989)
The It Bites Album (1990)
Thank You And Goodnight - Live (1991)
Live in Montreux (2003)
When The Lights Go Down - Live (2007)
The Tall Ships