It Bites - 30/10/2008

IT BITES 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 determination.

 

 

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.


IT BITES
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.

 

With a 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 album.
 


 

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 Tall Ships’?
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 Ships’?
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 matter?

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 retrospective?
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.

 

Bob Dalton

Thanks for your time!

Eugene Straver

 

 

 

Current Line-up:

John Mitchell - Lead Vocals, Guitar

John Beck - Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Bob Dalton - Drums, Backing Vocals

Lee Pomeroy - Bass Guitar

 

Former members:

Francis Dunnery - Lead Vocals, Guitar

Lee Knott - Lead Vocals

Dick Nolan - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals

Howard "H" Smith - Saxophone

 

Albums:

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 (2008)