The Virginmarys; Danny Dolan on drums, Matt Rose on bass and Ally Dickaty on guitar and vocals are a driving force in modern rock. The Macclesfield trio has toured extensively with bands such as The Eagles Of Death Metal, Queens Of The Stone Age, Slash and won Best Breakthrough Act at the Classic Rock Awards in 2013. However, the rock and roll life nearly got the better of frontman Ally. After a troubled three years, the band have released their second album, Divides, and are on the road to greatness once more. Photogroupie caught up with the pensive Ally after the band's set at the Stone Free Festival to find out more about what makes him tick.
PHOTOGROUPIE (PG): ON STAGE YOU'RE VERY ENERGETIC AND DYMANIC, BUT IN PERSON YOU'RE VERY MELLOW, I WAS QUITE SURPRISED.
ALLY DICKATY (AD): There are people who chat to me before a show and then see me on stage and they are like 'wow'. It's a bit Jekyll and Hyde, in a good way. I've got a lot of nervous energy and probably a lot of pent up aggression, frustration and it's a positive release and a good way of getting it out there.
PG: SO WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOUR ON STAGE PERSONAL IS A KIND OF ALTER EGO?
AD: I don't know. I gave up drinking three years ago and performing is the closest thing to it. I'm not sure it's an alter ego, there's art in it, you just get on stage with the material you've been working on. It's not about hate, though, it's about love.
PG: HOW DID THE BANDS NAME COME ABOUT?
AD: We're not religious, but it's a cool name. None of us are practising Catholics or practice religion. We've got nothing against it, if it opens a door to the mystery and creative forces of life then it's great, when it becomes a more governing dictating force then I'm against it whether it's religion or the government we have at the minute.
PG: ARE YOU A REBEL AT HEART?
AD: That's love though. I hate seeing how badly some people get treated and the people that make the decisions have no idea of the real world. It's horrible to switch on the news or to open your door and see people starving on the street and being afraid of walking past and be afraid to see that that's happening. That's a sign of the times...that's a product of hate and scaremongering.
PG: YOU SEEM TO BE VERY HUMANITARIAN
AD: I think you have to be, I think that's how you should be brought up. At school, you're taught to be good and share and somewhere along the way that all gets chucked out the window, and people go 'well that's business.' It's pathetic.
PG: HOW HAS GOING THROUGH YOUR OWN PERSONAL STRUGGLES CHANGED THE WAY YOU VIEW THINGS?
AD: Experiences always lead to how you are. All my friends drink and I had an amazing time, sometimes it was good. Whatever people have to do to make themselves happy I completely understand, it's when they stop being able to function it becomes darker. I was self-medicating for years with depression and anxiety and that was the release. I've had to work out a different way of doing it, it's like learning to live again. I feel like a different person, I'm probably more happy with myself now.
PG: YOU HAVE THAT POLITICAL AND POWERFUL ENERGY OF PUNK IN YOUR MUSIC BUT YOU STILL RETAIN THAT MELODY TO YOUR MUSIC, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
AD: I was brought up on the Beatles and they still blow me away. I'm a sucker for a good melody and a hook. I listened to a lot of The Wildhearts when I was a kid. I do think the two can join together.
PG: EVEN THOUGH THE BAND ARE FROM MACCLESFIELD, DID THE MANCHESTER MUSIC SCENE INFLUENCE YOU AT ALL?
AD: Oasis were an influence when I was growing up. I don't really think we fit into that Manchester mould. Joy Division were always classed as Manchester even though Ian Curtis was from Macclesfield. I absolutely love Joy Division and I love The Smiths. Just because you like a band doesn't mean that you want to sound like them. It was never really our intention to sound like anybody else. Living in the North West shaped the music, but I don't think we fit in with that.
PG: HAVE YOU GOT A FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE NEW ALBUM?
AD: That's really difficult, I love them all. I'm just proud of the music we've written and created. Living In My Peace is the best song. I love the epicness at the end, the lyrical content and the melody. It's a bit different to the rest of the stuff on the album. Moths To a Flame, I quite like. Coming from a background of depression and anxiety, it addresses those issues. The whole album is pretty much like life in the last three years.
PG: WHAT WOULD BE THE A MESSAGE BEHIND YOUR WORK THAT YOU FEEL YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD?
AD: I want to help people who I can and speak to the people I can. If they don't like what they are hearing that's cool too. As long as you're not causing anybody any harm, listen to yourself, be happy.
PG: YOU'VE MENTIONED YOUR DISILLUSION WITH THE GOVERNMENT, HOW DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD?
A: I don't think I really can, it would be great if I could, but I don't really want the power. I just want to raise questions so people talk. Even if someone can prove me wrong and I can get a reaction and put passion into it, that inspires better music. It's excruciating when you hear somebody say something and you think 'that's a lie'. We sit in the world listing to this and we're made to continually take it. Whether you want to change the world or not, that is wrong, but people just want to sweep it under the carpet. I never set out to write an album that was political, that's just what happened. People can change the world, and music can be a massive part of that.