David Balfour, best known as vocalist with Northern Irish Hard Rock band Maverick, expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.
Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer in a band?
When I first started in music I was a drummer, for nearly 10 years! The transition happened whenever we tried to find a singer for a new Melodic project (which eventually became Maverick!) We struggled to find a vocalist who could sing what they claimed. Chiming in from behind the kit I realised I had a decent range and tone, although I didn't have a clue! One day we decided I should sing as finding a drummer would be easier. My vocal influences are Sebastian Bach, Geoff Tate, Bruce Dickinson, Paul Stanley, David Coverdale, Steven Tyler, Sammy Hagar and many more. I am in no way claiming that I sound like these guys (laughs), but they certainly forged my vocal style. Musically my influences were very much from the bands these singers were attached to.
Have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any other notable bands?
I have been asked to sing for a number of bands. Nothing super high profile but some outfits who are at a notable level within our genre. I have always been very flattered by these offers and it gives me a sense of worth and pride that people would feel that I was a potential choice to front their band. At my heart however, I have always been a one-band guy, although, if some 'huge' band asked, will never happen, (laughs) then who knows I could change my mind! In fact I have only ever auditioned once for a spot in a band (as a drummer in September Cross - a local metal band from Northern Ireland). Maybe this shows that I am somewhat a control freak and am usually partly at the helm of the project!
Have you ever thought of releasing a solo album?
I have! I actually think that someday I may do it. Along the way there have been songs which were too melodic, too heavy, too 'out there' or just to unsuitable for Maverick. I do believe that some of these songs have genuine merit, so yeah, maybe one day I will. If the project ever were to happen I would have to choose people who were willing to allow me to control the song writing choices no matter how bad they may be (laughs). Myself and my brother Ryan have also discussed the possibility of a side project with just the two of us not designed for touring. We could explore some heavier, more technical and slightly more progressive metal elements in this project.
Do you do all the writing in your current band?
For the past two Maverick albums the vast majority of the material was written by my brother and I. But now with Mike back in the band we are reintroducing an old song writing partner and reinstating the song writing team from the first two Maverick albums. Ric co-wrote a song on the latest album with me also. Vocally however, I write 95% of the melodies and all of the lyrics (with a word tweak here and there from others). I really appreciate that the band trust me with this.
Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?
Whenever my voice is healthy, absolutely! The extra post-covid weight I am currently carrying makes it challenging at times but that is a work in progress (laughs). There is no feeling like singing to a live audience and seeing people having a blast. It is truly one of the best things in life!
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?
For sure, there are so many talented people out there. Off the top of my head, I would love to sing a duet with Tom Englund from Evergrey. He has an emotive, unique and super-melodic voice. Although it seems like re-treading old ground, another song featuring Jakob and Kane Roberts as a spiritual sequel to 'Asylum' would be absolutely epic. I have so many ideas in mind for it.
What’s the music scene like in Northern Ireland?
The Northern Irish music scene is small but healthy. There definitely seems to be a natural inclination towards heavier music in our little part of the world. So the name 'Maverick' is honestly quite apt for us. However we have a little gem of a venue (forgive the pun) in the Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill. It is a forty minute drive from Belfast but is regularly visited by international Melodic acts.
Is singing a full time occupation for you?
No it is not. I am the Assistant Visitor Services Manager for National Museums Northern Ireland. My other passion is History, Heritage and the preservation of our past. I am truly blessed that my career and my hobby are quite literally my two biggest passions in life. Honestly if the option came to sing full time and professionally I would politely decline it. I am extremely happy as I am!
Are you happy with the way last album Ethereality was received by the press and public, and are there plans in motion for a follow up release?
Overall, yes. It was our most critically acclaimed album yet with regard to the press. Many appreciated the slightly darker tone, production and theme. But understandably that is not everyone's cup of tea. The vast majority of our fans loved it but there were those who preferred our lighter and more melodic style, which is absolutely fair. We have always believed that a band should expand their style and try new things. We never wanted to be the band whose albums were simply re-workings of each other. Covid had a huge impact on the ability to promote the release. With our previous three albums before Ethereality, we had European tours with bigger bands (Poodles, Treat, Crashdiet) along with a plethora of festival appearances and headline runs. With Ethereality however, like all bands, we were strictly limited to social media to promote it. We are beginning the songwriting for our fifth full-length release at the moment, with plans for a special release in the interim. So things are certainly going to start happening for Maverick in 2023.
With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK with Maverick?
Maverick have always wanted to get into the UK scene. We had a cancelled UK tour supporting Gus G planned in 2019 but apart from this we have only had a Rockingham appearance, Glasgow in the uber-early days for a 'Battle of the Bands' and then London once in support of the Poodles. We declined an insane offer from a UK festival promoter once. Maybe we are blacklisted? (laughs) All joking aside, we honestly we aren't sure why exactly the UK has remained so closed for us. We would absolutely LOVE to get stuck into England, Scotland and Wales and spread the love to so many long-time fans there! It is definitely on the agenda.
Interview by Stuart Dryden