The TDT Story
Neil Fairclough, Lois Fairclough, John Dagnall, Neil Edwards, Andy Treacey and Johnny Heyes met at Music College in early 1990’s Manchester. In addition to becoming lifelong friends, they have worked together on and off ever since.
The Deccan Traps project truly had its genesis when Neil F, Lois, and John started writing songs together over a decade ago. As Lois is Neil’s sister and now John’s wife, the chemistry was immediate. Between them, they had a shared passion for rock, funk, jazz, and classical music, having grown up listening to everything from Queen and Rainbow to Stevie Wonder and Weather Report to Mozart and Prokofiev. However, they were writing epic rock songs and needed an appropriate vehicle to record them, and crucially, to be able to play them live.
The obvious choice for Neil, John, and Lois when it came to drums, keys and guitar were Andy, Neil E, and Johnny. In addition to being close friends, and each having extensive professional biographies, it was their creativity, passion and unbelievable skill that cemented the line-up. Only one thing missing…
The songs were big and needed a big singer; enter Ricardo Afonso. Ricardo was born in Angola, Africa but grew up in Portugal. After singing in local bands, Ricardo made the move to London to take up the roll of Galileo in Queen’s musical We Will Rock You in the West End. He featured on ITV’s The Voice in 2013 and blitzed the role of Judas in Andrew Lloyd Webbers rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End.
Neil had been the touring bass player for Queen + Adam Lambert since 2011, a position he still occupies today. Through some mutual friends, Neil reached out to Ricardo and following a meeting in a back street pub in London, it was immediately obvious that Ricardo was not only a phenomenal vocalist but also the musical soulmate that they were looking for. The Deccan Traps was born.
Initial recordings with the now completed line-up began in 2016 at Parr Street, the legendary Liverpool recording studio, but shortly after disaster struck when Ricardo suffered a career ending medical problem with his vocal chords. It looked like The Deccan Traps was over before it had begun.
Ricardo returned to Portugal to recuperate and reassess his options. In between tours, the rest of TDT continued recording the backing tracks, backing vocals and solos, with the sad realisation that eventually, they would have to find a new singer. The recordings were nearing completion in 2018, and as Ricardo knew the material better than anyone else, John called him for advice about who to approach to sing. It was a call that changed everything.
Unbeknownst to the rest of The Deccan Traps, Ricardo had been secretly, slowly, and patiently working with a vocal specialist in Portugal for 2 years to bring his voice back so he could complete the recordings. It worked. He flew into Liverpool in December 2018 and after an incredibly hardcore vocal recording session (9 tracks in two days!), the songs could be completed. Over the next 12 months, the guys put finishing touches to the recordings, rehearsing in Manchester ready to launch in the early part of 2020 after Neil completed the Queen + Adam Lambert tour in the Far East. Then the pandemic hit…
With Ricardo in Portugal and the rest of the guys split between Manchester and London, rather than being defeated by the disappearance of gigs and international travel and postpone release, TDT decided to release their music as singles, one track at a time with a video.
In September 2020, The Deccan Traps released their first single, Moonlight with a video featuring Ricardo shot on location in Portugal. Their second single Sun & Moon released in January 2021 featured an awesome animatic video by Darren Vaile.
Next up was The Great Divide, a track described as “truly EPIC” by none other than Dr. Brian May. Clocking in at well over 6 minutes and featuring a string quartet recorded live at the Parr Street sessions, The Great Divide demonstrated the band's unrelenting ambition to let the song be what it wants to be; no radio edits, no compromises.
The Deccan Traps fourth release 'Chain Me (To The Wall)' hits on 10th September 2021.
Overcoming many obstacles, TDT have managed since launching to build a small but committed following with nothing but social media and word of mouth. Their following continues to grow every day as more and more people across the world discover TDT’s music.
About The Great Divide
The Deccan Traps' third single The Great Divide was released April 2021 with the accompanying video following soon behind. The reception to the track and video has been overwhelming; TDT's passion for heartfelt music and lyrics is forging a strong connection between the band and their fans that is truly wonderful.
Following on from the blistering Sun & Moon, The Great Divide counterpoints epic and reflective. It was tracked live at Parr Street Studios, Liverpool, with the band adding live strings for the first time courtesy of the Up North Session Orchestra, beautifully complementing Ricardo's soaring vocals.
In addition to Ricardo’s stellar voice, The Great Divide features a gorgeous slide solo by lead guitarist Johnny and huge multi-layered backing vocals by John, Lois and Neil, all of which is underpinned by a massive groove from Neil, John, Johnny, Neil E and Andy.
The video was recorded in various locations in the UK and Portugal during Covid lockdown and expertly edited by @adgra_phics in Manchester.
Speaking about The Great Divide on a Zoom call from his home in Portugal, Ricardo said, “The fact of the matter is that in 2021 the world is still far from being equal and fair. We are all still trying though…and my guess is that most of us will keep trying to bridge the gaps that keep us apart, that’s what The Great Divide speaks to me.”
Neil, at home in Manchester, added “When you get the chance to travel, you see that people are basically the same, wanting the same things out of life; not just for themselves but for other people. Sometimes dogma and ideology are a barrier to that last push...whether it’s political, religious, cultural, whatever.”
Neil continued, “Compromise is the only way forward-as long as the balance isn’t skewed-and as long as we recognise that people will disagree; it’s up to all of us to navigate our way through. In fact, we may never get there but we have to try and hope we get somewhere close.
When asked about what The Great Divide means to them, Ricardo said, ”Listen to the voice inside saying: reach out, understand the differences between us, be kind, unite and repair” Neil agreed, “Hope is the key word - I think almost everybody holds that dear and if we can block out the voices of dissent and stop screaming into the void, anything is achievable.”
Smiling, Ricardo added, “absolutely…especially with cranked up guitars, strings and a massive wall of sound! (laughs) “We wouldn’t have it any other way. The Deccan Traps way!”