Boy oh boy, this year has already been great for album announcements. The first month of the year saw loads of bands announce that they would be releasing a new album in 2015. January 26th was the turn of Belfast four-piece And So I Watch You From Afar, who announced the release of their new album ‘Heirs’ out on May 4th through Sargent House, much to the delight of fans the world over. Along with the album news, they also announced an extensive list of UK and European tour dates to coincide with its release.
Their fourth album in almost ten years together as a band, Heirs follows on from 2013’s ‘All Hail Bright Futures’ and will be their second album release on Sargent House (home to such incredible acts as TTNG, Tera Melos and Russian Circles)
Having only ever seen ASIWYFA at festivals, I’m eager to catch them on their upcoming UK tour. The band have been a big part of the ArcTanGent festival the past two years, appearing high up the bill on the main stage in its first year and headlining the Yohkai stage on the Thursday night last year. The atmosphere on that Thursday night was incredible, and it was almost as if the whole crowd had joined together as one. Beautiful.
Whilst they’ve not been announced for ATG this year (yet), they have been announced for this year’s 2000trees festival, joining a huge lineup with the likes of The Xcerts, Idlewild, Pulled Apart By Horses and Turbowolf.
Check out this clip of ASIWYFA performing ‘7 Billion People All Alive At Once’ from last year’s ArcTanGent, courtesy of Small Pond Recordings.
So far from the new album we’ve heard little snippets here and there, and most recently the full version of the extremely energetic, uplifting ‘Run Home.’ It’s an adrenaline charged blast and a good sign of things to come. Though I guess we will have to wait until May 4th to hear the whole thing, or live in hope that they release more singles before then!
In the meantime, I put some questions to ASIWYFA guitarist Rory Friers to get the scoop on Heirs, performing at ArcTanGent the past two years, coming up to a decade as a band and what their discography would be like if it consisted of chocolate bars.
BCFB: Your new record ‘Heirs’ comes out in May on Sargent House – What can you tell us about it? What can people expect this time round?
Rory: The album came out of a lot of ideas, something like 30 songs I think, so our filtering system was pretty brutal and only our absolute favorite parts and songs made it through. The metaphorical cutting room floor was pretty thick with casualties. It was hard to leave off a lot of what we’d written, but what its meant is we’ve ended up with an album where all four of us are in love with every little nook and cranny, are invested in every second of sound on there, because every part and nuance had to justify its existence on the record. It feels like we’ve made something brand new, something very dense, it’s really thick and rich and I think our most emotive sounding record to date. We wanted to create very strong feelings when you listen to it and for it to have a journey like feel from the first note to the last, like it’s meant to be listened to in one go. It’s come off sounding very steeped in all the things we were feeling throughout the making of it and what we wanted it to do to the listener.
This being your fourth full length album, how was it going into the studio this time round? Can you give a little insight into the production process?
It was a really intensive process; we spent all day every day on the third floor of this old Linen Mill in West Belfast where our rehearsal room is, just chipping away at this record for 6 months straight. We spent the first week in January clearing out gear and building a small make shift studio set up to demo everything as we went. We had blackboards on each wall where we would write all the working titles and songs in progress, then each song would migrate onto the next board as it got to the next level of completion, like a little factory belt; it was always exciting when a track made it onto the last board. We did way more work on the front end in our rehearsal room, so when it was time to go into the studio we actually got all those parts laid down relatively quickly because all the songs where already so honed in. I can really hear it in our playing on this album, that we were all at a level of comfort with the parts already. I think it’s the best Chris has ever played, the drums on the new record are my favorite by far.
Following on from ‘All Hail Bright Futures’, did you have any sort of game plan or direction in mind for what you wanted with this new record?
We just wanted to make sure we continued stepping out of our comfort zone, making new sounds, approaching how we arranged things differently. All Hail felt so good in terms of shedding that worry about what people are going to think of you and just embracing that experimental mindset and progressing yourself as a musician, so we really just wanted to keep that mentality in what ever it was that was going to come out when we got in the room. It feels like this record wouldn’t exist without what we did on All Hail, but that Heirs has taken another big step towards something new again. It’s sort of like the same chocolate bar, but this album has a way higher cocoa content! All Hail was covered in popping candy and multi colored sprinkles and Heirs is like an 85% bar of Green and Blacks.
You posted up a teaser recently in the form of a 30 second video, featuring the track ‘Run Home’ from the upcoming record. It quickly clocked up over 700 likes on Facebook and over 5000 views on YouTube. The response has been good then?
Yeah, it’s crazy to see how many people are following what we do now. It wasn’t long ago we really had to shout and scream for anyone to take notice, but we’ve worked so hard for nearly ten years now so when we are able to put out a new song like we just have and have people respond and be excited about it, it feels like a bit of affirmation that this thing we’ve dedicated ourselves to is worthy of any attention.
You’ve also announced a list of upcoming live dates across Europe, with a North American tour in the works as well. Where are you looking forward to getting to on these upcoming tours?
Of course we are super excited for all the shows and there is the usual bigger cities that have that bit of magic about them the day of a show like Paris or Berlin or Amsterdam, but I think I’m probably most excited about the first few shows we have in the UK, purely as that’s the place we first took our band out of Ireland to go play this endless cycle of toilet venues for years with very little progress in terms of our audiences. So to be selling, for us, a lot of tickets in those places now makes it really exciting. I guess a bit of a coming of age vibe to it, again, like all that energy and love we’ve put into this band was never in vain.
You had a pretty incredible showing at last year’s ArcTanGent festival (and there’s video evidence to prove it!) How was the festival for you, and how was it to be invited back for its second year?
That festival is so, so good. It really flies the flag for a lot of music that isn’t represented nearly enough out there. So we were very honoured to be asked back for a second time, and to headline the opening night was such a huge occasion for us. The tent was rammed and the atmosphere was insane; such good memories.
Coming up to ten years as a band, a decade which has seen you produce a number of records and travel the world, how are things in the ASIWYFA camp?
Things are great. The past few years we’ve really been able to find our feet and work out what’s important and how to do it. I get to make music and travel with my best friends instead of doing something I don’t like doing. I’m very, very grateful for that and the fact that the lads have so much ambition and drive and passion to do and make and see more and more, it’s impossible not to stay inspired and excited for the next thing and the thing after that and the thing after that. I still cant switch my band brain off, I don’t think anyone in the band can, its sort of a shared obsession, so to realize that we’ve got to nearly ten years and are in no way bored makes me excited that we could maybe just keep doing it forever. A weird life, not for everyone, but for me, a happy one.