ASIWYFA on touring, producing a new album and smelling like ‘manly meat’?
Since the release of their latest album All Hail Bright Futures, the post-rock outfit hailing from Belfast have had their work cut out for them. Just like finding a lost object, you’d leave no stone unturned. The men too have not been leaving stones, or in this case countries ‘unturned’. They have been playing countless shows to fans in the USSR to China and now thanks to the good folks at Kitty Wu Records, they’ll be playing a show right here alongside local prog favorites sub:shaman!
We managed to snag the band consisting of Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy on guitar, Johnny Adger on bass and Chris Wee on drums in between their swamped schedule to discuss the process of writing and producing the album, band dynamics and of course, touring!
Hello And So I Watch You From Afar! What have you guys been doing recently?
Hello there! We’ve just ﬁnished an amazing year of by playing some Irish shows that started the 13th December in Dublin and ﬁnished on New Years Eve in Cork. Prior to that we had the absolute pleasure of playing our ﬁrst shows in India, a very successful American co-headline tour with our label mates TTNG and since All Hail Bright Futures was released in March, some of the best shows we have ever played across Europe and beyond.
So ﬁrst things ﬁrst, how did And So I Watch You From Afar come about?
ASIWYFA came together in 2005 on the north coast of Ireland. At the time I wasn’t part of a band but the other boys were and I was very keen to get back playing live music. One evening after an alcohol fuelled conversation (in which I revealed my next musical project would be called And So I Watch You From Afar) I was persuaded to come to Rory’s house to jam and the rest is history.
What gave you the reason and motivation to record All Hail Bright Futures? Also, what is the meaning behind the album?
I think All Hail was the second album we really wanted to make but due to circumstances at the time it didn’t happen and Gangs did. When we started working on what became All Hail as a three piece, it became apparent to us that we could continue to push ourselves and the music in whatever direction we wanted so we did. The comfort zone was left far behind and things happened in the studio which we’d never thought possible at a time. The album represents that point in everyone’s life when it’s time to put up or shut up. The point where you come out at the other end of the tunnel and realise that’s the direction you should’ve gone in the ﬁrst place but you realise you’re a better person for having taken that detour.
How do you guys approach writing and recording songs?
Song writing had always stemmed from an idea that one of us brings to the table and if we all like it we jam it out and ﬁgure our parts out. For All Hail it was the ﬁrst time that we were suggesting each other’s parts and coming up with vocal harmonies! Everything felt new so we’re keeping that mentality as we head into writing the new record. This time Niall is involved and we are all excited about ideas that have been jammed so far.
What was the process of producing the album like?
Rocky O’Reilly at Start Together Studios in Belfast produced the album and as a lot of the album came together in the studio, I felt really glad to be working with him again. (He had recorded and had a lot to do with our other two albums) Rocky is an exceptionally talented musician who fully gets what ASIWYFA are about and that makes the production process a lot easier and more enjoyable.
The first time I heard your demos, I felt that ASIWYFA’s sound was pretty darn unique and it felt almost as if it had its story to tell. Not many bands are able to achieve this, what was the secret behind it?
Thank you very much. Truth be told, what you heard on that ﬁrst demo was very heavily inﬂuenced by music we’d been listening to at the time but it ended up tweaked somehow and with our slant on it all. All four of us had separate tastes in music but it came together in the middle and worked.
How has performing been so far? Were there any downright bat shit crazy experiences that you and your band have shared?
On stage is where we feel most comfortable so over the years I think the shows have gotten better. Performing the songs we’ve created and watching the crowd enjoy them is my favourite part of being in this band. There have been loads of amazing moments with the crowds since we started touring, from comically timed stage diving to circle pitting to The Voiceless. One year at Pukklepop festival in Belgium I sang with Gallows whilst the rest of the lads looked on. Not bat shit crazy but great times with great people.
What type of crowds do you all prefer playing? Small and more intimate gigs or large festivals?
I think all of us would answer this question differently. There is always something special about playing a show where the crowd are as sweaty as you and in your face feeding of each other’s energy. However, it’s also an incredible experience to play a festival (in Portugal for example) where people know your songs and go fucking mental.
What have been the craziest fan experiences you all have gotten?
We’re very lucky to have an incredibly devoted fan base who are all just on the journey with us. I have never met a fan I’d consider crazy. It is so fucking awesome that so many of them have the band logo or a song title tattooed on them somewhere, including a very good friend of ours Jarlath who has an entire back piece based around the Gangs artwork. Legend.
If you guys could pick an epic band you’d want to support, who would it be?
For me personally it’s got to be Queens of the Stone Age or Mastodon. We are all huge fans of so many bands though it’s hard to pick one. We have had the pleasure of playing with some unbelievable bands. We played a few shows with Them Crooked Vultures so got to meet and play with heroes . Also playing with Nine Inch Nails in our home city was very special.
If your sound could be represented by a scent or a ﬂavor, what would it be?
Given the popularity of bananas and coconut milk between the rest of the boys, probably a combination of these! You can’t beat the manly smell of cooking meat though!
Will this be your ﬁrst trip in Singapore?
For three of us it will be. Another beautiful place I can’t believe I’m going to play. I think for Chris it’s a dream come true as he has family there and has spent many hours in Singapore.
What have you heard about the crowds here and what is one thing that you guys would want to do when you’re here? (E.g. try the local food)
I haven’t heard too much about the crowds but if you guys are ASIWYFA fans you’ll be the same appreciative amazing people that keep us making music and keep us on the road so we can’t wait to meet you.
Lastly, what do you want your audience to feel after catching your set?
Like ﬁnally making that fucking life changing decision they’ve been putting of for the past while only sweatier!
There’s no doubt we’ll be sweating it out at Zouk on the 28th! Grab your tickets ASAP here.