INTERVIEW: Fatherson

fatherson high res

The following is something I did for Shout4Music not that long ago; and is a straight copy-and-paste from the site, you should check out S4M too, it’s great.

Almost nine months after first requesting the opportunity to interview one of my personal favourite bands Fatherson, I finally got around to setting date and time – after their set at this year’s Stag & Dagger festival in Glasgow (May 18th).

Due to the enormity of the text (6 pages on Word!) I have taken the liberty of sticking in some videos amongst the words. They are, in chronological order: the music videos for ‘Hometown’ (from the band’s debut EP) and ‘First Born’ (latest single); and finally a session (for Danger Sessions) of brand new track ‘Cat Stevens’ – as well as a link to the band’s music on iTunes (above).

After dragging my girlfriend into the city centre and to the venue as my +1 we both enjoyed the band’s excellent, but short, set and headed backstage to get the interview underway. You can read it in full below:

Ross Leighton (vocals and guitar): Hey, how are you guys doing? Did you see the set?

Kyle McCormick: We’re good thanks, we were down the front singing along – very unprofessional!

Greg Walkinshaw (drums): Have you been about the other stuff today?

K: No, we thought we’d only get entry to this venue so we came at 7, but if we had known we’d get free full access wristbands we would’ve made the most of it. What about you guys, caught any other acts?

Chris Beltran (keyboards and guitar): No, but I heard Blindfolds smashed it.

G: I caught the last song of Kitty the Lion earlier on and that was really good, it was at capacity. But we were in Brighton last night so we drove up and got into Glasgow at 9 o’clock this morning and just went to sleep.

K: Was that for The Great Escape? Sounds like a hard slog!

G: We weren’t driving so it was totally fine! Marc was doing the driving.

R: it was only 9 hours. I was sleeping on the floor (in luxury) and the open bit of the door was kicking up water from the road so I went to sleep fine and knackered, and woke up with one side of me soaking.

K: So questions… you’ve been in the studio recording your debut album: can you enlighten us as to the tracks or potential names etc.?

Marc Strain (bass): No-one’s actually asked what’s on the album yet, and I thought more people would be interested in that – the album’s got some old songs and some new songs on it, and that’s all we’re saying.

G: You’ll hopefully be hearing a track from it quite soon.

M: When we starting out writing a tracklisting for the album we had a list of 15 songs and a lot of them were stuff that’s been out on the EPs and single and then we whittled it down and put some new ones in and had a rough tracklisting; and then a few weeks before we went into the studio we thought “Nah, there’s too much old stuff that people have already heard.” and so we wrote two new songs in the last week and a half before we went in.

C: Yeah, definitely in the last two practice sessions before we went into the studio.

M: We played one of those tonight, that I introduced as a new song and the other one has never been played in front of anyone. All the other tracks have been played at some point, but you’d maybe have to be a die-hard fan to have heard them all.

K: The next question was to be “What tracks from previous releases, if any, have made it onto the record?” so eh…

R: We’re keeping it all under wraps!

M: I posted a photo on Facebook, I think it was on my own one, of the big A3 sheet of the tracklisting with all the parts for recording and put masking tape over the track names so you couldn’t see them. But apparently if you adjusted the contrast and brightness you could read them all – so I deleted that.

K: As a band you’ve had the chance to support the likes of Feeder, Idlewild and Panic! at the Disco: which of the shows was the best and which of the bands did you think was the friendliest?

R: Idlewild were super friendly, they’re really nice guys.

M: Oh that’s a hard one. Panic! at the Disco were really nice, and they had the best soundcheck of any band ever.

R: They just played covers, like Marvin Gaye and Kansas and everything it was unbelievable.

C: Frightened Rabbit and Admiral Fallow were obviously great shows.

G: We’ve yet to encounter an unfriendly band, which is a nice thing I suppose. I think just to satisfy teenage, young Greg Panic! at the Disco was the best – sheer nostalgia.

R: I liked the Idlewild shows, I thought it was really a lot of fun, and the Frightened Rabbit show at The Picture House [Edinburgh] was amazing, and The Barrowlands [Glasgow] with Admiral Fallow. I think we’ve been really lucky with who we’ve been able to play with and I don’t think we’ve really done anything that wasn’t great fun with anyone that wasn’t really nice – so we’ve been lucky. And obviously [We Were Promised] Jetpacks because we played with them up in Thurso a couple of months ago and they were incredible, so it’s really nice to see them again.

K: On the other side of the coin, who’s the best band you have had open for you?

R: Pronto Mama? We’ve had a lot of great bands… Alaskan Moustache?

M: Yeah, Alaskan Moustache.

G: I’d say Alaskan Moustache.

C: For me anyway, having not heard of a band previously, and seeing them and being completely blown away. The thing with Pronto Mama and Prides or whatever is they’re all bands we’re friends with, so we kind of know what to except, whereas with Alaskan Moustache it totally took me by surprise.

R: I don’t even know if they’re still together – so yeah, Alaskan Moustache from Dundee.

K: Chris is relatively new to the band, how did that come about, and will Elaine [Glass, live cello] become a permanent member at any point, if she isn’t already?

M: The way it is just now has just been very natural, Elaine’s played with us for years and years and it works really well on our live stuff.

C: I guess I got involved by mistake, in the writing process of the album.

M: We very much write songs like a rock band, we speak to a lot of bands who have a lot of different song writing processes, I also read a thing about how Prides (formerly Midnight Lion) write their songs and I really freaked out about how people go and sit down and really think about it. The way this band kind of works is Ross has a song or an idea and we go to a garage or that and write, and it works very much like that. Then when Chris started playing with us, having the second guitar and the keys worked really well with the song writing structure.

C: I kinda feel like I’m the icing on the cake. But think it has definitely changed the style of the band and the sound of the recordings – this is Fatherson 2.0!

M: What are you trying to say about the old band before?!

K: Haha, the very old version, and first incarnation of the band was called Energy! – what were the reasons behind each of the names, and what spurred on the change?

R: Energy! happened when Greg and I were in Physics at school and thought “Let’s start a band called Energy!” and we thought we were being cool.

G: The bee’s knees!

R: Though trying to publicise anything with ‘energy’ on it is near impossible with Scottish Gas, the energy crisis and that kind of stuff, and we didn’t really like it. So when it came to the point where we came to a crossroads where were could try and continue as Energy! or start afresh and relaunch and remarket the whole thing we changed the name.

M: The reason it’s called Fatherson is because… Bruce [Rintoul, tour manager] decided. We had a long time of thinking and deciding what we were going to change to – it was really difficult for us to think of a name, and the lyrics of the Energy! songs had ideas of ‘father and son’ so it kinda fitted.

K: In terms of tonight, you’re the only local band playing this venue, the ‘main event’ if you will, do you see that as an honour?

R: Yeah definitely. We’ve always wanted to do Stag & Dagger, and for them to ask us to come in at this stage was great. For the past couple of years we’ve always gone “Aw, I’d really like to do Stag & Dagger.” so to be told we were playing the ABC1 for it was great.

M: What I really liked about this show was, because we’ve been away recording and writing, we have a load of new songs we want to play. It’s nice to play them where you’re from – in your hometown I think, but not to a big headline show. Getting to play a nice big venue, and to people who know the band but also people who don’t and to try out the new stuff without having the pressure of it being your headline show. We when release the album later in the year, we’ll be back with headlining dates – and I’ve been really keen to play Glasgow for ages.

K: Will there be a standard headline tour in conjunction with the album release – a world tour?

M: Yeah, yeah, we’ve started planning it now. There’ll be news coming up in the next few months.

K: Awesome. Being part of the Glasgow music scene, and that community, do you feel that helped you as a band, and are there any bands you are personal friends with?

R: Yeah, you’re friends with everyone because you’re in their business all the time. Not in an intrusive way, just the people you meet when you go out are the people that are in these other bands. We all go to the same places, and it seems that everyone doing this sort of thing hangs out with each other.

G: The people you’re working with are the people you hang about with – it’s great. I mean, we’re really good friends with the guys in Prides, and Kitty the lion as well. We’ve played loads and loads of shows with them and we’ve become great pals through that.

R: Pronto Mama as well, The Winter Tradition, Copper Lungs. We’ve got lots of friends up and down the country we wouldn’t have without being in a band. So I think the Glasgow music scene has expanded to encompass Scotland in a way; this is the epicentre, this is where you’ll get gigs every night but it doesn’t exclude bands from anywhere in Scotland anymore.

G: They all come down for Glasgow shows, and Glasgow bands go up and play with them.

R: Yeah I think it’s great, and a big community and no-one hates each other, which is really good you know?

K: Next on this run of show you’ll be playing Rockness (June 9th), how do you feel about it and how do you think it will compare to T in the Park last year?

G: Really excited about that one, it’s a total dream come true. We played T in the park in a tent last year, so this is our first time playing a proper big stage outside at a big capacity festival – so really looking forward to it, and really excited to be given the opportunity to play it.

C: I went to Rockness three years ago (I think) and I went down early to the first band on the main stage and that’s how I discovered The Xcerts, when they were at the stage we are now. And I’m just excited that the idea of someone gong to the main stage of Rockness and not knowing what to expect, and coming across us.

M: That’s the benefit of playing that stage, because wherever you are at a festival if you’re not really sure where to go you just hang around the big stages. So hopefully we’ll pick up some new fans – yes, Rockness is going to be amazing.

K: With your first album on the horizon, what is the first album each of you bought with your own cash?

R: The first album I bought with cold, hard money was… the first Mull Historical Society album [‘Loss’]. It was either that, or it was ‘Hybrid Theory’ by Linkin Park.

G: I think my first was ‘Reanimation’ by Linkin Park.

M: My first single was Linkin Park.

G: It’s all coming together – born and raised on Linkin Park!

K: Can we expect a nu-metal second album them?

M: Wait ‘til you hear the first album!

K: Oh, so that’s why it’s such a secret?

C: My first album was ‘All Killer No Filler’ by Sum 41, I don’t know if I paid to get ‘The A List’ by A1 so that doesn’t count.

M: I think mine was ‘Spice World’ by Spice Girls, the soundtrack from that film. I’m pretty sure that was early, and I did buy it myself.

K: A number of your songs, especially ones on first EP, have a theme of water – is there a reason behind that on-going theme?

R: I think it’s a kind of happy accident, because the album is quite a lot about water as well. I dunno, I’ve never been one to really analyse lyrics so I must just have water on the brain.

C: Haha, 98% of Ross is water, so the chances of stuff being about water is quite high.

R: Yeah, I don’t know… my vocabulary is very naval (as in the Navy not my belly button!) – yeah, just a happy accident, maybe the next album will be about trees and forestry, or tarmac.

G: The Fatherson urban album: talking about the streets, slabs, and play-parks.

K: Talking of albums, which is your favourite for this year’s Scottish Album of the Year Award?

M: I haven’t really checked out the longlist yet.

C: Not Emeli Sandé or Calvin Harris. The album that really stands out for me on the list is ‘Light of the North’ by Miaoux Miaoux, because it’s self-produced and that – it’s really nice that something that can be done in someone’s bedroom can receive recognition on a national level. Admiral Fallow’s on there too, so Admiral Fallow or Miaoux Miaoux.

K: My personal pick would be ‘Afterlives’ be The Unwinding Hours, but that’s just me. Last question; are there any bands you’d like to recommend?

R: Prides, Pronto Mama, Vukovi, The LaFontaines, The Winter Tradition, Blindfolds, Copper Lungs. Bruce Rintoul, the solo artist, and any bands he works with, The Youth and the Young.

C: I really like Discopolis, and Fake Major – especially Fake Major they’re great.

G: So that’s the shortlist… and Kitty The Lion.

M: [To Chris] What’s the name of that band you mentioned the other day, was it Fartweiser or something?

C: Buttweiser! Sunshine Social, so basically, they’re a really awesome band and they are the guys that inspired me to start a band; but the band they were in when I was in school was called Buttweiser – they sounded nothing like Sunshine Social, but you should check them out.

M: We were in the van, just sitting and chatting, and Chris came out and said “There was this band that inspired really me…” and it was all dead sweet and we asked what they were called and he said “Buttweiser.”

K: And with that… that’s us! Thanks for your time and have a good night, was lovely to meet you all.

R: Thanks, and you too.

You can catch the band this summer at the following festivals, tickets for all three are available now:

Rockness, Inverness (June 9th); Hebfest, Stornoway (July 20th); Belladrum, Inverness-shire (August 2nd).

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