After finally releasing their debut in April, performing at T in the Park and just coming off their first stint around Europe with We Were Promised Jetpacks, spirits are high in the Fatherson camp. I was lucky enough to have a chat with the band before they took to the stage at their show in Edinburgh.
I think it’s safe to say that I Am An Island is a huge success. Did you expect such a big reaction?
Ross Leighton: It’s quite humbling to see something that you have released yourself to do so well. It’s surpassed everything. Well, not everything we thought we could do, we knew it would do OK but we ran with it a lot further than we thought we would. It’s pretty awesome.
What sort of experience was it to record the album? Intense? Laid back?
Greg Walkinshaw: Yeah we decided to go in for 18 days in a row and I think that definitely helped the mentality. It definitely felt like we were in there, working really hard on it. It was a lot of fun really. Really, really fun.
Marc Strain: Yeah, you know, a lot of bands travel quite far away and try to isolate themselves away from what’s normal. Well we did record it in Glasgow in our mate’s studio that we really wanted to work in. But that constantly working in that one place; it’s really nice to actually get away from everything and just focus on the task at hand.
Chris Beltran: There was pressure, but it was pressure to do well. When it’s that kind of pressure then it’s OK, because you’re doing it with your friends. Everyone who we worked with on the album was in our close group of friends, like our tour manager, Bruce, produced the album. So because we knew him so well that took a bit of the angst and anxiety off it. But there was pressure to do well, and that helped us to achieve what we wanted.
What has been the bands biggest highlight this year?
Greg: T in the Park was a really, really, big one for us. It was to play at the King Tut’s stage which was a dream for all of us. That was an incredible experience and something we’re never going to forget.
Ross: Plus, we just went around Europe for the first time with We Were Promised Jetpacks. So that’s a big one, getting to visit Germany and Switzerland and Italy and all those places.
Chris: Also when the album came out was a very special day for us. It was one of those things that we worked really hard on and on the day the album came out we did a session for Vic Galloway and that went really well. Then we went to pub afterwards, looked at each other and went “Lads, we’ve done a good job! This is actually pretty good!”
You’re considered by some to be part of the same “scene” as Frightened Rabbit, Admiral Fallow, The Twilight Sad and so on. Is that something you’re comfortable with? Or do you want to be considered as something different?
Greg: It’s nice to be bundled in with those guys who are all doing really well.
Chris: Yeah for people to compare them to us is a massive compliment.
Who would you consider are your influences?
Greg: It changes all the time. We’re always listening to new people and doing new things.
Ross: Idlewild was a good one. That’s a solid band who make good records. I don’t think there was one person (or a couple of people) that we were inspired by. It was more of a tapestry of everything we listened to over the course of time.
Marc: We always have trouble answering that question because, well for Greg, Ross and I, this is the only band we’ve been in, so how we sound is pretty much by what we’ve been influenced by when we were 14. Then it’s just progressed into what it is now. Then it just evolved and matured a bit when Chris got involved.
Chris: Yeah you’re just taking influence from each other and from the chemistry we have with each other.
I know that I Am An Island only came out this year, but are you working on any more material?
Marc: We’re kind of always working on it. As soon as you finish with an album, you start thinking about other bits and bobs. It’s all kind of relaxed at the moment though, it’s still the “I Am An Island” time at the moment, we only released it this year.
Greg: Even with this Scottish headline tour at the moment. These are the first shows we’ve played in these cities since the album’s come out. Last time we played in Edinburgh was last year before the album came out. So that’s still in the forefront of our minds at the moment.
Which Scottish bands do you find really exciting right now?
Greg: Model Aeroplanes. Really, really excited about them. We were really pleased we could get them on all the shows supporting us. They’re great guys and a really exciting band.
Marc: They’ve grown so fast as well. I remember seeing in this small bar in Glasgow called Pivo Pivo about a year ago and thinking about them back then and thinking about them now, they’ve come along in leaps and bounds. They’re totally killing it. It’s a total pleasure to have a band like that with us.
Ross: My favourite band at the moment is Pronto Mama. They’re really good.
Marc: There’s Prides as well. They’re totally smashing it at the moment. It’s a really good time for Scottish music.
Any advice for upcoming musicians?
Marc: The main thing is just enjoying it. Obviously there are loads of seminars that you can go to that can teach you stuff but the underlying thing is just to have a really good time. Yeah, have a good time and don’t be an idiot. That’s pretty much it simply!
Chris: Yeah even people who are doing really well can be an idiot.
Greg: It’s a good life policy I think, have a good time and don’t be an idiot!
Marc: Yeah but say you’re doing a show in Glasgow and someone says “do you want to do a show tomorrow but this show is free and the other one isn’t”, don’t do that. It’s stupid! Just make one of the shows a little bit cheaper.
Chris: Just be yourself as well. Don’t just copy other what other people are doing just because it’s cool. Just do what you want to do, and if that’s copying somebody then that’s cool!
Greg: Be yourself. Have a good time. Don’t be an idiot. Great, great life policy!