Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And So I Watch You From Afar for Dolan's this Wednesday

Watch from Afar as band take over
TONY Wright, of Belfast rockers And So I Watch You From Afar, has managed to avoid carrying his band’s amps and equipment into a gig venue in Manchester on account of our phone conversation.

Needless to say he is pleased. The guitarist with the gargantuan instrumental rock outfit is equally chipper to discover that band’s new album, Gangs, has just entered the Irish charts at number 28.

“We just found that out, it is really nice,” he beams. “Who would have thought that a bunch of noisy country bumpkins would ever get into the charts - I suppose it is better than Crystal Swing anyway, not to mention Jedward. If we can do it, there is hope for music after all,” he adds with a laugh.

The achievement is warranted, the follow-up to their acclaimed, Choice Music Prize nominated self-titled debut album, a cracker - throbbing with their own brand of joyous post-rock instrumentalism.

But where ASIWYFA’s debut was slightly edgy, on the raw side, Gangs is a more cohesive offering, certainly more celebratory in mood, a tribute to their many fans included among its many fruits.

It is surprising, then, to learn that four piece band - made up of Wright, fellow guitarist Rory Friers, bassist Johnny Adger and drummer Chris Wee - completely scrapped the 20-plus songs they had written for the follow-up, so-called “difficult” second album.

“We had written about 20-25 songs and I think through all of the touring, they just kind of lost their sparkle a little bit, we weren’t quite as enthused about them, they felt a bit rushed and we just decided to start again,” says Tony.

“So we did, I think it was six weeks before we went into the studio - we nearly gave our manager our heart attack, but we didn’t like the songs any more and wanted to start again. I think the songs were written in such a confined space of time that they have a really unique feeling to them - they sound like a body of work rather than just a catalogue of songs,” he adds.

It is a wonder they managed any time to record at all, not to mind scrapping songs and starting all over again, given that the hard-rocking outfit are among that rare breed of band that is willing to tour, tour and tour again - almost to the point of exhaustion. Known for their unrelenting appetite for playing live that has seen them play over 300 gigs since the start of 2009, the band are rightly acclaimed for their high-energy shows.

“Sometimes you do get it into your head, worrying about not getting time (to record), but you just make time, you have to. I won’t lie and say it has been completely stress free, there has been a lot of stress involved, but it is a nice problem to have,” he says.

“I would feel like an utter bastard complaining about it. I’m getting to go around the world and play music - I might be half broke, but I am getting to play music,” he laughs.

The result is an eight song tribute the band’s last two years playing together all over the world, with their typical monster riffage and pounding drums thrown into the mix. There is a mite more introspection in evidence.

“We just wanted to reflect the madness we have experienced over the past couple of years, travelling around, meeting all of these gangs of people. I think we have done it, I hope so,” adds Tony.

ASIWYFA play in Dolan’s Warehouse this Wednesday, May 18. Gangs is out now.

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