RISING STARS: Farriers
Singer and songwriter Stephen McCartney on the band's sound and why writing is a democratic process. Click Play Audio to listen to two Farriers tracks
How would you describe the Farriers sound?
We play a stompy, rootsy kinda folk-like music, if that's any kind of description. It's generally pretty upbeat too, because we're upbeat kinda people!
You've been playing venues in Belfast and beyond for some time now. Being an alt-folk-type band, have you ever come up against a rock audience that just haven't got your sound?
We played a gig in Lavery's one night with some proper metal guys right in front of us. We thought they'd hate it, but after a couple of tunes they were headbanging away. Course, the booze probably encouraged them, but I was really glad they enjoyed what we were doing. I think there's a real energy to a lot of our songs, especially live, which people seem to get into. Even metallers.
In such cases, do you enjoy raging against the rock-clique machine?
I think it's a great thing to hear all sorts of music being played live; we all happily rocked out at a LaFaro gig not so long ago, and stomped along as hard as we could in front of Mumford and Sons at the Open House Festival, for example. There's a fantastic variety of music floating round Belfast at the minute, and all of us love to get out and hear it.
Your songs are very accomplished and well written. Is songwriting a democratic process with you, or do you have a creative dictator on board?
It depends, some of the songs start with all of us meeting up and just playing loosely through wee ideas that end up being crafted into some kind of structure. Then there were a couple of songs that I had written before we got together that worked beautifully with the band, so we play those too.
Rachel (Coulter) and I have been able to collaborate really well when writing songs and lyrics. We both think quite similarly when it comes to the creative bits and pieces. In fact all of us are in a completely fortunate position, because it can be quite tricky finding musicians who blend well, and we all get along splendidly.
What are the essential influences for Farriers?
Without writing a sprawling list... As a band we have a really eclectic background. There's a heavier rock element to what Jonny (Tate) listens to, Aaron (Jackson) plays bass grooves that occasionally border on the funky, and Rachel brings vibes from mellow acoustic stuff to Motown divas. I listen to a lot of bluegrass and old American folk.
We've all really shared our musical appreciation over the last while, and there's plenty of artists we all enjoy. To name but a few, Gillian Welch is simply breathtaking; Mumford and Sons have been a favourite of ours for some time now; Ryan Adams gets very many plays; Jay Farrar is one of the greatest songwriters ever; Fleet Foxes; Josh Ritter... I'll not go on. Of course, there are the classics that everyone should listen to, but we don't even need to name them.
The production on your songs is of a very high standard. Where did you record your songs thus far, who produced, and what releases can people get their hands on?
We got the Coastlines EP done in Paul Steen's studio in Newtownards. Being such an intuitive producer, he really understood what kind of sound we wanted, and was completely able to provide it. We had a bloody top time making the recordings, in no small part down to the great atmosphere in the studio, for which we have Paul to thank. He barely flinched when Jonny rocked up with a water trough, for use as a kick drum on one song. The Coastlines EP is our first release, and it can be got at any of our gigs really. It should be up on iTunes in the near future, too.
According to your MySpace page, you're not signed to any label yet. What's the next step for the Farriers?
We've only been together a short while, so we're just getting the ball rolling so to speak, getting heard by a wider audience. We also started playing with a friend of ours, Kate, who ties the whole thing up beautifully with some amazing work on the viola. It's hard for me not to smile when she plays on the songs, because it works so well.
Like I said the Coastlines EP is knocking about now, and we've got an EP launch coming up next month, which should be a blast. Apart from that, next on the agenda for us is to get some more songs written and batter them out as much as possible; the live gigs are where we can really let rip and stomp good 'n' proper!
Farriers launch the Coastlines EP at the Menagerie, Belfast, on December 16. Listen to other Farriers tracks and find information on future gigs via the Farriers MySpace page.