Belfast based band And So I Watch You From Afar are known not just by their great Math/Pos-Rock music but also for their explosive and intense live shows. After two years, they are back with a new album Heirs, a record that explores vocals and guitars even more than the predecessors.
And to show their new tracks is exactly the main reason for the tour that brings And So I Watch You From Afar back to Portugal. We take the opportunity to get in touch with Chirs Wee, ASIWYFA’s drummer and talked about the band, the new record, and other personal stuff.
It is common to ask about why so random band’s names, but we’d like to know who create your logo that is so easily recognizable and even has honors of tattoos.
Our logo was created by a good friend of ours called Tim Farrell who is a very talented graphic designer based in Belfast. We really love the logo and are so happy that it has become such an iconic element of our band. We all have it tattooed on us, as have some of our close friends and also a number fans from all round the world which is particularly humbling.
Bands are usually on tour or composing records, or both, but beyond that, do you have some other individual activities in Belfast? Yes a lot of our year is taken up with touring and writing recording and we have already started a little writing since we got back from our recent North American tour. Aside from the day to day work in the band, Johnny is looking after his little daughter Eisa, Rory produces other musical acts as well as his own side projects, Niall runs his own club night in Belfast and I write a column for a Belfast based music magazine.
There was some time in the beginning of your career as ASIWYFA that you thought that this band wasn't going to have future? If that had happened, what were now doing each one of you? From even the earliest stage of our band we were very committed to making it work. I think the main reason that the band has had such longevity is that we were never expecting any overnight success and have always just put 100% in regardless of playing to empty rooms or huge festival crowds. We all grew up with a love of music and have been in various bands for over 15 years so I reckon we would all be in the music industry in some shape or form if the band had stopped at some point.
In your band, who are the one always available to do something new? As a band as a whole we are always motivated to progress the sound of the band from album to album and I feel we succeed in achieving that. Rory is the main creative force within the band so his ideas tend to shape the initial direction the music will take then the input of us other three add to and evolve the ideas. This approach is especially important for a mostly instrumental band like us in order to keep the music staying fresh and exciting.
Someone who do some research on you can easily find nicknames for almost everyone of you, "Blood Gargler","Bone Crusher","Johnny Gut Slurpper", but we do not know what’s Niall’s nickname. Haha, Rory came up with those nicknames years ago for our myspace profile and it was before Niall joined the band so we’ll have to get on that and come up with a name for him!
In this recent album you explore more the vocals rather than previous ones. How that was starting to happen during composing time? Vocals on our records tend to come into play towards the end of the writing/recording process and are like a top layer of sound once we have established a solid structure and personality of the song. We are also more seasoned vocalists now having toured a lot with the last album Al Hail Bright Futures which requires a lot more singing so that made us more confident in adding more on Heirs.
Besides vocals, what do you think Heirs brings new compared with previous records? Even before the writing process had begun for Heirs, we had discussions about the themes and sounds we wanted to pursue with the record and so we put a lot of time and effort into creating interesting tones and atmospheric elements into the finished product and I think that shows in the album. Heirs is a lot more organic and guitar based compared to the previous album, which had a lot of synth and sampled drums in it.
Do you have plans to have vocal collaborations in the future, like you did in your first EP? We don’t have specific plans for collaborations on any future music but we did have a couple of guest vocalists on Heirs. Rory’s younger brother Ewen sang on ‘This secret kings I know’ as well as backing vocals on the same song from our Sargent House label mate Mylets aka Henry Kohen.
Is it still fun for you playing songs live like "Set Guitars to Kill”? Absolutely. We’re still very proud of all our back catalogue and songs like Set Guitars still excite us and get great reactions from crowds.
Your live shows are known and remembered as most explosive, intense and energetic ones. What can we expect from you live in this tour?
Now that we have 4 albums worth of music, we now have the luxury of playing a very varied set each night and this past year we have aimed to play a good mix of all the albums and EP’s. And we hope we can continue to play shows with the same intensity as ever.
What do you remember from your past live shows in Portugal? We have really fond memories of the Portuguese crowds. The show we played in Porto was so sweaty and intense which suits us as a band so well, the more energy that we get off the crowd the better experience we have, so that night was particularly memorable. And for that reason we can’t wait to be back!
Now our “everytime question”. What are you listening of new that you recommend?
The new Battles album came out while we were on tour in North America recently so that has been a big album for us collectively. I also found a great Australian band recently called Hiatus Kaiyote so I’ve had them on a lot. I have also been trying to expand my drumming palate this year and have been listening to a lot of jazz so John Coltrane has featured a lot.
There are some Portuguese band that you like to hear?
We’re not so well accustomed to Portuguese bands so we’re hoping to discover some new ones when we’re over this week. It’s a great aspect of touring in different parts of the world being able to discover bands that you might not normally have access to or have the opportunity to find out about.
To finish, which guitar and bass pedals do you recommend to someone who are start playing? The guys have been using a lot of Earthquaker Devices pedals recently which have helped us find a really diverse palate of sounds with our writing. The Hoofreaper, Philosopher’s Tone and Disaster Transporter have been really fun for the guys to discover new sounds with.