Thursday, 21 August 2014

Interview - Go Swim

Go Swim, 'Call Sign', from Animal E.P. (this track will feature in my Top Songs for 2014 at the end of the year)

Info: Back in June when we were all getting excited for the summer I did an introductory piece on Belfast band Go Swim's upcoming E.P., Animal, and since then they have been shot out of a cannon and into the stratosphere, and while the band said they could pinpoint their meteoric rise back to that post, I told them I would not mention it as it would not be appropriate to attribute their success solely to me.*

Since then the band have, obviously released their E.P. to great critical acclaim (2FM's Dan Hegarty - 'I love that band, everything they've put out so far has so so impressed'), supported The Kaiser Chiefs and are now set to play Bestival at The Isle of Wight at the request of the BBC. With such rapid success there has already been rumours that some band members are requesting certain coloured M&M's be removed from the bowl in their tour bus.** In an attempt to separate the fact from the fiction, I caught up with Steve for an interview, he represented well.

Remy: A lot has happened since we were last in touch, Go Swim are still less than a year together, you’ve released the Animal EP, supported Kaiser Chiefs in Belfast and have recently been selected to play the BBC’s Introducing stage at Bestival in the Isle of Wight, quite the whirlwind, what’s it been like?

Steve: What can I say other than it’s been an absolutely amazing buzz of late. Releasing the EP has been the real catalyst; it was all recorded and produced by our drummer Stef in his attic. We worked really hard on it and put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have it ready to go by June. Thankfully it paid off and we sold out our launch night and the EP received a lot of seriously great reviews and airplay from some much respected media types. Off the back of that came the support slot with the Kaiser Chiefs which, as you can imagine, was mind blowing and when we got the email from BBC inviting us to play at Bestival we couldn't quite believe it. It’s a real honour for us to play at such a prestigious festival and a great opportunity to showcase what we can do. Things are starting to move in the right direction for us and it’s really exciting, although we are keeping our feet firmly on the ground.

Remy: Bestival will be just after Electric Picnic in Ireland with many of the same acts playing both festivals, such as Outkast, Beck and Chic with Nile Rodgers, is there anyone you’ll be particularly interested in going to see collectively or individually?

Steve: Yes it’s a festival that appeals to us as, like EP it has more of an eclectic mix of acts than many of the main stream festivals. Desy, our guitarist, is a massive Nile Rodgers and Chic fan, I think he’s seen them 5 times over the last few years including last night in Belfast! There’s a few up and coming acts such as Catfish and the Bottlemen that I’m keen on checking out but as a collective we are all interested  in seeing the like of Chvrches, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobious Pip and of course Foals who have been an inspiration to us from before we even put this band together and it’s amazing to be on the same line up.

Remy: I’m going to have to put my hand up here and say I don’t recognise many of the names on the Introducing stage, do you know any of the music yourselves, and if yes, any tips for someone who might be heading to Bestival, apart from, of course, making sure they see Go Swim!

Steve: I’m not going to lie, I am not familiar with many of the names either but I guess that’s the beauty of the introducing stage, it’s about discovering new music. Although I did check out a girl called Phildel who is definitely worth a listen.

Remy: I remember back in the mid-noughties a number of bands sprang on the scene at the same time such as Bloc Party, Hard-Fi, Maximo Park and The Kaiser Chiefs, they seem to be the only ones who have consistently been releasing albums since and doing well, what are the lads in the band like, any anecdotes from backstage for us?!

Steve: I wouldn’t say anecdotes as such other than I spent most of my time trying to bag a Go Swim support slot with them on their UK tour but they are a lovely bunch of down to earth lads who were very relaxed and happy to offer their advice. I did witness their pre gig warm up but I couldn’t possibly go into details about that..!

Remy: Getting ready for this interview I had another good few listens to the Animal E.P. and in particular I’ve had ‘Call Sign’ on loop which I think is highly addictive and a fantastic tune, when will we get our grubby mits on Go Swim’s full album release?

Steve: Thank you that’s very kind, 'Call Sign' is my favourite too. It’s actually the first song we wrote and to me still sounds the freshest. An album is something that is definitely a long term goal and we will record one when the times right. At the minute we are just keeping our heads down and writing as much as possible. We may release a new single before the end of the year.

Remy: What’s the most star struck you’ve been since things really gathered momentum following the E.P. release?

Steve: I saw Batman fighting Superman man one Saturday night recently in Belfast City centre recently does that count? 

Remy: So long as it wasn't Val Kilmer and Dean Cain, yes!

Remy:  Growing up in Belfast were any of you keen fans of some of the great musicians from that city such as Stiff Little Fingers, Therapy?, Van Morrison and erm, Brian Kennedy?

Steve: I wouldn’t say growing up we were massive fans of any of those bands but we have a lot of respect for them for getting their message across and making names for themselves. Belfast has seen its bad times and songs like 'Alternative Ulster' summed  up the mood of Belfast and a lot of the province at the time and thankfully the majority of people in Northern Ireland are  keen to continue to move forward and live in a peaceful society. (Remy: little surprise for Jules at the end of the interview)

Remy: I’ve noticed over the last couple of years and the music I’ve had sent to me that there is a serious amount of great bands on this little island at the moment in comparison to say, 10 years ago, including fellow Belfast act, Abandcalledboy, can you attribute that to anything in particular? (i.e. the increasing power of social media, coincidence?)

Steve: I think there’s always been great bands here I guess with the help of the likes of Facebook, Twitter etc. It gives you direct access to an audience you may not have been able to reach before. It also helps that acts such as Two Door Cinema Club, ASIWYFA (And So I Watch You From Afar) are flying the flag for Irish music. On the downside I think the attendance of local gigs has suffered a bit which is a shame as there is so much talent on this island which you can usually see a few miles away from your house for under a tenner rather than pay £60 to stand at the back of an arena watching someone mime.

Remy: A career as a musician is an enviable position to be in, I presume that’s where you all want to be full-time eventually, is it difficult balancing work life with what you’re doing at the moment?

Steve: Unfortunately the downside to being a musician is that it doesn’t pay very well or at all in some cases. You are constantly spending money from your own pocket just to be able to rehearse, buy gear, travel to venues etc. We all work full time to subsidize that and  yeah sometimes that can be difficult, only today we had to turn down a good opportunity due to working commitments. It’s the way it is and we are used to it. The dream is to be able to be able to afford to do this for a living.

Remy: Did any of you have tickets to see Garth Brooks in Dublin?
Steve: Is it on?...Is it off?...Oh it’s on again.. oh wait it’s off again... GOD WHEN WILL IT STOP!! It was like the whole of Ireland came to a stand still for a month. I actually think they should have let it go ahead just so we wouldn’t have to see his face on the tele again whining about it, although I did feel sorry for the people who bought tickets from touts and paid their travel/accommodation upfront, that’s not nice. Not sure about the rest of our band having tickets although I did notice our drummer had some time booked off around those dates and is the owner of a rather dashing checked shirt. In truth I’d rather stick my genitals in a wasps nest than sit through two hours of that. (<<<<< Remy says: 'YES TO THIS!')

* / ** The opening two paragraphs may have contained some unconfirmed claims.

A big thanks to Steve for taking the interview and to all of the band, I wish them all the success in the world. If you want to catch Go Swim here's a few upcoming shows;

Sunflower Fest, Hillsborough, Belfast, 24th of August

Bestival, Isle of Wight, U.K., 7th of September

For Jules!

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