Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Stornoway

StornowayIt’s almost difficult to write an intro for Stornoway… We love every aspect of this band. As far as lyrics go, I don’t think it gets more beautiful than Zorbing, when it comes to musical creativity, Beachcomber’s Windowsill is genius, and don’t even get me started on those ethereal vocal harmonies. So when Stornoway told AMBY they’d answer a few questions for us, we were pretty excited! So have a read, where AMBY and Stornoway talk favourite songs off Tales from Terra Firma,  transvestite gong players, and anagrams!

AMBY: Hello Stornoway, thanks for taking the time to do this. How is the band doing?

Stornoway: Hello to you too! We’re fine thanks. We’re having a day off in Oxford between shows today so I’ve been developing photos. Yesterday was a bit of a head scramble: we were playing in Bath, but between soundcheck and stage time we had to make a quick dash over to Cardiff to play a couple of songs for a BBC Radio 2 show. We fell out of the van onto the stage in a slightly cartoonish way.

AMBY: Your latest album Tales from Terra Firma is a treat to listen to! What’s your favourite song off it and why?

Stornoway: Favourites?! We’re not allowed favourites, that would be unfair (imagine how slighted the other songs would feel if they knew)… Oh ok then. Over the last few weeks of touring we’ve inevitably been hearing the songs in a fresh way, and I’m enjoying the way ‘The Great Procrastinator’ is turning out at the moment, as it feels like the furtive Welsh harmonies are working in a pub singalong way…

AMBY: Speaking of the new album, what was the song-writing process like?

Stornoway: Brian wrote the songs in Bernie (his camper van) and he recorded a bunch of demos just before our last US tour, and later on that year we worked on trying out arrangements and tinkering together in Oli and Rob’s garage. If I were to sum it up, the common thread was working in confined spaces but dreaming of expanses.

AMBY: What is the funniest thing to happen to you at one of your gigs?

Stornoway: A few years ago we had a couple of transvestite gong players close our gig in Oxford and we had an interval for an acrobat. Not quite sure what we were thinking in retrospect! Anyway, they’re too expensive to hire nowadays.

AMBY: I have to ask, what’s the story behind Long-Distance Lullaby? It’s such an amazing and gorgeous song.

Stornoway: Well I’m really glad you like it, but the only back story I can give you for that one is that Brian is a serial drunken dialer! The recipient of the call was a total stranger and they were a bit shocked but non-plussed by the sentiment. No talk of a restraining order yet though.

AMBY: The backing vocals to Zorbing really add character to the track. What was the influence to add these in?

Stornoway: It feels quite a while back now, but I seem recall that at the time we were going for a slightly American gospel-tinged feel for that part of the song. But not being gospel singers from America it emerged as something else!

AMBY: Which artists have you been listening to lately?

Stornoway: Until very recently I’d never really listened to Robert Wyatt (I’d only heard his version of “I’m a Believer”), but I’ve been getting into an album called ‘Rock Bottom’, and Soft Machine stuff (and the idea of “Wyatting“). I’ve also got back into an old Meade “Lux” Lewis CD I have.

AMBY: Which three songs are the quintessential Stornoway?

Stornoway: As with question 2 that’s another cruel choice. Since it’s not really for me to say what would be ‘quintessential’, I can only say from a personal perspective that in terms of Brian’s songwriting, ‘On The Rocks’ and ‘(A Belated) Invite to Eternity’ and ‘November Song’ are top of my list. I hope that’s not too much of a cop out!

AMBY: What has you excited for 2013?

Stornoway: As the new album is still fresh and it’s been a good while since we were last on tour, we’re still incredibly excited about performing the new songs to people over here in the UK and US/Canada and re-acquainting ourselves with people, or introducing our music to people who’ve not heard us before at festivals in the summer.

AMBY: And lastly,  what’s something about Stornoway that nobody knows yet?

Stornoway: An anagram of our band name is Torso Yawn.


Thank you Stornoway, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout

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