Admiral Fallow’s latest album Tiny Rewards is released in May and the Glasgow band were in town to preview several of the new tracks, as well as a few old favourites. AMBY caught up with Kevin Brolly to discuss his reaction to Fearne Cotton’s description of the band as ‘dreamy’!
AMBY: I like tales of how bands are often magnetically attracted to each other. How did the stars align for Admiral Fallow?
KB: It wasn’t a case of the stars aligning, more drunkenly clattering into one another. We met at college and were just pals really, before we started doing band stuff. Sorry to disappoint you.
AMBY: Fearne Cotton surprisingly described you as ‘dreamy’ and you’ve also been labelled as an ‘indie-folk-rock band’. When the band formed did you set out to create the sounds of a particular genre, or was the process more organic than that?
KB: That’s the first I’ve heard of it! I assume she’s talking about Phil though, not the music. We never really set out to play in any particular style or genre. To begin with we all played acoustic instruments, so that probably had an effect on how the music came across. But like any band, we’ve progressed over the years and what we sound like now is pretty far removed from our early offerings. There’s more synths these days, and fewer clarinet solos.
AMBY: Songs like ‘Subbuteo’ provoke very vivid imagery in the listener. Is this intentional and do certain films or film makers also inspire your sound?
KB: I guess most folk can relate quite easily with the song, nostalgia is a powerful thing. I’m not sure about films/film makers but I think we’re all pretty into film scores and soundtracks. Jonny Greenwood’s work on ‘There Will Be Blood’ and ‘Norwegian Wood’ is amazing. It’s something we’d love to get our teeth into at some point.
AMBY: Have you ever had your music appear on a soundtrack or TV show and were you happy with the way it was used?
KB: We’ve had songs appear on a few different TV shows and adverts, although mostly they’ve just used the instrumental version so its not been particularly obvious its us. Which is probably a good thing.
AMBY: Your songs on the first two albums definitely seem to be a product of time, place and personal experience. Has your music evolved since the band formed and what prompted this evolution?
KB: I think it’s only natural for bands to want to experiment and change the way they make music. No one wants to keep churning out the same album over and over. Our instrumentation and writing habits have changed a lot over the last few years, for the better I think we’d all agree.
AMBY: You’re touring the imminent release of a new album. Can you tell us about the record and the experience recording it?
KB: We recorded the album at two residential studios in Oxfordshire and Brecon: in itself a new experience for us, and one that I think we will carry forward for the next record. The first studio had a cupboard full of amazing vintage synths which we used liberally, and has definitely had an impact on the overall sound of the record. Also this was the first album that we as a band took an active hand in ‘producing’. It’s been a challenging experience for us, but we’re really happy with the way the record has turned out.
AMBY: How does ‘Tiny Rewards’ differ from the first two albums?
KB: The first two records were Louis’ songs arranged by all of us. This time around it was a very much more collaborative effort. We went to a live-in studio in the north of Scotland and fleshed out little ideas or riffs or drumbeats and eventually they became songs. In most cases we had fully formed ‘instrumental songs’ before there were words, which was very different to how we had previously worked.
AMBY: If ‘Tiny Rewards’ could only be played in one place in the world, where would that be?
KB: The Nou Camp. PRS must be amazing.
AMBY: What were the first records you really remember obsessing over and can you see an imprint of this somewhere in your own material?
KB: Everyone has their own individual tastes, but I think we have all obsessed over Radiohead and The National over the years. Hopefully we haven’t too obviously ripped anyone off.
AMBY: Who are your heroes and heroines and why?
KB: We went to see Tune Yards on Monday night. She’s now my hero.
AMBY: I love how you sing in your own accent. For some reason this seems to be quite rare. Is this actually easy to do?
KB: A few people have mentioned this over the years; it’s interesting to get this outside perspective. It’s not something we’ve particularly made a conscious decision to do…just what comes out! So I suppose it must be quite easy after all. Probably best to sing however comes naturally to you. There are quite a few bands in Scotland and the UK who sing in their own accents so I don’t think I really notice it too much now.
AMBY: You’ve toured with some huge names over the last couple of years. How does the experience differ compared to your own headlining tours and what have you learned from these tours?
KB: Venue size mainly. In all seriousness though, it’s great supporting another band on tour. Especially if it’s a band you love. We were really lucky to support Frightened Rabbit on their British tour in 2010, it was a lot of fun. It also gets you pretty good at playing a gig with little or no soundcheck, quite a useful skill come festival season.
AMBY: As a teacher, the job is constantly being reinvented and technology is constantly creating new challenges as well as benefits. How much has the music industry changed since you formed and is it a pleasant place to be?
KB: I’m not sure it’s changed all that much since we started out. In our bands lifetime it’s always been the case that selling records doesn’t make any money. Certainly not at our level anyway. Bands these days have to be pretty business savvy, making records and playing gigs just isn’t enough. We all still have day jobs to finance being in the band. It can be hard work, but I think we’re all glad we do it.
AMBY: Lastly, tell us something about Admiral Fallow that nobody else will know.
KB: Our drummer Phil was the voice of children’s TV favourite ‘Pingu’.
Thank you Admiral Fallow, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Iain Fox | @iainafoxphoto