Back in October, Irish post-whatever riff gods, and general unstoppable-force, And So I Watch You From Afar released their fifth record The Endless Shimmering, a wonderfully fierce slab of instrumental rock which harks back to the band’s super acclaimed album Gangs in its pull-no-punches approach and slatherings of beastly, catchy as hell riffs. We caught up with, guitarist and leader, Rory Friers to find out more about the album, its thought-provoking artwork and how the band work.
FB: Your previous album, ‘Heirs’, was built around a concept – the cycle of ideas. Has there been any sort of similar process for ‘The Endless Shimmering’ in terms of inspiration?
RF: We knew from the get go we wanted to make something that was very live, so I suppose that was our only MO in a way, we were allowing ourselves to work in a completely instinctual, letting how ever we felt come out in the music, so rather than trying to make something that fitted with a concept we just allowed where we were at to define and inform the final ideas on the record. We don’t want to over explain all that, we want to leave it all in the hands of the listeners to harvest what they need from it and find what they want. But yeah, it became evident pretty early upon that that’s how we were going to approach making this record, because of that I feel way more connected with it.
FB: You recorded the album in a little over the week in a studio in Rhode Island. Was there any reason why you chose to do this? What effects did it have on the outcome of the project?
RF: We knew we wanted to completely change our approach to recording this record, and we knew it meant getting right out of our comfort zone and disappearing somewhere to be able to completely immerse ourselves in the songs and the process and get away from our comforts and go tos. It was all about capturing live takes and performance and not cluttering mixes with lots of over dubs or extra sounds. Machines with Magnets was somewhere that we’d always wanted to go, their live room and drum recordings always sounded so good and once we had got a chat with Seth (Manchester, producer) and we’d all gotten on the same page listening to our demos, we knew it was going to work. We didn’t realise quite how well though, we’d already cut down our session time from three weeks to two weeks on Seth’s advice and even then we had recorded and mixed the whole record in 9 days, it was so productive and enjoyable and completely immersive. We slept and ate at the studio, which has living quarters attached, and after a snow storm arrived on the first day bringing the eastern sea board to a standstill, completely isolating us to the world, it really felt like we were making something really special together.
FB: The cover art for ‘The Endless Shimmering’ is very interesting. Does it have a story or meaning?
RF: We knew we wanted to continue the theme of making very striking artwork but we hadn’t really given it a lot of thought as to what form that would take. Then out of the blue a friend of our drummer’s family in Singapore posted this picture of his daughter and his dog on Instagram, we fell in love with it instantly, it had so much going on, so much juxtaposition and nuances, it captured so many of the things we felt were on the record but was ambivalent enough to allow anyone to take what they want from it. A good cover, like any good art, should be something that besides looking cool should at the least provokes some sort of thought. Once we’d been given permission to use it that was that, we had the front cover before we even started recording the album, it’s the first time we’ve had something visual like that to work towards, it was really cool.
FB: I may be mistaken but ‘The Endless Shimmering’ seems to contain a broader range of sounds than we’ve heard on an ASIWYFA record for a while now; epic synths and pads, percussion heavily affected guitars, etc. In fact, the whole album sounds a lot more…epic, I guess. Has this been a specific focus and has there been an inspiration behind the sound of the album?
RF: It’s funny you should say that, actually nearly all the sounds on there are guitars, we used a piano on a couple of tracks, a glockenspiel on one and we had some strings added at the end to a couple if tracks but pretty much everything you hear on there is our instruments. We sort of challenged ourselves beforehand that if we wanted a sound on there we had to work for it and create it ourselves to avoid layering extra stuff over the top of things and keep that space that we really wanted. I’m delighted that we’ve managed to elevate our sounds and make something interesting to the ear.
FB: You’re touring through November in support of the record. How do you find touring these days? Do you find you can always present your music fully live or is that not an issue?
RF: Touring is always an interesting beast, we still put so much weight on live shows and really feel like that’s the place to experience our music so there’s definitely self-imposed pressure to get a show to that point every night. I think live music and the experience of going to see bands and musician playing is more vital than ever these days, in terms of how quickly music is consumed on the other end of things. There’s no replacing that escapism and congregation that a show can provide and people need that more than ever right now. Knowing that there’s a room full of people who have parted with hard earned cash to get that experience makes us appreciate it even more. Touring is always an adventure, but one we love more than ever now.