MUSIC INTERVIEW: Fatherson
Photo Credit: Stewart Bryden
As the countdown to Fatherson’s fourth album Normal Fears sets in closer, we sat down with Scotland’s beloved alternative trio to discuss the works of the album, touring plans, and more exciting insight!
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today! Your album Normal Fears is set to release on 25th February and you have already released four new singles. How do you feel the response has been so far?
Marc: It’s been good, it’s been fun. It’s been nice to release new music again and it’s nice to just get back to being a band, that’s been the best part. The four singles we released so far have all been a bit of a variation, they’re all relatively different from each other so it’s been quite interesting to see the reaction to each of them as they came out.
We can see from the four singles already released that Fatherson holds multiple different elements. Could you tell us what you feel sets Normal Fears apart from previously existing records?
Ross: I think there is probably a bit more maturity. It’s also about taking all the stuff that we like about making music and putting it into new music, better than we had before. You just get a bit better over time.
M: We ended up in the process of making this record having a lot more time to really think about the choices that we made. Our second album Open Book was all written in three weeks, but with Normal Fears we had a bit more time because of lockdown to try lots of different ways of writing songs and lots of different ways of pulling them together. We were being quite picky on what we chose as there had been so many songs written, Ross had spent pretty much the entire lockdown just writing music.
R: Yeah, there was lots of nice influence that came from writing songs with other people and hearing different things, some people would pepper things when they gave them back to us and we had never thought about those changes before. It was super collaborative between each other and with other people. Just to take what we would usually do and turn it on its head to allow us to either decide to keep those more out-there parts, or trust our gut about what we already knew. Symptomatic of collaboration I would say is what the record is, it takes all the bits that we’re good at and bits that other people are good at and makes you all better.
Throughout these singles you’ve already covered quite a range of topics – from falling in and out of love to losing hope within yourself. Does this all come from personal experiences?
R: I think some of it does come from personal experience and some of it comes from stories you hear from people. I think to tell a story properly if it’s too personal you just won’t want to tell it. So, some things are peppered with some brutal honesty from personal experience and some things are peppered with amalgamations of different people’s experiences. You need to safeguard yourself a little bit within that and safeguard the situations you may be speaking about. I think in order to make music that is good it has to have your personality in it, whether the story is 100% true or not no one will ever know.
What other core themes and topics can we expect to see?
R: Obviously the whole world ended up going into isolation, but from a personal point of view I’d probably set myself there about a year before the pandemic happened. There are songs about that, there are songs about confidence and as with any song I try and do, it’s kind of like commenting and talking about the shared experience. As much as people have unique experiences to them, generally everyone is going through something similar. With our fanbase, our shows and stuff like that, it’s just a commonality of the human experience. I think good times, bad times, healthy times, unhealthy times, confident times, non-confident times, it’s just sort of a mirage of honesty. The title sort of sums it up, it’s a record about things that people are afraid of, not that they are all necessarily bad things, you can be afraid of doing a good thing due to that anxiety of not knowing how it’s going to go, I think Dive is a good example of that like ‘Fuck it, who cares?’.
Can you tell us a bit about the recording process? As we know Fatherson tend to record a lot of their songs live, does the same routine take place for the new album or have you guys switched it up at all?
M: The last one was all recorded live, the bass and stuff and all the songs were done live in the same room so it very much all had ‘that’ feeling towards it, but we’ve kind of done it slightly different every time. This record had a really nice workflow, we went into RAK Studios in London and had everything set up and we were able to do whatever we wanted or whatever we fancied at that moment and time, which was a really cool way of working. It was less based from fundamentally playing the songs together, although we had been rehearsing and playing to make sure they were up at that point before we went in.
Greg Walkinshaw: I think we will always be a band that records drums live in the room, as well as a big loud guitar because it just helps you be in the song a lot more. Also having the ability to have everything that you could possibly imagine ready to go, allowing you to go off on tangents with songs that you might not have necessarily done if you went ‘Actually I’ve got this xylophone part.’ Then having to spend half an hour setting up a xylophone to record it, but everything was there. The xylophone was there!
R: Did we have a xylophone?
G: No, we didn’t.
R: Instead of taking 45 minutes on a shit idea you could do it in four and a half minutes.
M: There is a song on the album called Love for Air, which isn’t out yet, and the big part of that synth was a little toy keyboard that we recorded onto the keyboard, basically everything that we already had up to that point for the song. I ended up jumping downstairs and randomly hitting keys and we never done another take of it, that’s what ended up being a big part of the multiple layered synths that are in the intro and the chorus. It was wee bits and bobs like that you could just jump down if someone had an idea.
Have you done anything like that before?
R: Yeah, there’s keys and synths over everything really. In terms of single-wise from Sum of All Your Parts, like The Landscape has a bunch of organs and it’s the same with Making Waves, there’s lots of harmonies recorded on a mellotron for Building a Wall. Our other album Open Book has loads of synths and stuff like that, we have a song called Wonderous Heart that is super synthy and has loads of samples. We also made an EP with Danny Ball that is super sample driven and synth driven, so it’s been in the post forever.
M: I think the only thing that changed which was a conscious decision on the record was that we didn’t just go guitar first on everything. There were songs written on a keyboard or on another instrument, so some of them have that and then we would pepper in all the guitar it needed or whatever else.
G: I think it’s more of what the song wanted to do when we had the tone and the atmosphere of what we wanted to create, I think there’s still guitar on every song on the record apart from one.
R: I think that’s it, Honest to God had all the string sounds on guitar. It’s just about using the instruments in a different way and with that sort of fallback net of going ‘well if this sounds shit, we know what we’re doing’. If we need to take it back to guitars then we can, but we need to try and evolve.
Even outside of the single releases you guys have been very busy, as you have not long finished your UK tour and have already announced another upcoming tour all around the UK and Europe in March and April! How does it feel to finally be getting back into it all?
M: It was really good in October. Scary, very scary. Everyone was like, ‘what are we doing? I can’t really remember it’. It was nice and so much fun but very different, we always really enjoyed going out and meeting people, saying hello and going to merch, but we were stuck in a little bubble trying not to get COVID.
You guys decided to leave out cards of paper instead for your fans to write messages on due to the COVID restrictions. What was that like?
R: Yeah, we had made storyboards that ended up being in the film we made called Same Old, Brand New and in the music video for End of the World, so that’s kind of where that came from. At that point we were just worried about the isolation, no one wanted to catch COVD, and we only had 12 shows to play. Looking back when we went back into lockdown over Christmas, to have managed to play shows in that two and a half months, at the time we were always trying to get out more and play more shows. That’s sort of the lifeblood of this band, but in retrospect the fact that we got to play shows in that time is pretty unreal.
M: We’re all just itching to get back out and do it more, we’ve been doing this band since we were so young and that was the longest time we’ve ever went without playing a gig since we were about 14 years old.
Two and a half years without no gigs!
M: It was shite. Hopefully lots more to come this year.
What songs are you most looking forward to playing live and why?
M: I’m looking forward to playing Dive, the single we just put out. I think that’s going to be really good live. I think whenever you have a new album and you’ve spent so long working on it and you haven’t gotten the chance to play much of it, we are going to play loads of that. I think on this headline tour we are also trying to play some songs we haven’t played in a while and delve back into some stuff from the earlier albums – have a nice well-rounded set.
G: I was working on Cat Stevens yesterday and I’m very excited to play that song, because I’ve not played that in ages.
Is there any chance of a comeback of I Promise?
R:We could probably do that. I promise there would probably be about 12 people that would actually know it. If we were to ever go back out and do some acoustic shows, I think that would probably really fit in with that.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today! Do you have any final messages for our readers?
M: Go on and listen to our new songs please and come and see us on tour. We are just super excited to be getting new music out and we hope everyone enjoys it as much as we enjoyed making it. We are very proud of this new album and really excited to get it out to everyone.
Fatherson‘s new album Normal Fears is due for release on 25th February 2022 via Easy Life Records, available to pre-order HERE.