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The Big Gang Theory
In just under six years, Northern Ireland’s noisiest and most inspiring export, And So I Watch You From Afar have done it all – and they’ve got the scars to prove it. As they prepare for the release of second album Gangs, Celina Murphy probes guitarist Tony Wright about the glorious sound that made Zane Lowe lose his shit live on air.
Celina Murphy, 27 Apr 2011
The trenchant cocktail of Tony Wright, Rory Friers, Johnny Adger and Chris Wee has been described a hundred different ways since ASIWYFA first elbowed their way onto the Irish live circuit five years ago – a quick Google throws up declarations of “hernia-inducing”, “mind-melting” and “godlike”.
For my money, the Belfast boys are dauntless, cocksure and very, very gracious. They’re the kind of guys who’ll sneak out of hospital to play a gig (Wright has done this), but who’ll also tweet what pub they’re in, in case any of their followers are nearby and fancy a pint.
If there’s one word you’re not going to associate with instrumental renegades And So I Watch You From Afar, it’s fear.
“We were scared,” Wright admits, catching me off guard in the first 30 seconds of our interview. “Well not so much scared, but we definitely wanted to make a more challenging album. We didn’t want to make the first album again.
“There’s a few tracks on the first record that, when we listen to it now, our shoulders all go up and we go ‘Oh, that’s so bad!’, comparing it to the live version. Obviously, the live shows are our bread and butter and whenever you go into the recording studio you always want to try and recreate that as much as you can. But I really think we’ve done it this time.”
The post-rockers had been writing songs for sophomore LP Gangs since early 2009, but with five weeks to go before recording, something was amiss in camp ASIWYFA.
“We were having a lot of discussions/slash arguments about what should go on the record,” Wright recalls. “By the end of it, we realised that the reason we were having conflicting ideas was because the four of us weren’t entirely happy with the set of songs that we had, so we just scrapped them all and started again.”
The eight-track, 44-minute wonder that is Gangs was eventually recorded on spare weekdays during the Summer of 2010, with the band rocking festivals like Electric Picnic, Pukkelpop and Sonisphere at the weekends.