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What A Fiasco
After several frustrated attempts, Hit the North finally sits down for a chat with the excellent General Fiasco.
Colin Carberry, 08 Dec 2011
It’s taken a while for us to lasso General Fiasco. Each time we thought we had them in range, an awards show would call, or a showcase gig, or a last minute recording session – and woosh: they’d gallop off – faster than a chorus from their first batch of songs.
But with Belfast Music Week now safely consigned to the archives, and the lads’ role as unofficial ring-masters similarly retired, here we are, three years on from our last chat – corralled around a table full of coffee mugs.
A quick roll-call finds that the core unit of Owen and Enda Strathern and their pal, Stephen Leacock are still here, while – since the recording of their debut album, Buildings, and its subsequent tour – Stuart Bell has arrived on a free transfer from Panama Kings.
However, if the easy wit that we’d always associated with the guys remains, there’s also now a visible wariness that speaks of a testing initial jaunt on the industry ferris wheel.
“Buildings doesn’t really feel like us at the moment,” reveals drummer, Stephen. “We’re still very proud of it, but it was never meant to be an album. It was a collection of demos that everyone – including us – got very excited about and said was good enough to be released, so that’s what we did. We probably should have worked on it more – made sure it had the same aggression that the live shows had. We’ve learned from that.”
“We’ve been misrepresented a bit,” adds frontman Owen, “even the photos from around the time turned us into something that wasn’t us. People want to sell you – represent you in a certain way. Which is fair enough. We were never forced into doing anything. But we were easily swayed. That’s not going to happen from now on.”
In the white-rapids plunge that passes as a career these days for most new indie bands, where a loss of balance can spell instant disaster (“It’s the X-Factor mentality,” says Owen. “No-one’s given a chance”), it would have come as no surprise if General Fiasco had been fatally damaged for the ‘crime’ of releasing a big, rather than massive first album.