Wednesday 21 March 2012

Kassidy // Interview & Live Review

Kassidy are back! With their new album, "One Man Army" out on 30th April and a busy few months of touring ahead, Est.1987 caught up with the quartet ahead of their York Fibbers Show. We sat down with Barrie-James O'Neill and Lewis Andrew to chat about their unique sound, the fifth band member, oh and Tom Hanks!  

Hi guys. Tonight is the last night on tour before a few shows at the end of March? How’s it gone so far?
BARRIE- Yeah, it’s been great. We’re off for about a week and a half and then we’re going to Stockton-on-Tees and then we are doing a show in London- Communion in Notting Hill.

What do you like best about being on the road?
B- Playing music; getting to meet new people, fans of the band and people who haven’t seen you before, and playing all the new songs as well as all the old ones. Just the whole general playing.

Kassidy on stage at York Fibbers 
How would you sum up the Kassidy live experience in one sentence?
LEWIS- Really loud…
B- And incredibly close, [laughing], oh no, that’s a movie isn’t it with Tom Hanks? But yeah, it is like that, very loud and constant.
L- “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” then, probably sums it up quite well.
B- Aye, but it’s not mine though, we don’t have the copyright on that [laughing].

You have a really unique sound- did that come straight away when you began writing together and have you always found it easy to keep your own sound and not be pressured into making something sound like every other band out there?
L- It took a wee bit of time. In the beginning Barrie was playing the drums and I’d go between the keys and the bass and Chris on guitar, just like a normal band. But, then we had an idea to do lots of vocals and harmonies and at the time I couldn’t sing so was just like, “I’ll give it a go I guess”. At the time you couldn’t hear the vocals because of the loud guitars and I was just whispering my vocals at the embarrassment at not having a voice. Then we went to acoustic guitars so that you could hear the vocals.
B- We’re always in our own world and we just like writing songs; we’re a song writing band. We enjoy thinking of new chords and enjoy just writing together. We’re always in our own bubble and don’t really pay attention to what’s going on. We get influenced by each other mainly, rather than most other modern day music.
Hamish, Barrie, Chris & Lewis - Kassidy
The new album is out 30th April. We’ve had a preview of what we can expect, with “I Can’t Fly” – so what’s the rest of the album like?
L- It will be kind of down that same road. I think it sounds a lot more together than say the first record because it was recorded live in Rockfield Studios in Wales. On the first record every song would have a different drum kit set up and different guitars and since it wasn’t live you could just layer things up. But, on the new record it strips it right back to just having one drum kit and a couple of electric guitars, some acoustic guitars, and that’s the foundation that you build on from there without going overboard. It’s got a togetherness and I think the song writing element of it is in the same kind of vein as the songs before, but slightly darker and more mature.
B- I think what separates this album is that all four of us sing on it; sing verses, so there are four lead singers. I don’t know any other band nowadays that does that, apart from pop groups, but not rock bands. This album was exciting to make because we made it in under eight days; it was the way good records used to be made.
Barrie-James O'Neill

The new album is called “One Man Army”. Can you tell us a bit about that and how it got its name?
B- I think it’s a really strong title. I think everybody secretly wants to win their own battle, either in everyday life or whatever job or problems they’re faced with. I think one man army is just a pretty symbolic thing and is one person against the rest of the world.

The video for “I Can’t Fly” is really visual and all animated, how did that idea come about?
L- It was just out of the blue and we had to do it really quickly and ended up coming up with the animation. But there’s another, official video that we made ourselves of footage from live performance and the recording process.
B- Lewis made a cracking video for it. I think it captures the band in four minutes.
L- We film lots on tour and you have so much footage it’s nice to do something with it. It sums up the band; if you haven’t seen Kassidy before then it’s like “ah, there’s four of them, they play acoustic guitars and sing harmony stuff and it’s loud”. 
In terms of the writing process, do you write as a band or separately and then bring it all together?
L- Sometimes there’s tunes that we all do together, but usually someone will come up with an idea; a wee chord progression or melody and then it becomes a collective thing, it just takes that initial spark.
B- That’s how this new album started really, with just the four of us jamming in our room and seeing what happened.

This is your second album, how are you feeling about the release, compared to when your debut came out?
B- Yeah, we’re feeling good about it.
L- It’s so much work in such a short period of time that’s gone into it. People who see us live or have seen bits on the internet seem to enjoy it, so we just want them to hear the full album now.

You began recording in a home studio that you made. Do you think because you have had that experience of doing it yourself that it’s set you in better stead later down the line, now for instance?
Chris & Barrie on stage 
L- Yeah. We recorded the second album at Rockfield studios just with ourselves and the producer Thomas. He drilled a hole in the wall so the studio connected to our house, then we could play music in our house and he recorded it. So, in that sense again, we’re a one man army; our aim on that record was just having five pals going in to the studio to come out with a record at the end of the week. I think that because we know how to do stuff now, Thomas doesn’t have to be setting all the instruments and everything up. We can do it, there’s a bit of flow to the process. He’s like the fifth band member; Kassidy wouldn’t be Kassidy without Thomas.
B- We’re very lucky that we’re left to our own imagination really, and we get trusted with what we’re doing. We’re lucky that we can just take hold of our vision and try and make an album of songs out of it. 

And here's what happened when Kassidy took to the stage...

Last time Kassidy played at Fibbers they admit to only playing to about thirty people but were back to make a bigger impression tonight. And it is safe to say that they’re playing to more than thirty people tonight; the near full venue is bustling in anticipation before the Glasgow quartet take to the stage.   

Hamish & Lewis on stage
With a new album due at the end of April and their deserved success ever increasing, Kassidy bring their deliciously infectious blend of folk rock here to the quaint stage at Fibbers. “1,2,3” counts Barrie and the band slide effortlessly straight into “The Lost”; no padding out, no nonsense, they just begin playing. The upbeat and rythmn based “The Traveller” is performed side by side with the more mellow “Take Another Ride” which, with its vintage riffs, confidently harks back to the Halycon Days and a more peaceful existence.

With a buzz surrounding the new release Kassidy preview album tracks “One Man Army” and “There Is A War Coming”; with a flow of vocal melodies and supported by a drummer and bassist they stick firmly to their acoustic rock roots. “Waking Up Sideways” begins softly and embodies Kassidy’s ability to layer and build up their sound, both musically and lyrically. The song even sees a female fan take to the stage for an impromptu sing along. Kassidy take it in their stride and let her join them.

Latest single “I Can’t Fly” is followed by the catchy “Stray Cat” and ,with the audience unable to stand still, Kassidy have certainly made an impression here tonight. The room is filled with a diverse range of people; loyal Kassidy fans, newcomers, younger fans and ones slightly older. Tonight isn’t about the pretentiousness of how old you are, or if this is your first time seeing the band or your fifteenth time. It is about Kassidy victoriously delivering their unique blend of feel good music. And throwing in an encore of Aloe Blacc’s hit “I Need A Dollar” which turns into Kassidy’s “I Don’t Know” is the perfect way to end the evening.

Catch Kassidy on tour and get the new album, "One Man Army" on April 30th.

Mar 31st -  Georgian Theatre, Stockon-on-tees
Apr 1st - Notting Hill Arts Club, London
Apr 4th - Old Queens Head, London