Matthew recently had a nice chat with our pal Rafa, who runs (among other things) El Planeta Amarillo, an indiepop fanzine. Covering everything from the formation of the band, to its current incanation to side projects and our upcoming album, it’s in the latest issue, which should be out very shortly.
You can pick up your copy here, but since it’s printed in Spanish, we thought we’d put up an English translation, which should answer a few questions about what we’ve been up to.
1. Can you tell us about the beginnings of the band? Who are you and where do you come from?
It all started in Devon. I used to go to lots of indiepop clubnights in Exeter and remember getting drunk one night and thinking ‘I could do that. I could get up and sing all those songs I write in front of people.’ I tried a few various things. One of those projects was called ‘A Fine Day for Sailing.’ It was me and my friend Jen Hall playing shambolic anti-folk music. Sadly Jen moved away (she’s actually back in AFDFS now!) but I started a full band with my friends Andy B, Leo Collett, and Simon Bish. Simon ran a record label called Pop Noise. He gave me lots of encouragement to get things going and kept me going when I doubted my ability.
We had various incarnations of the band in a short period, some more successful than others. A year or so ago I moved to London and I started afresh with Jen, who had moved to Brighton, and a mutual friend Jake Chivers on drums. Thom Allott on bass, Sharon Leach on keyboards, Lauren Palmer on cello and Caroline Honour on vioiln all joined last winter.
2. Where do you find the inspiration to write the songs?
They mostly just come to me naturally and most often when I’m in the bath for some reason. That may explain why my guitar strings go so rusty so quickly! It feels like there’s a melody trying to get out and I just translate it into music. Mostly I write about real experiences, but take something real and develop it into something else. Thom and Jen sometimes songwrite too and we might have a song from each of them on the new album. They’ve written a couple of lovely ones.
3. Is ‘Sand box’ your second or your third album? Although I have only heard of two albums, ‘My baby loves pop music’ and ‘Sand box’, I have read in a review that ‘Sand box’ was your third album… so in that case, which is the album I am missing?
Haha!! The truth comes out. Technically Sand Box is the third proper album. The first one is called Honeylands. I recorded it at home (as I did My Baby Loves Pop) but I played drums myself and the drums sound awful, so I’m a bit embarassed by it. It is a shame because it contains some of my best songs. I’ve somewhat made my peace with it since, and I have also re-recorded a couple of songs from it (Village Idiot / Blanket Girlfriend.) Only 100 copies were ever made. Maybe it is time for a re-release?
4. Which bands influence the sound of A FINE DAY FOR SAILING?
Any other time I would say The Beach Boys, Felt, The Go-Betweens and The Beatles. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of psyche folk sort of stuff. There is a band Sharon introduced me to called Agincourt that has really influenced the sound of my other project, Banana and Louie, especially.
5. Do any of you play also in other bands now or have you played in other bands in the past?
We’ve all played in a fair few I think. My first band was a garage outfit from Bristol called The Mighty Stars. Thom and Sharon were in a band called The Gresham Flyers.
We’ve all got out fingers in a lot of pies right now, which partly explains why it’s taken us ages to finish the album. Me and Sharon are doing a project with our friends A Little Orchestra called Banana & Louie (it is a secret who is Banana and who is Louie!) It started from some musical suites I’d been writing, but has now turned into a kind of indiepop psyche folk album! I’m also in Matthew Rimmel (from Big Pink Cake)’s band The Fireworks. Thom and Jake play in a band called The Horses of Instruction. Jen and I also have an anti-folk project called Lost & Found. We recorded a lovely album a year ago but haven’t worked out what to do with it yet.
6. What about your solo project? Are you writing songs for a forthcoming album?
The solo project turned into Banana & Louie. I’m SO excited about it. There will be a full album out this spring on Vollwert Records Berlin. It’s sounding really special. You can read about it at: http://bananaandlouie.wordpress.com/
7. Have you ever been to Spain playing or on holiday?
I once stayed in Granada and visited a lot of Andalucia. I really loved the pretty villaged in las Alpujarras. It was beautiful. The rest of the band have been to Barcelona I think, but I’ve never made it there yet.
8. Do you prefer gigs or the studio?
I love both, but I prefer the studio. I’m really into production – people like Phil Spector and Brian Wilson who used the studio like an instrument. I’m hoping to do that at Klank studio where we’re recording both the new AFDFS album and the Banana & Louie project.
9. As almost no-one lives on music nowadays, what do you do in a normal day? …And what are your hobbies?
I’m a Librarian. I love the job and I am proud to be one. We’re struggling to keep libraries open over here though, so every day is a fight. I don’t get time for hobbies..I’m too busy buying books and making music!
10. Can you name your favourite band/artist from each decade?
Favourite of the 60s: Beach Boys
Favourite of the 70s: Agincourt (just 70s – 1970)
Favourite of the 80s: Felt
Favourite of the 90s: Teenage Fanclub
Favourite of the 00s: Beulah
Favourite of nowadays: Hi-Life Companion
11. When will there be a new album coming?
Soon-ish!! I can’t wait. We’re getting really excited about it. It’s sounding really fresh and full of energy. We might release it on our own record label that we’re forming (we’re starting a clubnight too!) It’ll probably be ready in May/June which will be just right, because I think our music best suits the summer. But before then we’ll be releasing a free download single of Little Places, which is the best song that we have written and recorded by a long long way.
12. What’s your opinion about music formats nowadays? Which is the favourite one for your music?
Vinyl, always vinyl. It sounds snobby, but it sounds great and who doesn’t love a good 7″. Having said all that, the album will probably be on CD because of the production costs of 12″ vinyl. I do use an ipod too, so I can’t be too snobby about it.
13. I have chosen “Ballad of the bedsit” for the ‘Urano’ compilation CDR that comes with this issue of my fanzine. What can you tell us about that song?
It is going to be on the new album because we love it. It is a bit tongue in cheek. I was going through a bit of a rough period and it felt a bit like I was stuck in a Smith’s song – melancholic, or a bit monochrome like the record covers. So we purposefully tried to give it a bit of a Smith’s sound in the studio. It’s not meant to be derogatory, because the Smiths are one of my all time favourite bands.
14. Which are your plans for 2012?
We need to finish the album, which we should do in the next few months. Then we’ll put out the single and then that. The Banana and Louie one should be coming out shortly too. We’ll be starting a club night in London, and a record label, so it’s exciting times for AFDFS. We’re also playing the brilliant Cherry Coloured Pop alldayer this spring. And of course, we’d LOVE to get to Spain.