Stornoway interview - Stornoway

With their endearing and infections blend of folk and pop (think Bon Iver meets Local Natives) lovable Oxford band Stornoway are fast becoming the new darlings of the indie/folk scene. Recently signed to super-hip 4AD records, the boys are ready to reap the rewards of pop stardom, which includes Haribos and women's underwear.

Can you tell us a bit about the origin of the band? How did you guys meet?

Brian and Jon met at college. At the time Brian was studying ducks and Jon was attempting to decipher Russian poems. They played a handful of gigs as a duo but wanted a fuller live sound. Ollie was still at school when he answered an ad to play bass, and after he joined there was an almost interminable search for a drummer. The whole time Ollie had been teaching his younger brother Rob the drum parts at home.

Why inspired the name Stornoway? Apparently none of you have visited it yet. Any plans to?

Well, we spent a long time thinking of a name and were looking for something nautical-sounding. For a while we were named after various sailing knots, until...a long night in looking at old maps and charts and then BBC weather came on the television and we saw the name at the top. It had to be.

We’re looking forward to playing there of course, but it could be a peculiar watershed moment. The Stornoway inhabitants could either embrace us as one of their own or douse us in second-hand whisky.

What are your musical inspirations? What musicians do you admire?

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Sam Cooke, Wild Beasts, Of Montreal, Damon Albarn, Ry Cooder and er ... Blink 182.

Can you tell us a bit about the new single “I Saw You Blink?”

It’s been a part of our live set for a while now. We recorded it late last year in an underground studio in London with Craig Silvey at the helm. There was no natural light in the studio, but with any luck you’ll get more of a sense of summer than the bunker. The words are hopefully more or less self-explanatory; there’s a bit of morse code transmitted via the medium of guiro (it was supposed to say “I Saw You Blink”, but perhaps we have inadvertently spelt out an entirely different phrase, such as “I’m trapped in the garden gnome factory” or something).

What inspires your song writing? Do you have a certain process you like to follow, music first then lyrics, or is it more spontaneous than that?

Most of the songs are fairly autobiographical, so perhaps the lyrical ideas tend to come first. It’s a mystical process, apparently.

You were recently announced as entrants of the BBC's Sound of 2010 competition, that must have been a great moment for the band. Did you feel like the music press was really starting to take notice

Yes, it was an exciting and unexpected moment in the history of Stornoway. We’ve been fortunate to have various pieces written about us over the last few months, so there’s perhaps more of awareness that we exist…but we obviously want to justify that attention and aim to exceed people’s expectations!

You’ve played quite a few festivals, like Glastonbury and Radio 1’s Big Weekend. What has the reaction from the crowds been like?

Until last summer we’d not really played to larger audiences before. All the festival events are pretty colossal for us and the crowd response has been encouraging. Audience missiles so far have included Haribo sweets and Rob was the grateful recipient of some knickers recently (which actually resembled a parachute because they were so large).

Your debut album will be released on the 24th of May. What can we expect?

The album is called “Beachcomber’s Windowsill”. As the title suggests it’s going to be an assortment of musical and lyrical ideas which have quite distinct feels and arrangements, but which we feel complement each other well. The idea is to take the listener on some form of journey over the course of the record.

What’s next for you guys?

Well, today we set sail on our “Highlands Islands and Ireland” Tour, which will include our first visit to Stornoway! We’ll be stopping off in Inverness (8th April), Stornoway (9th April), Ullapool (10th April), Aberdeen (11th April), Glasgow (13th April), Belfast (14th April), Dublin (16th April), Galway (17th April), Cork (18th April). After that we’ll also be making our first foray into Scandinavia with a trip to Bergenfest in Norway.

Stronoway's debut album Beachcomber's Windowsill will be released on the 24th of May

Category Feature

Latest Articles