SXSW 2015: Fatherson x Vinyl Mag

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For those in the know, Fatherson coming to America is big deal. Though well-loved and celebrated in their home of Glascow, Scotland, the three-piece has been making waves in the states with their single “I Like Not Knowing.” We got together with Ross Leighton, Marc Strain, and Greg Walkinshaw during South by Southwest with some brews to get the scoop on Fatherson’s new album I Am an Island and their experiences in the U.S. thus far.

Vinyl Mag: Where did the name “Fatherson” come from, and when did you guys change it from “Energy!”?

Ross Leighton: Yeah, we were called “Energy!” before and something else before that. We changed it to “Fatherson” maybe three years ago. It just kind of happened; we knew we wanted to change the name, but didn’t really know what to name it.

VM: Can you tell us about the writing process and overall theme of I Am an Island?

RL: I Am an Island was slowly turned into a concept album by accident. I think the title kind of set the pace for the whole thing. What I liked about it was we managed to fit the theme into a couple of songs, so it kind of just happened. The title of the album is a metaphor. Everything is going really well, but you really know what’s going on, so you’re like on an island amongst a ton of other islands with all your friends all the time.

VM: Did all three of you collaborate on the album, or was it mainly you writing the lyrics?

RL: I wrote all the lyrics. A lot of the time it just comes… but it changes. We don’t have a set process. It’s nice.

VM: What would you say the biggest difference is between playing in the US as opposed to the UK, trying to get people to understand what you’re doing?

Marc Strain: It’s hard to tell, because in New York peopled traveled really far to come see us, and we’ve had a great time. I kind of feel like the crowds are pretty similar. People come out and get involved. Our music has rock aspect to it.  People jump about, and we have a good time. We also have the quiet, softer albums as well where we can have just as good of a show.

Greg Walkinshaw: It just works with a good cross section of people. I think if people can feel it and get into it, then they’ll be cool for the rest of it. That seems to be how it’s gone so far.

VM: You’ve been really well received in the states, which I’m sure feels great, but does it even compare to the incredible response you’ve received in Scotland.  I mean, you did sell out your last show in Glasgow?

MS: We’re so close to the stuff that happens in the UK and Scotland, so it’s a lot of hard work. I guess the States are so far away, and for people to come and see us is a really amazing experience. Some people know all about us, and some of them drove three and half hours to come and see us at our New York show, and we didn’t even know they knew who we were. It’s our first time here, and they know all about us.

RL: The show was in New York, and people came from Philadelphia and Boston. We were like, “what happened here? We’ve never been here before, and you’ve taken that time our of your life to come and see us, first of all, and sing your heart out.” It’s awe-inspiring. It’s crazy.

MS: It’s really rewarding. Scotland and the UK have always been really special to us, but this has been really, really cool as well, in a lot of completely different ways.

VM: On that same note, how is playing with bands that are so established in Scotland?

RL: It’s weird when you start seeing your name pop us in lists of Scottish bands. To even be thought of is kind of crazy.

MS: You start to meet all of these guys as well, and you’re so ready for them not to be that nice, but everyone’s been lovely so far.

VM: Why do you guys play the music from movie credits at the end of your shows? How did that come about, and what movies do you typically play?

GW: It just happened one night by accident. Someone was playing John Williams; I think it was E. T. after the show one night. Since then, after every show we do it.  Nine times out of 10 everyone will know it, and it’ll give them a wee smile. It’s just about making the experience.

MS: It’s a lot of fun; we like it. You walk out and think it was pretty funny.

RL: We’ve done Top Gun, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Sweeney Todd; anything we fancy.  Mission Impossible, that’s a good one.

VM: Is this your first time at SXSW?

RL: Yes. This is our first proper time in the States.

GW: We had a show in New York a couple days after we came here.

VM: What’s your first impression?

MS: It’s very hot. New York was pretty normal, but this has been crazy hot.

VM: You just need another beer. I think our countries like to drink, so we should get along for that if nothing else. How many shows are you guys playing here?

RL: We’ve done two so far, five all together. We have one this afternoon.

VM: How does it feel to be listed by so many sources as one of the top bands at SXSW?

MS: It’s cool. It’s obviously a big thing, coming over. We’ve always toyed with it for a few years. We just wanted to come over to show we’re not lost in the sea of all the other bands. We weren’t expecting that.

VM: Is there anyone in particular you guys are excited to see play?

MS: Basically the amount of music condensed down to two streets is amazing.

GW: There are a couple of bands. I really want to see Twin Shadow. We have a showcase tomorrow, but I really want to catch it.

RL: I want to see a band called More Than Conquerors; they’re really good friends of ours from the UK. And I want to go see Future Islands in person.

VM: Do you guys see yourselves more as “BBQ joint” people or “food truck” people?

RL: We had breakfast at a food truck place around the corner.

MS: That was amazing. I don’t know what’s breakfast about brisket, and cheese, and potatoes. That’s not breakfast in Scotland, not even close.

RL: I don’t think we’ve tried enough stuff yet to make that comment yet.

MS: We’ll get back to you on that one.


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