Ireland’s loudest rock band, And So I Watch You From Afar, have just been announced to play a very special show in the west of Ireland at The Clubhouse in Castlebar Celtic this Christmas. Known for their unrelenting tours that have seen them play more than 300 gigs since the start of 2009, Belfast’s And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA to their fans ) don’t know how to take a break. From appearances at SXSW, Eurosonic, Electric Picnic, Novarock, Canadian Music Fest, Popkomm, Pukkelpop, Sonisphere, to tour dates in Europe, North America, Russia and a support slot for rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, the instrumental band has been on the road playing music non-stop since the release of their fan-stirring debut self-titled album.
In between, the band were nominated for a Choice Music Prize for Irish Album Of The Year and XFM’s New Music Album Of The Year, released The Letters EP in February 2010 and a stop-gap tour single ‘Straight Through The Sun’ in November 2010.
It is a small wonder, then, that the band actually managed to record their highly-charged second album Gangs at all with that punishing schedule. It was recorded on weekdays between festival appearances over the summer of 2010 during July and August in Start Together Studios, Belfast with producer Rocky O’Reilly and the help of a young technician by the name of Lee McMahon.
A matter of weeks before they entered the studio, the band scrapped 22 songs they had written after the release of their self-titled debut. “We spent the last year and a half writing but we essentially did this album in eight weeks,” guitarist Rory Friers says of the decision. “We suddenly took this notion that we didn’t like any of the songs. This was four weeks before we went into the studio. We had demoed the whole thing and had it all mapped out. We took bits and pieces that we liked but we wrote a whole new set of songs. It’s worked out.”
As a result, Gangs is the band’s most cohesive record, a 44-minute, eight-song unyielding document of the band’s last two years playing together told through ironclad guitar riffs and colossal yet increasingly subtle rhythms. “We had a far broader experience of things,” says Rory. “We really wanted to try and get it on the record, which sounds weird because we’re an instrumental band, but there are songs on there that we specifically wrote to try and capture the vibe of new and meaningful things that we’ve all experienced.”
It’s a celebratory record, one which fittingly culminates in a samba outro on the album’s final song ‘Lifeproof’ which layers up many takes of percussion played by the band in the studio until a carnival atmosphere is created, whistles and all.
Support on the night comes from Toby Karr, Sharbourne, and Race The Flux with very special guests. Tickets are on sale now and are available from Downtown Records in Castlebar and Westport. For booking information call 094 90 22312.