I’m not sure if it’s just my perception, but there seems to be a lot amazing indie-folk bands coming out of Scotland at the moment. The latest band to add to this list, are Glasgow based six piece, Washington Irving. Taking their name from one of my all time favourite books, ‘Catch 22′, they were always going to be a winner. That and they’ve just released their debut EP on one of my favourite Scottish labels at the moment, Instinctive Raccoon Records.
Their sound takes elements of Celtic and Eastern European folk, added with some indie-pop to boot, giving them a sound which stands out from the crowd, much in the same way that The Pogues took their folk influences and added a splash of punk. Their songs just make you want to dance with a big f’ off smile on your face, and in my book that’s a winner every time.
Would you care to introduce yourself?
My name is Martin, I play guitar in the band Washington Irving.
How would you describe the music you make?
Loud, lively folk/rock.
How did you start out making music?
The band started with Joe and Chris who have been playing together since high school in Oban. When they moved to Glasgow they already had the name Washington Irving and some songs. The first time me, Rory, Chris and Joe played together was in a Murano Street Student Halls’ kitchen during fresher’s week. We took it in turns to solo with the electric guitar (mainly Jimi Hendrix songs). The band was then pieced together over the next three years until we reached the current six members.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
Joe comes to the band with a song on an acoustic guitar then we all start playing over it (fighting for attention). Everyone throws in suggestions/parts until we settle on something. Some songs have taken months and months of work while others have just slotted together. Some songs have just come and gone, usually forgotten because they didn’t sit quite right. It always involves an argument over drumbeats. It can be quite difficult with six people all trying to voice their opinions on different things at the same time, but we get there!
Who are your big musical influences?
For the band as a whole I’d say The Pogues, Belle and Sebastian, Beirut and Sufjan Stevens.
Your new EP is out on Instinctive Raccoon Records, how did you hook up with those guys?
We met Ross Clark at Dunstaffnage Music Festival in 2008. He enjoyed our set so we ended up playing his single launch at the Oran Mor a few months later. We met his manager and Instinctive Racoon head honcho Jamie Webster. Our friend Ben Soep then got involved with IR and the guys took us on board to help with putting out our single the Magician in April 2009.
Can we expect to see you putting an album out with them some time in the future?
There are no plans at the moment. It’s a very expensive business! The EP took a lot of combined effort and stress to get together. We have lots of songs we want to record, new and old, so we’ll hopefully get cracking with that soon.
Lastly, what can we expect to see/hear from you for the rest of 2010?
We have lots of gigs lined up all over Scotland including a slot at T in the Park. We’ve been all over the country already in the past month and even made it over to Ireland. I’m covered in insect bites from the weekend at Insider Festival, which was great. There will be more of that I’m sure. There’s a list over on our myspace of all our upcoming gigs. Especially looking forward to Endor’s album launch on the 2nd July and heading back up to Stornoway for the Heb Celt Festival. We’re going to start heading south of the border soon hopefully, something we’ve ignored for too long!
Washington Irving – Islands
Washington Irving’s debut EP ‘Little Wanderer, Head‘ is out now on Instinctive Racoon Records. They played Brel in Glasgow last week as part of the West End Festival, and have dates in July, including the Endor album launch in Stereo on the 2nd, Oban’s Cuan Mor on the 3rd, and The T-Break Stage at T in the Park on the 11th of July. This is followed more dates throughout Scotland, so check their Myspace for further details.
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Photo Credit: Ingrid Mur