Admiral Fallow – Earning their Stripes

Well here is the first interview I’ve ever carried out – with Louis Abbott from Admiral Fallow.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of anywhere quiet and a poor quality Dictaphone the audio is a bit too noisey to appear on Radio West Fife – it’s been a bit of a learning curve for me and I’ll know not to try and conduct a recorded interview in a pub again! The conversation is completely clear through headphones so I’m still hoping given time I can clear enough of the background noise and will then publish the audio here.
This was recorded just prior to the Admiral Fallow gig at PJ Malloys, Dunfermline on 30th April 2012.

Lillian Trotsky (LT): I’m here from Radio West Fife (RWF) to interview Louis from Admiral Fallow. You’re debut ‘Boots Met My Face’ got some pretty glowing reviews – it’s why I’m here tonight! I was coming to see you either way no matter what because I thought the album was brilliant. You’re new single ‘The Paper Trench’ has received a lot of National airplay, and we’ve had it on RWF the past three weeks, and will continue to have it on.

You’re now touring the new album, Tree Bursts in Snow. For those who are hearing you for the first time, can you tell us a little about how you got together and a little bit about ‘Boots Met My Face’?

Louis Abbot (LA): Yep, so we met and we started playing music together about six years ago in Glasgow, we all met at university. I knew John, the bass player, from a few years back and in some form or another we started playing some wee shows together as I started to write songs when I first moved through to Glasgow.
The first album came about when we recorded it in 2009 and had been gigging it for a couple of years before then. We thought there was some decent material in there (when gigging) and we decided we’d make a record after we got a bit of funding from what is now Creative Scotland. So we got some funding and we went into a place called Chem19 in Hamilton and recorded there with a dude called Paul Savage who we recorded the new record with as well. It was a bit of a slow started, we released it first in Scotland in 2010 and we released it nationwide when we got a bit more money! It didn’t make a huge impact, especially down South mainly because we were self-releasing it but we got some plays on 6Music and a bit of interest down south.

LT: The new album, from the first couple singles, appears to have a more direct pop sensibility. Is that fair, and was it an intentional direction.

LA: Emm, no I dunno if it was particularly intentional in terms of trying to make it more accessible, but certainly you’re right that the first couple of singles have been more groove driven than some of the more acoustic stuff from the first record. I think across the album that’s a unifying thing, it’s a bit more direct. Somebody I played it to said they thought it was a bit more mature which I guess is only natural being that we’re a little older. Like the first album, there’s a good mix of slower paced, slower tempo numbers, but of course with singles you like to try and keep things a bit more upbeat.

LT: In The Paper Trench there’s a little yelp of glee, about a minute in. Was it a fun record to make?

LA: Aye, it was actually! It was weird in that the first collection of songs were, like I said earlier, were gigged a lot and we’d been round the block with them a few times before we recorded them. With this record, we’d been playing ‘The Paper Trench’ for a while, there’s another song on the album we’d been playing for a wee while so those two we were fairly familiar with. As for the rest of it it was kind of piecing it together as we were going. We were writing parts as we were recording which we didn’t do the first time (when) we had everything ready to go. It was quite a strange experience, not one I’d done before, but in the most part it was pretty good fun. As I’ve said to a few folks who have been asking, the one constant thing we kept was Paul Savage and that same studio. It’s a comfortable environment and if he hadn’t been there I think it would have been a little more torturous to record. But in the most part it was good fun, it was quite exciting, flying by the seat of my pants sort of thing.

LT: Paul Savage has a fantastic roster of production credits, from his Delgados work, Franz Ferdinand and the latest album with his name on it is probably Human After All by Malcolm Middleton. Is he someone special to work with, or is it a collaborative thing, a like minded individual?

LA: First and foremost he has a very good knowledge of tons of different music, and he’s very open minded. That might be a very clichéd thing to say about a producer but I don’t imagine there’d be others, in Scotland at least, who’d be as open minded as he is. I haven’t worked with a lot of other folk in Scotland, so it isn‘t really fair for me to say that! He’s very easy to work with, he gets results, he works hard but he doesn’t get stressed or agitated and he’s a very calming person to work with. I think that’s a positive thing, y’know?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with him as a drummer and as a guest vocalist on a different album and it’s just really fun to work with him.

LT: You’ve been up in the Northern Isles. I’d imagine that’s a pretty special thing for any touring band?

LA: It’s lovely! Strangely I think it’s becoming a bit of a fad in a way with some bands coming up from down South and choosing to do Highlands and Islands tours. It’s something we’ve always had in mind to do and years ago me and Kevin, the clarinet player had a gig on Mull and it was great fun just the two of us but we were lucky enough to take the full band back last week and play a full band show up there at the Arts Centre. We were in Stornoway two nights ago, which was a similar kind of; thing very friendly people and both shows sold out. In fact four of the six shows we’ve done so far have sold out and that’s quite special for us, we didn’t think that would be the case. All the places have been rammed with folk that are just very glad that you’ve made the effort to come up and play a show for them. It’s a trek to Stornoway like, it’s 4 or 5 hours up to Ullapool and then three hour ferry over but it’s nice when folk are welcoming and up for the show and it makes it worth it.
The further North you go you get a fair amount of heckling. For the most part heckling is good fun, y’know. When it’s good fun and we get involved with it it’s a good part of going up North.

LT: You’ve still got a lot of dates left on this tour, is there one you’re particularly looking forward to?

LA: We’re playing Shetland in a few days and I was lucky enough to go up and play in Shetland at the folk festival last year with another band and I had such a good time. I didn’t expect to have as good a time as I did! I made sure I stuffed a copy of our first record into one of the organisers pockets as I was leaving and said keep us in mind for next year and he came along and saw us at a Celtic Connections show at ABC in Glasgow and was in touch within a few days after to say I’d love to have you up I’m glad that’s worked out. So we’re doing a one-off show as part of the folk festival up in Shetland. Shetland is a mental place to go. It’s completely bizarre how much those fine people up there can drink and it’s good fun trying to keep up with them though not always a successful task! That one sticks out, that’s going to be good!
I dunno, it is a very long tour, it’s the 4th of June the tour finishes and I think the weekend after that we’re straight into festivals, I think Rockness.

LT: Do you think the Queens Hall one will be good?

LA: I think the Queens Hall is going to be a special one. We managed to sell the Liquid Rooms out the last time we were in Edinburgh and that was a great show so I’m glad we can notch it up a bit. Me and Phil, the drummer, are both from Edinburgh so it’s kind of a hometown show for us. Even though people think of us as a Glasgow band but we’re all from other places. Kev is the only one from Glasgow, Phil and myself are from Edinburgh, Joe is from Dundee, Stu our live guitarist is from Penicuik and Sarah is from Northumberland. Edinburgh is kind of a half homecoming show I guess. The Queen’s Hall is a great venue, I’ve seen some great music in there and played there a couple of times with various different people. That’s the day the new album comes out as well, so it’s the first day on the tour we can sell the new record.

LT: Scottish songwriters are doing rather well at the moment. Guys like Aidan Moffat playing with Bill Wells, and King Creosote playing with Jon Hopkins. Do you think this is just the musical landscape, or does it go deeper to a tradition of Scottish songwriters?

LA: I think there’s always been a lot of respect outside Scotland for Scottish songwriters. As I grew up I always knew that Arab Strap were well respected South of the border and out with the UK. I think bands like Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad have forged ahead a little bit in terms of getting out of Scotland, the UK and over to the States and elsewhere. Perhaps that’s made people look to Scotland a little more and see that there’s smaller bands they’ll like. I think it’s always been there but with the internet perhaps it’s easier to find these bands – that’s probably helping things but it’s probably helping things universally.

LT: Do you think you’re a part of that Scottish songwriter tradition?

LA: I guess so. We were over at SXSW last year and we were on a Scottish bill for one of the shows with The Twilight Sad. Actually, I follow Aidan Moffat on Twitter, he’s a very funny Twitist. He was going to some awards show recently and mentioned that the only thing he’d heard of on the bill was our band and I didn’t even know he was aware of us.
We’ve been lucky enough to play some shows with King Creosote in the past, and I’ve bumped into Johnny Lynch who’s the Pictish Trail who runs FENCE with Kenny (Anderson of King Creosote) and they’ve had us up to Homegame and stuff. That was a big thing for us as King Creosote, especially, has always been a massive influence on our music from the early days. The fact that you can play some shows with these folk makes you feel like you’re a part of it anyway.
I doubt we’re held in as high a regard as some of these people; that’s totally fine, we’ve not earned our stripes!

Well there we go – that’s my interview with Louis from Admiral Fallow and I’m pretty sure this tour is earning them lots of stripes because their gig at PJ’s was brilliant, amazing and great!

Highlight of the night was this exchange between Louis and a heckler:

LA: This song is called ‘Brother’, it was written for my two little brothers from the perpective of me and my older brother. Did I say it’s called ‘Brother’?
Heckler: What’s it about?
LA: Shaggin’

[Audio will maybe follow if I can find the time and resources to clean it up – no promises unfortunately]

Admiral Fallow “The Paper Trench” [Official Video] from Epoch London on Vimeo.


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