Washington Irving

WASHINGTON IRVING/Glasgow

If you like _ and _ you will like Washington Irving. Fill in the blanks.

If you like poncho sanchez and porridge you will like Washington Irving.

You have an excellent EP to your name, ‘Little Wanderer, Head Thee Home’. What are your future plans for releases? Will there be a debut album to look forward to in 2011?

We’re currently working on new songs, recording demos etc. The plan is to go in to the studio soon to record two or three tracks for a single to be released before the end of the year. Then hopefully at the start of next year we’ll go in to the studio again and record an album.

We noticed your upcoming gigs are understandably centred around your hometown of Glasgow, however there are some south of the border. Have you ever played in England before, and if so how was your music received?

We’re planning on touring England quite extensively towards the end of the year. To date we’ve only played in London once. We were invited down by a London band called Dry the River after meeting them in Stornoway. It was a great night, sold out and Robert Plant was there! Lots of people seemed to enjoy it. We also went on Tom Robinson’s BBC6 Music show while we were down. It was a pretty good first stab at England.

Your music has quite a folky tinge to it. What do you think of the newfound popularity in folk music over the past two or three years that people like Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Johnny Flynn and Stornoway have latched on to?

People’s interest in folk orientated music seems to be bigger now than it was when we started as a band. I guess this is a good thing. I like a lot of folk music from the past few years. People like Joanna Newsom, Vetiver, Bill Callahan and Alasdair Roberts I think are amazing. I guess some bands do just clutch for the nearest gimmick and are possibly guided by evil music industry moguls. On the whole though I think people just enjoy doing it. We played with Johnny Flynn, also when we were up in Stornoway. I think he’s great. I’ve avoided Mumford and Sons though.

For almost every Scottish band, playing T in the Park is as good as it gets as far as festival appearances go. What was it like to play it this year and how did your slot on the T Break Stage go?

We didn’t get through in last year’s T Break and I remember being a bit disappointed. And maybe a bit jealous of our drummer Chris who played with Mike Nisbet. So yeah we were overjoyed this year when we got in. I think we had improved a lot as a band as well, so better placed to make the most of it.  Our slot was quite early on the Sunday, which sounds like a gloomy hangover of a time. Luckily though people made it out of their tents and came to see us. Possibly to get out of the rain. We had a great time.

In The Daily Dose’s personal favourite song of yours, ‘Sisi’, you sing about a husband that hates his wife and yet you still manage to keep an up beat feel to the song. Do you feel it is important not to make your music too gloomy and depressing or do you just want to make people want to have a dance at your gigs?

Apparently Townes Van Zandt said, “You essentially got two types of music: you got zippitydoodah and you got the blues”. We’ve obviously found a way to combine the two. I think the flute adds the zippitydoodah element. I guess as a group we tend towards more upbeat sounding things. Live we usually get over excited and play everything twice the speed. It’s good to see people dancing at gigs. I think the gigs I’ve enjoyed most in my life are ones where I’ve been jumping around. Standing still watching someone play can be a bit dull.

We saw on your Myspace that one of your influences are Belle & Sebastian, who are of course renowned for being the most under-rated band from Scotland. ‘Belle & Sebastian Write About Love’ is one of the albums of the year, but why do you think they’ve always struggled to make it to the deserved mainstream?

I think the whole ethos of Belle and Sebastian is about being an indie band and having an intimate relationship with their fans. I’d imagine they wouldn’t want to become a mainstream commodity – I certainly wouldn’t want them to. I think to become a mainstream success you have to prostitute yourself a bit! Belle and Sebastian are too good for all that: Tesco CD bargain bins etc.

You’re named after the 19th Century writer Washington Irving, but who’s your favourite 19th century novelist and why?

Well I read ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ last year by Alexandre Dumas and really enjoyed it. I liked the cartoon villains.

www.myspace.com/washingtonirvingband

By Finlay Matheson

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