Admiral Fallow Set Sail for Stornoway

24 May 2012 in Festival, Highland, Music, Outer Hebrides, Showcase

SIZE is not an issue for acclaimed Indie folk group Admiral Fallow who are quite happy to play it small on the road to the big time.

THE Glasgow-based six-piece are earning a growing reputation and have picked up some influential supporters in the likes of Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Guillemots’ Fyfe Dangerfield.

THE BAND, formed in 2006, have also notched up some successful festival gigs, including Glastonbury, and this summer will make their debut at the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival which runs from 11-14 July and based in Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis, with further dates in the north to follow.

Admiral Fallow are bound for Lewis and beyond this summer

Admiral Fallow are bound for Lewis and beyond this summer

Louis Abbott, the group’s frontman, said: “It’s been a slow but steady progression for us. We’ve always enjoyed playing together no matter how big the show or where it is geographically. In fact, often the smaller shows leave us more satisfied that people have had a good time watching it.

“That said, to be invited to play some slots on bigger stages at festivals is exciting for us. Last year’s run of festivals included great shows at Glastonbury and Green Man (in Wales) among others. It can be very daunting but there’s no better feeling when you come out the other side in one piece.”

The band are still playing small venues, particularly in England, on their current tour, but see it all as part of the learning experience: “The early stages in any band’s career is a time to learn from your mistakes, something we continue to do with every gig”, says Louis.

“But I have to say that apart from a few individuals at the odd gig we’ve always seemed to go down quite well with crowds even when they haven’t necessarily come to see us. The one exception was when we opened for a band over two nights at their request. The majority of their crowd, it seemed, would’ve happily taken us out the back and had us put down. We bravely soldiered on but we were fighting a losing battle.”

These occasions are rare and Admiral Fallow are now more used to plaudits: “I reckon success is measured by how you feel when you find out there has been a development with the band. Like being asked to open for a band or artist you admire, or being played by someone on the radio whose show you listen to a lot”, Louis said.

“We’ve been lucky enough to have had some spot plays on BBC6 Music which often comes along when the DJ wants to play you as opposed to being told to. Mark Radcliffe gave us a wee shout out on the Glastonbury highlights programme last year. Little things like that mean a lot.”

He said the use of social media nowadays can help a band to get recognised, but there is still the need for gigging, word of mouth and hard work.

“You can be tweeted about the world over and make a name for yourself before you’ve even made an album, but if the product is poor or you can’t play it well live you’ll disappear and be forgotten about awfully quickly.

“At the same time, it’s important for bands that want to be known outside their hometown to use these kinds of networks to do so. Not everyone embraces the likes of twitter – King Creosote, one of my favourite artists, doesn’t use it and gets by just fine.

“But there’s nothing like a whole bunch of shows back to back to get to the stage where playing together becomes second nature. If every show is as good as it can be people will appreciate it and hopefully tell someone about it.”

The band’s debut album, Boots Met My Face, released in 2010 was hailed by the critics and the follow up, Tree Bursts in Snow, is released on 21 May.

Louis says the process was more intense and fraught than the first album, but ultimately more rewarding.

“Because the songs on ‘Boots..’ were already gig ready, recording them was fairly straightforward. This time the songs were quite fragmented and the majority of them hadn’t been road tested.

“This album is a little more direct and, I’m told, more mature sounding as a whole. Like with the first album, however, there is a decent balance in styles. There’s perhaps a curveball or two on there but I don’t want to give much away.

“We’re currently on tour and we’re playing a good bunch of the songs from the second record so people at shows can hopefully come and hear for themselves.”

This year’s summer festival schedule sees them playing at Rockness, the Insider (Aviemore), Solas (South Lanarkshire), Downhill Downtown (Fort William) and Speyfest as well as HebCelt.

The 17th Hebridean festival will see the band return to Lewis where they played earlier this year and are expecting another great reception: “Having recently played a show in Stornoway we can expect a hearty reaction at HebCelt all going well.

“It was a very fun night and we were well looked after. That said, we’ll probably need to switch up the set a little so it’s a bit more festival friendly.

“We occasionally add live brass to our shows but it’s not always logistically easy to take that line up on the road. I’m sure the six of us will manage a fair racket though.”

So Admiral Fallow are where they want to be at this stage of their career? “Absolutely”, says Louis. “We get to travel around the world playing the music we’ve created to people who, most of the time, want to listen to it.

“It’s a great place to be in at this stage. We celebrate our sixth birthday in September and as long as we’re all still happy doing it and people still want to hear us we’ll be doing it for many years to come.”

© Heb Celt, 2012