The Guillemots are busy, very busy, so myself and Andy Neilson were very lucky to have been able to meet up with them last month at Truck festival. They’ve decided to release four albums in the space of a year, with the first, Hello Land! having already come out in May. Ambitious, but according to front man Fyfe Dangerfield, entirely do-able. We sit down in the insect-filled grass backstage with the evening sun setting over the festival. I observe that Fyfe has a sore throat – they’ve been recording constantly lately as well as doing a few festivals.
How do you go about planning the making of four albums in a year? Recording one album can sometimes drive a band mental!
Fyfe: You just think about the joyful thing that is making music. It’s definitely stressful trying to get stuff done on time. Who was it that said the best two conditions you can have for art is no time and no money? I think we’re doing some really good stuff this year. The one we’re working on at the moment is definitely one of the things I’m most proud of ever doing musically. You just get on with it.
So what do you prefer, the studio environment or playing live at gigs?
Fyfe: I prefer recording as a creative process, that sounds pretentious, but I don’t know how else to describe it. But I love the feeling of playing a gig and having the audience on your side and everyone being in it together. It’s a pure energy. They’re very different things to me.
So you’re quite productive as a band?
Aristazabal Hawkes: We’re all much happier when we’re busy. We egg each other on. We each make each other want to do more. We didn’t go to school together, we’re all from completely different countries. We all just do our bit.
As you have four albums to record, do you find you can be a bit more experimental?
Fyfe: When you’re in the right zone, all you’re doing is making music that sounds as good as it can, and if you’re consciously trying to be experimental, you’re not really making the kind of music that I want to make because you’re trying to challenge someone intellectually. I don’t think any of us really want to do that. We want to make music that is going to make people feel good and make their lives better because that’s what music can do. I’m sure lots of people would consider us experimental but we just want music to sound good. I don’t know if it’s me getting old, but a lot of the music you hear on the radio today just sounds fucking horrible. So much just sounds like a piece of plastic. It’s a funny time in terms of what’s popular. It really is just about following instinct. We’re not thinking about how the records are gonna sell or anything like that. Let’s just make as much music as we can and make it as good as we can.
I think that’s working well! That’s definitely the best advice you can give to bands, don’t try and be anything, do what you enjoy.
Fyfe: Yeah, it’s really important to do that and it’s very easy to lose sight of that. Pop music at heart is just something that just makes you have that warm feeling in your heart. I think we probably became self-conscious. You have to free yourself and listen to the voice inside.
Wow, good solid advice. It’s full of spiders here isn’t it? (I pick a few off Fyfe because they were bothering me). I like your name, I do Biology and I like wildlife and birds and stuff.
Fyfe: I’m a bird-watcher. The birds in Norway are amazing, I saw a black woodpecker this year and a crane flew over the house. I don’t get time to do it much, but it’s one of my levellers. We have a yellow hammer singing on the track of our new record that was singing outside when we were recording. We were singing some harmonies outside and it was singing in the background. We’ve literally got birds all over the place. This mad chorus of fieldfare cackling.
I’ve been out putting rings on fieldfares recently. It’s cool seeing them up close.
Fyfe: They’re funny looking birds, aren’t they?
Yeah they are I guess (laughs). So what do you think of smaller festivals?
Fyfe: I always prefer the ones that aren’t particularly big branded festivals. Is there a local cider bar?
Yeah and the cider is really strong! It was lovely meeting you, thanks for your time.
I leave them to get set up for their festival performance, which got a great response from the crowd. Latest information on the band and the making of their four albums can be found on their website, here.