The Widowmaker, aka Andover-born Ian Easton, has had a year to remember. Not only was his debut album released this year and snapped up like gold dust, he has a string of festival appearances under his belt, playing at the likes of Camp Bestival and Glastonbury to name but a few.
Easton, broad and brooding, is the exact opposite of the folk stereotype – gone are the dungarees and gawkish appearance usually associated with the genre. Instead The Widowmaker, whose music falls half way between Folk and Blues, recaptures and reclaims a sound that many believe died a long time ago, making Folk not only relevant, but sexy. Hayley Taulbut caught up with the man himself on his return from Pulse Festival:
1) Firstly, could you introduce yourself?
I’m Ian Easton, known onstage as The Widowmaker.
2) How did The Widowmaker come about? When did you first start playing under that name?
The Widowmaker came about after I left a band called Lowly Gallows. We played blues, folk, rock, groove-type stuff, and things didn’t quite work out. So, I decided to play solo, as I wrote the songs for Lowly Gallows anyway. So I needed a name and The Widowmakers was the name of my current Fantasy Football team. Therefore I decided to omit the ‘s’, and call myself The Widowmaker.
3) What have been your primary influences?
Influences include English Folk, Americana Folk, Blues, Bluegrass, 1960’s counterculture ideals, intricate finger-styles and anything that you can stomp your foot to. As far as artist/band influences go – The Tallest Man on Earth, Dark Horses, Mumford and Sons, Bright Eyes, City and Colour, Peter Hayes, Pentangle, Joni Mitchell, Laura Marling, Led Zeppelin, Pete Doherty, and The Avett Brothers are probably my most primary influences.
4) The Soundtrack to Reality was finished this year – how has it been received and what was the idea behind it?
The album has been well received I think. It has reached much further than my expectations, just because of some of the shows I’ve played off the back of it. It’s going to be on iTunes soon as well, so that also provides another platform from which people can buy it.
The idea behind the album, hmmmm – well it’s merely a collection of my favourite songs that I’ve written over the last 6-7 years. I mean, there are certain subjects that crop up more than once, the occult, lost love, love, disillusionment with life, satire, irony and sarcasm. I’ve mainly written about my personal experiences; yet tried to leave them open for interpretation for the listener.
5) How much does your home town, and Southampton, influence your music?
Andover (my hometown) and Southampton (where I live now) certainly influence a lot of things. I mean Andover has influenced a lot of my songs; it’s where I’ve experienced and lived through the things I’ve written about. In terms of musicality there is a lot more on offer in Southampton and a more eclectic mix, which also influences me because I can really drill down on the type of act I want to go and see. There are also the venues; I enjoy playing in and around Southampton because the venues are cracking!
6) With a string of festival appearances this year, could you pick a favourite? If so, why?
It has to be Glastonbury, simply because I’ve been going for a decade now and it holds a special place in my heart. When I first got in for £10 over the fence in the year 2000, I could but dream of playing there; and now it’s happened. It’s certainly a dream come true for me to play on such a big, professional and well-run stage on The Glade stage. It was superb, and I’ll never forget it.
7) What have you got lined up for the future, both in terms of new music, and live shows?
I’ve got a few cool gigs coming up… I’m going to gig, gig, gig and write, write, write in order to achieve more of the same. I feel like I’m riding quite a wave at the moment!