HamsandwicH ‘grow up’ on new album and for live shows

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

HamsandwicH: Niamh Farrell and Podge McNamee centre, sitting, with David McEnroe, Brian Darcy and Ollie Murphy. The Kells band make a rare appearance in Limerick as they get ready to release their third album. Picture: Dara Munnis
TIME and perspective are wonderful things, and are mostly extremely rare commodities in the modern music industry.

TIME and perspective are wonderful things, and are mostly extremely rare commodities in the modern music industry.

For Irish indie band HamsandwicH, they decided to ignore the pressure to deliver a much anticipated follow-up to 2010’s superb White Fox and wait until they were good and ready.

Forgoing a self-imposed April deadline, the band are only now finishing the as yet untitled album - their third, also including 2008’s Carry the Meek - but are “excited” to reveal the results at some point early next year, says frontwoman Niamh Farrell.

“The album is in the process of being mixed,” she reports. “We were meant to have the album out in April and I am really glad that we didn’t, because we could have easily rushed it and put out something that we were maybe putting out for the sake of having out on time.

“We have really had time to sit back and look at the songs and work on them and there are a lot of songs that we are extremely proud of and we can’t wait for people to hear them.

“In our minds they have grown up so much from what they were. It is very exciting now at this stage, you can hear a full song and you listen to it while it is being mixed and you are like, ‘can we let people listen to this now’?!

“You get a bit antsy about it, you want people to hear it,” she laughs.

It helps that they have their own DIY label that afford them that freedom, but you have to admire a ballsy call in taking four years to follow-up a critically lauded album like White Fox.

Whereas that was textured and bursting with melodies - chiefly from the singing partnership of Farrell and Podge McNamee - the band’s debut was raw, punky and powerful, a clarion call to arms. You wonder what direction the third album will follow, with already released singles Apollo and Illuminate strongly hinting at a change in musical direction for the band?

“It is gonna be different and I am excited to hear what people think,” says Niamh. “We still want to keep and have the same kind of vibe when we play the songs live especially, we want to make them into this big songs with bits for people to maybe singalong. We want to keep that element.

“It is a real mixed bag, there are parts of the songs where there are big, epic bits and stuff and we still concentrate on those melodic vocals for myself and Podge for part of it, but it is a little bit more dancey, I would say, a little bit more funky - although I don’t really like that word but can’t think of any other way to explain it!

“We have utilised trumpets and violins a lot more and pianos and synths, because we can do all that live now, so it makes sense to have that on the record as well, so it is not that difficult to translate it live.”

After releasing the album, Hamsandwich gigged almost incessantly for two years, honing their craft and adding a maturity and confidence, almost a swagger to what they do, as evidenced at their gig at Electric Picnic in September, which was one of the highlights of the festival.

High profile slots with Mumford & Sons at Phoenix Park, plus Arcade Fire and The Pixies at Marley Park blew away any notion of them being quirky, a label they struggled with in the beginning.

“You kind of don’t have time to not be confident,” says Niamh. “The more you do it and the bigger the gigs get, you really appreciate it a lot more and enjoy it a lot more. Once you are thrown into that situation - supporting two of your favourite bands, you don’t have time to be shy and nervous about it, you have to get up there and win people over, basically.

“You have to be confident, because people feed off that.”

HamsandwicH play Dolan’s Warehouse this Saturday night