This week, I joined the Irish trad group, Na Fianna, to ask them some questions about their music career, the state of the current music industry, their influences, and future plans!
You guys have been working together for so long, how did you all start playing music and what/who introduced you to it?
We have indeed! We were all quite young when we started playing music. Each of our families have musical backgrounds and we were all introduced to it through them. Once you are introduced to playing music at an early stage in life it’s always with you and it’s a passion that seems to keep growing over time.
How have you all been coping with the past year and the changes it has brought to the music industry?
It’s been extremely hard for all of us. Not only have our livelihoods been decimated, but not being able to perform live music for people leaves a huge gap in a musicians life. A gap that’s hard to fill. There’s been a huge increase in online livestream gigs over the past year and it’s probably actually one of the only positives to come out of it all with regards the industry. We’ve livestreamed a few gigs ourselves since the live music has halted and it’s a great way to connect to a wide audience from around the world. However it’s no replacement for live gigs and never will be, but it helps a lot of people missing music cope with everything that’s going on. Including ourselves.
I’m sure each of you have your own individual musical influences, how have you all managed to work together over the years?
We all have different playlists on our phones and iPods and Spotify accounts for sure! Our musical preferences stretch from classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical numbers to Prodigy remixes and from Canadian sea shanties to 90’s grunge. But we also share the same taste in many music genres and bands. If there’s a ‘click’ between musicians initially then it’s not so hard to work together musically. And we clicked from the start. We also shared the same musical goals so we worked out what was the best way to achieve them goals. Like any band we had our trials and tribulations but our live set was a testament to how we work as a band on and off the stage. We felt it was tight and energetic and represented us all individually as well as a unit.
What does the creative process consist of for the group?
We like arranging songs in away that represents us as a band. A little bit different and a little outside the box.
If one of us brings a song to the rehearsals we will play through it a few times and then dissect it enough to be able put it back together in a way we think is different from any version we’ve heard before. That’s pretty much the way we approach all our traditional covers. We’ll work through a song as many times as we need to in order to get an arrangement that we all agree sounds great! Everyone is very committed to making their part or instrument in the song work to support the song as best it can.
Tell me a bit about your experience with your Stable Session. What was the highlight for you?
Our experience with Stable Sessions was one of growth and learning, both as a band and individuals.
There’s nothing that tightens up a band ‘more than constant rehearsals for a live 1 take’ recording session! Well perhaps the recording session itself brings out the perfectionist in everyone and makes us listen to each other carefully. It also has a habit of exposing your weakness as a musician though, which is a good thing of you plan to address these weaknesses. We think Stable Sessions made us all better players. The last Stable Sessions we did, ‘Haul Away’, was the highlight. We had 2 Stables under our belts already and had leaned a lot about ourselves as a band form doing them. We loved the songs and the arrangements on them and we think we really pushed our limits regarding our approach to the song choice on the album. It’s release was definitely a highlight for all of us!
Who are some of your favourite artists and biggest influences? I would love to make a spotify playlist for our readers!
Hugh loves his sea shanties and has a soft spot for Dick Gaughan. Peter loves Pearl Jam and Muse, James influences would include The Beatles and Metallica. Ciaràn is heavily influenced by the likes of Paul Brady and Andy Irvine but also the nu metal genre from early 2000’s.
All 4 of us have a deep connection to trad and folk and are influenced greatly by the many great irish bands that exist/existed within this genre. Dervish, Lúnasa, The Dubliners, Planxty, The Fureys, The High Kings. It would indeed be a very eclectic playlist if you decided to make it from the above for-mentioned influences! One we’d all enjoy listening to I’m sure!
Finally, with so much uncertainty around us, do you have a plan for what your next endeavour or move will be?
This has been a time for self reflection and has made us all aware of how important music was and is in our lives. There’s lots of negative thoughts that go hand in hand with the uncertainty that seems to engulf us at this stage, however we want to stay positive and not just throw in the towel just yet. Like I mentioned before, music has been in us from the beginning , from an early age. It won’t just ‘go away’ after a year...or two or three. We have no real plans as of yet but there is an itch there among all of us to get another studio album recorded and out into the world. Whether this is something that can be achieved under the current circumstances, we aren’t sure. But it’s an itch that probably won’t go away. We’ll try to stay positive anyway and make sure whatever plans we make for the future includes music. The world needs music.