Admiral Fallow is a band once discovered one keeps close to the breast. There is something sturdy – hard tack for the soul â€“ to their music, but also something lovely, delicate and hard to place, foundational, chiseled elements bumping against what feels like magic. Since discovering Tree Bursts In Snow (one of DIâ€™s Favorite Albums of 2012), weâ€™ve scouted down and devoured every note we can find by these Scottish comers. Only two albums in, Admiral Fallow moves with an earnest head charge that sweeps one up in a slipstream filled with interesting ideas (the political and social subtext of many tunes remind DI of The Kinks), nicely burnished harmonies, and a keen songwriting edge. Put another way, thereâ€™s a lot going on in this band, and instinct says weâ€™ve only seen the tip of whatâ€™s lurking in their depths.
We asked Admiral Fallowâ€™s Sarah Hayes (flute, singing, piano) and Phil Hague (drums) to tackle DIâ€™s signature questionnaire, and they kindly obliged with responses as sharp and charming as one might expect.
- 1. Great music rarely happens withoutâ€¦
- Sarah: Commitment throughout the whole process, from inspiration to â€˜realizationâ€™ in performance. There might be some blood, sweat and tears along the way, or things might just work without searching for them. It may be the case that without people willing to listen, challenge and respond to it in their own way, the music doesnâ€™t necessarily gain meaning, identity or purpose. I doubt a nightingale has these thoughts about its songwriting, thoughâ€¦
- 2. The first album I bought wasâ€¦
- Sarah: Blurâ€™s The Great Escape on cassette. I listened to it on my Walkman whilst riding around on my bike, and knew all the words to â€œMr Robinsonâ€™s Quangoâ€ at the age of nine.
Phil: The 100 Greatest Classical Anthems EVER! I used to get pumped up for the school disco by listening to Ride of the Valkyries.
- 3. The last song or album to really flip my wig wasâ€¦
- “Sarah: Anais Mitchellâ€™s Young Man in America is unbelievable.
Phil: The Nationalâ€™s Boxer is flipping my wig for the second time. Iâ€™d only just arranged my toupee when it was flipped again.
- 4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to beâ€¦
- Phil: A tap dancer, then a fireman, and finally a schoolteacher (probably because Iâ€™d been watching Dangerous Minds).
- 5. My favorite sort of gig isâ€¦
- Sarah: Weâ€™ve been lucky to play a real variety of spaces, to lots of people and almost none at all. Our sets are usually a mix of energetic and quieter numbers, so itâ€™s great when people are both enthusiastic and attentive. The best gigs sometimes take you by surprise. For whatever reason things just seem to be in alignment, from onstage sound to everyoneâ€™s mood and the atmosphere from the audience.
- 6. One thing I wish people knew about me isâ€¦
- Phil: I have â€˜pseudo-winging,â€™ which means I can turn my back into a shelf.
- 7. I love the sound ofâ€¦
- Sarah: Birdsong, especially in my home county of Northumberland. And an orchestra tuning up always carries with it a feeling of anticipation that is hard to put into words.
- 8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic asâ€¦
- Phil: Again, Boxer by The National. I find it really impressive when a band can blow you away with music that doesnâ€™t scream, â€œLOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!â€ I think the lyrics chime very strongly with many people (especially from the male perspective) and the music is incredible in its brooding layers and dark textures. The drumming is perfect: he makes amazing contrasts between very individual, off kilter patterns which then break into really straight up driving grooves, which totally change your perspective within a song.
- 9. The best meal I ever had on tour was atâ€¦
- Sarah: I had some amazing fish tacos in Wicker Park, Chicago. They were just perfect, and came with smoked red cabbage and a kicking sauce. The whole afternoon we spent there was great, like a holiday. The weather was lovely and we sampled some out-there local beers, one of which was made with spruce tips. While in Chicago we also tried some of the famous stuffed pizza from Giordanoâ€™s. Deep-fried, it would be a welcome addition to the Glasgow chip shop repertoire.
Phil: I think that how good a meal is also depends on your mood and company as much as the food. One of my favourite times was the same afternoon that Sarah mentions above. She, Kev and I had a nice walk about the shops in the lovely weather. We found a great bar called Lillieâ€™s Q, which had a ton of great craft beers and dead friendly staff. We had ourselves some deep fried pickles and sweet potato fries, which, along with good conversation and tasty beers, made it really memorable.
- 10. I always find the coolest audiences inâ€¦
- Phil: Difficult, as weâ€™re only really making our way into new places recently. We just did a great show in Toronto where everyone was attentive during songs but showed their appreciation and gave good chat in between them. Then as we were packing up, the venue became a horrible cocktail type club night and loads of dolled up folks piled in. It felt like I was back at that school disco I pumped myself up for.
- 11. The worst habit I’ve picked up being on the road all the time isâ€¦
- Sarah: Itâ€™s easy to become lazy, so Iâ€™ve been trying to get up a bit earlier, go for a walk, read something new, do some practice, choose the saladâ€¦with varying degrees of success.
- 12. Led Zeppelin or Radiohead, which flips your switch the most and why?
- Phil: Radiohead, because for me they have more substance. I think they have more to say at every level. Led Zeppelin were one of the most energetic and readily identifiable bands ever, with a sound that paid a huge tribute to classic American Blues artists. The thing with Radiohead is they began as a sort of indie/garage band but have evolved so much over the years and been at the forefront of new sounds and trends. What I think makes them amazing is that despite all their sonic changes they still maintain that brilliant and depressing core that made everyone fall in love with them in the first place. I think Radiohead are one of those bands that are never going to come along again.
- 13. The craziest thing I ever saw wasâ€¦
- Sarah: A man wheeling his chair along between two lanes of a Russian motorway.
Phil: A line of lovely ladies relieving themselves beside a skip at Scotlandâ€™s T in the Park festival; itâ€™s a classy affair.