And So I Watch You From Afar have been one of the Irish flagbearers of post-rock for over a decade now and they return with their latest serving, The Endless Shimmering. I spoke to guitarist Rory Friers about the new album, touring and what it’s like being in the band.
After a couple of relatively poppy releases, The Endless Shimmering is more visceral and expressive effort. The two singles that have premiered so far demonstrate this. ‘A Slow Unfolding of Wings’ features crashing drums and electric guitars stabs while ‘Dying Giants’ is an epic journey of a track, boasting anfractuous guitarwork and a rhythm that never sits still.
After the band had concluded touring for Heirs, they separated and then collected all the ideas they had over the past 18 months. “Myself and Chris (drummer) spent a bit of time at my little studio on the north coast of Antrim demoing a lot of those initial ideas as a two-piece whilst Niall (guitarist) was simultaneously sending ideas down” Rory explains. They all reconvened in Belfast writing song after song. The tracklist was whittled down from 30 tracks to 9.
ASIWYFA flew across the pond to record the album in the studio Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. During their recording sessions, a colossal snowstorm hit the northeast coast but that didn’t stop the band who “tracked, ate, washed and slept in the studio”.
The Belfast quartet’s fifth LP is purely instinctual; not conceptualised or postured. “We tend to always write on instinct” Rory points out. “We follow whatever feels exciting and generally see it through”. The ensemble vocals that were present on previous recordings are dialled back significantly. This allows the musicians to shine brighter as performers. According to Rory, “vocals have always been a thing we put on when we feel there’s space for them or that the song needed another element. None of these songs felt like they were missing anything so we weren’t tempted to shoehorn anything in for the sake of it”.
The band embark upon a substantial tour of Europe, playing no less than 40 different venues. Rory finds touring to be amazing – “we’re very lucky to have an extremely energetic and passionate fanbase and they make every show feel like a special night”. Furthermore, prospective live performances are a major consideration when the band are writing songs – “we’re always thinking about what the song is going to be like when playing it to people”. Although, Rory maintains that this is not sole reason for the direction the writing takes.
Since their formation in 2005, ASIWYFA have grown to become one of the most esteemed post-rock acts in the country. While post-rock has a cult following, Rory feels the genre is as healthy as ever – “it feels alive and well, and when you play festivals like ArcTanGent or Dunk Festival, or play to some of the crowds in the US, or even Russia or Asia, you really get a sense of how far it’s come”.
On the side, Rory and Niall composed the score for the upcoming horror thrilled The Cured starring Ellen Page. This was an awe-inspiring venture for Rory – “I remember being in the midst of making the music and thinking this is the coolest thing; how did this happen?”. It goes to show how far the band has come with them now making an imprint in Hollywood as well as the Irish music scene.
The Endless Shimmering will be released on LP, CD and download on October 20th via Sargent House. ASIWYFA play The Academy on December 28th.
Adam Bielenberg – Music Editor