Admiral Fallow on The Mighty Ducks, tree people, and touring the U.S.
The orchestral folk-pop ensemble Admiral Fallow has been steadily gaining fans in the U.K. since they started playing together some six years ago. Now, finally, with the release of their second album, Tree Bursts In Snow, talented Scottish quintet is finally in a place to make the great voyage over the pond and spread their music.
Before we go further, let's be clear: Admiral Fallow is not Mumford and Sons. Sure, they have irresistible accents and can spread themselves across everything from clarinet to the accordion, and yes, frontman Louis Abbott seems very broodingly artistic. But Admiral Fallow make music that is far more subtle, and they are way too humble for their own good. Tree Bursts In Snow is a shimmering record, full of high-energy tunes with lyrics that get borderline poetic (see the title track "Tree Bursts").
Gimme Noise caught up with Abbott ahead of the band's gig in Minneapolis this Sunday, and we chatted about everything from the Mighty Ducks to what's in store for their first U.S. tour.
Gimme Noise: So, I know you guys are pretty big in Scotland and the rest of the U.K., but I feel like we're still waiting for you to reach, say, Mumford and Sons status here in the States.
Louis Abbott: I don't absolutely see that happening. This is only our very first proper tour in the U.S., and we've been playing in the U.K. for around six years, and obviously the fact that we've worked very hard over there and sort of set the foundation in our own country has helped. We're only just now at the stage where we're able to go [to the U.S.] and do some groundwork. We're unknown, but that's why we're here -- to get some feedback.
I know this isn't your first time playing in the U.S., but this is the first time for a large-scale tour here. What are you most excited for?
Everything. We're taking in a lot of places we've never been, let alone play music in. We're excited to see places we've only heard about. We played about ten days last April at SXSW, so we did a few shows in Austin, and we went up to North Carolina and did a show there, and it was great fun. We did a show in New York and a show in Boston, just off of some friends and strangers saying, "Do you want to come play here?" and that was a really incredible thing for them to do, just taking a chance on us, and it was a really good experience. The feedback from the those shows last year was really, really positive, so when we first had the meetings about this tour, we wanted to make sure we were going to places we've never been to... I think we're just kind of wide eyed about the whole thing.
But from my experience, the best shows on the tour are the ones you're not thinking of so much, and they just surprise you, and you get a good wee crowd, and it's just a great show, you know?
Any place in particular you're looking forward to?
It's hard to pick. In the U.K., we grow up with a lot of American films. I grew up a big fan of the Mighty Ducks movies, so I'm excited about Minneapolis. I imagine there isn't a bus tour or anything. [Laughs]
No, but that's great. Okay, switching gears a little bit: the subject matter of Tree Bursts in Snow is quite different from that of [your debut album] Boots Met My Face. What where the events you were thinking about as you were writing?
The first record was so many kind of stories about my years growing up and high school and that kind of stuff, experiences from that sort of teenage time in your life, and when it came time to write the second album -- and I'm not trying to sound ungrateful about it -- was that we were going around touring and there wasn't a lot to write. So it was a case of looking outside myself and trying to find other sources of inspiration for a lyric, and I always found it quite hard to write about things that hadn't happened to me... The whole record is kind of generally about things that have kind of interested me in the press or stories that have happened wherever, somewhere else in the world, and try to write from someone else's perspective, so it kind of sounds like a personal experience.
Is there a song off the new album that you really enjoy playing live?
Oh, good question... I mean these things are so dependent on how the show is going. A good one for us all is the song called "Brother." It's late on in the album, and we added it after a couple months [of the album being finished], and it was sort a case of, "We should probably put something else on this record, it needs something slightly different sounding." And it's quite energetic, and if the crowd doesn't know the song it tends to be one that they all kind of enjoyed and that's quite a positive thing. On the other side of things, with "Oh Oscar," people are often kind of respectful of that song, it's very slow and simple, very different from what we usually play, and I quite enjoy it.
I was just going to ask about that song. Do you know an Oscar? Is that about someone in particular?
No. It's strange, [my songs are] generally always about someone or something. They're not generally fictitious.
There was a loop of chords I was messing about, and it was just a late night thing. It happened really quickly. I just scribbled down a few things and when you do that it's generally just to keep the tune in your head or to see what it would sound like with words, but it's just an interesting set of words. I guess it's just about an interesting character, that's kind of coming towards the end of his life and is thinking about things he could have done, but it could be about anything, really.
Tell me about the music video for "The Paper Trench." It's quite beautiful and a little strange, featuring a Tree Man walking through a cityscape, seemingly searching for something. How did you go about deciding how to shoot it?
Thank you. We were interested in doing a video, and we thought we'd do something quite interesting... We got Greg Davenport [to direct], he had the idea which was the most interesting to us, and it all was really resting on the Tree Man looking quite good and realistic. They made him walk from the East End of Glasgow, which is historically kind of a rough area, to the city center, and he walked through the Barrowlands, which is sort of a Saturday-Sunday market where you can buy pretty much anything--not all of it particularly legal, I might add, and some things that might have been grabbed out of the back of a truck in the middle of the night--but he walks through it, and he replants himself in the highlands in a happier place. It was a thrill, and they really did a great job with it.
Awesome. So, we don't get to hear about very many Scottish bands. Is there anyone in particular that you would recommend to us?
Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks, they're all kind of from a new generation of quite good Scottish bands, and they're quite inspirational. It gives us a bit of hope that we could come over [to the U.S.] and not do bad as well.
Another one is the Olypmic Swimmers. Their first album came out recently in Scotland, and they're really an incredible band... They make an incredible noise. They're a big, noisey guitar band with a gentle sentimentality as well. They're very talented.
Admiral Fallow is playing at the 7th Street Entry on Sunday, September 30 with openers Young Buffalo. 7:30 doors. $10. 18+.
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