Friday, 22 April 2011

Interview: Stornoway

L-R: Rob Steadman, Jon Ouin, Brian Briggs, Oli Steadman
 You're known for playing some quite unusual instruments - how many do you play between you?
 - Brian: guitar, drums, bongos, tabla, Oli: electric bass, double bass, piano, guitar, drums, the launchpad, banjo, Jon: guitar, piano, cello, qanun (from istanbul), synths, Rob: drums, saw, theremin, tv, qanun, banjo, piano, guitar, bass, bongos, tabla, xylophone, marimba, timpani.

 Are there any instruments that you've tried in a song, but then rejected because it doesn't fit with the Stornoway sound?
 - The most common example is when we've tried a brass or string section and it just hasn't sounded right. The saw is now used instead of the theremin because the song that I play it in has changed slightly and so it fits in a bit better.

 I know Rob and Oli listened to Zulu music whilst growing up. What music influenced the other members of the band?
 - Brian has always preferred listening to stuff like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and other 50's rock and roll along with a lot of reggae and 60's folk revival such as Bert Jansch and Pete Seeger. Jon has always listened to a wide range of music, from 60's folk revival, to eastern artists like Vashti Bunyan.

 Are there any bands that have caught your attention but which have not yet made it into the public eye?
 - We toured in Australia with a band called Otouto who are really minimalist and interesting. In America we met a group called The Caves and a group called Head and the Heart. There is also an Oxford band called Spring Offensive who are very good.

Which has been your favourite venue?
 - It's pretty difficult to remember a lot of venues, when we're touring and playing a different gig every night they all kind of merge in to each other. However, the last venue we played, in Paris called Cafe de la Dance was very cool. High ceilings, stone walls, big stage, very nice.
Playing on top of their van at the Green Man Festival in 2009

 You're bristling with degrees and other qualifications - if you weren't in Stornoway, what career paths might you have taken?
 - Brian would still be an ornithologist, I guess his career would have turned into something like manager of a bird sanctuary. I'm not sure what Jon would do, something Russian. Oli would follow chemistry possibly, maybe a teacher. I would be doing environmental studies at university, and would probably go on to work in the same sort of field as Brian. But all of us have always played music as a hobby so I'm sure that would still take up most of our time.
I've heard that you'll be working on your second album this Summer. How has your sound developed since 'Beachcomber's Windowsill'? 
 - Yeah that's right we're hopefully gonna release the second album early next year. I guess our sound has changed because of how we do stuff live. Before playing loads of gigs, our sound was created in small bedrooms for recording purposes, but now as we play more live shows we have started using louder instruments and so I guess overall we've just got a bit louder.
Thank you so much to Rob for taking the time to answer my questions. I leave you with some of their music.. and I can't wait to see them play at Somerset House in July!


  1. I can't believe it, I saw Stornoway in concert a few weeks ago in Switzerland! That's so cool that you got to talk to them :)

  2. i bet they were amazing live! I very narrowly missed out on seeing them play at the Sheperds Bush Empire last year, but am very much looking forward to see them play in July. Watched some videos of them playing live on youtube, making me very excited for July! aha :)

  3. wow, how amazing to meet them! great interview I'm glad my post inspired you :) I'm also seeing them at somerset house in July and cannot wait! they're amazing live!
    much love

  4. that's incredible that you got to interview them, must've been a great experience! they seem like genuinely nice people and loooove their music! I'm pretty jealous of you tbh haha but you did a great job! :)

  5. thank you, it makes me so happy even now ahaa xx

  6. Very nice interview, I especially liked the questions about bands who influenced them, and new and upcoming bands they know about. I'm glad to hear they're working on another album, looking forward to that a lot :)

  7. Wow very jealous, I love Stornoway, can't wait to see them play at Hop Farm festival this year, really good idea to interview them, can't believe how many instruments they play! SusieXXX

  8. That sounds like a really lovely experience, and they were so nice to grant you an interview. ♥♥

    The Cat Hag

  9. how awesome to meet them and to get an interview! you asked great questions too :) They are an amazing band - I'd love to get to see them one day!!!!! x

  10. Wow, sounds like an amazing time! And they all play soooo many instruments, they're probably very talented. I like these songs a lot, thanks for turning me on.

  11. This is such a great little interview x


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