Exclusive: French Wives - 'Dream of the Inbetween' [Album Stream/Interview]
To celebrate the release of Dream of the Inbetween this Monday (7th May) - 405 writer Joe Taylor caught up with Stuart Dougan from French Wives to discuss the album, working with Tony Doogan, festival appearances and their rise to fame. The band were also kind enough to let us stream their album in its entirety.
Have a listen while you read the interview. You won't regret it.
Hello French Wives, so how has the beginning of 2012 been?
So far 2012 has been great for us. We unexpectedly found ourselves in the top 5 of the blog sound of 2012, a sort of blog based alternative to the BBC's list which was nice. Then we went on tour in March around the UK and across to North America for the first time where we played at SXSW and Canadian Music Week. We'd been planning the tour for months so it was amazing to actually go and do it and it went really well. All of that plus the excitement of finally releasing our debut album so it'd been pretty good.
For the masses of music folk that are not familiar with French Wives, who are you, and how did you meet?
Long story short, we are a 5 piece indie band from Glasgow who make (hopefully) colourful and interesting pop music. Myself and Scott (rather embarrasingly) met through the classic medium of myspace and then formed by adding friends of friends over several months until we found the line up we have today.
So you formed back in 2008 and a lot has progressed since then hasn't it. Mainly your sound? Your early songs were described as more folk, what's different now?
Yeah I think it takes bands quite a while to figure out their sound and to get good at what it is they do. I think for us that's all that's really happened. Siobhan plays violin and as such we were labelled 'folk' almost rather unfairly I feel as people just saw the instrumentation and made that assumption. When we started the band everyone was studying so it's only really been in the last 18 months or so that we've been able to devote proper time to refining our writing and I think we're pretty good at being 'French Wives' now which isn't maybe something we always were when we started out.
We've heard some strange comparisons including The Fray, for the labellers where do you think French Wives fit?
I can guarantee we've probably heard stranger! Over the years we've had Belle and Sebastian, Arcade Fire, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand, Simple Minds (?!) and more recently had a song compared to Kings of Leon's 'Sex on Fire'. I think lazy labelling is bullshit as it more often than not reflects worse on the person that wrote it than the band but yet it sticks with the band and not them. The amount of reviews I've read of Scottish bands who sound 'not unlike Frightened Rabbit' is staggering! Anyway, as far as we're concerned we just try and make interesting melodic pop songs, kinda like Pulp but nowhere near as good. The Fray sell a shit load of records so maybe we should just stick with that and I can quit my day job?
The debut album, Dream of The Inbetween is due to drop May 7th. How was the recording experience for you? You worked with Tony Doogan didn't you?
Working with Tony is probably the best thing that's ever happened to us as a band. As it was our first experience of recording a proper body of work, it was a massive learning curve for us. I think we've maybe been spoiled a little on our first time to have someone as experienced as Tony and picked up a lot, not only about writing songs and recording, but also about the music industry at large. We spent a lot of time working on the arrangements of the songs before recording which is something we've never really done before and it's brought them on leaps and bounds. From the start Tony seemed to really get how we wanted to sound which was important so we were all pulling in the same direction. The sessions were split up over several months so at times it was frustrating and felt like we'd never get done but it was for the best as we had more time to think about what we were doing before we went into the studio each time.
So from the first singles we have heard, including Younger, is that a good representation of the whole album?
All the songs on the album sound different on their own but were written to work together as one piece of work which I think we've achieved pretty well. I think the singles 'Numbers' and 'Younger' work well to represent the album as they're both really melodic and sound pretty grand which is what we were aiming for. It's probably for the best to listen to it all together though to see what I mean.
The album is being released through your label Electric Honey who have previously released Belle & Sebastian, Biffy Clyro and Snow Patrol. What significance does this have for you?
It's certainly nice to be in that sort of company but the music industry is a very different place now than it was when these bands broke through. Electric Honey have been good as they've allowed us first and foremost to make a record that financially we couldn't ever have made ourselves but with all the control that we would have wanted if we were doing it ourselves. It's also been good having their support as we've never had any sort of management so it's been nice to have someone to bounce ideas off about the release.
T in the Park was a big talking point for you wasn't it, especially being Scottish yourselves?
I think it's seen as a bit of a right of passage for a lot of Scottish bands so in the respect it was a big deal for us at the time. It's sort of the point at which people who aren't directly involved in the music industry start to take you a little bit more seriously when you say you're in a band, ('oh you played T in the Park?!? etc). We headlined the T Break Stage on the Friday night at the same time as Calvin Harris, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Black Eyed Peas and Muse and still somehow managed to pull a big crowd so that was quite heartening as we thought we'd be playing to an empty tent.
Was it helpful talking those experiences to America? As you have just recently preformed at SXSW and toured North America. How was that?
Absolutely. Touring in North America was like a breath of fresh air to us. Everyone was really positive and enthusiastic about listening to the band irrespective of whether they'd heard us before. Sometimes you feel like you're banging your head against a brick wall trying to get people to listen to what your doing and in the UK especially you encounter a lot of cynicism. All the shows went a lot better than we'd expected so we were really happy we decided to go over and grateful for the opportunity to play at SXSW. We were there for just over 2 weeks between the US and Canada and it's made us want to work hard and hopefully go back for a longer stint in the future.
So in support of the new album, there is May UK tour, are you guys ready for that? You must be itching to play the new album live?
Yeah very much so. We've been playing songs off the album for a while now but we've only played a handful of shows since coming back from the US so it will be good to be out and about again. Ideally we'd have liked to have gone out for longer but it took up so much time organising the UK/US tour in March we were left a little short on time to book shows for this tour. It's just a short run this time round but we're hopefully going to be touring more extensively in the second half of the year.
For the people reading this, what else should they know about French Wives?
The only other things they'll need to know is that I'm exceptionally tall, Chris is a phenomenal dancer, Scott is left handed, Jonny's time keeping is atrocious (ironic given he's the drummer) and Siobhan used to have 'Dancing in the Moonlight' by Toploader as her ringtone.
You can check out the band by heading over to frenchwives.co.uk.