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INTERVIEW: Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire

Hi Roddy, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi Vents!  I’ve been just fine and dandy, thanks for asking.

Can you talk to us more about your single “Violet”?

Sure.  It’s one of the mellowest moments on our new album, and typically a song that wouldn’t necessarily be a first single.  But it had a bit of a magic quality to it that we all loved; it’s hopefully un-showy and based on the records that bands like The Beatles and The Beach Boys would make in the 60s: a few guys playing together in a room with some sweet-ass harmonies.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

It’s a song written for missing people; those individuals who are in our lives and then disappear without warning.  I was interested in the idea of not really knowing a person – their inner thoughts, fears, and struggles – or truly understanding what’s going on underneath the surface of a life.  The tragedy of kids who have a tough time growing up and then vanish to the streets never to be seen again was the catalyst.  Accordingly, it deserved an equally sparse and low key production.  Like a reflection in a pool of water – or the people who flit in and out of your life – you think you know it the first time you see it, but there are hidden depths the more you look.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes absolutely.  The video similarly has a simple Beatles-esque feel about it, and captures the band at their most relaxed and intimate.  It’s one of my most favourite videos we’ve done.

The single comes off your new album Swithering – what’s the story behind the title?

It’s a line from one of the songs “Sliding” where I sing “I was sure about it/but now I’m swithering”.  It’s a peculiarly Scottish word that means to be uncertain about things, which completely summed up the album process for us.  This was a record that we built from the ground up and changed everything I knew about the way I’d worked as a songwriter before.  Instead of bringing in finished songs, I would come in with ideas, lyrics, melodies that needed more attention and then let the boys in the band hear them.  We then worked together in a much more collaborative way to make them the best versions of themselves that they could be.  It was tough letting go for me, as I was used to working in a completely different way, but it was also liberating.   Despite knowing we ended up with the greatest record we’ve ever produced there was still a lot of uncertainty about whether we were doing the right thing.  Calling the album “Swithering” seemed to fit perfectly.

What was it like to work with Paul Savage and how did that relationship develop?

It was utterly brilliant.  We worked on the songs for almost a year, and thought we had them nailed.  Paul came in and transformed them within about a month!  He’s someone who has a hugely impressive attention to detail: from the kick drum sound through to a line you might be singing that he doesn’t think quite works, he’s all over everything.  He completely understood where we wanted to go with it and let us maintain that vision whilst steering the ship magnificently.  Particularly on vocals, it’s one of the best recording experiences I’ve ever had.

What role did the Talking Heads play on this record?

Ha!  Well, a small but significant role.  “Low Light” is the song that most calls Talking Heads to mind, and one of my favourite things on the record.  But it was always the runt of the litter when we began rehearsing up the album: a song that had all these interesting parts, but that no one quite knew what to do with.  Paul really saw something in it and so we worked it up to create this weird rhythmic odyssey of a song, in the same way that Once In A Lifetime is for Talking Heads.  We won’t get near to the brilliance of that song, but we wanted to create the same oddness and unexpectedness.  I think we managed it!

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I can find it anywhere, but on this particular album I was keen to try as many different themes and ideas as possible to create a record full of eclecticism.  So we open the album with “Tiny Miracles”, which is a song about bringing children in to the world, and close it with “We’re The Immortals” which is essentially my love song to the band.  And in between that I’m all over the place!

Any plans to hit the road?

Absolutely.  Some small shows in Scotland and England before Christmas and then a fuller tour next year.

What else is happening next in Roddy Heart & The Lonesome Fire’s world?

Writing and recording as much as possible: we have the bug now!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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