Dan Brown interviews local duo, Sam Williams and the Flock of Bats following a jam-packed summer of gigs.
The car journey home for Sam Williams and The Flock Of Bats after playing their sets and enjoying the weekend at the Bude festival of Leopallooza is reflective as it is buoyant. Guitarist and singer Sam Williams sits in the back of the car musing over the experience, debating the best performance of the weekend and reveling in the post-festival feelings, completely counterpointed by drummer Joe Allen’s nonchalant posture as he listens to the Nirvana CD that is wailing out of the car stereo.
Having sprouted up during the time Dueling Kazoos were hosting gigs in and around Falmouth and Truro, the Cornish upstarts have gone onto achieve a credible amount of success considering their jurisdiction and age. The Indie folk dispensed by the outfit has seen Sam Williams and the Flock of Bats attract attention from Rough Trade’s music blog, as well as earning them a decent amount of airtime on BBC Radio 6, courtesy of Tom Robinson. This, alongside the slots supporting Brother and Bones, Kezia, Matthew and Me, and the festival shows the band have been asked to play over the course of the year, means that the musical credibility around SWATFOB is fairly strong.
Having wrapped up their festival stint for the year, the band talk to Rapture about their heritage, influences, plans for the future, and the unique music scene in and around Cornwall.
So firstly, how did the band get together, how long, etc?
Joe Allen: We first met at secondary school when we were in rival bands. The rivalry became too intense and both bands split up. Shortly afterwards, me and Sam became firm friends and decided to start our own band together.
Sam Williams: Roughly, we’ve been playing music together for two and a half years now.
Your band name is obscure as it is quirky. Where did the name of the band originate from?
Joe: The name of the band came to from a dream Sam had, as well as having the idea that we’d change our name for every gig we’d do. The first gig we played as an outfit we called ourselves Sam Williams and The Flock Of Bats. People seemed to like the name and as we were told it would be pretty stupid to change it, we left it as it is.
Who are your musical influences?
Joe: A mixture of singer/songwriters such as Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn, Ray Lamontagne and Bob Dylan.
Sam: Ray Lamontange, Bears Den, Yellow Ostrich, Fleet Foxes…..the endless list goes on.
When and where was your first gig?
Sam: Our first gig was on the Quayside in Fowey for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We were shortly followed by the Fowey Town Band.
What is your favourite song to perform?
Sam: At the moment I’m really enjoying playing our new song ‘Rolling Home’. Mainly because it’s nice to play something new, but give it a couple of months and that will change.
Joe: I like ‘Wild Ones’ best because I get to hit more drums than usual.
Who did you listen to growing up and what was your first album?
Sam: Jimi Hendrix Are You experienced
Joe: Oddly, S Club 7, but I’m not sure which album
Where is your favourite venue to play live in Cornwall and elsewhere?
Sam: The Nightjar or Miss Peapods. It’s a shame the Nightjar has closed down, as it was really important place for live music in Truro. Hopefully a venue like that will spring up again soon as Truro has a bit of a draught of good live music venues at the moment.
What are your aspirations and plans for the next 12 months?
Sam: I’m going off to Uni in September and Joe is going to be working. The band will be on hiatus for a little while but hopefully in the future we may spark up again.
If you could play on stage with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Sam: Miles Davis
Joe: Gene Simmons
What is the best gig you have ever been to?
Sam: Willy Mason or The Cure
Joe: Metallica or Björk
Who are you listening to on your iPod/ MP3 Player now?
Sam: Nathaniel Rateliff, Charles Bradley and Glenn Hansard
Joe: Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, Twin Peaks
What do you think of the Cornish music scene and what improvements would you like to see?
Sam: Lovely! As a band we feel privileged to be apart of such an amazing group of artists who just want to support and enjoy local music.
I think it’s a real shame when a great local or touring act plays to an empty venue or bar. What I would love to see is a buzz around local acts again.
Joe: The scene is great and really lovely and friendly but it is wayyy too small, you can’t really “make it” without going out of county to get spotted and that is a shame.
Are there any current Cornish artists you see going far?
Sam: Jack Wallen, The Black Tambourines, The Red Cords, Gareth and Annie, Samuel Powell, Tom Gall, Lily Hayes and there are loads and loads more!
Do you have any pre-stage superstitions/ routines?
Sam: Singing ‘Atlas I Cannot Swim’ by Laura Marling under my breath
Joe: We tend to just drink unreasonable amounts of water and sit around looking mysterious.
What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen to your while on stage or playing at a gig?
Sam: Joe split his trousers when he jumped up onto a stage once. That was slightly amusing.
Describe your music in three words
Sam: Not. Loud. Enough
The band are set to play the Watering Hole, Perranporth on the 19th August, 2014 supporting King Charles as well as having plans to go into the studio to record a new EP due to be released later this year.