Following the release of their debut album, Feels Like Air in April of this year, Island have been touring all over Europe and won’t be stopping at that as they’re gigging Canada and America in September time. I was lucky enough to catch them amongst the madness in the green room of King Tut’s before their Glasgow gig.
Welcome to Glasgow guys! Is this your first time playing King Tut’s?
Jack: “Yeah, it’s our second time in Glasgow, first time to play King Tut’s. It’s that place we used to read about in classic music magazines like Kerrang- when I was a bit more of a “rocker” as a teenager- and now we’re here!”
Rollo: “We’ve heard a lot about it. Mike, our sound man, often sports the [King Tuts] t-shirt. The t-shirt was worn all the way through recording- he kinda lived in it.”
It seems like you have played lots of new places and venues on your tour. How’s it all been going? Have you had a favourite gig so far?
Rollo: “The tour has been going really well. Like you say, it’s been nice for us to see new places.”
Jack: “Yeah, a few new countries on this tour- Ireland, Spain… never played them before, it was really fun.”
Rollo: “It’s nice to feel like we’re expanding… into different corners of the world.”
James- “In terms of favourite shows, we’ve had a lot of good ones but the unexpected ones are great. Dublin was surprisingly good!”
Jack: “Just that we never played there before. It was a completely new ground for us. Three of us had never been to Ireland before.”
Rollo: “It’s not that we thought that the vibe wasn’t going to be good. I think we thought there were less tickets sold than there were.”
James: “We thought the room was going to be twice as big so the amount of people that came was perfect- it filled right up.”
Jack: “Amsterdam was a good show too- we’ve played it quite a few times and we’d played the venue, I think, 2 or 3 times, and it’s a really nice vibe.”
James: “We saw some beautiful places- Heidelberg was amazing. To be honest I’d never even heard of it but it was such a fairytale town.”
Congratulations on your debut album [Feels Like Air] that just came out in April- how does it feel to finally have it out?
Jack: “…like air.”
*chorus of “oooh no you didn’t”*
Jack: “I make tragic jokes… But it feels really good because we wrote all the tunes in quite a short space of time in the last year and after getting involved with Frenchkiss Records, our label, it was pretty much written and recorded by the end of last summer so that we kinda sat on the tunes for quite a while. So it’s great having it out there for everyone to hear everything we’ve worked on. It was a real intense session of writing and recording.”
Yeah I was going to ask you about your songwriting process. Do you have a particular method? For example, your single “Horizon” seems like an instrumental song to me in that the vocals add to it rather than drive it?
Jack: “Yeah that’s exactly how we wrote that song!”
Rollo: “I think every song is different though. There’s no real formula; some songs take ages, some take about… 5 seconds.”
Jack: “Yeah, Horizon was a fast one actually.”
Rollo: “Yeah about… 4 seconds.”
James: “I’d say the bare bones of the songs are written very quickly, and then we spend the rest of the time- a really long time- structuring them and making sure they’re exactly how we want them to be, and always agreeing on- well- eventually agreeing on what the final outcome is. So the longest process is piecing it all together.”
Jack: “In that way, we don’t really come out with that many finished songs that we’re completely happy with. Other people will write tons and tons of songs for an album. We did write more than we needed but overall we don’t come out with many more than the songs we’re happy with because we kinda obsess over every little detail.”
James: “There were only like 5 demos that didn’t make it onto the album and they may even come back later on- they just didn’t fit the record this time.”
From reading your Spotify bio I can see that you have achieved a lot as an unsigned band. Have you noticed a real difference now that you are signed? More exposure…?
Toby: “We’ve always been a hands on, DIY kind of band, and when we were choosing a label we wanted to make sure it’d be something that would allow us to do everything we’ve been doing and expand it a bit more. So actually we were releasing through our manager’s label before [Beatnik] and we did our first EP with them. We had a team of digital people called “The Orchard” who recommended this label, based in America, which is sort of under their umbrella. So rather than signing onto a whole new label and a whole new team of people, we just grew the team a bit. So it’s not really that different to how we were working before- it’s much the same- but like you say, it’s more exposure.”
Jack: “I feel like they’re facilitating what we want to do- like giving us a platform rather than signing a band that they wanted to shape.”
Great that’s basically us. Do you have anything to add?
James: “We should add that we are playing Glasgow again on the 1st July at TRNSMT on the King Tut’s stage.”
[Anna Doody – @annadoodz]
Find a review of their show at King Tut’s here.