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10th February 2014

Interview: The Family Rain

Ruby Hoffman talks with The Family Rain about their debut album, highlights of last year and their fashion icon

The Family Rain’s debut album Under the Volcano (“It’s actually the title of a book by the novelist Malcolm Lowry, and it was made into a film in the ‘80s.  Essentially, it’s about a drunk guy in Mexico, which is kind of something we always wanted to be…. Also, we write in the basement, so it kind of felt like an appropriate title in more ways than one”) dropped early this month, and I caught up with drummer Tim Walter as the band spends a couple of days in London.  The band had spent three weeks in Berlin recording, which Walter says was a good creative environment as “you can just feed of the city, really.  We were going to these incredible nightclubs, it was fucking mental”.  Even though their album has just come out, the band is already writing new songs.  “We’ve spent two years writing about forty finished songs, so it feels natural to be writing new material”, Walter explains.

The Family Rain narrowed down their selection of songs to the ten represented on Under the Volcano.  “We wanted the focus to be on individuality, finding ten individual songs that really spoke for themselves, and came from a real moment in time”.  Walter emphasizes the band’s desire to come up with songs that “mean a lot personally.  Will [lead vocalist and bassist] does the majority of the actual writing, but if any of us has an idea, we take it to the other two, and if they like it, we turn it into a song.”  He cites the positives of being in a band with all siblings, as “you can be brutally honest with each other, and no one takes it too personally…. We were all in bands [prior to starting the Family Rain], and no one was enjoying anything they were doing, and being in a band together gave us the absolute freedom to experiment with sound and technique.  Even though Ollie [guitarist] is more into the Metallica, Black Sabbath kind of thing, we all think the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are the greatest bands of all time, and we can collectively come together.  We were all working in stockrooms forty hours a week, until we kind of decided we could be making some pretty good music.  We’re not chart-chasers, we just write what we personally think sounds nice… it’s very self-indulgent, actually, and it’s hard to believe sometimes that it’s worked out so well”.

It has worked out well.  Walter reflects on the Family Rain’s last Manchester gig, which he says was “the best of the tour”, at the Ruby Lounge back in November.  “The last time we had played there, almost a year to the day, three people showed up, and this time around I think it was sold out.  It’s really a reflection on how far we’ve come”.  As well as headlining gigs, the band has been supporting huge artists like the Rolling Stones, Jake Bugg and Miles Kane.  “I think the biggest thing we’ve learned from supporting artists like that, just watching them perform, is about showmanship and stagecraft, how to better create set lists, things like that.  Also, especially on the Miles Kane tour, everyone was so accommodating, and it’s really good to know that the people at the top, they got there because they were nice about it”.

Walter reflects on some of the best moments the band has had in the past year.  “A big one was when we went down to London to meet with Jim Abbiss, who’s recorded the Arctic Monkeys, and basically we had to go into the studio, play for him, and then the next day we got a call saying he wanted to work with us.  That was huge.  Also, playing Ibiza Rocks supporting Biffy Clyro, just the aesthetics of it all, basically being inside the hotel and playing…. We only got to do that one show with them but it would be incredible to tour with them in the future”.  He says that Reading and Leeds were also highlights, stressing the importance of festivals “solely dedicated to the music”.

The band has also gotten notice for their attention to dress and style.  Walter agrees that fashion plays a role in the overall image of a band, and says that “I’m always conscious of the way I dress, the way any artwork is put together- we design everything and make sure we’re totally happy with the finished product.  As far as fashion goes, I think my icon is Bill Murray.  I saw a photo of him in a checkered suit the other day.  If I could go on stage rocking a checkered suit, I’ll have made it”.

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