Currently knee-deep in preparations for album #3, and armed with a slightly different moniker, HamsandwicH will road test some of their upcoming new material in one of their most high-profile headline slots to date when they tread the boards of the Olympia Theatre on Saturday 19th April.
It's been nearly four years since HamsandwicH released White Fox. Add two years on top of that and that's how long it's been since their fiery debut Carry The Meek announced their arrival o so successfully and now, some years later, they appear ready to reclaim their seat at Irish music's head table.
John Balfe caught up with Niamh Farrell and Podge McNamee for a chat about the upcoming Olympia gig, the new album, and whole lot more.
You'll play a headline show at the Olympia on the 19th of April. Is it safe to say that this is the band's biggest ever show?
Niamh Farrell: Yeah definitely, in terms of headlining our own show, it's huge for us! We're all very excited, it's a great honour to play The Olympia looking at all the amazing bands that have played there over the years.
Podge McNamee: We've played a lot of shows in the last few years averaging from 200 people to circa 25,000 but in terms of our own show this is the biggest we will have that the night is all things HamsandwicH.
Are your preparations for this gig in any way different to a standard HS show?
NF: Well for this gig we will have our own proper big light show, something we've never done before, so we are all very thrilled to be getting a chance to do something like that! As for the musical preparations for the gig, we have just been rehearsing a lot, getting everything gig ready, changing up some songs too for a few wee surprises!
PM: Our preparations for any show tend to be pretty extensive anyway so this show is pretty insane in terms of the whole production end and rehearsals have almost tripled. We're like any band who get to headline such a prestigious venue, not sparing any expenses. A lot of toys have been bought lets just say (laughs).
What can you tell us about the impending new HamsandwicH record?
PM: We're really excited. We have 10 or even 11 songs that will make the cut for album 3 and theres a lot to look forward to if your already a HamsandwicH fan. Expect 3 or 4 tasters on the night. There's 1 or 2 you haven't ever heard that are possibly my favorite HamsandwicH songs to date.
NF: Yeah we'll hopefully have album number 3 out towards the end of the summer. There's still a few things to finish on the recording side of things but we can't wait for people to hear the new songs!
Four years is a big gap since the release of White Fox to now. Was the distance between records by design, or did it just turn out that way?
NF: It just kind of turned out that way! We got such a fantastic run out of White Fox, more than we ever expected really, so the writing for the 3rd album just kind of got moved aside while we gigged. But once we got down to writing the new stuff it was great and fresh to have ideas flowing again.
PM: White fox took a while to really get going and when it did we were bouncing like yoyo's from venue to venue. I think this album in general tho has way more layers and ideas going on so getting them all to gel & work takes more time. We feel more expectation so we don't want to disappoint. We're incredibly fussy with every detail.
Will the new record reflect that four year gap? By that I mean, most musicians change and evolve over the course of that period of time and I can only assume it would be the same with you?
NF: Yeah in terms of a live band I think we got a great experience as getting down the craft of being a fun live band, which is what we always wanted. So we definitely gained confidence in that sense which I think translates into having confidence going into record a 3rd album.
PM: I'd like to think [we've evolved]. I've always felt the band are constantly evolving and there's proof in our live set. We change songs up a bit to keep things interesting. We're definitely not afraid to delve into new territories and our producer Karl Odlum has picked up on that and pushed us even more with what i'd like to believe are brilliant results. There's gonna hopefully be a floor filler or two on album three.
'Illuminate' sounds great! Very upbeat, yet delicate at the same time. Is this song representative of how the album will sound?
NF: Kind of, yeah! We definitely have a few more dancy sounding songs but there a few on there to that are kind of dark too. It's a mixed bag really, but I think we've still retained sounding like HamsandwicH!
PM: It's come as a surprise to most people but mostly in a good way and that's exactly what we hoped for. It's a little bit different for us and its a taster of the new us. Things are slightly more layered. It's just a kinda heads up that its not going to be another White Fox sibling.
Any other big plans for the rest of the year?
PM: There are plans in place to tour the east coast of America and definitely start touring around England. Who knows what really. Watch this space anyway!
NF: After the Olympia show it's back in to keep recording and hopefully make a record that people are gonna like! And do loads more gigs!
Tickets to see HamsandwicH in The Olympia on Saturday 19th April are available now for €20 from TicketMaster.
Images: Dara Munnis Photography