One of last year's vinyl highlights was a 7" split single between Battle Dance of the Sea and Evening Chorus . Both bands have been gigging and making a name for themselves on the indie circuit in recent years and having featured Battle Dance of the Sea last year we thought it was time to turn over the single and focus on Evening Chorus.
Evening Chorus have been going for a couple of years. How did you get together and what sort of music brought you together?
Gareth and I went to school together in Shropshire, so had played music together since we were teenagers. We started to write more music that could vaguely be described as folk in my first year of uni, and we wanted to expand the band so we got Eugene involved, who Gareth knew from uni. This was happening around the time Laura Marling's first album was getting big, and before Mumford & Sons became huge, so there was lots of great music being made by bands that were doing very well, but not so well for us to think 'we could never do that'. People like Laish, Rachael Dadd and Tallest Man on Earth were early influences, and rather appropriately Eugene and Gareth properly met at an Alela Diane gig.
There is quite a strong emphasis on your vocals, especially your harmonies. How have you managed to achieve this? Hours of practise or was it an instant musical rapport?
A little bit of both! We're all singers, so nobody had to learn to sing before we started. Our voices seem to go together nicely (so we're told), but we still like to work on harmonies to get them really tight. We're always surprised at how many complements we get about our vocals, as it seems obvious to use them as much as we do - if everybody's playing and singing, you've effectively doubled the number of layers that can be added or taken away throughout a song.
You are part of the Bubblewrap Collective - a lovely bunch of people. How do you fit in to Collective and why them?
Rich from Bubblewrap was someone we knew from gigs and the Cardiff music scene in general and he was always very supportive. He plays drums for Ivan Moult, who we're friends with, and who I play bass for, and he only lives a couple of streets away from me in Riverside. There's also bands like Barefoot Dance of the Sea and Little Arrow, who are all lovely people to be associated with.
Last year you released a double A sided 7 inch with Barefoot Dance of the Sea. That's quite an unusual thing to do. How did that come about? What's the connection with Barefoot Dance of the Sea?
That came about again through Rich at Bubblewrap - he'd wanted to release something of ours, and he'd had the idea of releasing a split single for a while. I can't remember who suggested putting us and BDotS together, but it seemed like a great idea: they're one of our favourite bands so it was very exciting to be able to work with them. On the record we sing and play on each-others' songs, which really makes it quite a special piece of work. It was lovely to record, and hopefully we'll collaborate more in future!
Your sound seems fairly grounded in folk music. Is that where you see yourself or do you think Evening Chorus will evolve over time into other musical styles?
I'd like to think we could branch out into other stuff too - for our album we're going to be exploring the possibilities of different instruments. I think our sound is always going to be pretty well grounded in the combination of guitar, banjo and bass, as well as vocals, but it would be nice to add some more variety.
Your live performances have been described as 'charming'. How would you describe the live experience of an Evening Chorus gig?
They can vary quite a bit from the more conventional 'pop' gigs at venues like Clwb Ifor Bach or Ten Feet Tall, to completely acoustic gigs in bedrooms and gardens. We like to try and draw people in, so they're really listening very closely, it's an amazing feeling to play to a completely silent audience. We're not a very loud band, but we do have plenty of lively moments, so we hope people can enjoy those too.
You seem to prefer playing small interesting and intimate venues. Why is this? What are some of your most memorable live experiences?
We'll happily play anywhere, and we've been very lucky to play in a wide range of places. I think the fact that we like playing completely unplugged really helps us to get around, especially to places that might not always have music. We did a set at the re-opening of the National Museum which was amazing, and last year we played at the Union Chapel in London. Both of those gigs had amazing acoustics and were very inspiring!
You have a new EP "Acorn" out now. Tell us about how it was recorded and how you selected the songs it contains.
It's our first 'proper' EP, and we're very excited about it. We recorded it ourselves, partly at Cardiff Music Studios, where Gareth works, and partly at our flats. We wanted to make a record that shows the range of sounds and moods we can create. Although we've been together for a couple of years, we're very aware that to most people who hear it, we'll be a completely new band, so we wanted to make something that wasn't too long and could make a good impression on new ears.
You have the DIY ethic and do a lot of artwork yourselves. What do you like about that approach and how would you react if you got offered a deal that meant less control over your output?
We've always wanted to do things ourselves, partly because of the financial realities of being a new (or new-ish) band, and partly because we're lucky to have quite a wide range of non-musical skills in the band. Although it's hard work, it's very rewarding and exciting doing things yourselves, and it seems a lot of acts are cottoning on to the idea. I think in the event we got offered such a deal, it would probably be a pretty good indicator that we're on the right track. That said, the stuff we've done through Bubblewrap has been great, so if we were offered a deal by someone like them, we might be more interested, but we'll always want to be the ones in control - it'd be a shame to be one of those bands who 'makes it' but has to give up all the things that made them unique in the first place. I could imagine that would leave a pretty sour taste.
Your debut album is due this year. What can we expect and have you any plans for is release?
Hopefully you can expect an improvement and expansion on what we've already done. It will be mostly new songs, snippets of which we're working on at the moment. I think we'll probably be going for a bigger sound, so expect to instruments and voices of some of our musical friends! We're hoping to do lots of gigging around the country too, and are always looking for new places to play.
A New Year to Keep (2011)
No Wreath No Crown (2010)