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Boat To Row Interview November 2011

Siobhanne Beattie


Having played Truck and Wood festival this year, Boat To Row are a reasonably new addition to the folk scene. We wanted to learn more so caught up with vocalist Mike King to learn more about the band…

MTTM: What initially inspired the forming of Boat To Row?

Mike King: I guess the inspiration came from wanting to try something new really. I’ve always loved music ever since an early age with the likes of Elvis Presley and Lonnie Donegan constantly rotating on my parents and grandparents record players. But throughout my teens I listened to a lot Hardcore and post-punk, basically music that was quite heavy and full on. so it was only whilst at university that I was fortunate enough to study songwriting and analyse the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell as part of my degree. I guess these were artists and styles of music that I was very naive too at the time, but the more I digested, the more I loved what I was hearing and in doing so the seed was planted.

MTTM: With such a variety of instruments/musicians, is it ever a case of “too many cooks” for the band?

MK: We’re quite lucky that each of us kind of has there own ‘thing’ or instrument, so nobody steps on anybody’s toes. We’re still quite new to each others’ musicianship and in fact are still surprised by each others musicianship, it’s great to be playing with such a talented bunch.

MTTM: What have you learned directly from supporting other bands?

MK: It’s mainly the little details, the things that you don’t really notice at first. The way songs flow from one to another, the dynamics and being able to control the way in which you deliver a song. It’s great when you play with people you have a lot of respect for such as Johnny Flynn and Willy Mason, both pioneers at making it look so effortless.

MTTM: What were you aiming for when writing/recording EP “Grass Market”?

MK: The new record has more of a ‘band’ feel than our previous recordings. Before, I’d write songs and either have ideas for the guys or parts would already be written, whereas this time round we’ve arranged the songs as a band, in the practice space, with everyone’s input, which we’re all really enjoying. It’s a little more punchy than some of our older stuff, with lots of energy.

MTTM: With such a competitive culture present in todays mainstream music culture, what do you strive to do to stand out/be memorable?

MK: It’s not something that I usually worry too much about really, I have and always will write music I like to listen to or play, whether it’s current, cool or not. It is very competitive at the moment, and certainly playing for anything more than just the love of the music is hard. I think if people can listen to our music and hear that it comes from a genuine honest place, I’ll be happy with that.

MTTM: What plans are in the pipeline for you in the near future?

MK: We’re very eager to write, record, write, record… At the moment there’s a lot of momentum in the band, we’re in a pretty good place so to release more music is always at the forefront of our thoughts. We’d love to try and tour a lot more next year, something we’ve never really had the chance to experience yet, so that’ll be high on the list! We’ve all set ourselves the personal targets of learning a new instrument each as well, so expect the unexpected!