‘A new type of record’
Listening parties are cool. Vinyl listening parties are cooler. Vinyl listening parties in Cork city for a new album from one of the county’s top bands? Chalk it down.
The always enthralling Dublin-based HamsandwicH are well known for their incendiary live performances. But this weekend the dynamic trio are inviting their Leeside fans to come and kick back with them for a special sneak peek at their latest album ‘Magnify’.
For this new record, the band has incorporated an array of fresh influences and electronic soundscapes whilst maintaining melodic motifs integral to their idiosyncratic style.
Reflecting on this latest body of work, lead vocalist Niamh Farrell describes it as the group’s “biggest evolution yet” for a band that has made a point of constantly evolving over the years.
Niamh said: “We realised during the making of ‘Magnify’ that song writing doesn’t need to be so rigid. It can be freer and the sounds of the words you sing can be just as important to a song as the meaning behind them. It was about having fun with music and the process of it.”
According to guitarist Brian Darcy, known for his soaring riffs and transcendent soundscapes, the band, as a group, are always happy to push themselves and take whatever risks necessary to keep things fresh.
“’Magnify’ is a new type of record for us. Since we didn’t put pressure on ourselves to write songs for the radio, we felt that we could really do whatever we wanted. ‘The Next Contender’, for example, has a few different movements within the arrangement. That was a really refreshing way to write music because it gave us a great sense of artistic release,” describes Brian.
For HamsandwicH, the writing and recording of ‘Magnify’ encouraged new ways of working for the band, notably collaborating with producer Michael Heffernan (Dermot Kennedy, Ailbhe Reddy, Thumper) for the first time. Working with a different cast of collaborators, including Justin Gerrish (Vampire Weekend, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) as well as Emily Lazar and Chris Allgood (Beck, Haim) who mastered the record, also facilitated the band’s renewed perspective towards making music.
The application of this sentiment across their latest material has culminated in some of the band’s finest work. Writing remotely from Dublin, Meath and Monaghan, swapping ideas over voice notes and recording between studios and Niamh’s kitchen over a staggered timeframe, the band’s adaptability is woven into the tapestry of the new record’s essence.
Their ease of moving from propulsive rhythms to introspective and sweet soundscapes is effortless and a testament to their remarkable musicianship and unwavering chemistry as a band.
Opening with a bang, ‘Electro Wave’ hears HamsandwicH embrace an infectious ‘80s synth-pop arrangement, the sonic setting immediately re-contextualising Niamh and Podge McNamee’s synonymous vocal pairing. “Do you still feel like your life’s a Saturday night?” McNamee poses throughout the track.
Podge says: “We got really inspired by the sound of the music. Tonally, ‘Fired Up’ is really intense and angry; it drew out a lot of the feelings that steered the lyrics and it came together quickly.”
An especially poignant track on the album is ‘Good Friday’ on which can be heard a recording of Derek Nally, the band’s former manager who passed away in 2010.
“‘Good Friday’ is a little bow that ties everything together on the record,” says Niamh.
“A lot of the themes across the album recognise different connections between people who have been friends for a very long time and the dynamic that creates within a friendship who are all musicians. Including the snippet of Derek Nally in the middle of the song felt like we were making a kind of love note to that period in our life and paying tribute to how important he was to us, as well.”
It feels like HamsandwicH are in their own safe hands these days, with their future looking rock solid upon a foundation of impassioned performances and exhilarating instrumentation, not to mention a small army of loyal fans in every corner of Ireland.
‘Magnify’ is released on 30 September and will be followed up by a performance in Cyprus Avenue on 1 December. But in the meantime, the group’s Cork listening party takes place tomorrow (Friday) at Winthrop Avenue within the Old Oak complex.