There’s something intriguing about the music created by London trio Iron Islands, that Musicvein had to catch up with Martin Andrew of the band to find out more.
MV: Tell us more about Iron Islands, How did it all begin for you guys?
II: “I met Al (bass player) around 12/13 years ago as he played in an emo band with a mutual friend in Lincoln where we grew up. We started a 3-piece band similar to Iron Islands and moved to London but it didn’t work out. We remained good mates then started writing together with this band in mind where we then met Olly (drummer) through another mutual friend. We met for our first practice in Stoke Newington, played for about 5 hours in a damp stinky room and came out with 3 songs – we’ve been a band ever since.”
MV: Who are your influences and do you think they’ve influenced you?
II: “Heaps! We take influence from everything but for me as a songwriter probably Pavement, Arctic Monkeys, Michael Jackson, Radiohead, The Beatles – so many bands.
When I was growing up I was obsessed with Stephen Malkmus, I thought his lyrics were absurd yet interesting and he really made me think about other ways to say things. Ultimately Pavement were a pop band and that’s where I’m probably rooted – The Beatles wrote the best pop songs ever written and there’s no denying how good an artist and song writer Michael Jackson was – his grooves were ridiculous! I think there’s so much of the same sort of thing coming at us every day but really admire how Arctic Monkeys keep re-inventing themselves and it’s made me conscious of not wanting to be pigeonholed as a band. Radiohead are just a fucking great band – they can’t not be an influence.”
MV: So why the name Iron Islands?
II: “We were messing about with band names for ages. I wanted to name us after a Guided by Voices track but everyone thought it was shit. Then one practice, Olly suggested Iron Islands and it kind of stuck. It wasn’t until a year or so later when I watched Game of Thrones that I realised that was where he got it from!”
MV: Ahhh that was crafty, to be fair I haven’t watched GOT so I wouldn’t have known either. So you guys play instruments, how long you been playing for?
II: “I’ve played piano for 25 years and have all my classical grades. We all play instruments to a fairly high standard which I reckon is reflected in the music we create. In terms of a rhythm section, Al and Olly have it down and they’re a total pleasure to play with. They’re pro and I can sit watching them play all night.”
MV: How does the creative process begin for you?
II:“It depends. Sometime I can just sit at the piano and write a song in ten minutes. Other times we jam ideas in rehearsals and things naturally develop from there. Sometimes Al has a riff idea and we’ll go into a writing room and flesh it out prior to the next practice. It always seems to start with a hook though and things go from there – I’ll record it on my phone then use that as the base idea then scribble lyrics in my notebooks and piece everything together. I had the idea for Contrails about 10 years ago but it didn’t fit with anything I wrote… then when Al started playing an acoustic Ladyland-esque bass line, the vocal melody fitted perfectly and we ended up writing the track in an hour or so.”
MV: And how do you find inspiration?
II:“Everywhere. We’ve all had pretty varied lives which have gone right and wrong at different times and that’s probably the greatest source of inspiration. I think we’ve grown up in a funny world where things aren’t as routine as they probably once were – expectations and perceptions have changed and think a lot of what I write about is hitting my 30s and not knowing what the fuck is going on or what to do to be right.”
MV: Your new song, Within These Bones, tell me about that
II:“It’s a song I wrote about losing my dad, all money raised from downloads in May will be going to the British Heart Foundation.”
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