In a way, side effects it seemed that I was fated to write about Flutes. Godfrey McFall, seek the songwriter behind the Fife four-piece, initially got in touch with me in the middle of my house move last year, when I was struggling to listen to anything. It was through his gentle insistence, and a chance email from a New York-based reader urging me to check out the band’s music, that the band overcame such insurmountable odds.
Since then there has been a self-titled debut album and a flurry of press, most notably around the band’s unlikely cover of Haddaway’s “What Is Love”. Tomorrow night they were due to play the Southside’s Glad Cafe; a gig which I was gutted to be missing after I was assigned elsewhere. Every illness-related gig cancellation cloud has a silver lining, right?!
Godfrey answered these questions for me back in January. Let’s see if his answers are still relevant.
Who’s in the band, and how did you get together?
There are four full time members – me (Godfrey) – I sing and sometimes make a little bit of noise with my guitar. There’s Rob who refuses to sing and makes all sorts of strange noises with his guitar; Andy who sings a lot and makes all sorts of melodic noises with his bass and sometimes piano; and Alex who will sing when pished and plays drums. We also have loads of people who help us out on piano, cello, violin, organ and hope at some point to play with a choir (see biggest hope for 2013).
We’ve been playing music together for about eight years now so more miraculous is probably how we’ve stayed together rather than how we got together. Also how we got together is long winded and boring.
Three words to describe your sound…
Love and loss
What influences you?
I reckon the answer to this question varies depending on mood. We’re each influenced in different ways. We all focus on our individual parts and then try to bring them each together into something that makes sense. And then it never ever seems to make sense. A bit like my answer to this question.
The chaps in the band have performed under various guises in the past. What’s different about this project?
The focus on recording a record was the real difference. We played about 100 gigs under previous names between 2005 and 2009 and it was starting to get everyone down (including the audience). At the start of 2009 we met up and took a long hard look at ourselves – ‘we’re not getting any younger – why the fuck are we doing this to ourselves?’ – it was then that we realised we enjoyed hanging out as a four and actually creating new tunes together. The focus shifted from dragging amps around in the rain to dragging amps around a recording studio and the latter was far more satisfying.
While we love playing live, I think we’re all already itching to get back to Chem 19 to record our second album. In fact, we’ve started writing a few of the tunes already and perhaps some of them will make it on to an EP later this year.
You have self-recorded and released your debut album. What would you say has been the biggest challenge?
You’d have to be a right moaner to say it was a challenge as it’s all been brilliant fun – I’m still amazed that anyone (nevermind more than 10 people) like the album – Jamie (from Chem 19) will tell you, we went in to record an album just to document the last seven years of our lives so any reaction at all is an absolute bonus. Admittedly, being your own accountant, tour manager, PR agency, plugger, booking agent, live promoter etc. can be a bit challenging and it’s hard to balance with full time jobs but our friends have been really understanding and have all helped out where and when they can.
Flutes have quite a close relationship with musicians from the world of jazz and classical, something that could be seen as a little surprising for a band with a more ‘indie’ sound. How did those collaborations come about?
Well, that’s thanks to Louise McMonagle who is just the most wonderful person and nae a bad cellist either. She and I went to school together in Glasgow and then ended up living together in London – she introduced us to Trish who played this ridiculous clarinet part on our first single “Auld Archie”. Another thanks goes to Siobhan Anderson formally of French Wives who sings and plays violin on “Solo Sleep”. She played with us at Nice N Sleazys alongside the cellist David Munn.
Since we’re still in January: what’s your biggest hope for 2013?
Play with a choir
Finish a second album
Play a support tour with a band we love
And what are you listening to at the moment?
Right now? Campfires in Winter – they’re fecking ace. We’re hoping to play a show with them later in the year if we can get our act together.