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Eclectic Trad/Epic band Famyne give us some depth and detail on their recently-released debut album and how the band arrived at it.

Interview with Famyne.
"A few months back, Canterbury band Famyne released their debut and self-titled album. Ordinarily that's a pretty good time to set up an interview, which we did - just as they set off on an extensive touring schedule. So, it's not quite synchronous, but more of a reminder that if you didn't get your fix of prog-tinged Trad/Epic Doom back in October, here's why you should...and if you did, here's a little more background into its workings."

Famyne: Tom Vane (vocals), Alex Tolson (guitars), Jake Cook (drums), Martin Emmons (guitars), Chris Travers (bass).

Hello Tom (and anyone else wishing to contribute!), and welcome back to Doom-Metal.com. How's the general mood in the Famyne camp right now?

It’s impossible to accurately describe a general/shared mood, to be honest. We’re certainly all much more confident in our ability to consistently put on decent shows, having recently returned from the tour. We’ve really come to recognise how much ‘tightening-up’ comes from constantly playing. It’s been quite eye-opening.

You've just self-released your debut full-length - more of which later - so, how did it do on preorders/early sales? Well enough to get very bored of packing up Jiffy bags and record mailers?

Now that’d be telling, wouldn’t it. We did quite alright, thank you. Suffice to say, there were some funny looks from the queue behind us, at the post office.

Famyne - 'Faustus' (2018):

You started out as a band in 2013/14. Was that your first musical venture, or had any of you been playing elsewhere previously? What sort of backgrounds did you have as far as musical education was concerned?

We all had various backgrounds in music, prior to joining the band: Jake has played in various local bands, and promoted gigs around the local scene; Martin often deps on bass or guitar at various local performances, as well as having his own project called ‘Witchdoctor’; Chris played guitar from a young age, and studied music tech at uni; Tolson’s been playing guitar ever since he was a wee’un, seeking to join a band ever since arriving in Canterbury for uni; and Tom’s been involved in both musical theatre since he was a boy, and bands for all his adult life.

Did you have any definite ideas from the outset as to how Famyne should sound?

No, although we do feel a gradual forming of a ‘sound’ of our own, so to speak.

What sort of influences did all of you bring to the band, musically-speaking? There's quite an eclectic blend of elements in there - was that easy and natural to achieve, or did it require more of a focused approach to get the balance right?

We shan’t list a bunch of bands, but suffice to say, where we meet in the middle during song creation, is where our own sound seems to form.

Live in London, 2018. Photo: Angelique/Doomed and Stoned.

How do you approach your songwriting? Is there a particular process you follow, or is it more of an organic, anything-goes approach? Has it changed over these first few years?

Our practices, which are where most of the writing gets done, are a mixture of free-flow jamming, and then intense focus on detail; whilst it’s not always possible to achieve a perfect balance, each and every practice is recorded, segmented, and then ‘panned for gold’ so to speak. It’s by practising this way that we feel we’re able to achieve a more organic inter-mingling of both planned structure and happy accident. It’s also by listening at home that we’re each able to notice what needs to be added or taken away.

Your first EP was self-released in late 2015, with professional recording and production behind it. How successfully did it capture everything you wanted to achieve as the initial representation of the band?

At the time it captured us rather successfully indeed. But a band and its members evolve, as do their overall sound; by 2017, the time had come for a truer, more accurate representation of what our present sound was, hence why the album needed to be made; we fully expect that the same thing will happen with each successive release.

Did you learn any particular lessons from that early experience of recording and releasing - either positive or negative?

Expect to go over-schedule; plan for it, then expect to go over that. Budget and time constraints shouldn’t come as a surprise therefore, as long as you are fully committed to making sure the album sounds just as it ought to; to say ‘that’ll do’ means you’ve given up, and we found that it’s very hard to live with a product you’re not 100% satisfied with (especially if it’s self funded!)

You've been gigging since the beginning: do you see the band as primarily a live vehicle with studio recordings on the side, the opposite of that, or somewhere in between?

Somewhere in-between. One supports the other; as countless interviews and documentaries with other bands would attest to - a balance is always needed, as with most aspects of life.

You've got a fairly extensive national and international set of dates lined up over the next couple of months - how's that shaping up? Have you toured abroad before?

We have indeed, and it’s been rather the adventure; we’ve met so many interesting people so far, and experienced all types of lifestyle in Europe; life on the road, for us, has never been an insular ‘GIG, back on the bus, drive, GIG, back on the bus, drive...’ type thing, but by our own design we have sought to truly get a feel for each of the places we have been to. Every one of us has a day-job, and as such, these tours serve not only as a means to get our music out there, but they’re also a way to escape the humdrum of everyday life at home.

Famyne - 'The Forgotten' (Live, 2016):

And you won the Kent Metal 2 the Masses competition a couple of years back, which got you a slot at Bloodstock. Is that the high point of your live career so far?

It’s certainly right up there, although we’re constantly refining our performance, and building upon the success of each gig we play, regardless of where they may take place; we’re forever looking towards the next big thing, which will supersede that which came before it – it’s suicide to rest on one’s laurels in this industry.

Along the way, you've had a few personnel changes. Have those changed the character of the band in any significant way?

Naturally, although seeing as we’ve been able to retain a core membership of the group at large, there have been no particularly drastic changes to our ‘character’ say, beyond what a band naturally goes through during its lifespan.

Earlier line-up, with Alex Johns (guitars).

So, it's been near enough three years between the self-titled EP and the self-titled album. How much of that did you spend working on the various phases of the album? And are you planning to do a Peter Gabriel and just call all your releases 'Famyne'?

The songs on the album each took rather disparate amounts of time to create; a few were almost completely polished-off in one practice, whereas others took their own sweet time. Add to this the fact that we all have day-jobs, and that our practices tend to focus more on preparing for an upcoming gig than on new material; it makes focusing on song creation a bit of a squeeze. We’re still learning to strike the right balance between old and new, but we’re getting there.

We reviewed both introductory interview with us, you described your style as "Canterbury Doom". Is that still the case, and have you reached a clearer definition of what that is from working on the full-length?

We think we have, and naturally it still continues to evolve; this ‘Canterbury’ sound has always been a bit difficult to pin down, as with any city sound (be that Seattle, Manchester, Dusseldorf, etc.)

What would you say are the biggest steps forward which the 'Famyne' album has taken - technically, personally and/or commercially?

With it having been a few years since the release of the EP, during which we’ve played all manner of shows, rehearsed for hundreds and hundreds of hours, really got down to creating and working out new songs, etc. we’ve increasingly and quite by accident developed a sort of short-hand and mutual understanding, in our approach to song creation; little nods here and there, hand signals etc. which one does in the middle of a jam, or perhaps during a run-through of a new bit. It’s this type of integration that only seems to have come with time, and we’ve been blessed to discover that it’s allowed us to create songs technically more varied, and increasingly expressive of our own, hybrid sound.

Publicity flyers.

My preorder LP copy arrived last week - it's a really nice piece of work. Did you get a special buzz out of producing it on vinyl as well as CD this time? Are you all particular fans of physical formats?

A few of us get great pleasure from collecting music in its various physical formats, and it was for this reason that certain decisions were made regarding little details, such as releasing the LP in heavyweight, or printing directly onto the silver of the CD (as opposed to blank paper) - both being examples, among others, that we’d seen and admired in other artists’ releases.

So, what's next, once the dust has settled from the launch and the touring? Do you have any firm plans in place for the near future?

Work has already begun on album 2, and in the meantime, we’re going to be announcing several tours in support of the first, across 2019. Full steam ahead!

And in the longer term, do you have any particular vision for where you'd like to take the band? Any idea how would you like it to be spoken of, looking back from sometime in the future?

We want to take this band as far as it can possibly go; we want to continue to improve our live shows, as well as foster a sound that we hope others will be able to positively identify as unmistakably being that of us. Ideally, we’d like to be earn the right to be able to stand as peers amongst the countless other artists that have inspired us; but most importantly, we want our music to help others, like music’s helped us – we want to make that connection to every single person who needs it.

How would you like to close off this interview? Any pithy last words you'd like to add?

There’s still one track we recorded that we’re planning to release soon. Get ready for it.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Famyne bandpage.

Interviewed on 2019-02-25 by Mike Liassides.
Rotten Copper
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