It has now been just over a year since the release of Fionn Regan’s ‘100 Acres of Sycamore’ an album that won hearts of many including ourselves. The 28th January 2013 will mark the release of his new studio album ‘The Bunkhouse Vol. I: Anchor Black Tattoo‘. On this latest release Fionn Regan takes things back to basics…it is often the simplest of approaches that achieve the biggest reward as he so ably proves here.
Fionn chose to record the album in his own Bunkhouse studio with with just a 4-track and a single microphone. He kindly agreed to an interview with Folk Radio UK and although he didn’t offer the lengthy depths we’re maybe used to in some of our interviews his answers more than satisfied me and I think that’s because the results really do speak for themselves. His answers are just the icing, what lies beneath within those songs awaiting your discovery is something that goes beyond words on a page…and that’s how it should be in music.
Before talking to Fionn there was a statement I came across which, if anything, set the scene for me. He’s artist in constant pursuit of a sound that is honest to himself and others:
“I’ve always just followed my instinct, I’ve made some huge sacrifices in order to work that way, but I think once you stop doing that and tailor make your music to fit, you’re not really an artist anymore. I think people respond to that and respect it.”
When I asked him about the statement and related it to the songs on his new album he was candid and to the point. “It happened by chance I followed the songs & listened back & I thought they won’t get any better, I made the decision to release them unvarnished & against the grain.”
When listening to the album you can almost detect a sense of remoteness, partly the minimalism of voice and guitar, the recording background hiss, but you can also detect the space he is in, physically and mentally. This was no ordinary studio, Fionn made a point of describing it’s remoteness which conjured a sugared image that appealed to my mind, one of unspoilt peace and tranquillity…
“It’s in the sticks, only a very few people have been there…very very close friends…. a car can only get one mile away from it…then it’s torches & foot.” He adds “People are asking how I recorded it? It couldn’t be more not about that.”
Fionn’s songwriting is brought into ever closer focus with no fog of instruments to intervene, he continues to make use of natural imagery that layer up like a painting, he’s no pretender…as he sings on ‘The Bunkhouse‘ “I’m a painter, you’re a framer”. In some respects the album feels like it was done by way of curiosity or test…what he said next showed a clear conviction…”I still believe if a song stands up bare chested it’s a good song.”
The melancholic guitar of Mizen to Malin sings of the recession in Ireland with what ‘appears’ to be slightly dark and foreboding as he closes with “The waves are doubling in size, Ireland close your eyes.” I asked him about the song and the recession, he didn’t spell it…
“I wish I knew how to Anwser this…” he starts…”It’s about a dream I had where I was talking to the Irish sea. I woke up & wrote it down. There’s always a joy in a song no matter how dark the material is. If you use your imagination to try to explain it you’re called pretentious… I think I’ve put it the best way I can put it in the song….”
Many of the songs use the theme of journeys ‘Moving to Berlin‘, ‘Ferry Crossing‘…and ‘Clara to Calgary‘…I asked him whether escape was at the forefront of his mind when he wrote them, maybe a thought that was strengthened in my mind by his decision to record this in an almost hermetically remote location you can only get to on foot…”It’s the end of an era for me,” he declares…”so I’m standing on the pier & waving it off with a good light around it ‘Thank you for the chances & the love, I hope you have a beautiful adventure out there… Send us the odd letter home Let us know how you’re getting on…’ that kind of feeling…”
I ask him, almost hopefully on my part, whether the mention of Vol. 1 in the album title means there will be more similar recordings to follow…but he treads cautiously…”I’m not sure I will. Vol. 1 may have been a subconscious gag ….” Whether it was gag or not ‘The Bunkhouse Vol. I: Anchor Black Tattoo’ is an epiphany of his musical output, it’s both poetic, thought provoking and graceful. It sounds perfect in the early quite morning or in the late of night…the interview left me liking Fionn all the more…some things are best left to the imagination and I like the place this album takes me to.
We leave on the usual lighter load of some trivia…with some unexpected answers
What album are you listening to now?
Azelia Banks fantasea mixtape. She’s in a league of her own, hands down a genius.
What are you reading?
Hunger magazine it’s also in a league of its own & hands down genius!
Please tell us a band or artist you’d like to introduce to our readers and listeners.
Love M.I.A. if you haven’t heard her & have the brass, buy all her records
To finalise we were given this exclusive video to share with you. It’s for the beautiful track Clara to Calary, as I said…the album speaks for itself….
Just after this interview Fionn announced a London headline at the recently restored Islington Assembly Hall in March. This stunning venue, originally opened in 1930, has been fully restored to its post-war glory days and will be the perfect place for Fionn to perform.
Tuesday 5th March 2013 – LONDON – Islington Assembly Hall (£14) Tickets
The Bunkhouse Vol. I: Anchor Black Tattoo is released on 28th January 2013. Pre-order it here.