Interview: ISLAND

islandDuring their debut headline tour, I managed to pinch a few minutes of London-based rising stars ISLAND’s time, to ask them some questions. I very nearly missed the pleasure of getting to interview them though, as when I arrived they were seconds from leaving the venue in order to get some food. Instead of going hungry, the boys very kindly invited me along. After a long dispute on what food to order, the band members finally decided on what appeared to be a “small feast”. Once the food was all ordered, the boys were in good spirits and ready to answer my questions (although I think they were just excited to finally eat!)

First of all I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
James: Ah, no problem.
Rollo: Thank you!

So I suppose a good question to start with would be – how’s tour going so far?
Rollo: It’s been our first actual headline tour so it’s just really special to go to these cities we’ve never really been to and just see lots of people who are actually there to see us. It’s nice.
Jack: We’ve been to quite a few of them before but this is the first time we’ve done nearly all of our first headline shows outside of London. It’s such a different feeling when you’re opening up for a band than when you’re going there and you put on the gig and it’s your crowd there, that’s quite special.
Rollo: It’s still an amazing opportunity to get to tour with bands that are playing humongous venues but still, on the other side of the coin it’s more personal, it’s more special.
James: It’s also impossible to gauge how well you’re doing in a city until you go there on your own because just ’cause people show up early – like Amber Run fans for example, they show up early because they’re like super fans so we can play to a full venue of Amber Run fans but they’ve not necessarily heard of us at all. So basically it’s quite a cool gauge I’d say to see how you’re doing.

I personally get exhausted after being at a gig with all the dancing and singing I do, you do that nightly for a good few weeks, how do you manage it? Is there anything in particular you do to stay refreshed?
Rollo: There is, aside from the times the fans see us on stage, there’s a lot of downtime. You do get to spend a good amount of time relaxing, sitting in the van so that helps.
Jack: Unless you’re Toby and you’re driving.
James: Yeah, Toby’s just a beast. There’s four of us that can drive like in the van at any one time but Toby just does pretty much all of it, on top of like making sure we are where we need to be when we need to be there and see who we need to see when we need to see them. He’s kind of a crazy mother beast!
Rollo: And he tour manages, a lot of late nights before the tour just kind of spread sheet vibes. Yeah, very appreciated by us.
Toby: We’re quite a DIY band so we like to be quite hands on with that stuff. I don’t know what the question was but I hope that helps. *laughs*

Your debut album comes out in April next year, what can we expect from it?
James: Eleven brand spanking new tunes.
Rollo: All new and just the fact that it was our first album, we’re able to just explore our sound even further. We just had free reign to be like “let’s do this when we want to. Let’s do a seven minute tune or let’s do an acoustic.”
Jack: I think we’re very lucky we’ve got a lovely team that let us have a lot of free reign with it.
Rollo: Shout out to all the team.
James: Go team!

The music video for ‘Try’ was inspired by the short film ‘Ten Metre Board’ (directed by Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck) what made you decide to go with that as the video?
Toby: We put together a little teaser video for the album which you might have seen which is Rollo kind of wondering around and doing all sorts of bits and when we were on that shoot we started to talk about ideas for music videos and what we we’re going to try. Basically, what do we want to get out of the video? What do we want to achieve from it? I think something we’ve never done before and something that conveys a sort of emotion in the song. We just got talking about experiments that become things like music videos and films and it’s really kind of the idea of just recreating it stylistically. The experiment itself is already quite cinematic but almost by accident so it just kind of fell into place and we were like right let’s put a team together and that was it.
Rollo: It was amazing to make a music video with no actual acting in. It was all real life reactions and everyone I spoke to, you can just, as soon as you see that you just know that it’s real. That natural element is nice and also we just didn’t want to do a music video of a band walking through a field with the sunset… which is pretty much what the teaser video was. *laughs*

Alongside a relaxing melodic feel to your music, powerful hair flips seem to be a bit of a signature mark of yours. I think the fans would like to know how you all keep your hair in such good condition – any particular products or regimes used?
Jack: We are hair guys!
Rollo: We all have very different processes. Toby if you’d like to go first.
Toby: Uh, I don’t really have a process. *laughs*
Rollo: Talking of hair flips we had a gig in Newcastle, had a chat with some of our fans afterwards and they had a drinking game where every time Wolfe (James) flicked his hair back or put his hand through his hair they had to have a drink. It’s not a safe game and one of them ended up having to be sick in the loo’s apparently.

A cliché question now but one I often like to ask – who would you say is your biggest musical influence as a band and individually?
Rollo: As a band we don’t actually technically discuss or base our writing around influences, we’ve never actually done that. But when you say individually I’ve personally always been massively inspired, my kind of hero, is Peter Green. Jack, his hero is Gene Simmons. *laughs*
Jack: My tongue is just not quite long enough. *Laughs*. No, we’ve all got some influences, like we all love Grizzly Bear, Kings Of Leon, and The War On Drugs.
James: I like more weird stuff, I like this ska punk band called RX Bandits, and The Mars Volta are like my favourite band, but I’m not sure what really influences me. Like my main influence is what Toby tells me to do. Like our tunes, my bass lines come from Toby. I don’t think about what I like or what I listen to, I play with him and what comes out, if it’s good then that’s what it is.

How did you come up with the name Feels like Air for the album?
Rollo: ‘Feels like air’ is a lyric from a song and it’s the idea that air feels like nothing but then again, all we’re ever feeling is air because there’s air all around us. Feels like air, feels like everything and also feels like nothing.

You’ve already announced you’ll be playing a gig at London’s KOKO in May 2018, can we look forward to any more shows at all next year?
James: We’ll have a little tour around the time of the release (6th April) hopefully. The tours still getting confirmed but it’s pretty much all planned. It will probably be announced after this tour. We’ll definitely be back!

Lastly, you started the year off by supporting Amber Run, then had rather a few festivals in the summer, and now of course you’re finishing the year with a headlining tour. Would you say being on the road and performing live is one of your favourite parts of being in a band?
James: Yeah, absolutely.
Jack: Probably the best bit.
Toby: Playing live shows is the best bit.
James: Playing live shows everyday… I don’t know, you can’t knock it! You hear about bands getting sick of it, and maybe that will happen one day, but right now it’s what we want to be doing!
Toby: Sharing a band with people you love!

A big thank you to ISLAND for their time. Remember to look out for the release of the band’s debut album – Feels Like Air out on 6th April 2018 – be sure to add it to your calendars people!