Regular GP visitors will know that we have a soft spot for Ham Sandwich. We’re big fans of the new album White Fox. There isn’t much doubt that Ham Sandwich’s latest entry is going a long way to establishing them as a part of the Irish Music furniture, albeit, the quirkiest and alluring type of furniture. If Ham Sandwich were a piece of furniture, they would be a beanbag with the entire kink of Urban Outfitters, but without the price.
So we were delighted that Niamh agreed to an interview. And below you can see the relatively short and sweet interview where Niamh speaks about the new album, how being a mother impacts her music, John Moore leaving the band, the best person she met in music, what’s she’s listening to and her reaction to the personal issues covered in the press.
Hope you enjoy it.
GP: So the new album, happy with the response thus far?
NF: The response has just been amazing. When we put this album out we were extremely proud of it and hoped people would take to it. But the reviews and all that stuff have just been better than we could have hoped for!
GP: Do you read the reviews or do you try to avoid them as much as possible? Are there any music sites you follow more than others?
NF: I tend to not go looking for a review but wait for people to tell me “oh there’s a review up on this site or in the paper” and then I’ll check it out. I like reading them cause even if it’s one that’s not a great review it will more than likely give you some constructive criticism to think about!! As for following music sites I tend to just cast my eye over them at different times on a weekly basis. I follow a lot of bloggers on twitter and keep up to date with the links they post.
GP: Where did the artwork for the new album come from? The last one allowed fans to submit artwork? What is the artwork here supposed to represent?
NF: I was actually looking up pictures of smoke bombs on the Internet and seeing what kind of effect they have in a picture and I came across loads of different types of pictures with antlers. I think we always knew we wanted an image on the cover and we wanted something that caught your eye really. Also there was kind of a theme of animals on the album(White Fox, Ants, Animals) so it fitted in well!!
GP: What is it like to be backing playing gigs? Did you enjoy the break or are you one of those bands who always need to be touring?
NF: Its soooo good being back gigging again. There is nothing else like it. It’s nice to have a break from it yes, but you miss it a lot when you aren’t doing it!
GP: John Moore is no longer in Ham Sandwich? How did this come about and what impact has it had on the band? Was John still a big influence on White Fox?
NF: John left in April to concentrate on other things really, and we just decided to continue on. We had hardly anything together for the 2nd album, maybe one or two finished songs and then loads off riffs floating around. And really we just got stuck into writing then. We just thought we have to make a go of it instead of just giving up!
GP: In general, the majority of people believe that this is a more musically measured approach by the band? Did you all spend a lot of time coming up with this approach or was it a natural progression for you?
NF: It was definitely a natural progression I think. Everyone on this album definitely have grown, musically, and ability wise since the last album. We were more aware of what worked and different sounds on songs. And we were all a lot more open with ideas and open with one another.
GP: Having listened to the album, I’m fascinated by the lyrics in particular. Can you describe the process of how you make music for Ham Sandwich? Do you come up with lyrics or music first? Who writes most? How long does it take etc?
NF: When we started this album it would usually start with just a guitar riff, and then the drums would be worked out and then the lyrics would come next. We really all got involved in this album, lyrics and all. Which I loved. No one was afraid to say no I don’t like that or here’s an idea that might work. The songs are kind of about all different things. Different experiences we have had over the last while.
GP: Was it difficult coming together for the second album? Did you have a sense of fear given it’s the dreaded “second” album?
NF: Not really. We just kind of thought it’s now or never. So there was a sense of excitement if anything! We just thought as long as we put out something we are proud of then we’re alright! Haha!
GP: Has having a child impacted on how active you are with your music now? Has it changed how you feel towards music (It’s been said that there is more of a “sea of splendor” than “ill-winds”) would you agree?
NF: Yeah I think it’s changed me a bit in that I’m slightly more level-headed. But it hasn’t changed how I feel about what I’m doing. I’m still extremely passionate about what I do.
GP: What is your favorite song off the album itself? Why is that?
NF: I’d say Models, just the song as a whole means a lot to me. Where it came from and where it got too in the end.
GP: Was it a bit of a rollercoaster? You gave birth and 6 weeks later you were playing Glastonbury? We’re you absolutely determined to play Glasto?
NF: Total rollercoaster but so worth it. I knew I had to play Glasto. It’s a once in a lifetime chance you don’t say no too!!
GP: What was the best gig you feel you guys have ever played? Are there places better than others (Venues/People)?
NF: There’s a few gigs that are special but all for different reasons. The gigs we have played in Whelans always stick out in my mind. It’s kinda our home away from home so it’s always a laugh and the people are awesome. There are loads of venues around the country as well that I love playing in. Roisin Dubhs, Doyles(Limerick), Cyprus Avenue. All amazing fun.
GP: You’ve had some personal issues which found themselves in the public eye, is this something that you just have to accept when you taste success or does it still annoy you?
NF: Yeah it’s something you just get on with. There is absolutely no point in letting it annoy you. I went through a stage of reading stuff written about me on the net and some of it was just horrible but I had to stop and you just have to think it’s all water off a ducks back.
GP: You were on the cover of Hot Press annual along with the other ladies of Irish music 2 years ago, what do you think about how dominant women are on the Irish Music Scene?
NF: I think there’s plenty of great Irish frontwomen out there at the moment and I think it’s awesome. May Kay, Lydia DES Dolles, the Tallulah Girls, Heathers. All totally hold their own on the music scene and it’s brilliant.
GP: Do you listen to much Irish bands? What are you listening to right now? In general what do you think is really good to listen to?
NF: I actually cannot stop listening to the Villagers album. And I’ll admit it really took me a while to get into it, but I saw Conor performing at Body and Soul at EP this year and it just blew my mind. If I’m not listening to The Villagers I’m listening to The National, Death Cab For Cutie. Another Irish band that I love are Kid Karate. They supported us at one of our gigs and they just are awesome live.
GP: What is the first band under the letter “A” on your iPod?
NF: Arcade Fire. How indie of me. :)
GP: Is Podge as mad off stage as he is on? Is it true that he once said in the middle of an argument “you can’t tame a lion”?
NF: He is mad off stage but not as crazy as he is when he’s on stage! He’s a bit of a softie sometimes and is one of the best friends I’ve ever had. (awww) And yeah the thing about the argument. Totally true. Hahahaha. We still slag him about that to this day.
GP: Who is the best person in music you have met? You guys have obviously met U2 but is there anyone that you’ve met who’s been very encouraging/supportive/critical that you appreciated?
NF: I met Karen O once. She didn’t give me any advice or anything but I think I told her I loved her. Hahahaha. Morto.
GP: You guys don’t make videos on YouTube as much, the likes of “Nature Walks with Darcy” and the cover of “Hello”, why is this? Any plans for any new videos?
NF: We actually just made a new video for the single OhOh! 3am in the morning running around Dublin for it! Awesome fun tho. Il have to ask Darcy about the Nature Walks. Maybe we should get a petition going to get him to do another one!
GP: What are the plans going forward?
NF: Just trying to get this album to as many ears as possible really! And gig loads! And just generally have fun with it! We are so proud of this album and how quickly we brought it all together, so now it’s just over to people to see whether they like it or not! :) And maybe my personal plan should be to not say awesome as much…hahaha.