Edward Wetenhall ‘Fish Tank’ Interview (15/01/2016)

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So if you follow this website, or have even simply scrolled through the site, you would know our obsession with Fish Tank. With reviews of their EP’s both hitting 9/10 ratings and the ‘Jane’ EP even reaching our ‘2015: Top 5 Albums Of The Year’ at a penultimate number two, it’s fair to say we think they are a bloody good group. After seeing them live I can also say that our perspectives on their sound didn’t differ in anyway, but our views on their performance ability was completely transformed. They had an energy that raised the room, a quirky humour that kept the audience integrated throughout and a stage presence that gave themselves a supreme dominance over the audience.

Their ‘Jane’ EP which was released late last year had been eagerly anticipated by everyone here in our creative team with more than two years of  hope ploughed into it. With that much riding on their shoulders, we were setting ourselves up for a disappointment; our hype train running off the tracks once the EP dropped. So how in the hell did these guys pull this off! ‘Jane’ absolutely blew us away with our hopes finally fulfilled by one of the best and most innovative EP’s to come out in the last 5 years (funnily enough since their last EP ‘Henry’). If you want our full reaction to this EP, look for our ‘Jane’ review from earlier on in the sites history!

So with all that said and done, we proudly present to you a huge inspiration here at Music Season and one of the best segments we’ve ever had the pleasure of setting up. Here is our interview with Edward Wetenhall, lead singer of Fish Tank! The Q&A went as below:

Q. What would you say your particular music style/repertoire is; how would you describe your music?

E: Early on we got labelled with the ol’ ‘Math Rock’ moniker, but I’ve never really thought that was right. That tag was only really placed on us because we were playing with a lot of technical minded underground bands of the same ilk at the time. Even if you look back at the ‘Henry EP’ it’s not particularly time signature driven, more an emphasis on exploring as much musical landscape as possible in 3 minutes or so. In that sense I suppose a more accurate tag would have been something like ‘Prog pop’. Nowadays I think we’d probably say it’s ‘Pop rock’ or ‘Guitar Pop’ or ‘Indie punk’ or something along those lines. I think we’re more interested now in making a couple of ideas stay interesting for 3 minutes. Hiding our weirdness in a song has proved more challenging than having it front and centre, but I think it’s kind of more satisfying in the end.

Q. Who are your biggest influences when making music and do you feel you take any aspects from their style and add it to your own?

E: Talk about a hard question! Right now I suppose some big overarching ones would have to be people like Daniel Johnston, Randy Newman, Simon Neil, Dave Longstreth, Jo Prendergast, and Mac Demarcoto name a few. I definitely agree that I take particular elements from each and adapt them into my own music, all for very different reasons though. I suppose the element that links them all would be the juxtaposition between their left field approach to writing music, while also retaining and sometimes gaining a certain level of commercial appeal. I think FT’s output has always been my way of trying to understand the dissonance between being marginal and wanting to be commercial.

Q. What album/albums would you put up there as your favourite of all time?

E: errrr…Tough but doable! I’ll try my best. Here’s my current top 5 in no particular order: Mac Demarco – Salad Days, Bombay Bicycle Club – I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, Randy Newman – Good Old Boys, Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan, The Beatles – A toss up between ‘Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be (Naked Version)’

Q. Have you got any big plans for the near future in the recording process or touring?

E: We actually did a couple days in the studio just after Christmas recording another single with Oz Craggs! Our new bass player Zak Tozer is on this one and it’s sounding good and loud and beefy. We’ve also got a UK tour coming up towards the end of January supporting our pals Get Inuit. I think we’re all really excited to be playing loads of places we’ve never been to before. Scotland in particular is a place I’ve wanted to both visit and play forever. Apart from that we’re also sorting out festivals for the summer and there’s been talk of doing an album but it quite literally hasn’t gone beyond the ‘talk’ phase yet.

Q. What is the favourite gig you’ve played/Where/What Went Down?

E: I suppose it has to be Reading Festival really. It was fantastic, but having been going to the festival for 5 straight years straight before and seeing a lot of my favourite bands play there, It couldn’t have been anything but amazing! The other gig that sticks out as being particularly epic was a gig we played in Canterbury for the ‘City Sound Project’ Festival. It was in this tiny venue called ‘Bramleys’ and it was absolutely nuts. Come to think of it most times we’ve played Canterbury we’ve had a blast. It’s our hometown really. We played a TON of gigs there while we were at uni in Broadstairs. Always a pleasure to play.

Q. So your EP ‘Jane’ has dropped, and its astonishingly excellent! How would you describe the whole studio process when making the EP and what would you advise bands looking to enter this process, how they should carry it out?

E: Thanks! The studio process was for the most part, really fantastic. We always have loads of fun in the studio. But on the other hand, it can be nightmarish at times. You have to look at the positives though. When something feels really gruelling, like listening to mix number 312 and you’re discussing whether or not a cowbell should be higher or lower in the mix for instance, you have to remember that the disagreements and compromises are all for the greater good. It means everyone really wants it to be a great record!

My advice to others looking to make a little record would be as follows:

1) Make sure you’re in love with the songs you want on the record. Demo what you’ve got and then spend some time throwing new stuff at the wall.

2) Sort through your demos and don’t spunk all your best songs on this one little record. We had about 15 demos of different songs for the record we just made and It was very difficult narrowing down the ones we thought would make a great record together. If you have a couple songs with some single potential, work out a strategy. We actually recorded 6 songs when we recorded ‘Jane EP’, two of which are unreleased singles slated for release sometime this year.

3) Do your research and pick a great producer/engineer. Meet up with them if you can before the sessions and make sure they understand how you want the record to sound and what your music’s ethos is. It’ll help massively with decision making further down the timeline. Also make sure you get on with this person too, as you will be spending a lot of time with them!

4) Be cost effective. Good recordings aren’t cheap so before you head into the studio, work out the most economic recording plan you can with the producer/engineer before you begin.

5) Get your parts nailed before you even book the studio time. No one expects you to get it in one, but when it’s take 30, you’re only costing yourself money and time.

6) Discussion is healthy. Arguing isn’t. Compromise will always play a part in the recording studio so don’t be stubborn and always be open to the possibility that stuff (including that solo you’ve been perfecting for two weeks) will probably change along the path of making the record.

7) Don’t take yourself too seriously.

8) Have fun!

Q. Where did the name Fish Tank come from, was it spur of the moment or symbolic or what?

E: I was in Southend, visiting my girlfriend and we’d gone into town to do some shopping. We were in HMV and I saw that poster for the Michael Fassbender film ‘Fish Tank’. I thought to myself “That’d be a good name for a band.” Embarrassingly though, none of us have actually seen the film. From what I’ve heard it’s kind of harrowing.

Q. What was the last song you listened to and would you recommend it?

E: The last song I listened to was ‘Crystallized’ by Melody’s Echo Chamber. My friend Charlie showed it to me earlier because we were talking about the band Tame Impala, apparently the lead singer of which is their producer[?] I can’t really say I’d recommend it as I’ve only heard the first half once but it didn’t sound bad by any means! I liked the 8 bit drum sound.

So there  we have it! Any up and coming acts on the underground scene reading this should really take note of what this guy has to say whether it be on studio time or even on what he says about performance because I can vouch and say he is the real deal. So as always do us a favour and send some love to Fish Tank’s social media pages and add their new EP to your playlists right now! Possibly our favourite act on the site and one of the best emerging bands in years, we implore you to give them as much exposure as possible!

Fish Tank Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/fishtankuk/?fref=ts

Fish Tank Bandcamp Page: http://fishtank.bandcamp.com/

Fish Tank Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/fishtankuk

Fish Tank YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/fishtankvids/videos

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