Exposure: Ya’ll is Fantasy Island
When something ends a void is left, waiting for something new. So it was that when Chuck Norris Machine ended back in 2005, Ya’ll is Fantasy Island rose from its ashes. Headed up by Adam Stafford, the band is made up of Tommy Blair (Guitarist), Steven Tosh (drummer), Jamie Macleod (bassist) and, up until 2007, Jon McCall (Drums/Clarinet). Adam, who cites Lightning Bolt (In his words – ''our generation’s version of The Pixies') as one of his personal influences, talks to us about the band.
This all started off as a solo project for you, how did the rest of the boys come to get involved?
I issued a very scrappy album on tape in 2002 called Wisconsin Death Trip for some friends and a more widely released EP in 2005 called Skeletal Demos, which actually contained a lot of songs from our third LP No Ceremony. Tommy was a good friend of mine by that point and an amazing engineer. Jon was my oldest friend from high school. There was a feeling, certainly on my part, that we should do it now. We'd already recorded extensively with The Chuck Norris Machine - we might as well start a new band.
Your debut album, In Faceless Towns Forever, was recorded in an abandoned house in an epic 19-hour recording session, how did that come about?
It was one of the best summers of my life. Everybody was high on this optimism of playing free-form music in the Chuck Norris Machine, because we'd all been in Falkirk rock bands and things were getting stagnant for us musically. The weather was tremendous; there were a lot of parties and just this great feeling of community for once within a group of about 12/15 people. My girlfriend's mother had moved from her house after an unpleasant break-up with her partner. That house sat empty all summer. Tommy and I prepared for two weeks; Jon hadn't heard any of the songs until he arrived that night at the house. We started at 9pm, recorded all night, slept for five hours, recorded all day until 9pm before we all had to go to work. People think the whole 19-hours thing was just a gimmick, but we have the video! Which I'm sure will surface one day.
2008 was a busy year for you guys, 3 albums is no mean feat, how was it for you?
It was great. We played a Cry Parrot gig in August and the (albeit small) crowd were singing along to most of the songs and there was a very electric energy. There's nothing so weird and fantastic as that feeling. We care not for being unsigned at the moment, we've built everything from scratch, do every single thing ourselves and if the bigger labels don't like any of the output on our four albums then, ultimately it's their loss. We are the living, breathing underground.
And the Radio One session - that must have been something special?
We made a few mistakes! But we are forever in debt to Vic Galloway and his team for even giving us the time of day. And to the good old BBC, without whom, we wouldn't have been able to afford the pressing of our album No Ceremony.
What can we expect from you in 2009?
We're recording a double A-Side single in February entitled Sunset Motherfuckers/New Wave Culdra and the fifth album is already written. It's called Summer On Elm Wood and I'm sure we'll start it this year and issue it in 2010. I'm planning on releasing a single and two albums of my side-project Size Of Kansas too.
Finally, which Scottish band would you personally tip to look out for this year?
There are a few who I think are all worthy of the fickle public's attention: Mitchell Museum, Popolo, Jocky Venkataraman, Wounded Knee, Radiation Line and Plaaydoh.
Ya’ll is Fantasy Island play Limbo at Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh 29 Jan, Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh 3 Apr; Hinterland Festival 30 Apr.