Exposure: Be a Familiar
- Ryan Drever
- 16 June 2009
Be a Familiar - Had Your Fill
Be A Familiar have only been together for a short time, but are already somewhat of a formidable force. The songs, from first single 'Pain In The Heart' to the upcoming split with Tango In The Attic, 'You'd Make A Great Ghost', and everything in between, are lush, and triumphantly beautiful experiments in that great taboo some like to call pop. Utilizing warm and diverse instrumentation, the band create dense atmospheres, spearheaded by dual-vocal harmonic assault and rich lyricism. The band's sound is in keeping with their Scottish roots, though comparisons have reached as far as Broken Social Scene and Death Cab For Cutie, with the odd Idlewild reference thrown in for good measure. Still only getting started, the band have boundless potential and will no doubt be well worth a visit as they too take to the stage amongst several other 'promising' young acts on this year's T Break stage. Fancy hearing more? Well, here's a slightly deeper analysis, courtesy of the band's guitarist and vocalist, Jack.
How did you all meet and form the band?
The foundations were laid when Chris and Cal’s old band split in 2007. it was an opportunity for them to start afresh and make music on their own terms and so they began writing songs together. It was clearly apparent that more band members would be essential in order to fulfil the potential of the first recordings. So, with the aim of making big, vibrant and colourful pop songs, they began seeking out like-minded musicians to complete what would become Be a Familiar. Gradually, BAF began to take shape and, with the help of a few friends and an uncanny connection with Sainsbury’s (three Familiars work there and one is a family member of one of their colleagues!), we grew into the seven piece line up that you see today.
Had you all previously been involved in any other bands or projects?
Chris and Cal were the only ones that were involved in any bands of note. They made up half of Carson, hailing from Fort William. Euan, our trumpet player, is currently studying at the RSAMD and Louise our cello and piano player is a professional music teacher.
What or who would consider to be your biggest musical influences and inspirations, both individually and collectively as a band?
Obviously because there are seven of us our influences are all over the place! Bands like Elbow, Idlewild, Coldplay and The Cure all have a great sense of melody and that’s definitely something that we aspire to. For us, melody is the vital component. It’s all very well having amazing musicians playing impossible guitar riffs; if there’s no melody then what’s the point? There’s definitely a buzz around Scottish music at the moment and seeing guys like Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad and most recently We Were Promised Jetpacks doing so well is definitely a great inspiration to us. These are all bands that have come from the same scene as ourselves and it shows us that anything is possible really if you keep at it and put in the effort along the way. They’ve shown us it’s OK to be Scottish - in fact it’s actually pretty cool!
If you could, or were really pushed, how would you describe the music you make?
We’ve been described as a mix between Idlewild and Arcade Fire. I know that’s a lot to live up to but we try! These two bands make big, passionate music while still staying true to their melodic sensibilities and that’s definitely something that we aim to do every time. Our sound is defined by our boy/girl vocals and the wall of sound that we create when all the different elements of the band are in full flow. We make music that we want to make and that definitely comes across in the songs. They can be big, bold and powerful but they can also be soft and delicate. Put simply, we sound like a band that wants to pummel you to within an inch of your life, then nurse you back to health again.
Did you have a good idea of the kind of music you wanted to make from the beginning?
Definitley. At the time when Chris and Cal were starting out there was definitely something missing in the scene, something bold and colourful, and that’s what we’ve aimed to be from the very start. We want to make music for everyone to enjoy, not just ourselves.
How do you feel about the current music scene and community in Glasgow right now? Are there any bands acts you're particularly fond of enjoying playing with?
The current music scene in Glasgow is as good as its ever been, if not better. There's a lot of very good bands out there, so much so that people are spoilt for choice! Live music seems to be the ‘in thing’ at the moment, wherever you look there’s live music and this can only be a good thing.
We’re really good friends with a band called Tango in the Attic from Glenrothes. We’ve played with them a few times now and enjoyed it so much that we’re actually releasing a split single with them! Our songs called ‘You’d Make a Great Ghost’ and it’s available from the 20th July. Nice wee plug there, ha ha!
What do you feel sets you apart from other bands right now, in the city or beyond?
There are seven of us! In my view there’s definitely strength in numbers, not just in recordings but also from a live point of view. When people come to see us they see seven people packed onto the stage and they’re instantly interested before we even play a note. We definitley create a much bigger spectacle than say a three or a four-piece band could create.
The fact that we have the luxury of all these different instruments and voices provides us with so much scope to do what we want with the song and there’s no backing tracks in sight. It’s all there in front of you. It’s organic and it’s exciting, visually and audibly.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We’re releasing our split single with Tango in the Attic on the 20th July so we’ll be doing a lot of shows up and down the country to promote that including a headline show at King Tut’s on the 21st July. After that we’ll be recording the start of our mini album with legendary Scottish producer Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastion, Mogwai etc) which we are extremely excited about as you can imagine. That’ll hopefully be ready for release some time at the start of next year.
As well as that we’ll be continuing to gig as much as we can, wherever we can so come and see us and say 'Hi!'