Live4ever SXSW Interview: Kassidy

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Over the years, the vibrant Glaswegian music scene has spawned a rich and eclectic range of talent; from Primal Scream, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and The Alex Harvey Band through to Chvrches, Franz Ferdinand, Glasvegas and Belle & Sebastian, to name just a few.

Looking to join that impressive list are Kassidy; Glaswegian natives Lewis Andrews, Barrie James O’Neill, Chris Potter and Hamish Fingland who are beginning to make waves outside of their native Scotland.

The story starts barely more than half a decade ago when these four mates started jamming together, and when the idea of being signed to a major label, selling records and touring seemed but a mere pipe dream, something to joke about in the wee small hours after a particularly good night out. “We used to have parties back at mine, and there’d be loads of people, and all four of us played guitar and all of us sang,” Hamish tells Live4ever during an exclusive chat at the recent South By Southwest Festival. “So it would always end up in a kind of jam, and then people would be always like, ‘Why don’t you just do this and, like, be a band!’.”

All the lads initially met through sharing bands with Hamish, and although they’d developed a natural chemistry through hanging out and playing music together, Kassidy took a while to fully develop. “It was just a concept for the first six months,” Barrie James recalls. “We had no music and one photo up on MySpace. Then, from that, we had so many gigs booked because no-one knew what we sounded like, and hardly anyone had YouTube videos back then.”

“People saw four guys and four guitars and they’re like, ‘I’ve never seen that’, because this was before Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes, so there wasn’t really harmony bands doing that sort of thing,” Hamish adds.

Each contributes to the vocal harmonies, as well as playing guitar. They are also proficient on a range of other instruments; for instance, Chris describes Barrie as an ‘awesome drummer’, while both Hamish and Lewis play bass and keyboards. Thus, no two Kassidy shows will be exactly the same and, during the course of one performance, the guys may well switch between a number of different instruments – keeping the flavour interesting for both themselves and their audience.

“Sometimes we have six people on stage,” Hamish tells Live4ever. “It’s nice to start with the four and move it in to a full rock’n’roll concert. It’s not purely acoustic guitars with four part harmonies – it’s a lot louder than that, a lot more rock’n’roll, and a lot more moving.”

As they started to gain momentum following a debut gig it the autumn of 2009 when they, ‘Just wrote some songs and did it’, Kassidy made their bed in a small Glasgow studio to turn an ever-growing portfolio of songs into fully fledged demos. “Basically, there’s a wee lane down in the South side of Glasgow with two recording studios, one much smaller and one that was like a professional recording studio. That’s where we first started practicing – down that lane, in the practice rooms, and we recorded in the smaller studio.”

Soon after, a deal with Vertigo Records had been signed and their own place was needed. As it happened, that professional studio was coming up for grabs: “We were like. ‘Well we’ve actually got a wee bit of money here’, the owner’s leaving, we knew the guy who owned it. Obviously we’re not moving in to a fully furnished studio because he took all his equipment, but the place had sound proofing, and there were plenty of rooms for us to stay in. We’re still there – it’s been three years.”

Owning their own studio space puts Kassidy in an advantageous position, free from the constraints of studio costs and schedule clashes. Subsequently, they devote themselves almost entirely to the band; rehearsing diligently, writing new material and recording demos.

“We do rehearse about five or six days of the week,” Hamish remarks. “It’s ideal, but you’ve also got to realise that when you live in a studio there is all the other sort of stuff there – distractions, your bedroom and shit – so sometimes paying to go into a studio (means) you use your time really well when you’re there. But it’s great, it took us a bit of time but we work really well in it now.”

Kassidy are swiftly becoming a four-pronged force to be reckoned with. To date they have released a single, three EPs and two albums – the debut LP, Hope Street‘, initially recorded with producer Jim Aldiss in a large London studio, was not without its difficulties. “We had no experience of massive studios,” Hamish remembers. “All the different microphones and stuff. Someone gives you a cool looking guitar to play and you go, ‘Yeah, alright then’, because we’d only ever recorded with our own guitars and recorded with two mics.”

“We tried that, and it didn’t quite sound how we envisioned the music to sound,” Lewis elaborates. “We had this vision of big sounding harmonies, and this was a wee bit more ‘poppy’; wee bit ‘acousticy’. It sounded really good, but it wasn’t quite what we were looking for at the time, and I think if you do something you should do it how you want – if you don’t, you’ll hate yourself for the rest of time.”

In the end, they returned to Glasgow and that small DIY studio to re-record the whole album. In 2012 the follow-up, ‘One Man Army‘, arrived in the wake of fresh recording sessions at RockField Studios – previously home to bands such as Queen, Black Sabbath, The Stone Roses and Hawkwind.

“We decided to go to RockField Studios and record live, and we did the whole record in about a week. For us it’s a matter of constantly doing stuff, it’s always about thinking about the future – once a song is on a CD, you’ve got it, you don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

Not only are Kassidy industrious when it comes to writing, rehearsing and recording, but the lads have toured extensively over the last few years, including a spot supporting Glaswegian heroes Primal Scream, as well as playing a sell out show at the Glasgow Barrowland, and sundry festivals such as T In The Park . “The last UK tour was great because we started seeing a few hubs of people that were there for Kassidy,” Hamish says.

“I mean, Manchester was really good, Brighton was really good, London, and also Newcastle and Leeds. It’s not just a man and his dog at the bar, but it’s actually Kassidy fans singing back to you – you’re like, ‘Wow, and this not in Scotland anymore’.”

However, with a practical sense of perspective, the guys recognise that, although they’re starting to make things happen at home, there is still quite a distance to cover before they’ll be playing sell-out shows in Madison Square Gardens, or making a dent on the American Billboard charts. “Our plan is to meet people and make contact,” Hamish concludes.

“It’s not about playing as many shows as possible, ‘cos I think you gain a better relationship with people if you can talk to them.”

(Sam Slattery)

Kassidy tour dates (supporting Lana Del Rey):

Thursday 9 May 2013 – La Riviera Madrid, Spain
Sunday 12 May 2013 – O2 Academy Birmingham, United Kingdom
Monday 13 May 2013 – O2 Academy Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sunday 19 May 2013 – Hammersmith Apollo, London, United Kingdom
Thursday 23 May 2013 – O2 Apollo Manchester, United Kingdom
Wednesday 29 May 2013 – Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Friday 31 May 2013 – Vorst Nationaal / Forest National, Brussels, Belgium

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