HamsandwicH’s new single “Apollo” is the follow-up to their hugely successful single “Illuminate” released last Spring ahead of their first Olympia Theatre headline show. Both songs highlight the band’s change in musical direction and will be available on their as-yet untitled third album which is due to be released in the Spring of 2015 on their own label, The Route 109A Recording Co.
The difference a few years can make in the life of a band can be many things, not least surprising and educational. They say a week is a long time in politics, but a few years in music is multiple lifetimes. And so HamsandwicH, the band you thought you knew very well, has turned into Hamsandwich, the band you second guess at your peril.
You can tick the boxes here: selling out Dublin’s Olympia Theatre in April, last year a support slot at Slane Castle, a direct special request to support Mumford & Sons at Phoenix Park, an invitation to the President of Ireland’s Garden Party on the lawn of his rather stately gaff. Not bad going for a band once battling with the dreaded ‘quirky’ tag, is it?
About The Band
It has been over three years since the release of Hamsandwich‘s garlanded second album, White Fox, and while it remains for many something of a masterclass in quality indie pop (it featured in Irish Times’ writer Tony Clayton-Lea’s acclaimed book, 101 Irish Records You Must Hear Before You Die) it is now viewed by the band as just their very astute second album.
“It’s good that the songs on White Fox are still loved,” says Podge McNamee. “For such a short album it’s had a remarkably lengthy life, and to be honest, reworking White Fox through many gigs slowed down the writing for the new album; in fact, we almost rewrote White Fox, and that was something we weren’t used to. Most bands will tell you that the real way to learn your material is to get out of your comfort zone, and strip the songs down to the bare bones.”
Hamsandwich realised that being uncomfortable isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you learn from your mistakes, you experience things you wouldn’t otherwise encounter.
“That’s what has made writing songs for the new album so good and exciting,” continues Podge. “We’ve fallen in love with song arrangements, and discovered that we all have a strong knack for it. The new songs sound bigger, although not through any conscious decision on our part.”
“That came off the back of playing so many gigs with so many musicians on stage,” adds Niamh Farrell. “It was very natural for us to progress to the level of wanting more of that on the new album. Unlike with White Fox, when we play the new songs live we’re not reworking them because they’re already there for us.”
With 2013 being the year of The Gathering, this year’s Discover Ireland TV and Radio campaign is soundtracked by the Hamsandwich song “Models”, which was part of their set when they performed at the official launch in front of 10,000 people in Dublin’s College Green to bring in the new year alongside of Imelda Maye, Bell-X1, and The Dubliners. Last year the band received an unexpected accolade when the Irish Times senior music journalist Tony Clayton-Lea included the band’s second “White Fox” in his book “101 Irish Records You Must Hear Before You Die”.
“There isn’t a duff tune here, which makes it that very rare thing: an album you can listen to all the way through without being tempted to press fast-forward”
Alongside the challenges of forging individuality within a commercial framework is the band’s work ethic, which over the years has ricocheted from pillar to post, but which latterly has landed in quick-setting concrete. They pay tribute to their former manager Derek Nally (who died suddenly in July 2010 just before the recording of White Fox) as being the person to have drilled such disciplined sensibilities into them.
Perish that thought! With their new single and album, Hamsandwich become a different, better band, not only more confident in their collective abilities but also in who they are and what they do.