Thursday, 2 June 2016

Oban Times Music Column - April 22 2016

OBAN rockers The Signal Fires have begun work on their new EP at Dunbeg Studios. Having played their last Oban show of the year at Markie Dans on Saturday, the band say that they’re turning their attentions towards recording over the next few months.

Though the four-piece initially formed as a covers band, they started writing and recording their own material last year. Their debut single ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ was released in September, followed by ‘Ignite Our Fears’ in December.

‘We’ve just reached the stage where we just we want to see if we can actually do it,’ says frontman Andy Bruce. ‘We were very proud of our first couple of attempts at songwriting and we just want to build on that.

‘Our own material has a harder edge than the cover stuff most people are used to us playing. We are currently working on a track called ‘Alive’, which looks like it will be our heaviest track to date.’

The band are something of a family concern, with three of the band related, and have built up a reputation as a quality live act over the past few years. However, outside pressures have made it difficult for them to find the time to meet up as a band.

‘Whereas most bands will spend up to weeks in rehearsals, we tend to write and record our own parts separately before bringing it all together in the studio,’ says Andy. ‘It's not the most efficient way of doing things, which is why it takes us long to get things done, but for us it works best to bring each song to completion before moving on to the next one.

‘For example, our track ‘Alive’, is with our drummer Alex at the moment. He’ll record from guide tracks we put in place, then we’ll start building the song from there. I prefer this approach because songs evolve from the initial idea. Instead of rehearsing a song to death, this way keeps everything fresh and exciting.’

The band, who performed tracks by artists as diverse as The Killers and Guns n’ Roses on Saturday, are also developing a reputation as adaptable songwriters. With the help of sound engineer Stuart Mason, they recently completed their first songwriting commission, putting together a track for a private family event.

‘They approached us wanting a song in a specific style for the event,’ says Andy. ‘We went back and forth with ideas for lyrics on social media before we started putting the music together.

‘We were very pleased with the results and, more importantly, the family were delighted. It’s definitely something we are going to do more of in the future if we get the opportunity.’

Despite not playing any Oban shows, the band are set for several gigs and festivals around Argyll and the Highlands over the coming months, including The Crofter in Fort William, The Mull of Kintyre Fringe Festival and The Tarbert Music Festival. Their EP is due out later in the year.

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First printed in The Oban Times on April 22 2016

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