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BBC 6 music favourites, Doyle and the Fourfathers are a Southampton based four piece, gaining an impressive reputation as a live act as they travel the length and breadth of the country.  They released debut album “Man Made” back in February, a record which evokes the true art of song writing, backed by intelligently constructed musical compositions. 

After playing a well received, highly entertaining and lively set from a difficult mid afternoon position at the Rochdale Feel Good Festival, Mudkiss accosted lead singer William back stage for a brief chat. I think it’s fair to say William had revelled in the atmosphere since leaving the stage and possibly enjoyed the Festival organiser’s plentiful hospitality.........

ANDY: Your first visit to Rochdale and how did you feel the gig went today?

WILLIAM: Yes, fine....nice.....the weather...... you’d think the weather might put people off but the people of Rochdale were up for the rain, I think that’s what it is...... they stood there in full force...... good crowd reception.

ANDY: We have to be used to the rain in the North West of England, we can’t be put off by that. (Laughing)

WILLIAM: No that’s true, I like that.....I like rain...... we’ve got a song called Summer Rain, which we didn’t play today, which we should have played I suppose.

ANDY: Now that would have been ideal today.

WILLIAM: I thought there’s not many songs that celebrate the rain and I like the rain, you know I think it’s my favourite weather..........because it’s a bit more dramatic it makes you feel something.......I don’t know, it’s good for artists.

ANDY: You’re songs appear very lyrically focused. Where do your influences come from?

WILLIAM: Lyrically? [Andy - Yeah] Well.....Leonard Cohen is probably my favourite lyricist but I’m not a patch on him......For a while now I was doing stuff where you just write words to fit.... make the voice an instrument rather than make the song about something just splurt out a load of words and it fits in with the rhythm and the feel of it you know but I’ve concentrated more on writing words recently. I don’t know, I’m just trying to find my way with that really and still trying to think what’s the best route for me to go down.  We’ve got a couple more new songs which we played today that are a bit more political. We’ve got a song  called “Welcome to Austerity” that was the last song we played today......So I’m just trying to figure it out really.  I like Jarvis Cocker and Ray’s very quintessentially English stuff like that.

ANDY: I thought I picked up a bit of Neil Hannon in your material?

WILLIAM: Yeah, yeah a lot of people say that........I don’t think I’m necessarily influenced by him because I think he kind of borrows from the same places that I do. I love Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy though so that’s always a welcome comparison.  

ANDY: As a performer you’re quite flamboyant, is that something that’s always been in your personality?

WILLIAM: Well I used to play solo for about three years and I liked that but it was a bit rubbish sometimes because you’ve no one else to rely on. The whole musical element of the gig is relying on one person, so when I got the band it was like well now I feel free to go’s taken me a while to find my sort of space and that.  Everyone says to me if I meet them before hand I’m a bit reserved and nervous unless I’m drunk (Laughing)....... but when I get on stage it’s sort of something different, I think the stage is a bit of a blank canvas for me to go and do whatever I like.......and I like that and the crowd respond to it quite well........I’m a bit of a showboat, but it’s ironic I think.....I’m not taking myself too seriously..........I go and watch loads of bands and I think it’s always better to have a front man up there............we’re in a time of music now where’s there’s no front men you can identify with, not your Morrissey’s, not your Jarvis’s and I think there’s a serious drought of that type and I enjoy that style of performing so I try and fill in that gap myself as much as possible.

ANDY: The crowd certainly responded to you and no disrespect to the rest of the band, but wherever you looked, you were drawn back to your performance.

WILLIAM: That wasn’t the intention to necessarily draw attention to’s more a total natural thing, I get up there, the music happens and my body just sort of goes with it and I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do and  I try to rely on stuff on stage to use as props. Today Ben our guitarist hasn’t got a keyboard stand and he had to use his flight case, so I stood on that wearing a fez....I don’t know where the fez came from but you know it was there........I love that spontaneity, it’s always exciting.

ANDY: So how’s the year been so far, busy Summer playing festivals?

WILLIAM: Yeah we’ve been very busy....We released an album in February and then went on tour with The Undertones (Laughing.)

ANDY: That sounds a bit bizarre mix?

WILLIAM: It was very bizarre, you know we’re not really a punk band but I love The Undertones, they’re one of my favourite bands..... it was such a pleasure to go out with them and do that.......but yeah, we did that and we recorded an EP recently so we’re just recording and gigging all the time cos this is what we do.

ANDY: So this is your full time job?

WILLIAM: This is a full time commitment that we’re going for at the moment and you have to fill every moment of  it all.....we’re get periods where it’s like, a bit....nothing’s happening..... and then you get periods of absolute busyness and we’ve been coming up and around, doing up North but we haven’t gone to Scotland yet, that’s one thing we haven’t done, we’ve gone everywhere else.

At this point Mel appears to take some photographs and I introduce her to William.

WILLIAM: So yeah, it’s been a very busy year... very, very busy....we went with our management last year.......we got with them, since then it’s just kicked off..... so it’s all good.

ANDY: Do you think these provincial festivals are important to new, up and coming bands like yourselves?

WILLIAM: Well they’re very family orientated - we did a set in Rochdale - not Rochdale sorry, that’s where we are today (Laughing)...........we did a set in Somerset.......way away from Rochdale the other weekend which was also family orientated and we had to play for an hour you know and it’s hard to fill that amount of time when people don’t know your stuff.......all  the other bands were doing cover versions, which is fine and has it’s place, but I don’t feel like we’re cover’s band.......we do covers every now and then but wouldn’t try and please them with that, we try and do what we do.......... but this place....I find that when you go further North, especially North West...... there’s a lot more music fans in the general crowd. When you’re down in London and further South it’s just kind of people who come along to see their friends band and what not. When you come up North West there’s a lot of people who come just because they’re music fans and embrace that themselves.......I like that because it makes you feel better as a performer as they’re very receptive.  So yeah, stuff like this I think is very useful and we’ve sold quite a bit of merch and stuff...... I’ve signed CD’s so it’s really good.....yeah, definitely useful.

ANDY: And how important has 6 Music been to you?

WILLIAM: Where did you catch that? (Laughing)

ANDY: I read you’d played the save 6 music gig last year, but I’m a regular listener, which is where I first came across you.

WILLIAM: I’m an avid, avid listener of 6 music so when I saw they were going to shut it....... I was like, well that’s wrong you know....... I can’t be doing with that so I joined the campaign to save it...... we got involved with the organisers of the protest and stuff like that.......and the second protest they did was in May last year and we got an e-mail the day before to play which was happening at a venue down the road from broadcasting house.....and we went there and we played after The Magic Numbers...... became a headline act all of a sudden..... don’t know how that happened.  What happened was we sent Marc Riley a CD and he really liked it, he phoned me up on the day and he said could he play this track. I was like, yeah, go for it.

ANDY: As if you’d say no. (Laughing)

WILLIAM: I know yeah (also laughing) two weeks later we were in session for him, we were nervous, it was our first radio session, it all happened really fast because of 6 it was a very useful resource to have you know.......we’re kind of keeping faith with them......I listen to it every day.

ANDY: I think with 6 music the DJ’s appear all true music fans, it’s not about themselves, which can be the case with other stations.

WILLIAM: No, you don’t get any of that....everyone on it is just perfect. After seven o’clock when the playlist goes and Marc Riley and Gideon Coe play whatever they want it’s a voyage of discovery...... every time I listen to them I feel enriched........ I’ve discovered something new........You’ve got Jarvis on the Sunday’s and Guy Garvey........ and Cery’s  you’s a fantastic thing.

ANDY: And you’ve got Huey Morgan, also a 6 music DJ playing later tonight.

WILLIAM: Huey’s playing yeah..... and I look forward to dropping him a CD later on (Laughing).......I don’t know whether he’ll dig it you know....... but yeah I’m looking forward to that.

ANDY: So you’re going to hang around for the rest of the night.

WILLIAM: We’ve got to leave about nine o’clock to go to Wales but as long as we see them........I’d have liked to stay for the after party really as I’m quite in the mood to get a bit drunk (Laughing.)

ANDY: I believe Mike Joyce is DJ’ing at the after party, he’s certainly down on the programme.

WILLIAMIs he.....ahhhhhh, I didn’t know that....well we’ve met Mike Joyce before, he came down to Southampton which is our home town sort of thing.......not for me necessarily I didn’t live there for a few years but we did a gig there where he DJ’d and did a Q & A session and they showed the documentary “Inside The Smiths, which they made like an amateur production......very nice man.....and he watched us and everything, it was really good as The Smiths were a huge influence on us and most bands now I suppose.......I didn’t know that, I might go and say hello to him or something.......I want to stick around but we’ve got to go to Wales so.......if I could find somewhere to stay then I’d probably stick around.

ANDY: So what’s coming up next for Doyle and the Fourfathers, are you working on a second album.

WILLIAM: No, we’ve just recorded an EP on a boat......with four songs and we’re going to release that in November......It’s called Olympics Critical........... which is quite an odd name I’s because where they’re building the Olympic Stadium and stuff like that in London........ John our manager, the way he goes to work or whatever...... he was trying to get through a certain place where they’d blocked it off cos they were building stuff for the Olympics and the builder said, nah, it’s Olympics critical.......I liked that (Laughing)......and then we thought well you could take that in a few different critical of the a time of great austerity you know, how the hell do you put on a massive sporting event that’s going to cost millions of pounds so we thought we’d try and tie it in with that, so that’s out in November.  We’re looking for a tour, trying to support someone so we can promote that. Getting gigs is quite hard so you know.... so....... book us if you’re quite interested.......just more gigs, more recording........ it’s a relentless melee of the creative worlds.        

ANDY: It’s a very difficult time for the music industry, very difficult to make any money at it.

WILLIAM: Yeah, you know, I don’t make a lot of money....... but.......if I didn’t put this time into it then nothing would come of it you’s kind of swings and roundabouts in that sense, you get a bit of money but you’re still pretty poor but you have to keep gigging..... and I think a lot of younger bands are put off by that prospect of just dropping everything....going to uni, whatever,  forgot about it. To make it you have to put in the full amount of time....that’s what we’re doing now and I think it’s the probably the best way we can possibly go.

ANDY: Excellent, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

WILLIAM: Thank you.   

Did William hang around for the after party....... who knows...... although Doyle and the Fourfathers definitely made it down to Wales and from their Facebook page, made a whole load of new friends in the process. I have feeling the same scenario will continue for quite some time to come.

Interview by Andy Barnes 03/09/11
Photos by Mel

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