Sunday, July 3, 2011

Interview: Avalanche Ammo

We recently caught Avalanche Ammo deliver his debut performance in Whelan's. We were so impressed by his brand of instant guitar led math rock that we couldn't wait to get our hands on a copy of his debut EP "Animals" the next day and we recommend you do the same.  We caught up with the man behind the mask for a quick chat earlier this week.

Who is Avalanche Ammo?

Avalanche Ammo is me Anthony Boland, and it's my solo music project.

We described you as "a gateway drug to math-rock" following your debut performance at Whelan's how did that make you feel?

Extremely flattered! I'm just trying to create fun songs that are energetic and catchy, and if that somehow opens people up to new genres they might not have considered before, well that's awesome.

How did you find your first gig as Avalanche Ammo?

Loved it, I was nervous as hell at first, so much I felt I had to mention it between songs to excuse my fuck ups. It's been awhile since I've played live so it was an amazing feeling to be up on a stage again playing the music I love for people.

Why have you chosen to wear a mask on stage?

Cause every good superhero needs a mask of course! Always be prepared; never know when an arch-nemesis could be out in the audience waiting to strike.

So is Avalanche Ammo your alter ego then, if so can you see yourself going down the Bowie route jumping from alter ego to alter ego, or is Avalanche Ammo your one and only split personality?

Avalanche Ammo is me, multiplied by 10. No more personalities in here that I know of, I'll have to check with my doctor though.

You used to be a member of Belljar some of whom went on to form We Are Losers. Was it nice to share your first gig with your old band mates or was it an added pressure?

No pressure at all, I've always dug the lads’ music on a personal level, whether they've been doing music as Sebp, Wolves, or We Are Losers. Sharing a stage with them again was an honour, they're my friends but they're also musicians/writers whom I really admire.

Tell us about your debut EP Animals. Did you play all the instruments yourself?

The Animals EP is the result of my time spent experimenting as a solo writer. I'd been writing demos for awhile and reached a point where I was comfortable with the sound I was getting by myself, so the EP just sort of happened naturally. There wasn’t really a conscious decision "I'm going to write my debut EP now". I played everything myself on the EP, it was easier that way when I had the urge to record in the middle of the night, plus it was just plain rewarding challenging myself.

Did you feel more pressure as a one man band to produce something good or were you only aiming to please yourself?

It definitely started out very selfish; I was writing demos just for myself with no intention of doing anything with the music, but friends heard the stuff and were constantly asking me why I wasn't releasing this stuff, eventually I had to ask myself the same thing. Obviously I hope people think it’s good, but really like most musicians I think I'm aiming to please/challenge myself and am truly grateful if there’s people out there that find pleasure in what I'm doing.

Where did you record the EP?

At home in a room with a computer, a bunch of music equipment, oh and a bed too, very important.

How long did it take to record?

The EP was written and recorded in about 4 weeks total over December and January. When there’s snow outside, record music inside and build the occasional snowman.

Did you use any unusual instruments on any of the songs?

Standard setup instrument wise, the weirdest sound on the songs is probably some of the guitar parts, and that was achieved with a bunch of looper/delay pedals in combination with sometimes running the guitar through a midi keyboard.

Was there a producer involved in the recording?

There wasn't, it was basically me in a room by myself for 4 weeks being my usual own worst critic. I'm a bit of a perfectionist so it was hard and slow going at times. I wouldn't rule out taking on a producer for the future, if they can put up with me when I record!

Was it lonely at times without a band around you?

Strangely no, I definitely enjoy the dynamic of playing with a bunch of guys and or girls in a room and rocking out, but I feel that's a separate thing to what AA is.

Do you have a favourite track on the EP?

Owl Speak is probably my fav, I was surprised when everyone latched onto that as the standout track, because I thought it's very noisy, too noisy. I thought something like Panda Capture would have been the standout as it's a bit more poppy guitar wise. It’s fun to hear what other people's favourite track is, it varies a lot from the people I've talked to.

Was it a difficult process putting the live show together?

The way I see live right now is as a playground, I don't want to lock into a method of doing something and say "this is the only way it can be done now", I'm only starting out so I want try out things and see what works, what people enjoy. When I was first thinking of a live setup there were huge hurdles for me but at a certain stage you just gotta stop thinking about and do it, see if it works, learn from it and move forward.

One review described your live show as being "more of a DJ set" than a live performance. We think that's poppycock! But would you like to respond (to the bastard)?

I'd say everyone's entitled to their opinion, and that's totally cool if some people don't enjoy what I'm going to try live. I knew expectations were very high for that gig, a load of people had conflicting ideas and expectations on how I should perform live, it was impossible to please them all, so I set out to have a good time on stage, and hope that came across at least.

Have you always wanted to create instrumental soundscapes rather than traditional songs?

Instrumental music has always just felt right to me as a guitarist, an instrumental song can say so many different things to different people, when you have lyrics it can create a very singular mood for the listener. For me vocals pull on my head strings, but the music behind them pulls on my heart strings.

What do you think of the Irish music scene at the moment?

Well varied. There’s loads of bands out there that have such different sounds that are attracting similar audiences, the overlap of audiences is great ‘cause it’s introducing people to new music, myself included, I’ve discovered awesome bands just from heading to a show and then having a support act that sounds nothing like the main act blow me away.

Why has post rock taken over the music landscape in Ireland?

I think people are becoming more open to the idea of post rock bands and purely instrumental acts. There are such talented Irish bands out there now putting their own spin on the genre making this kind of music more accessible and in turn making it more socially acceptable. These bands have created an audience for the music so I think it’s swinging the spotlight onto artists that might have been overlooked a few years back in Ireland.

What’s next for Avalanche Ammo?

More live shows lined up for the summer, I took a break from writing since the EP release but I’ve also been working on some new stuff over the past week, so that’s got me on a serious buzz, I don’t know what form my next release will take, but you can be sure they're be more avalanche for your ears soon.

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