When you are having this much fun, who needs words?
That must have been the thought process behind And So I Watch You from Afar, the instrumental rock act from Belfast in Northern Ireland. Armed with cheeky ’80s metal hooks sandwiched between spacious post-rock pillars, the four-piece outfit sounds like Dan Deacon covering Explosions in the Sky with pretty triumphant returns.
ASIWYFA has become a math rock favorite both stateside and across the pond, and the band has lots to look forward to coming on the heels of its latest record, All Hail Bright Futures.
“I think that definitely had something to do with our circumstances at the time,” said drummer Chris Wee. “Our old guitarist was leaving, and it was quite turbulent, but it’s made us a lot tighter. We realized we wanted to keep the momentum of this band going, and there was a realization between the three of us like, ‘Holy shit. We can really do this and do it however we want.’ That was where the positivity of the album came from. It’s a rebirth of the band after a little bit of struggle.”
It was an overwhelming positive experience recording All Hail Bright Futures, and the turmoil ASIWYFA soldiered through led to a high point, creatively speaking.
“The process we used to write and record the album was really enjoyable,” Wee said. “It’s the most fun we’ve had and the most accomplished we’ve been as musicians.
To have that come across was really great. It was the loose, unregimented approach to the studio session that allowed for those sparks to fly.
“This time around, we went into the studio with only rough ideas of how the songs were going to be, whereas, with the other albums, everything was completely finished and it was just a matter of tracking instruments,” he explained. “It was a case of, ‘Where is this song going?’ We just all chipped in and helped the song progress instead of just coming in with something readymade. It allowed us to come up with some new instrumentation along the way.”
The spur-of-the-moment approach has left ASIWYFA with its most spontaneous, energetic and quirky batch of songs to date, ones that required some rethinking when it came to performing them live, as the outfit will at Tuesday’s show at the ACM@UCO Performance Lab.
“I think — with all the instrumentation and extra vocals — it left us with the challenge of, after finishing the album, figuring out how we were going to play these songs live. We had to sort of work out how to get the sound of the record across without having tons of extra equipment, so we had to become a little more savvy in that respect, and it’s been a fun trial that I think we are passing.”